Production company: Dark Horse Pictures presents; tail credits copyrights film to Dark Horse Pictures Ltd and Australian Film Finance Corporation Pty. Limited.; made with the participation of Australian Film Finance Corporation Pty Limited; made with the assistance of the South Australian Film Corporation; made with the assistance of the South Australian Government through the Film and Television Financing Fund.
Budget: A$2.6 million (Cinema Papers, May 1990). According to a story in The Age, 13th October 1990, the FFC put in $900,000. The South Australian government put in +$500,000.
Locations: End credit “filmed on location in Adelaide, South Australia”. The main location for "Saltmarsh" was Estcourt House, details of which can be found at the wiki of Frederick Estcourt Bucknall here and at a government site here. Other western suburbs street locations also turn up. The Heartbreakers’ soccer team takes a trip to the Adelaide CBD, with views of the GPO, Pirie/Waymouth Street, and King William Street. The Hearbreakers also play on sports ovals just outside the CBD. The Burnside Shopping Centre scores an end thank you credit, as does Peter and Robert’s Salon in Burnside, where the Heartbreakers receive a grooming. Carclew in North Adelaide isn't specifically thanked, but it hosts the chairman's Lazarus Foundation function. Carclew has a website here.
Filmed: the May 1990 edition of Cinema Papers contained a production report by Hunter Cordaiy which provided details of filming from 9th November to 14th November 1989, an early part of the shoot. The main unit shoot ran for 40 days and was wrapped by Christmas, though some additional filming was done for a new ending.
Australian distributor: Capricorn
Theatrical release: The film opened in Sydney and Melbourne on 11th October 1990 - in Sydney at GU’s Pitt Centre and Hurstville, and in four Hoyts suburban theatres; in Melbourne the same day at GU’s Russell Cinemas and several Hoyts theatres.
Video release: Satellite Entertainment
Rating: M (Murray’s Australian Film lists it as PG, but cinema advertising and the domestic VHS slick clearly show M).
35mm colour (end credit “filmed on Fuji Film”; camera and lighting equipment by Sokol Films)
Dolby stereo in selected theatres.
Running time: 105 mins (Cinema Papers and Murray’s Australian Film)
VHS time: 1’54’07 (excluding VHS animated presentation logos, but including end credits song which runs about three seconds over black before quickly fading out)
Struck By Lightning was a domestic box office dud and isn’t mentioned in the Film Victoria report on Australian box office returns.
The film had a minor distributor and had trouble attracting decent screens - it opened in Sydney for example in the city at GU's Pitt Centre, a notorious location where many Australian films went to die a box office death.
There had been much bold talk during the production of taking the American market by storm, but the film also had a very limited international profile. Perhaps this was due to the quirky Australian sensibility, swearing and slang, with the storyline matching an alcoholic with a soccer prat in what was then termed a “sheltered” workshop - though it did at least pick up a tape release in the US.
The film has since turned up every so often on the Seven network, but has largely disappeared from the marketplace, a pity since while imperfect and with a number of dramatic flaws (beginning with some silly slapstick at the start of the show and ending with theatrical speech-making), it doesn’t deserve its relative obscurity.
There was much controversy about Garry McDonald not even receiving an AFI nomination for his work in the best actor category at the 1990 AFI Awards.
The film picked up several other nominations, but came away empty-handed:
Nominated, Best Feature Film (Terry J. Charatsis, Trevor Farrant) (Terry Hayes, Doug Mitchell and George Miller won for Flirting)
Nominated, Qantas Award for Best Achievement in Direction (Jerzy Domaradzki) (Ray Argall won for Return Home)
Nominated, Cinesure Award for Best Original Screenplay (Trevor Farrant) (David Parker won for The Big Steal).
Nominated, Best Original Music Score (Paul Smyth) (Phil Judd won for The Big Steal)
Perhaps in compensation for not being noted in the AFI Awards, Garry McDonald was awarded Best Actor at the Film Critics Circle of Australia awards for 1990 (reported in Filmnews, March 1991)
Trevor Farrant won an Awgie - Australian Writers’ Guild award - in 1990 for his screenplay in the original feature film category.
In turn, according to Filmnews, October 1990, this led to a World Pater Award, which is selected from the winning entries submitted by international Writers Guilds.
The film also picked up a 1990 Human Rights medal award in the film category. This government award had a presence online here at time of writing, though it has changed its onloine location a number of times.
The film doesn’t seem to have crossed the digital divide, at least at time of writing. Still, it's easy enough to get hold off, with collectors circulating copies derived from the VHS domestic release, quality contingent on source material used.
The film didn’t turn up on the extremely limited streaming catalogue of Oz Flix, though it might turn up there in the future. It did turn up on the Seven Network as recently as 2006, so maybe Seven will drag it out again some time in the future. Some collectors have copies from this source.
As for the film, it was much liked at the time of its release by some reviewers, but the failure of the creative team to meet some of the challenges now seem more obvious.
There are some pluses - Polish director Jerzy Domaradzki manages the difficult task of combining professional and non-professional cast well. It's a large cast with lots of speaking parts, and some of the non-professionals handle their allotted roles in style - Jody (Jocelyn Betheras) is given a running gag, and delivers the comedic flourishes nicely.
But the script presents a number of structural problems.
Pat’s (Brian Vriends) rioting at the school at the start of the show, designed to establish his character, veers off into slapstick of the obvious kind, and thereafter he’s shown to be impossibly good and idealistic - except when he’s impossibly bad and bastard-like to his possible true love Jill (Catherine McClements). This culminates in the climax with a scene in the board room which is very theatrical.
Ollie (Garry McDonald) also wavers about, constantly drinking and talking of his retards, but then coming good in Hollywood style so that everyone can feel a warm glow, and never mind the contrivance.
McDonald had an unhappy time with feature films (think Wills & Burke, Those Dear Departed). Here he’s given the chance to do some comedy but much of it devolves around his character’s use of a wig, and it's a testament to his skill that he manages to wrangle much more into his character.
The film never quite settles on whether it wants to be earnest, and smack the toffs who indulge in hypocritical care for the Saltmarsh crew, and make an important statement about the way forward for Downs’ affected people in sheltered workshops, or whether it wants to be an unrepentant, politically incorrect comedy. The tone veers all over the place, from the exaggerated one dimensional pomposity of Denis Olsen's chairman to Kevin flashing the PM's wife.
The result ends up hovering somewhere in the middle between comedy and uplifting moral tale.
The result has its incidental pleasures. All the cast work hard, with only Mrs Reschke (Judith Stratford) given a truly unfortunate couple of scenes which don’t work, but the lingering sense at the end, despite the gag about how to spell “Independance with Dignity” (the sign’s shape bears an unfortunate echo of “Arbeit Macht Frei”), is that the film never brings together its themes in a convincing structure.
Jerzy Domaradzki hints at this in his interview with Peter Malone here, saying he senses that the film didn’t quite cohere, while also claiming that the creative team didn’t do badly, and that’s a fair enough assessment.
There are many worse Australian films, and many better ones, but at least this one had its heart generally in the right place.
It's a brave effort to tackle a subject taht few Australian features have looked at, even if its ambitions became muddled and muddied along the way ... and it makes an interesting comparison point with Chris Noonan's Stepping Out, an earlier 1980 documentary about handicapped people putting on a show in the Sydney Opera House ...
(a) Writer Trevor Farrant:
In an interview with Neil Jillett in The Age on 13th October 1990, writer Trevor Farrant explained to Jillett how he came to the idea of the film:
What is the link between the Australian comedian Austen Tayshus and the 1984 Republican candidate for the US presidency, Barry Goldwater? Why does a former South Australian league footballer and rock ’n’ roller - who is also Shirley MacLaine’s gag-writer - decide to make a comedy film about the mentally retarded?
Trevor Farrant, who is the anser to the first question, unravels the second this way. “One day in the mid-‘70s when I was doing a rock show at Channel Seven in Adelaide, I answered somebody else’s telephone. It was the Mentally Retarded Children’s Society wanting someone to do a commercial for them. We didn’t charge anything for it, and ended up doing their fund-raising too. The most they’d ever got was $9000. We raised $1.5 million. The money was used to fund the shelter workshops in Adelaide.”
People he met as a result of this experience inspired the idea of a film about how the mentally handicapped particularly young people with Down’s Syndrome, are treated by the community. The idea developed into a comedy about the conflict between two men working with “Downies”, as Mr Farrant calls them. Hardly the material of popular entertainment, you might think, especially when one of the men is a bad-tempered alcoholic, possibly with paedophilic tendencies. And it sounds too unusual to attract financing from government bodies or private investors. Yet ‘Struck by Lighting’ was made, has received four Australian Film Institute award nominations (including best film) and has just opened in Melbourne.
Mr Farrant explains how he went about achieving this apparent miracle. “I carried the script around in my head for 10 years, and wrote a dozen drafts. Then, claiming the last draft was the first, I went to everybody who owed me a favour - including actors Shirley MacLaine and Robin Williams, the very successful independent producer Ed Pressman, and directors I know in Los Angeles - and got a thick pile of testimonials saying this film should be made; it’s commercial.
“I wanted to make it on my home patch, to have control over it, out of allegiance to the Downies and the subject matter. We couldn’t hand it over to someone who wouldn’t understand. The Americans wouldn’t allow you to cast real Down’s Syndrome people. They would have wanted Dustin Hoffman doing his ‘Rain Man’ thing again.
For a jpg of the interview, see this site’s photo gallery. For an explanation of how the film’s title came about - it isn’t revealed in the film - see the Beyond press kit below.
The project was not without controversy.
In an interview in The Age, 21st September 1990, actor Garry McDonald recalled that one Adelaide woman was so incensed by the project that she tried to have it stopped.
