|Directed by||Mark Joffe|
|Written by||Max Dann, Andrew Knight|
|Music by||Ricky Fataar|
|Editing by||Offshoot Films|
|Release dates||23 January 1992|
|Running time||95 minutes|
|Box office||A$1,505,884 (Australia)|
The plot bears some superficial similarity to the later film Kinky Boots, in that it involves an ailing shoe manufacturer, whose products are failing to keep up with market demands.
The film is set in the late 1960s. Errol Wallace (Anthony Hopkins) is an independent consultant who assesses the financial performance of businesses. He has just submitted a report to the board of Durmack, an automotive component manufacturer, in which he recommends a large reduction in staff numbers.
His next assignment is at Balls, a moccasin factory located in the Melbourne suburb of Spotswood. On his first visit he meets Mr Ball (Alwyn Kurts), the owner of the company, who is affable and treats his employees like family. Errol is shown around the factory and is disturbed to see the shabby work conditions, old machinery, and the laid back work ethic of the employees.
Errol asks Carey (Ben Mendelsohn), a young worker at the factory, to help him gather data for his report. This will require him to monitor and time the activities of his work colleagues. Carey is reluctant to get involved, until he learns that he will be working with Mr Ball’s daughter Cheryl (Rebecca Rigg), whom he has a crush on.
The union gets hold of Errol’s report on Durmack and sets up an angry picket protest at the Durmack factory. Errol discovers that his colleague Jerry (John Walton) leaked the report, with an inflated number of sackings, as a tactic to negotiate with the union.
Kim (Russell Crowe), a salesman at Balls, comes to Errol’s home one night with a complete set of the company financial records, which show that the company hasn’t made a profit for years. Ball has been selling off company assets to keep the company afloat.
Errol has been implementing several productivity improvements at the Balls factory, such as separate shifts for lunch, partitions between workers, and a roller conveyor. In light of the new information about the company finances however, he realises that more drastic action is required. He confronts Ball, and proposes that he will need to let a lot of people go if the company is to survive. Ball resists however, and says “It’s not just about dollars and cents. It’s about dignity, treating people with respect.”
When Errol’s car breaks down, he is touched that some of the men from the factory offer to repair it, and one even drives him to his next appointment. They also invite Errol to participate as a driver on their team in the state finals of the scale model slot car competition. He agrees, and is genuinely happy when the team wins.
The day arrives when Ball announces to the staff the findings from Errol’s report, and fires half the workers. Errol arrives at the factory to pick up his car, just as the shocked workers are walking out. He is clearly uncomfortable seeing them, knowing that it was his recommendations that sealed their fate. At a party at Durmack’s to celebrate their resolving the dispute with the union, Errol realises that there may be a chance to save Ball’s after all. Late at night he drives over to Ball’s home and presents his idea, which would enable everyone at the factory to keep their job – diversify the company into additional product lines such as coats and gloves, making good use of the skills and expertise of the workers.
In the final scene, Carey realises he has feelings for Wendy (Toni Collette), his friend who also works at Balls. Together they climb up onto the roof of the factory and hold hands as they look out over Spotswood.
- Anthony Hopkins – Errol Wallace
- Ben Mendelsohn – Carey
- Alwyn Kurts – Mr. Ball
- Bruno Lawrence – Robert, Carey's Father
- John Walton – Jerry Finn
- Rebecca Rigg – Cheryl Ball
- Toni Collette – Wendy Robinson
- Russell Crowe – Kim Barry
- Angela Punch McGregor – Caroline Wallace
- Daniel Wyllie – Frank Fletcher
- John Flaus – Gordon
- Gary Adams – Kevin
- Jeff Truman – Ron
- Toni Lamond – Mrs. Lorna Ball
- Jill Murray – Ophelia, Carey's Mum (as Jillian Murray)
Spotswood grossed $1,505,884 at the box office in Australia, which is equivalent to $2,348,887 in 2009 dollars.
- Andrew L. Urban, "Anthony Hopkins", Cinema Papers, May 1991 p8-10
- Don Grove, "Murdoch and the moccasins movie", If Magazine, 1 November 2013 accessed 1 November 2013
- Film Victoria – Australian Films at the Australian Box Office