The Great Macarthy

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The Great Macarthy
Directed by David Baker
Produced by David Baker
Richard Brennan
Written by John Romeril
Based on the novel A Salute to the Great Macarthy by Barry Oakley
Starring John Jarratt
Barry Humphries
Judy Morris
Music by Bruce Smeaton
Cinematography Bruce McNaughton
Stoney Creek Films
Distributed by Seven Keys
Release date
  • 7 August 1975 (1975-08-07)
Running time
90 minutes
Country Australia
Language English
Budget A$250,000[1]

The Great Macarthy is a 1975 comedy about Australian rules football. It was an adaptation of the novel A Salute to the Great Macarthy by Barry Oakley. It stars John Jarratt as the title character (in his film debut) as a local footballer who is signed up (or more appropriately, kidnapped) by the South Melbourne Football Club (now Sydney Swans). It also stars Barry Humphries and Judy Morris. It was released at a time when Australian films were starting to re-emerge. It was not very successful despite its high profile cast.


MacArthy is a county football player who is kidnapped by the South Melbourne Football Club and made a star player in the city. The Club Chairman, Colonel Ball-Miller, give MacArthy a job in one of his companies and makes him attend night school. He is seduced by his English teacher, Miss Russell, and has an affair with Ball-Miller's daughter, Andrea.

MacArthy and Andrea get married but then divorce. MacArthy goes on strike to claim the family four tine.



David Baker was an emerging director who was interested in Barry Oakley's novel. Richard Brennan optioned it for him and they agreed to make the film together, hiring playwright John Romeril to do the adaptation. According to Brennan, Romeril's second draft was "fantastic" but later drafts included too much sex and slapstick to make it more like other successful Australian films at the time such as The Adventures of Barry McKenzie and Alvin Purple.[2]

Philip Adams later claimed he always knew the film would struggle "because of its idiosyncratic and complex nature".[3]

The film was shot in mid 1974. Half the budget was provided by the Australian Film Development Corporation.[1]


The film performed poorly critically and at the box office.[2]


  1. ^ a b Andrew Pike and Ross Cooper, Australian Film 1900–1977: A Guide to Feature Film Production, Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1998 p289
  2. ^ a b David Stratton, The Last New Wave: The Australian Film Revival, Angus & Robertson, 1980 p223-224
  3. ^ Gordon Glenn & Scott Murray, "Phil Adams: Producer", Cinema Papers, March–April 1976 p343

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