She got hold of the script and took it to the Premier’s office (the SA government invested a substantial amount in the film, +$500,000) but the Premier’s adviser on handicapped people, himself handicapped, thought the script was spot on. (See this site’s photo gallery for a jpg of that interview).
Nevertheless after the film was released, two people working in the area wrote an irate letter about the film to Filmnews (see this site’s reviews section for that letter).
2. The Creative Team on the film:
(a) Trevor Farrant in The Age, 13th October 1990:
Writer Farrant also talked with Neil Jillett about his approach to the production:
… Some of the disabled characters are played by professional actors, but the cast includes 14 people with Down’s Syndrome. The film daringly or contemptibly - depending on your point of view - appears at times to be ridiculing the Down’s Syndrome actors, and it examines the issue of love and lust among the mentally disabled.
“Some early scenes are meant to be borderline,” Mr Farrant says. “I wanted the audience to be uneasy, to wonder whether we were making fun of these people. It’s a way of giving the audience time to discover the point of view of the film. The reaction has been heartening, especially from young people. They enjoy and understand the film; they’re open-minded and compassionate.
“I wanted the film, in those early scenes, to give the view of the outsider, of the sort of person who takes these people for granted, who thinks they’re stupid. Downies will enter into any kind of a practical joke at their own expense. They’re very easily exploited. I wanted to have some element of that in the beginning of the film. But the attitude of the people making the film is that we love them. It’s impossible not to. They give you a lot of emotion.
“But I shouldn’t generalise. They’re all very distinct personalities. I think the film is saying: Don’t judge these people by how they look; they are the antithesis of their confronting appearance. I’ve seen people cross the street to avoid them. In a bus passengers will move to the edge of the seat to avoid having a Downie next to them.
“Downies are victimised by bureaucracy, which wants to call them intellectually disabled employees. I tell them: ‘Call yourselves something short, easy and affectionate. Otherwise you’ll get called mongoloids and retards.’ They do refer to themselves as Downies. They’re fine about that. It’s the people in charge of them who see their own bureaucratic self-image being held up to ridicule.
“We knew we couldn’t romanticise this affliction, but at least if we could help take the curst off it … The Downies have derived tremendous self-esteem from seeing themselves on the screen. Their parents say it’s the best thing that’s happened to their children; it’s given them confidence.
“It was an article of faith with us that all those finally chosen would have a part that stayed in the film. Everybody has a close-up; everybody has a moment that’s just theirs.”
Mr Farrant is in awe of the performances his Downie friends gave. They were drawn slowly into rehearsals, games were played to put them at ease. But he says he over-estimated the difficulties they might have. For instance, they called Mr McDonald Garry off-camera, but never forgot that when “Action!” was announced he became Ollie, the name of the character he was playing.
Mr Farrant remembers with particular affection the way one of his handicapped actors, Jocelyn Betheras, worked through to the meaning of her lines. “Meryl Street couldn’t have been more professional and determined in her approach to getting them exactly right.” And Craig Leamer. “We were shooting a scene at a soccer match. He got quite seriously hurt. I saw the lip tremble, the eyes moisten, but that was all. As soon as ‘Cut!’ was called Craig let go the held-back howl of pain. Then he said proudly: ‘I saved the shot for you’.”
(b) Garry McDonald and Jerzy Domaradzki, SBS Movie Show Interview:
There was at time of writing an interview on SBS with Garry McDonald and the director, here.
It only runs 5’35” and begins with David Stratton noting Garry McDonald’s disappointment at not being nominated for an AFI award for his work.
McDonald starts with a joke about getting sick of playing the good looking hunk and wanting a change of image, and then talks about his character’s hair piece and alcoholism, saying he’s got a bit of a death wish - except that the wig is a sort of non-death wish. He still wants people to look on him as a man with hair.
Domaradzki begins by saying he tried to find a metaphorical story as a way of understanding more about “us normal people”.
McDonald then reminisces about co-actor Julie Hewitt (Julie) telling him she was 11 months pregnant and then when they came back to re-shoot the end, the way she was very excited about getting married to Scott, Michael or Andrew … having met Michael in the coffee shop that morning …McDonald calls his co-actors ”a constant source of delight.”
Domaradzki was in the US and mentioned he had worked with Downs Syndrome people and came away wanting to call them Up Syndrome people “because they are always up” …
“We had some problem with the dialogue because they can’t remember the dialogue for the right moment but in most cases I spend no more time working with these Downs syndrome actors than with the professional actors, and sometimes because I make fifteen takes, for one line, I had to do the same with the professional actors…we had to take some responsibility for the consequences of using non-professional actors for some scenes. If we have some love scene for example, we couldn’t use of course Downs syndrome actors because what will happen later … what could happen, we have to be responsible for, so we couldn’t use, and the proportion’s one to 3, one actor to three Downs actors ...”
McDonald: The Eastern Block were quite formidable. I mean, the Eastern Block would work their way, this is the nickname we gave to the Polish director (Domaradzki), the Russian DOP (Yuri Sokol) and the Russian cameraman (camera operator Vladimir Osherov) … they have a … they yell all the time, which is pretty unusual, you know …so you’d be doing (then he bursts into yelling “Noh!, NOH! Why you do this? (laughs)... for a sensitive scene. That was unusual.”)
Domaradzki: “I try as a director … catch this moment, this magic moment… which happen on the set, and sometimes not in the script. For me the film art, what is between the people … what’s happened in this one magic moment … and if I try to work with the actors this way, not interrupt. They have to be in the right tune …and in the right rhythm. Very often Garry McDonald ask me ‘what I should do? what do you think?’ I said only, ‘faster. Speak faster.’ And he was surprised, ‘why faster?’ Because I found it was the most important thing for Garry McDonald …speak faster, not waiting for reaction for the funny line. Because that was typical for soap opera, you say the line and you listen for reaction of the audience. It should be we have to give this diamond to the audience, and the audience should take by choice…”
(c) Director Jerzy Domaradzki interviewed by Peter Malone:
Peter Malone’s interview with the director concentrated on his later film Lilian’s Story, and is available in full at Malone’s invaluable site here. Domaradzki did however provide an overview of his feelings about Struck by Lightning:
...It was my first film in Australia and I made it less than two years after I arrived. I came to Australia as director in residence at the Sydney Film School. When I read the script, written by Trevor Farrant, I said to him, 'Look, I don't know how to do it, how to work with those kinds of actors'. I had worked with professional actors, but how to combine professional actors with non-professional? I didn't know how to do it.
But it isn't a really great task. I think Trevor has, as a writer, an enormous sense of humour. What I like is that we tried to make this a bittersweet comedy. I don't know if we succeeded at the end because of many factors, because it was low budget, shooting in South Australia. Unfortunately, I hadn't the chance to invite the best actors, to choose whoever I wanted. I had to work with whatever cast was available in Sydney and Melbourne. I was also limited because I had the Downs Syndrome amateurs. They can't act in the same way. It was difficult. I didn't want to risk manipulating them because that would not be fair. But I had Garry Mc Donald and that was a great experience for me.
Secondly, I was probably a little at a distance from the culture - not now, as I understand it more after nine years in Australia. But it was a fantastic experience for me and it took great courage from the producer to risk this. Finally, I think, we didn't do badly. It was a small film, but in some way it was different. I know people are very often surprised when they watch this film on video. It's a different kind of movie.
Garry McDonald is too well known to dwell on here. He has a relatively detailed wiki listing here.
Brian Vriends has a much shorter wiki listing here. After this movie, he tended to work in television. See the Beyond press kit below for his work prior to this debut feature.
Catherine McClements at the time was attracting attention, having won Best Actress in the 1990 AFI awards for Weekend with Kate. She has a wiki here, and a number of fan sites, including a quite detailed one here.
The main “disabled” characters at Saltmarsh were played by professionals, mainly of South Australian origin, including Henry Salter, a lecturer at Flinders University in drama, listed at AustLit here (subscription site), and Dennis Moore, a character actor who trained at Flinders University (around the same time he played a cop in Father, for example).
Jeremy Angerson, who played one of the leads in Sebastian and the Sparrow, has role as Pat's impaired brother Freddie.
For obvious reasons, the Saltmarsh characters who have sex were played by Briony Williams (wiki here) perhaps best known for kids show Lockie Leonard. She too studied at Flinders Drama Centre and had an eponymous website here with this brief career summary:
Briony Williams studied acting at Flinders University Drama Centre, South Australia, and at the HB Studio in New York.
She has worked in Theatre, Film & Television in Australia for the last 20 years, most notably for the SA State Theatre Co, Bell Shakespeare and The Australian Shakespeare Co.
For television Briony played Mum, the adult female lead, in two series of the Australian Film Industry & Logie (Australian Television Awards) winning, BAFTA nominated children's television production of Lockie Leonard.
Briony was a founding member of the Sydney physical theatre company Theatre of Desire, and her one woman show premiered in New York's “Don't Tell Mama” cabaret.
Williams played opposite Syd Brisbane, yet another Flinders alumni, whose agent had this short CV here:
Syd Brisbane is a graduate of Flinders University, and has trained with Anne Bogart’s SITI Company in New York, and Howard Fine in Melbourne. He was a founding member of The Rabble in 2006.
Syd's theatre credits include Night On Bald Mountain (Malthouse), One For The Ugly Girls, Victory (Sydney Theatre Company), He Stumbled (The Wrestling School UK), Orlando & Salome (The Rabble), Coranderrk (Ilbijerri Theatre), Assassins (Flying Penguin), Scissors Paper Rock (Keene/Taylor), The Lower Depths (45 Downstairs), Macbeth & Henry V (Theatre iNQ), Comedy of Errors, Henry IV part one, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Twelfth Night, Much Ado About Nothing and Romeo & Juliet (The Australian Shakespeare Company).
