TV Cream

Films: S is for...

Sundowners, The

The isolation felt by new arrivals in the wide open spaces of the New World was a major theme for the subsequent wave of immigration-based dramas. In this American-funded film, Robert Mitchum and Deborah Kerr take up the itinerant sheep-shearing life with Peter Ustinov, under the aegis of no-nonsense shearing chief Chips Rafferty. The contrast between a clean slate land of opportunity and an empty, rootless existence was the order of the day here, the bucolic excitement of sheep-shearing contests and games of two-up being small compensation for the lack of a real home. The style of this film – as close to documentary as mainstream Hollywood got in those days, with plenty of natural history footage of Oz’s bizarro widlife thrown in – was a fittingly downbeat one, and one that would almost become the default pastoral style for many a ‘pomme in purgatory’ film to come.

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