Fortress (1985 film)
|Directed by||Arch Nicholson|
|Produced by||Raymond Menmuir|
|Written by||Everett De Roche|
by Gabrielle Lord
|Music by||Danny Beckermann|
|Edited by||Ralph Strasser|
|24 November 1985 (US TV)
26 June 1986 (Australia)
|Box office||A$139,000 (Australia)|
A teacher (Rachel Ward) and her students at a small rural school in Australia are kidnapped and held for ransom by a band of violent shotgun-wielding masked thugs wearing Christmas character masks. Held for ransom in a cave, she and the children daringly escape from their captors, are pursued, establish a stronghold, and fight for their lives.
- Rachel Ward as Sally Jones
- Sean Garlick as Sid
- Elaine Cusick as Mrs. O'Brien
- Laurie Moran as Mr. O'Brien
- Marc Aden Gray as Tommy
- Ray Chubb as Publican
- Bradley Meehan as Richard
- Rebecca Rigg as Narelle
- Beth Buchanan as Leanne
- Asher Keddie as Sue
- Anna Crawford as Sarah
- Richard Terrill as Toby
- Vernon Wells as Dabby Duck
- Peter Hehir as Father Christmas
- David Bradshaw as Pussy Cat
- Roger Stephen as Mac the Mouse
The novel Fortress by Gabrielle Lord was inspired by the 1972 Faraday Primary School kidnapping of an isolated rural single teacher school and was influenced by William Golding's 1954 novel the Lord of the Flies.
The film rights were purchased by Crawford Productions who intended to make a feature film for local release and a tele movie for HBO in the US. Half the budget was from HBO who insisted the lead be played by an actress who was familiar to the American public.
Everett De Roche wrote the script and originally Bruce Beresford was announced as director. He dropped out and then Arch Nicholson was hired. Crawfords and HBO wanted Bess Armstrong to play the lead. Actors Equity objected, so Sigrid Thornton was accepted as a compromise. However two months prior to shooting Thornton fell pregnant and HBO and Crawfords insisted on Armstrong. Actors Equity would not relent and the film shut down, despite the fact $700,000 had already been spent. The project was later re activated when Rachel Ward (a British actress who had moved to Australia) was approved.
The movie was shot in Australia during 1985 over 12 5-day weeks at Bairnsdale near the Gippsland Coast and in the Grampians. It contains scenes of graphic violence unusual for TV productions of the time.
It won the American Cinema Editors for direction of Photography in 1986.
- "Production", Cinema Papers, March 1986 p62
- "Australian Films at the Australian Box Office", Film Victoria Archived 9 February 2014 at the Wayback Machine. accessed 24 October 2012
- "Production Blues", Cinema Papers, Oct-Nov 1980 p312
- Hector Crawford, "The Rules of the Game", Cinema Papers, September 1985 p20-22
- David Stratton, The Avocado Plantation: Boom and Bust in the Australian Film Industry, Pan MacMillan, 1990 p266-268