Syd’s television credits include Wentworth – Series 2 & Series 4, Worst Year of my Life…Again, Mr & Mrs Murder, The Doctor Blake Mysteries, Conspiracy 365, Beaconsfield and City Homicide.
Syd’s film credits include Sucker, Cut Snake, Fell, Boxing Day, Silent Partner and Dead Letter Office and the upcoming Blue Dog, to be released 2016.
Syd is currently starring as MANUEL in the Australian world premiere tour of Fawlty Towers – Live.
Brian Logan, who played the dick flasher Kevin, went on to other work in SEO in due course, and had an extensive CV here.
He too did his acting training in Adelaide
In his 20s Brian studied acting full time for 3 years and graduated from Australia's prestigious ACARTS (ne. CPA) college (South Australia’s version of NIDA), where he was taught by such luminaries as John Noble (‘Fringe’) and Oscar winner Geoffrey Rush.
Brian worked as a professional actor for nearly a decade, during which time he acted in 6 feature films, co-starring in 3 (opposite Ray Liotta, Julian McMahon, Kevin Dillon, Elliot Gould, Garry McDonald, Lance Henriksen, Ernie Hudson, Christopher Atkins, among others etc).
Brian also wrote, directed and produced several award winning short films, and has taught acting and television presenting professionally...
...Brian founded and runs SEO North Sydney and has extensive experience getting companies on the first page of Google. Brian is also one of Australia's leading SEO TRAINERS. Recent SEO Training clients include Bullseye Digital (who flew their SEO staff in from Asia for advanced SEO Training with SEO North Sydney), Newcastle University (who booked their entire IT Department in for SEO Training) and Hitachi, who booked in three separate divisions for SEO training.
Brian has designed and project managed numerous website builds since entering the industry in 1999/2000. A feather in his cap that's particularly noteworthy is the fact that he designed and produced Australia’s 1st EVER streaming film and music website, IndieFilmWeb.com (IFW), on August 14, 2000. This was the first ever streaming of a movie on an Australian website (and was 4 years before YouTube was launched). The site was sponsored by Apple, as IndieFilmWeb.com was streaming exclusively using Apple Quicktime 4.12 (which - if you can imagine a time when everyone was connecting to the web via 56 kps dial-up, and powering their experience on 286 and 386 processors - was the bees knees in streaming!).
In the 16 years since launching IFW, Brian has produced countless websites across multiple industry verticals. Recent examples include (but are not limited to): Cosmetic Surgery, Events, Weddings, Pool Fencing, Eye Laser Surgery, Cosmetic Dentistry, Electrical, Private Investigations, Shipping, Removals, Automotive, Retail etc.
4. Cinema Papers:
Cinema Papers gave the film a big splash in its May 1990 edition, including a location report by Hunter Cordaiy, who also interviewed director Jerzy Domaradzki.
(a) Cinema Papers' Location Report:
One of the Australian films going to Cannes this year is Struck by Lightning, a $2.6 million production from Adelaide, directed by Polish filmmaker Jerzy Domaradzki, and co-produced by Terry Charatsis and scriptwriter Trevor Farrant.
This year’s festival will be important for Australian films as productions emerge restructured from a base of tax-concession finance to a more commercial mixture of funding. Struck by Lightning is one of the new films completed during this uneasy period, a comedy about independence and dignity set in a workshop for the mentally handicapped.
The film mixes professional actors with non-professional disabled adults, known as the Heartbreakers. Their supervisor, Rennie (Garry McDonald), is challenged by a new physical education teacher, Cannizzaro (Brian Vriends). Cannizzaro’s enthusiasm and idealism is not what the cynical, world-weary Rennie needs but may help the workshop survive. Their conflict is based on the classic antipathies of cynical experience and youthful optimism, and caught in the middle are the Heartbreakers, defenceless and unwanted by a society that prefers to hide its problems away from view. For four days in November, Hunter Cordaiy was on the set of Struck by Lightning, where he saw some early scenes between Garry McDonald and Brian Vriends, arid spoke with writer-co-producer Trevor Farrant and director Jerzy Domaradzki
Thursday 9 November:
Estcourt House, on the western side of Adelaide, is the set for ‘Saltmarsh’, a sheltered workshop. It is a desolate stone building overlooking the sea that at one time was a school, and then a hospital.
It has cavernous high ceilings, and this afternoon its corridors echo to the sounds of a film crew setting up equipment, actors in costume reading or playing cards, bath rooms that look more like places of medical ritual, perhaps a mortuary. At the back and seaward side is a brick extension and a dry brush hedge creating a small grassed courtyard, 1960s attempts at modernizing what really is a stately building in decline.
Saltmarsh is described in the script as “a place no one wants, for people no one wants”. There is an arched sign between the building and the beach which reads “Independance with Dignity”, mis-spelled but no less defiant for the mistake. It is the symbolic entrance to the world of the Heartbreakers.
In the workshop, the Heartbreakers make bon-bons for the Christmas market, put brochures in envelopes and produce small wooden rocking-horses that balance on the edge of tables. It has a look of shabby order with tables covered in boxes, stacks of envelopes and rubber bands. Here the simplest tasks will be an achievement, an expression of hope that the employees do have a role in society, a function with even some economic possibility. Rennie is in charge of this uphill possibility.
The first scene after lunch brings out the flaw inherent in this idea: such production-line work denies the individuality and creativity of the employees. Can such mentally disabled people be creative? It’s not a concept readily accepted by Noel (Henry Salter), a hunched figure in khaki overalls and with protruding ears who wants to be a sculptor and not a maker of identical balancing horses. A crisis is reached when the ever-suspicious Rennie finds some wood shavings that betray Noel’s artistic ambitions: he sculpts monster-like heads. For the audience, it will be an early introduction to Rennie’s managerial style, and Cannizzaro’s first gathering of support amongst the Heartbreakers.
For the filmmakers, however, the scene has another dimension: the script requires Rennie to hit Noel over the head and warn him off his creative endeavours. In rehearsal, director Jerzy Domaradzki sees this action on the monitor and realizes it is too violent, with possible adverse implications for the film. But writer-co-producer Trevor Farrant, who is on the set, resists Domaradzki’s attempts to soften the blow by insisting it shows Rennie’s frustration rather than his inherent violence. The moment is made more poignant by the fact that Noel’s disobedience is creative, not destructive.
It takes 1 minute 45 seconds to get a take, and, while the crew sets up for the first of three close-ups, Domaradzki talks about the differences between making films in Australia and Poland:
"This production is better equipped, with all the small elements which create what I would call a film civilization. The lamps are more effective, the camera is very good — not an Arriflex, but a Moviecam - and the actors are available for as long as I want them, whereas in Poland they’d often be employed doing a play and a film at the same time. Sometimes when I was filming I had to stop shooting at 5 o’clock because the actors had to leave. But the greatest advantage is a shooting ratio of 12:1. However, the pressure of time is greater here, because in Australia time is more expensive. So, in 40 days I have to do what would normally take 50 or 52 days."
That efficiency will mean Domaradzki can shoot three close-ups in the next 35 minutes. These will be the flash-points of the confrontation between Rennie and Noel.
Domaradzki works patiently with McDonald in the cold, cramped workshop, discussing at length the motive and intention of the simplest words of dialogue (“Burn it”; “I said don’t ”). It is a method that will be repeated over the next few days, a way of working which relies not on a storyboard but with director and actors blocking out the movements, reacting to the implications and needs of the dialogue, gestures, etc., before making any decisions about framing and the camera position.
“I prefer to look at the actors and not at the monitor”, Domaradzki explains, “because when I look at them on the monitor all I get is a cold message. Actors produce an energy and I think it’s always better to look for this directly in their performance.”
The next scene, described by Domaradzki as “a very difficult shot”, begins in the small courtyard at the rear of the building, and then follows Rennie and Cannizzaro along the outside of the building to a large palm tree near the entrance. Outside, the full force of the wind coming off the sea makes everyone quickly put on winter jackets.
To link these three distinct moments in such a long camera movement is ambitious and fraught with problems of language, interpretation and camera logistics. “We have to create a richer reality than the scriptwriter”, Domaradzki says with good humour, loud enough for Farrant to hear.
For the next hour, discussions among Domaradzki, Farrant, director of photography Yuri Sokol and first-assistant director David Wolfe-Barry centre on the camera and the possible double meanings of the dialogue. The scene has two sexual references which have to be kept in balance: Rennie’s lusting after the retarded Gail (Briony Williams) as she sits on the swing, and Cannizzaro’s challenging a retarded exhibitionist, Kevin (Brian Logan), to a comparison of penises by the palm tree. The fifty-metre track will link these two moments, but rehearsals show that for much of the track the dialogue between Rennie and Cannizzaro is informational rather than inherently connected to the moment. Domaradzki feels the scene needs another reason to be entertaining. It takes 90 minutes to find this element - the hand movements of Kevin and Cannizzaro as they open their track-suit trousers - and then eight takes in quick succession in case some of the magic, and the light, evaporates.
Friday 10 November
The first production conversation with Domaradzki over breakfast goes something like:
“What camera angles do you want and how many set-ups?” “I can’t tell you until I rehearse with the actors, but we’ll probably start with a small track.” The wry smiles get broader when, an hour later, he decides to use a “big crane” as well as the track. Domaradzki means a high rather than a large crane, but the misunderstanding causes its own moment of panic with line producer Sue (sic, also Su) Armstrong perpetuating the tension between art and finance.
