Retro Review: Money Movers

Cinema Australia Original Content:

Bryan Brown and Terence Donovan in Money Movers.

Directed by Bruce Beresford
Written by Bruce Beresford and Devon Minchin
Starring Terence Donovan, Tony Bonner, Ed Devereaux, Charles ‘Bud’ Tingwell, Candy Raymond, Jeanie Drynan and Bryan Brown.

An armoured car company is the target of repeated heists. Company leadership is enforcing new measures in order to tighten security. The biggest danger of a new heist lies from within the company’s own ranks.

Written by Gavin Bond

The celebrated 1970’s Australian film resurgence and new wave has been categorised as a combination of critically acclaimed historical dramas and period pieces (My Brilliant Career, Breaker Morant) and innovative genre flicks (Mad Max, The Cars That Ate Paris).

As a result, Aussie films that didn’t fit the mold failed to grab a substantial audience and were unjustly ignored.

One such movie is Bruce Beresford’s super gritty fact based 1978 crime yarn, Money Movers.

Made on a shoestring budget of $500,000 as part of the government’s film industry revitalisation program via the South Australian Film Corporation, Money Movers was largely ignored by audiences at the time thanks to a dearth of promotion and its striking violence.

Pity really, as this fast-paced heist thriller is superbly directed by Bruce Beresford (just 2 years prior to his breakout 1980 classic Breaker Morant) and is a trailblazing contemporary crime romp that was ahead of its time and every bit as tough and good as its successors like The Boys, Underbelly and Animal Kingdom.

Shot predominately in suburban South Australia and based on real life security company bigwig Devon Minchin’s 1973 novel, Money Movers follows an ambitious attempt by two brothers to steal $20 million from an armored car company called Darcy’s Security Services.

Terence Donovan (Jason’s dad) plays surly and disenchanted security worker Eric Jackson who convinces his hothead younger brother Brian (a scene stealing performance from a young Bryan Brown) to join him in planning and executing an intricate inside job under the noses of their unwitting bosses.

Along the way, the tough as nails siblings are forced to face off with fellow employees Leo Bassett (a suitably naive Tony Bonner) and wily ex-cop (fellow “Skippy” alumni Ed Deveraux).

Throw in the ubiquitous Charles “Bud” Tingwell as a notorious “toe-cutting” gangland leader and Alan Cassell as a slimy detective and you have a giddily entertaining, highly unpredictable and refreshingly convoluted caper flick and gangster saga.

While Beresford elicits fine performances from his cast of familiar Australian TV cop show thesps, the real standouts of Money Movers are Don McAlpine’s crisp cinematography, the rapid-fire editing of Bill Anderson and stunt coordinator Alf Joint’s raw, brutal and convincing fight sequences.

Thanks to its myriad of characters and sharp tongued “ocker” screenplay, this unheralded gem requires repeat viewings (which I have been a most willing party to) to unravel the twisty narrative and to spot any obvious plot deficiencies or contrivances.

Thankfully, the film’s succinct and authentic screenplay holds up to this test, and despite an intentional overabundance of blood and gore (this film is not for the fainthearted or squeamish) and a collection of generally dislikable protagonists, it is definitely a cut above any violent “ozploitation” film of its era.

Not only is this brutal examination of Aussie machismo and corruption both snappy and naturalistic, but it also has a healthy dose of politically incorrect black humour and anti-establishment sentiment.

Money Movers ultimately succeeds as a bonified Downunder cult treasure thanks to distinguished helmer Bruce Beresford’s (Don’s Party, Driving Miss Daisy, Black Robe) undisputed directing chops.

Money Movers finds filmmaking pioneer Beresford at the top of his game and this is a multi-layered and edgy film noir that Quentin Tarantino (an unashamedly big fan of Aussie 70’s cinema) would have been proud to make!

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