The first scene for the day will be outside at the entrance to Estcourt House, where Kevin’s father, Mr Jeffries (Don Barker), will bring his son back to Saltmarsh after a home visit and meet Cannizzaro for the first time. By contrast with yesterday’s long track, this should be easier.
Though Domaradzki has planned as much as he can during the very short pre-production period, he is thinking on his feet and has to adjust his vision of the film to each location and scene, bringing out “the dynamics of the actors” rather than imposing a vision upon them through the camera. This is an important distinction because he often meets supporting actors for the first time just before shooting and must react quickly to the possibilities they present. Don Barker is a good example. Getting out of the car to deliver a cruelly accurate impersonation of Kevin’s distorted speech (“He’s too thick to remember anything”), he towers over Brian Vriends and, by tilting the camera up, an unforeseen joke against Cannizzaro is extracted from the decision to cast such a tall actor. “I have to create the aesthetic for this film from the reality I’m given”, Domaradzki says. “I’m looking for something which I feel is important for me to tell an audience, and the style will be a natural part of that, but inside the story.”
At 10:35, the first rehearsal is over and the ‘simple scene’ has become aesthetically complex. There is a quick re-write of some dialogue, while behind the set a row of Heartbreakers and their families are sitting patiently, watching the snail-like process of filming the opening of a car door.
By 11:00, there have been six takes and everyone is keen to get to the next scene which uses the Heartbreakers as a group. Part of the interest in Struck by Lightning is filming with the Heartbreakers. If actors are the volatile or unknown element in filmmaking, then working with the Heartbreakers is unique, and takes the film even further into the areas of improvisation and risk.
For the close-up of Jeffries’ getting out of the car, there is an intense continuity discussion between Domaradzki and Sokol. The tension eases when Domaradzki sees two ships on the horizon which he wants in the shot. In a low-budget film you take any extras you can find, and “ships for free ” will quickly become the slogan for the shoot at Estcourt House.
By 12:15, after a rehearsal and a small change of camera position, several takes are good but ruined by rapidly moving clouds, planes, or both. Sitting beside Domaradzki after Take 3 is cancelled there is a sudden silence: Domaradzki has slumped in his chair while a concerned Sokol looks on. Under this level of pressure it is difficult for any director to hold on to a vision of the unmade film he sees in his head.
Despite the cold wind, a row of Heartbreakers and their parents still sit waiting on the lawn. Their patience is extraordinary. By 2:30 their time has come. The parents will drive up to the front of Estcourt House as Kevin’s father leaves. Domaradzki decides to do it in one shot, coordinating three cars and ten people, most of them Heartbreakers who must run towards and then past the camera.
The schedule then focuses on the first of two major scenes to be shot today: Heartbreakers on the beach. Domaradzki decides to shoot the opening scene in one take, with a perspective from infinity to close-up as Rennie and Cannizzaro lead the Heartbreakers from Estcourt House across a narrow bridge to the beach. He places the camera at the beach end of the bridge so the shot will show a single-file, multi-coloured parade of Heartbreakers carrying sporting equipment. Leading the procession will be Rennie and Cannizzaro, but, as Farrant explains, the shot has risk as well as comedy:
“Cannizzaro says he has to first establish what they’re capable of. We have to do some aerobic testing, cardio-vascular evaluations, bring them down to the beach and put them through this basic commando course. He’s getting further and further ahead of the Heartbreakers carrying the equipment. By the time he hits the beach and turns around, they’re exhausted just from carrying the equipment.”
Farrant explains why there have been no rehearsals for this shot: “It depends entirely on their ability to pick up what they’re supposed to do. We may have to march them across the sandhills a few times to get a take!”
By 4:30 the crew is setting up the second shot in the sequence when the line of exhausted Heartbreakers will crest the sand dunes. Out of the shelter of the dunes, the wind and sand bite into crew, actors and equipment. This must be one of the coldest beaches in Australia, and by 5:30 the pressure is on Domaradzki to finish quickly by shooting in the few short moments between fast-moving clouds. The quick pace - five takes in less than ten minutes is difficult for the Heartbreakers who do not have to fake their collapse on the sand. “Push them to the limits” is Cannizzaro’s ironic dialogue as they fall.
The scene finishes with a close-up on Rennie, and the crew pack quickly for a return to Estcourt House to shoot a sunset scene between Rennie and Cannizzaro. This will be a crucial confrontation between the two characters and puts Domaradzki back into the cinematic environment he loves: actors and a camera in a room. In this scene, the ‘risks’ are that the golden light may fade and the possibility that, on film, the moment may be too beautiful for the dialogue, which has a dark, almost sinister, tone to it. ‘Two things ... together ... always” is Domaradzki’s succinct summary of the scene’s structure.
The windows of the workshop directly overlook the sea and the setting sun, which is flooding the room with a suitably magic light for the last set-up on a Friday afternoon. By 6:00, Domaradzki is blocking out movement and lines, Garry McDonald and Brian Vriends are still being made-up so Alison Goodwin (continuity), and David Wolfe-Barry (first-assistant director) stand in for them, moving, pausing and turning as Domaradzki begins to orchestrate them with the camera. What he is searching for is nuance, the message in the words which will support the image of Rennie and Cannizzaro at either end of the sunlit room.
Their dialogue is about failure: Rennie senses a conspiracy to ensure the sheltered work shop does not succeed because he has been put in charge. It is a perverse acknowledgment of his own flawed self, which leads him to doubt Cannizzaro’s motives for also accepting a job at Saltmarsh. The moment has the added resonance of McDonald, established actor, quizzing Vriends, rising star: “Why are you here? Who the fuck sent you?” Such overlapping of career and character goes straight to the psychic nerve all actors feed off, and each time McDonald says the lines he is able to see the sun visibly sinking.
After the first rehearsal (it is now 7:00), Domaradzki is not happy with the physical space between Rennie and Cannizzaro, which he wants to be a metaphor for their psychological relationship. He re-arranges the furniture and changes the path Brian must take along the side of a large table, momentarily replacing Vladimir Osherov as camera operator so that Sokol can watch on the monitor. Sokol agrees this new arrangement is better and a short discussion follows on Cannizzaro’s dialogue: he is forced to admit he is a failure, but this is a ploy to gain Rennie’s trust. Then, just before a full rehearsal, Sokol and Domaradzki put boxes and chairs in Vriends’ way to give his movement more obstacles.
By 7:30 they have a ‘serious’ rehearsal which runs 78 seconds, but should be shorter and on the next it is down to 66. By now there are only 15 minutes of sunset left and on the next rehearsal McDonald misses his lines. Domaradzki comments that the sunset is producing a peculiar circle of reflected light behind M cDonald’s head and he is instantly dubbed “St Rennie”. The first take is good, the second is better, and shorter, but the camera battery fades just before the third take as the sun sinks on cue. Everything is running on adrenalin and team work now as the battery is quickly replaced and another take catches the last moments of light. From Domaradzki’s “Cut!” the relief is instant and the verdict unanimous: best shot of the day.
Monday 13 November
It is a warm Monday morning after the weekend break and, by 10:00 am, it is obvious that there is some longing for the creative tension of last Friday’s sunset scene. The first exterior scene of the day involves the Heartbreakers having a packed lunch at the rear of Saltmarsh while Rennie introduces Cannizzaro to Gail. Domaradzki decides to begin with a short track to emphasize Rennie’s attraction to Gail’s pale beauty and the possibility of his going ‘out of bounds’.
The first take, at 10:25, is stopped by the sudden arrival of a plane, and several more by mistakes in positioning or dialogue until Take 6, which is acceptable. The series of problems continues with the close-up of Gail on the swing, and an hour later the scene is all the better for the re-thinking of subtle movements, such as Rennie’s hand touching her shoulder as the symbolic gesture of his physical attraction. The ironic rebuff he gets is because Gail is in love with another Heartbreaker. The difficulty with the scene has been how to translate the idea of Gail’s idealized love into a gesture that needs no further explanation.
Before lunch there are two more short scenes scheduled, a close-up and a reverse angle. They are interesting because the Heartbreakers have been patiently sitting with packed lunches on their laps and now are told they can only pretend to eat them in case there has to be another take, which is almost certain. Sokol, Domaradzki and Wolfe-Barry are coaching the Heartbreakers to ‘eat’, and to respond to each other while the camera takes a group shot. It can only be done twice before the lunches are gone and the effort of co-ordination proves too difficult.
The advantage of mixing the professional actors and Heartbreakers together is shown when, after lunch, Kevin has to dance around the palm tree before stopping suddenly when Cannizzaro and Rennie approach. At first Kevin’s dance is awkward, exaggerated, so Donald (Dick Tomkins) is asked to dance for Kevin. The result is brilliant and Domaradzki comes to the conclusion that perhaps no t everything from the world of the Heartbreakers can be imitated.
Domaradzki then moves on to the next scene: a series of reaction shots of Kevin’s exhibitionism which will require delicate direction to remain funny and not tacky. The scene is more than ‘flashing’ because it shows Cannizzaro will cross any boundary to be accepted by the Heartbreakers, and this forces Rennie to re-evaluate his new employee. Domaradzki and Sokol decide to exaggerate the camera movements and play down the dialogue which begins, “Look at this!” They do four quick takes and then another four for the reverse angles on Cannizzaro’s face, as he meets Kevin’s display with equal bravado.
The next hour is taken up by shots of Foster (Denis Moore) judging the dual exhibitionism of Kevin and Cannizzaro, and then announcing the results to an assembled group of Heartbreakers. His decision is that “Kevin wins easily.” By 4:00, they are ready for the first take: Foster looks down into the opened tracksuits, turns and addresses the Heartbreakers who then run past the camera.
The group dynamics of the movements are difficult to perfect and, after another four takes, Domaradzki decides to shoot the reaction of one Heartbreaker, Jody (Jocelyn Betheras), who remains in love with Cannizzaro, despite losing the challenge from Kevin. She is the Heartbreaker most infatuated with her ‘stardom’ in the film: “I’m having the best time”, she says. Her innocent “But I still love him” is the sentiment needed to balance Rennie’s earlier attraction to Gail, and should be one of the strong moments in the film. This has been achieved against the odds with hot, windless air aggravating the problem of doing so many shots in succession with the Heartbreakers.
The crew begins to draw on emotional credit as they move into the early evening schedule: filming the unpacking of soccer uniforms from the boot of a Mercedes. But if the strain of this Monday is showing, it hasn’t reached Brian Vriends who is consistently perfect in movement and dialogue through rehearsal to Take 3, which finishes the shoot for the day at 6:40 p.m.
Tuesday 14 November
Tuesday begins at 8:00 a.m. in Rennie’s office. The scene, between Rennie and Cannizzaro, hinges on contrasting the cruel cynicism of Rennie with the idealism of the younger Cannizzaro over the prospects for the Heartbreakers’ exercise programme. The room is small, cluttered and difficult to film in. Rennie is meant to be doing exercises in the door way, but this immediately creates focus problems, which are solved by Sokol with another “small track”. (These two words, along with “ships for free”, can now be guaranteed to bring a grin.)
Domaradzki takes the scene one step further and decides to start it with Rennie’s jogging in the corridor outside the office before energetically entering the room. Cannizzaro wants to talk about exercising the Heartbreakers, but Rennie is preoccupied with making tea and looking for a hidden bottle of Scotch with which to spike the brew.
It is a strong scene for Garry M cDonald, with witty dialogue, but the short movements require fine timing. In the next forty minutes, the scene is gradually rewritten by Domaradzki to become funnier and more dynamic, but it also loses its ending. “Where to cut?” becomes the big question. The crew, squashed into the small office, are beginning to wonder if Tuesday will become another Monday - uphill.
Then Domaradzki announces to the room with a broad smile: “I have found the ending to the scene. One of the actors disappears.” The simplicity of using a classic storyline trick from Hollywood will work perfectly because Cannizzaro will now suddenly leave and Rennie will be alone holding two cups of tea in the empty room. The effect is to catch Rennie off balance and transfer the momentum of the relationship back to Cannizzaro.
Once the disappearing trick is integrated into the scene, the rehearsals focus on details of performance and positioning in the room. The scene is also too long, but this is solved by speeding up the dialogue. The last of six takes is completed by 10:50 a.m. and confidence visibly returns to the set.
Several exterior scenes on the soccer field follow, which continue the spirit of jmprovisation when some moments involving the Heartbreakers do not go according to the script. A scene that requires them to stand on one leg during warm-up exercises disintegrates into chaos as some fall over on cue and others defiantly take pride in remaining upright.
The remaining scenes after lunch are back in Estcourt House and allow the Heartbreakers to live up to their name. The first has two of them silhouetted against the workshop window doing a stand-up routine from Laurel and Hardy, throwing imaginary buckets of water and slapping faces. They are perfect on two takes and the crew spontaneously applauds.
The second scene is more involved, shot partially in a narrow corridor, and involves jody’s pushing a trolley in which Rennie will find the wood shavings from Noel’s carvings. Her “ohoh ” will be a simple comment on the disaster that follows. The heat in the corridor is stifling and it takes ninety minutes before the first take, but the scene is more complicated, in terms of actors and camera, than anyone imagined and if there is a hero on the set today it is Jocelyn Betheras as Jody. The problems of timing are solved by a loud handclap to cue her and later, in the close-up, when she is told to “forget about the camera”, it is clearly an ambitious request for an actor who is starstruck.
(b) Cinema Papers' Interview with Jerzy Domaradzki:
Jerzy Domaradzki was bom in Poland in 1943 and graduated with a Master’s degree in Social Sciences from Warsaw University in 1970, and in Film and Stage Direction from the Lodz Film School in 1974.
During his period at the Film School he worked as an assistant director with Andrzej Wajda. Domaradzki made his directorial debut with the episode “Romance” from “Picture From Life” in 1975. He has since directed seven features, two telefilms and one mini-series. He was chairman of the Polish Feature Filmmakers’ Association from 1982 to 1987, and subsequently a member of the Prezidium Polish Filmmakers’ Association. Since 1988, he has been Director-in-Residence at the Australian Film Television and Radio School in Sydney.
Hunter Cordaiy: How did you become involved with Struck by Lightning?
Jerzy Domaradzki: Like most of the important things in my life, it was by accident. I was working with Trevor Farrant on another script when he gave me the Struck by Lightning script to read. When I started it, I couldn’t stop. It was so moving that I told him, “If you want a director for this script, I’m ready anytime.” That was February 1989 and a month later he called me and asked me to direct it. Terry Charatsis then applied to the Film Finance Corporation for the production money and here we are, in November, shooting the film.
Cordaiy: It is unusual for a film to be prepared so quickly. How has this affected the production?
Domaradzki: Trevor Farrant is a very precise scriptwriter, so the only difficulty was finding the right location. When I arrived in Adelaide I found the perfect location fifty metres from the hotel! It was an old building and would have been excellent for Saltmarsh, but it turned out we couldn’t use it. However, the image of this building was so strong that we looked for something similar and eventually found Estcourt House, where we’ve been filming this week.
The logic of these kind of places is similar. They are both old buildings, too big for a new owner and in a state of decay. To restore them would cost a fortune and, because only big companies can finance that level of restoration, sometimes these buildings are given to the government. Estcourt House was a Centre for Aboriginal Art and Activity, and before that a hospital. Nobody wanted it, so it was perfect for our story about people nobody wants.
Cordaiy: Working with Downs Syndrome adults on Struck by Lightning must have problems and advantages for a filmmaker: one of the problems would be the aesthetics of disabled people. People might say that you are exploiting the disabled.
Domardzki: This an issue film about retarded people: What should we do with them? There is an element of curiosity in a film like this, just as we are curious about certain tribes in New Guinea or Africa. This will happen wherever you touch an unusual problem or people. But the approach in the script has always been more universal, and shows the Downs Syndrome people as ‘normal but different’. They are in some ways more happy: they don’t have a past, or a future, and live in the present. So making this film might, I think, help us to understand not only these special people, but also ourselves.
Their problems are what we create because we don’t have a method for dealing with them, or helping them exist, in our society. Their parents feel guilty and keep them at home; that doesn’t give them social relationships. So, they slip back. In this film, we try to show that if they can work it’s good because they are with each other; they can exchange some emotion and learn simple skills. So the main subject is to give them a chance, to show how to be tolerant. All my efforts have been to make this a more universal film and not just a curiosity.
Cordaiy: The film mixes professional actors with the Downs Syndrome adults.
Domaradzki: Yes. Our first decision was that they should be actors and not play themselves, so we created characters for each of them. But some characters, particularly those who have love affairs, we cast with actors. It would have been too risky, for technical reasons, and we were afraid of the price they might have to pay afterwards. Nobody could tell us how being in the film would affecgt them, and we were afraid that the reality of the film would get confused with the reality of their lives.
Cordaiy: How did you chose which Downs Syndrome adults to use in the film?
Domaradzki: We invited them to a workshop and set up something like a screen test. There are some limits to their abilities, but at the same time I discovered that most of them are like children, with very natural reactions. They are all potentially actors.
Cordaiy: You have cast Garry McDonald as Rennie. McDonald is better known for his television work, so presumably this film is a challenge for him.
Domaradzki: Because I’m new to the Australian film industry, I haven’t had the experience of working with any of these actors. So in some ways I don’t have preconceptions, like, for example, that Garry can’t play a tragic figure.
Cordaiy: In another way, the film is also a challenge for Brian Vriends.
Domaradzki: Yes. He’s a new face and for him it’s a chance to be the main character in a film and to work opposite Garry.
His casting was a very complex decision because I had to find two compatible actors who were opposite.
Cordaiy: How did the professional actors learn about their retarded characters?
Domaradzki: That was the awkward question: how to match them. We ‘normal’ people have preconceptions about what is abnormal and so it was difficult for the actors to find the interior motivations. What I discovered in the workshop was t at often the reaction of the Heartbreakers was the same as our ‘normal’ ones. For example, when I was in some parts of America the people I met were surprised that I looked just like them, even though I came from a Communist country! They had created a stereotype of the stranger. I found a similar experience here.
Cordaiy: What changes has this mixing of actors made to your directing?
Domaradzki: What I’ve found is that the non-professional actors are perfect on most of the first takes. Why? Because in the next take they’ve learnt and they fix a reaction; they are not motivated by emotion but by memory of the first time. Their spontaneity is lost. When we repeat shots, they don’t try to be, they pretend to be. So, the general method we developed is a technical rehearsal and, when everything is ready, we bring on the Heartbreakers and shoot. Of course, this is interesting for the professional actors be cause they know the dialogue, but they don’t know how the Heartbreakers, their partners, will react.
Cordaiy: You have used a lot of tracks, and cranes. When should the camera move?
Domaradzki: The point of view must be emotional, so that when the emotions change the camera must change. Unfortunately, I can’t do as much movement with the camera as I would like because the technique is too heavy: it takes time and more movement means more barriers between me and the actors. I want to create an emotional tension by arranging the actors in a space. We are all concerned with space: our culture is connected with space in rooms, how we build houses, where we put fences, what is private and public, and how people behave in different spaces.
Cordaiy: Does this affect the lighting as well?
Domaradzki: With a low-budget film, with limited days and hours, we can’t wait for the best light. And the agreement with Yuri Sokol from the beginning was that we would use a softer light - we didn’t want to have contrast on their faces which would accentuate their mongolism. So we used lighting like for movie stars who are over forty, with more flattering, soft, dispersed light and not too many close-ups.
Cordaiy: Why should audiences care about this story of Rennie, Cannizzaro and the Heartbreakers?
Domaradzki: I care, and I have to believe that I have an understanding of the world and stories. I liked what Milos Forman said about filmmaking: because he’s making the film for millions and it must be shown to millions, a director must give the audience some entertainment, humour and humanity. If a film is not for the mass audience, it has lost its power. Though television has created a much bigger audience, it is passive. I’m interested in cinema audiences because I prefer the viewers who vote on my film by buying a ticket.
The interview attached a filmography for Domaradzki to that point his career:
1975 “Romance”, episode of Picture from Life
1975 A Long Wedding Night (tele-feature, 60 mins)
1976 Test Shots (feature, 85 mins) - also co-writer
1977 Beast/White Harvest (feature, 100 mins) - also co-writer
1980 The Laureat (tele-film, 55 mins)
1981 Great Race/Big Run (feature, 100 mins) - also co-writer
1983 The Tailor’s Planet (feature, 87 mins) - also co-writer
1984 Three Watermills (mini-series, 3 x 60 mins) —also co-writer
1985 The Legend of the White Horse (feature, 85 mins)
1987 Cupid’s Bow (feature, 100 mins) - also co-writer)
1990 Struck by Lightning (feature, 90 mins)
5. Beyond Press Kit:
Beyond ended up the sales agent for the film, and produced a press kit, no longer available online after Beyond abandoned its feature film sales agency side of the business (the press kit synopsis is on the front page of this listing).
The kit - rather than the movie - provides an explanation for the film’s title:
WRITERS NOTE THE TITLE
In many cultures, in medieval times, it was believed that, since babies literally came from heaven, a child who was born retarded must have been 'struck by lightning' en route.
This reference is never explained in the film; we don't know why Cannizzaro chooses the lightning bolt as the emblem for the soccer team, except that, in typical style, it is an outrageously macho, over-the-top symbol for such an inept rabble.
STRUCK BY LIGHTNING, of course, is also the effect that Cannizzaro has on the lives of those around him - most of all Rennie, who serves in the story as a kind of 'lightning conductor' for Cannizzaro's excesses of optimism and lunatic faith.
(There is very little evidence for this medieval usage/source online).
The kit also provided an explanation of how the idea for the film came to writer Trevor Farrant, in the context of a bio:
Trevor Farrant Writer/Producer
STRUCK BY LIGHTNING came about because Trevor Farrant answered someone else's phone at a TV station he was visiting in 1975.
"The Mentally Retarded Children's Society wanted a television commercial made for free. I thought my conscience could not stand that. We not only made the ad, we organised their fundraising campaign. The best they had ever done before was $9,000 but this one brought in $1.5 million."
Trevor recalls that he came across the prototype of the films workshop director, Rennie, running one of Adelaide's first sheltered workshops for adults. "He hit them, he swore at them, he wore football shorts and a torn shirt, there was a can of beer open on his desk...but they loved him. He got things done." Trevor knew there was a story in what he had witnessed.
Then, "two years ago I was on a bus which stopped outside a workshop and a dozen Down's Syndrome people got on. Within five minutes they knew everyone's name and we were all having a sing along. They exuded so much affection and innocence, I knew that if we could capture that on the screen, we had a film."
The key was warmth and humour. "A straight treatment of the subject matter would be depressing. This had to be funny, positive, uplifting...they go through life having such a good time, that they make you feel good. At the same time the emotion had to be real; any suggestion of sentimentality would be fatal. What I wrote was probably blacker, harder-edged than you see on the screen. Jerzy and his cast have given it a sweetness, an amiability that serves the material well."
Trevor says he has spent some 20 years fighting for the power and freedom to produce his own scripts. His feature film debut was the notorious turkey, The Pirate Movie, in 1981. "I wrote the screenplay in four days. The producers sold it to 20th Century Fox for $3 million...Australia's first ever 'negative pick up' deal. Not too much of the $9 million budget actually hit the screen and even less of what I wrote. Garry McDonald did his part as written, out of loyalty to me, and won an AFI award for it."
Trevor enjoyed some vindication years later when his original draft was resurrected for The Princess Bride. In the meantime he retreated into television in both Australia and USA, working on variety series and comedy such as Laugh-In, The Tonight Show, Fast Forward, The Gillies Report and sitcoms like MASH, Taxi and Cheers. He wrote and produced This Is Your Life for three years and developed ABC-TV's hit comedy, Mother & Son as it's original packager.
He formed Dark Horse Pictures with Terry J Charatsis in 1989 and is working on "a couple of comedies" and a sequel to STRUCK BY LIGHTNING in which Rennie and Cannizzaro no sooner make a success of the sheltered workshop, than Rennie decides the concept is outmoded and the trainees should be leading independent lives in the real world. According to Trevor, it is already beginning to happen. "Small groups are setting up houses in the suburbs, living their lives. To anyone who doubts their chances, we say, look at our film, look at them on the screen, acting and being terrific at it. It's like the rest of us climbing Mount Everest before breakfast every day of the week.”
Jerzy Domaradzki Director
Jerzy Domaradzki is recognised as one of Europe's most accomplished and controversial film-makers. He makes his English language debut with STRUCK BY LIGHTNING, after a series of artistic and commercial successes in his native Poland.
His most highly acclaimed film, The Big Run (also know as The Great Race), was made in 1981 but suppressed under marshall law for its subversive satire of the corporate state. Released in 1986, it attracted worldwide attention, winning Best Film at Montreal (1988), the Silver Lion for Best Director at the National Film Festival in Poland (1987) and an invitation to the prestigious New Directors/New Films season at the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art, New York (1988). These are among Jerzy's 18 awards at major film festival from Moscow to Toronto.
After receiving a Masters degree from Warsaw University in 1970, Jerzy entered the Lodz Film School to study film and stage direction, working as assistant to Andrzej Wajda.
The Planet Tailor, which he directed and co-wrote, won first prize at Locarno in 1983 and critical acclaim at both the Chicago and Toronto film festivals. Among his seven features are Test Shots (1976), The Beast/White Harvest (1977), The Legend of the White Horse (1985) and Cupid's Bow (1987), which has been a major commercial success in Eastern Europe. Since he left Poland with his family in 1988, his films, under glasnost, have assumed a major importance as catalysts for dissent and change in the communist system.
STRUCK BY LIGHTNING came to him, "like most important things in my life, by accident. I was working with Trevor Farrant on another script and he gave this to me to read. When I started it, I couldn't stop - it was so moving that I told him I would be ready anytime to direct it."
What attracted him to STRUCK BY LIGHTNING? "This is an issue film about retarded people...what should we do with them?...but the approach in the script is universal. The Down's Syndrome people are shown as 'normal but different'. They are in some ways more happy; they don't have a past or a future, but live in the present. Making this film might help us understand not only these people, but also ourselves."
"It is also a film about friendship, about the quality of love, presented with humour and humanity. There is a thread of dark comedy, or irony - Cannizzaro wants to change people's lives, Rennie opposes him and thus the life he changes most of all is Rennie's."
Jerzy endorsed the producers decision to cast real-life Down's Syndrome adults as the Saltmarsh workforce. "We created characters for them, so that they are in the film as actors, not merely playing themselves. For a few characters, particularly those who have love affairs, we cast professional actors - we were afraid of the price they might pay afterwards. The reality of the film could get confusing with the reality of their lives."
"If actors are the unknown and volatile element in filmmaking, then working with the Heartbreakers was unique. They took the film even further into the areas of improvisation and risk. In return, they gave us what I call a 'richness' of emotion, of involvement, of belief."
Terry J Charatsis Executive Producer/Producer
Terry was accepted into the drama course at Flinders University in South Australia but chose instead to study law. He was admitted to the Bar in 1979 and set up a successful private practice specialising in entertainment law.
In 1988 he hung up his shingle to become a fulltime film and television producer, forming Dark Horse Pictures in partnership with producer Trevor Farrant.
Of STRUCK BY LIGHTNING, Terry says, "The film has had a charmed life. We raised the budget with literally five minutes to spare. We found our major location a couple of days before the shoot. Not one but four government departments put pressure on us, trying to ban the film before they'd read the script...then the Premier's Department produced a report saying this could be the best thing ever in the lives of our disabled cast.
"We were determined to use the real life intellectually disabled actors, both for realism and to show the world what they were capable of achieving. We made a promise to ourselves that no-one we auditioned would be turned away, that we would find a part for everyone...we did...and they're magnificent, all of them."
What next for Dark Horse Pictures? "We plan to make more original comedies...small, idiosyncratic films that have something to say, but say it entertainingly ."
Projects in development include Rio & Katz (in co-production with Barron Films), based on Terry's own original idea; and The Man in the Phantom Suit, which he describes as "a comedy thriller about innocence, trams, a gorilla, dressing up as the Phantom, a Polish song-and-dance lady who busks at road accidents and of course a serial murder."
Garry McDonald plays Rennie
Garry McDonald is one of Australia's best loved actors, both popular and prodigiously talented, with an unbroken string of successes on screen, stage and record since the mid-70's.
His satirical character, 'multimedia megastar' Norman Gunston, earned him Australian TV's highest honour, The Gold Logie, and his own regular segment on USA television in On Stage America. The Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Kiss and other celebrities all joined Norman's fan club, featuring him on their TV specials and videos.
His sitcom, Mother & Son, soon to be in it's fifth season, is the ABC TV's highest rating comedy of all time. Equally at ease in straight drama, his moving portrayal of a cancer victim in Jimmy Dancer won him several Best Actor awards.
His feature films include Picnic At Hanging Rock, the highly acclaimed film directed by Peter Weir as well as other Australian productions such as Wills and Burke - The Untold Story, The Picture Show Man and The Pirate Movie. He has been involved in some of Australia's finest theatre including Don's Party directed by Graeme Blundell, Speed the Plow directed by Neil Armfield and Emerald City in London directed by Richard Wherrett.
The starring role of Rennie in STRUCK BY LIGHTNING was written especially for Garry by his long-time collaborator Trevor Farrant. "I read it and thought it was great. That seems to be everyone's reaction. For the first time in my experience, the dramatic and comic qualities of a character have come together believably...it's the best thing I have done."
A gregarious, unpretentious person, always popular on his film sets, Garry became closely involved with his intellectually disabled co-stars and was the richer for it. "They give so much to you...I get immersed in their dramas, heartbreaks, romances...there was a real sense of loss after the shoot."
That emotional bond comes across on the screen. "There's one moment in the boardroom scene, where Jody (Jocelyn Betheras) reads her testimonial for Rennie - 'I love you...signed Jody' - and Jocelyn suddenly thrust the note into my hand. We hadn't rehearsed it that way, so it was totally unexpected. You see Rennie choke up on the screen, but it is me going all misty. They do that to you, time and again, creating little moments that are totally surprising, totally real."
Brian Vriends plays Cannizzaro
After what seems an almost accidental start, Brian has become a strong young actor with experience in theatre, television and film. He grew up in a tiny South Australian town, and was well on his way towards a professional tennis career, when he joined a friend at a NIDA audition for moral support and landed the scholarship.
His major film debut was in Mortgage directed by Bill Bennett and he also starred in Depth of Feeling directed by Arch Nicholson. He appeared in Grim Pickings and had guest roles on Rafferty's Rules and Mission Top Secret.
Brian plays the film's protagonist, Cannizzaro, a headstrong, charismatic person who is determined to change people's lives, at whatever cost...to them. "He's a bastard," said Brain. "A charming bastard. He believes anything is possible and for a while it is. He loves the people in his care, but it is a reckless love and, as Rennie constantly tells him, dangerous."
Brian found working with director Jerzy Domaradzki both enjoyable and taxing at the same time. "Jerzy is pretty formidable...but stimulating, a breakthrough in understanding the techniques of acting for film. He expects the actor to inspire him, to bring some original emotion to the screen, but at the same time he demands meticulous attention to the frame...the actor is part of his visual composition."
Catherine McClements plays Jill
At Catholic convent school, Catherine wanted to be a potter. It was her older sister who wanted to be an actor and Catherine went along to watch her NIDA audition. It was Catherine that came away with the scholarship.
Catherine's studies at NIDA, like most actors, have stood her in good stead in both theatre, film and television mediums. Graduating from NIDA in 1985 Catherine performed Shakespearean theatre with the State Theatre Company of South Australia, including The Winter's Tale directed by John Gaden and Much Ado About Nothing.
Catherine's film credits include The Right Hand Man where she starred along side Rupert Everrett. She has also starred in the television feature My Brother Tom which established her as one of Australia's new talents and great beauties. Her most recent credits include the feature Depth Of Feeling and the tele-movie Just Us.
The European style of film-making under Jerzy Domaradzki was "different...confronting...lots of creative tension. Jerzy uses the camera more pliantly, with longer, wider shots, fewer cutaways and closeups to retain the actors' rhythm in the scene."
The end title song for the film could be found in full, extended form on an “in memoriam” site for the composer, Paul Smyth, which could be found at time of writing online here. This presents the song in much better form than can be found in VHS copies of the film.
In the film, the song begins after the key actor credits have popped up - the film inserts moments of comedy between the credits - and it is then abbreviated when the end credits finish.
Lyrics for the song are:
About in the direction
That you left me to pursue
Opened up the window to the sky
Something in me sang about
The pain that we’ve been through
Something else could see it was a lie
Look around and hear the sound
Of people’s lives coming apart ... mm, mm
We’re all in this together
Thinking we’re all on our own
Facing this bridge of glass
Oh bridges are burning
The change winds are blowing
There’s many with fire in their eyes
All raging with protest
In fear without knowing
The blessing behind the disguise
Well the perfect way to lose the world
Is to put it down … oohoh
Let me introduce you
To the one who walks beside you
On this bridge of glass
Everybody is coming to you
All the soldiers and the in-house traders (traitors?)
Holy rollers and the white crusaders
All the killers and the mad berserkers
All the victims of the three ring circus
All the followers of all the leaders
All the mediators, all bereavers
All of the voices and none of the names
Coming together as we walk through the flames
Well the perfect way to lose your love
Is to put it down …mmmm
We’re all walking together
Thinking we’re all on our own
Crossing this bridge of glass
Well the perfect way to improve your love
Is to trust in your heart …oohoh
We’re walking together
Taking the last journey home …
Crossing this final bridge of glass …
Everybody, we’re coming to you …
All the soldiers and the in-house traders (traitors?) (over black)
Holy rollers and the white crusaders (song does a quick fade out over black)
(In the original version, which runs 5’52”, the lyrics continue this way):
All the killers and the mad berserkers
All the victims of the three ring circus
All the followers of all the leaders
All the mediators, all bereavers
All of the voices and all of the names
Coming together, walking over the flames
Yeah …all of the mystics and all the teachers
Broken fandangoes and under-achievers
All the lonely and all stockpilers
Artists and children and dreamin’ admirers
All of the guilty and all the frozen
Buyers and sellers and all the chosen
Mathematicians and medicine men
Crossing together, all together again
Yeah, all of the soldiers and in-house traders (traitors?)
Holy rollers and the white crusaders
All of the borders, all of the seams
They’re tearing apart as we’re claiming our dreams
(instrumental then to end)
For more details about the film's music, see this site's pdf of music credits.
7. Synopsis, with sample dialogue, cast details and spoilers:
An Adelaide school.
Sports/phys ed teacher Pat Cannizzaro (Brian Vriends) is leading his class in soccer goal kicking practice, and jokes about the Calabrian Cat goal keeper tensing as he challenges nerdish young Haddad (Luke Bramley) to make contact with the ball. Back to Beirut, Pat jokes, at Haddad's feeble shot.
Next up is plump Pappas (James Barbero) who saunters up to the ball and dribbles towards the goal, past Cannizzaro. You little bugger, you fat turd, Pat says, as the class laughs. Then Pat fondles Pappas’s breasts, saying “look at these, biggest tits in Grade 7”.
Pat picks Pappas up, drops him on the ground and tells him he could be anything. He’s got more talent than anyone he’s seen than him, and he was in the state under 12s, but Pappas can’t even bloody well run.
Pat asks what Pappas had for dinner - McDonalds - and offers him a salad for lunch, though Pappas says he doesn’t know what a salad is.
Cannizzaro tosses a pair of soccer boots to Pappas and tells him not to eat the bloody things.
Later, salad in hand, Cannizzaro snatches a cream bun away from Pappas as he emerges from the school tuckshop, hurls it at the wall and shouts at tuckshop manager Mrs Greatrex (Claire Benito) that he’s doing it, he’s closing her down.
Greatrex says she’s had enough shit from him “and they’ve had enough shit from you,” Pat retorts - snatching a pie from a kid and squashing in his hand, asking her if she’d eat this stuff.
“I do,” says the plump manager. “I rest my case,” says Cannizaro to kid laughter, as he begins to hurl food about and wreck the tuck shop.
The school principal Mr Pink (Peter Green) arrives, and Cannizaro moans about how he slugs his guts out to get the kids fit, and when Pink says he’s heard the speech before, tells Pink, “don’t patronise me you prick”.
Pink says Pat’s not a good teacher - instead of teaching he wants to save the kids. “They’re not ours Pat.”
“Oh yes, Cannizzarro, king of the kids! We’ve had complaints …”, noting how people get worried about teachers who give presents and lifts home to little boys.
Cannizzaro takes off Pink’s glasses, grabs him by the tie, and with a “if they eat it, you eat it”, slams gunk into Pink’s face.
Kids laugh, and we cut to cops taking Cannizzaro away in ‘cuffs in a cop car.
Pappas runs alongside the car, boots over shoulders, and touches hands with Pat through the glass, as Cannizzaro jokes it was worth it - “Pappas is running!”
Cut to Saltmarsh, a 'sheltered workshop' by the sea, as main titles unfold.
Cannizzaro walks up to the entrance and across to where Ollie Rennie (Garry McDonald) is doing some gardening. Ollie complains it’s a waste of time, nothing ever grows there.
They head inside, under a sign saying “Independance with Dignity”.
Introductions over, Rennie corrects how Cannizzaro can’t say his name with a proper Italian accent - pretty basic mistake - then reads his CV, which says he played first division soccer for Juventus.
“It’s a bit of a girl’s game, isn’t it?” asks Rennie as he gets up and stands next to an old West Adelaide SAFL team photo. “Australian Rules is my game: hard, tough, manly.”
“Who’d you play for? Westies?”
“Never actually played it. Watched all the time. Yeah, the Bloods. Heartbreakers ...”
He asks Pat why he left the department, and Pat says it seemed logical after they sacked him.
Rennie jokes Pat’s got cream on his nose - he knows about the ruckus - and explains he used to be a chalkie himself, craft teacher. Got the shaft, same as him, but still keeps a few contacts.
Rennie suddenly rushes outside with a ‘bugger me’, to see a figure dashing off. He shouts at Kevin, with a “bugger me dead.”
Then he tells Cannizzaro “come meet a retard.”
They head into the garden where Jody (Jocelyn Betheras) is planting things upside down in the soil. She hugs Cannizzaro, saying over and over she loves him. “I love you too,” Pat responds, as it escalates to “I love you more” from both of them.
Rennie tells them to break it up, Jody’s boyfriend will get jealous, as he pulls the upside down plants out and offers Cannizzaro a cup of tea. Jody returns to her upside down planting.
Inside the kitchen, Rennie hunts for a half bottle of liquor as Jody passes and Pat jokes he thinks he’s engaged.
Rennie says he's got the job …he was the only applicant. “I’m staggered we got any.”
As he pours out the booze, Rennie asks if he wants some tea in the cup too - he can put the kettle on. Then handing Pat the mug of booze:
“Doesn’t worry you a Mongoloid might have drunk from that?”
Pat: “It’s not contagious.”
Rennie: “Done our homework, have we?”
Pat: “Down’s syndrome. It’s a chromosome abnormality affecting one in a hundred births. The term Mongolism comes from the characteristic face with the oriental …”
Rennie (interrupting with a slam of his hand): “This is the real world here Pizzano, you can’t just wreck the joint and walk away …”
Cannizzaro finishes his drink then asks if he can take a horse mobile hanging off Rennie’s desk, offering to pay for it.
Rennie: “I’ll see that you do.”
Pat: “How can a place like this afford a phys ed teacher?”
Rennie: “Government grant. They offered me a poet in residence or a folk historian. I asked for fuck, I got you …”
Rennie rings the cops to tell them Kevin’s on the loose again.
Cut to a TV dating game on TV.
Cannizzaro’s mama (Maria Donato) is shouting at the screen for the man to pick number two contestant because number one’s not a virgin.
Pat arrives, and assures mama they’re all virgins, as a woman on the TV offers to give the man a hot and seductive massage.
Cannizzaro takes his newly acquired mobile out into the back yard and gives it to his young brother Freddy (Jeremy Angerson).
He shows how it works and Fredo is beguiled.
Cut to a kind of Three Stooges ‘nuk nuk’ routine at Saltmarsh, as Rennie tells Pat not to get carried away. He just wants him to keep them out of mischief and burn off some energy. “The theory is they’re incapable of anything physical, aside from eating and shitting.”
“Who’s theory’s that?”
“Mine mostly …”
More “nuk nuk” slapstick, as Rennie explains that they’re a boil on the arse of the Foundation… the Lazarus Foundation, Pat’s new employer …
Pat thought that was for little kids, but Rennie asks who looks after the little kids when they’re in their twenties and still piss in their pants. “The answer? Nobody … ‘till now.”
Rennie shows Cannizzaro the Christmas crackers packing room, and they pull a bon-bon, with Rennie proud they have no duds.
“Ours never fail … the boys are slow but they’re perfectionists… aren’t you Donald?”, as Donald (Dick Tomkins) replies with a slow “yess”.
Jody comes up and hugs Pat with more “I love hims”, as Rennie separates them.
Donald offers Pat a Christmas hat, and then Pat refuses when Rennie tells him to take the silly bloody thing off.
A twitchy Colin (Peter Douglas) opens the door, explaining to Rennie he was in the toilet. It’s the cold weather, he had to go.
Rennie explains in an aside that Colin is almost normal - he’s their chief instructor - then asks Colin where Kevin is. Colin says it’s his rostered day off.
Cannizzaro looks at some rubber band packing into boxes, and then we cut to him leading Rennie and his pupils - a “control group” - down to the beach, medicine ball in hand, as he explains that first he needs to establish basic fitness levels. The sort of thing NASA does with astronauts. Percy Cerutty with Herb Elliott at Portsea. In layman’s terms, find out what sort of punishment they can take. Push ‘em to the limit.
His group collapses to the sand behind him.
Rennie walks off with a “hmm.”
Cannizzaro shows how to dribble between traffic cones but his charges are in a line with cones on their heads. Give up? shouts Rennie.
Cut to Foster (Denis Moore), in Port Adelaide SAFL jumper, getting up to greet Rennie, with a triumphant shout about winning and Rennie owing him a Coca-cola.
When Foster bursts into tears, Rennie offers him double or nothing, and the smile return - but the bet's if Port wins.
Foster asks Cannizzaro who he plays for, but Rennie tells Foster he’s hopeless, he plays soccer.
But Foster knows Juventus is also black and white, same as Port, boasting he knows all sports, and says he’ll win two cokes - one for him, and one for Pat.
Cut to Jody bumping into Rennie, who discovers wood shavings and storms off into another room, to demand that wood-carving Noel (Henry Salter) hands it over.
As Noel cowers, Rennie discovers a grotesque carving of a gargoyle head hidden under a box.
Rennie cuffs Noel on the head, saying he told him horses, “not bloody monsters. Got that straight?!”
He tosses the head into Jody’s box, telling her to burn it and waves a finger at Pat - “don’t!!”
“Pass any judgements, okay??!”
Pat comes over to Noel and says he took one of his horses home to his little brother.
He loves it - then Pat whispers he loves the head too.
Rennie storms back in with an “I said don’t!!”
Cut to a garden swing where Gail (Briony Williams) sits, as she and Spencer (Syd Brisbane) are making eyes at each other.
They sit together and Rennie offers to introduce Pat to Gail, telling Spencer that boys eat lunches at the boys’ benches.
Spencer departs, as Rennie explains that Gail whips up handcrafted logos for snazzy windcheaters.
Rennie caresses her by the shoulder as he explains they’re working on a corporate logo sort of thing.
The attractive Gail ignores Pat, as Rennie tells him “don’t even think it.”
When Pat says he wasn’t, Rennie says “I have … believe me … Gail and Spencer are in love … how’s that for a thought to put you off your lunch?”
Pat: “It’s not fair, is it?”
Rennie: “Fair?! Sss, she’s the lucky ones, the Gails and Spencers and Fosters and Jodys … how many untold bloody hundreds of them are out there, locked away in cupboards, tethered to the gatepost, dribbling and drooling. The real vegetables in full-time care, beyond pain. The others we could help … useful work, friends of their own kind, a soft place to fall …who pays, who puts their hand in their pocket for this lot?”
Pat: “The Foundation can’t?”
Rennie: “Can’t? Won’t!! They want this place to fail, they’ll make certain it will …”
At that moment a dancing and singing Kevin (Brian M. Logan) emerges from behind a tree and Rennie demands to know where he’s been.
Rennie shouts for Colin to get there pronto and asks if there’s any sign of the cops. Not today, says Colin.
Rennie calls Cannizzaro over to complete his education.
He introduces Pat to Kevin, and tells Pat to say good day.
When Pat offers his hand, Kevin pulls open his pants and urges him to “look at this”.
Cannizzaro stares at Kevin’s penis. “That’s a pretty big dick, Kevin.”
Then Pat opens up his pants and shows his dick to Kevin. “That’s a beauty,” gasps Kevin.
Foster checks them both out and pronounces Kevin the winner “easy”. Cheers from all. Jody says she still loves Pat.
Rennie’s pouring hard liquor into Pat’s cup, saying it’s his first week, and asking what does he think?
Pat says he still hasn’t answered his question - how will the board make sure it fails?
“By putting a failure in charge. Me,” says Rennie.
“And you hire a failure, Me,” replies Pat.
“Only I surprised them, surprised myself. Turns out I’m actually quite good at this caper. They’re making a go of it. Stuffing envelopes, sorting rubbish. Shit work for now, but in the long run we could do … die cutting, wood turning, craftsman stuff …we’ll get there …if the bastards give us a chance ... ”
“I’ll drink to that.”
“Cannizzaro. Now you answer my question. Why are you here? Who the fuck sent you?”
Pat doesn’t reply, and instead we cut to Pat running up to greet Kevin’s dad, Mr Jeffries (Don Barker), who’s arrived at Saltmarsh in his car.
Jeffries complains a note wasn’t sent home about sandshoes - they’re too thick to remember, as Pat explains the idea was to make them responsible for their own gear.
Pat apologises and offers for Jeffries to stay and watch, but Jeffries says he sees enough of Kevin at home.
He begins to drive away, and Pat tries to cheer up Kevin by calling him the Wanderer, who goes round and round and round.
Jeffries begins to apologise, then drives off.
Pat bets Jeffries has got a little one, and Kevin shows a tiny one with his fingers. As they begin to clean up the lawn, others rush up to hug Pat.
Later on the beach Pat asks who remembered to bring their gear?
Only Foster did.
No problem, says Pat, as he retrieves uniforms from the boot of his car, courtesy Juventus soccer club, and Rennie thinks he’s nicked them. The gear is borrowed, Pat clarifies, the car (a Merc) he nicked from the club chairman.
Who knows their size? Pat asks. “Short and fat” Rennie jokes. “Get fucked,” Pat says sotto voce.
Pat inspects his uniformed team and starts off with some simple stretches. The team topple over, with only Rennie left standing …
In the office, Rennie jogs about, joking that it seemed to go pretty well, and asking what routines he had in mind if they completed an actual warm-up. He offers a cup of tea and Pat tells him to make it a double.
Rennie jokes that the beauty of brain damage is that concussion makes practically no difference, while Pat thinks his mistake was expecting them to exercise too formally. Set routines and drills.
Rennie asks if he ever saw the Ray Milland film, Lost Weekend, wondering if “that bitch” might have hid his booze in the light shade.
Pat says he’s not listening, but Rennie says he is - Pat’s suggesting a bit less ed and a bit more phys.
Pat hands Rennie the bottle hidden in a milk carton, and Rennie says it’s typical of the bitch.
Cut to Cannizzaro explaining the aim of soccer to his team - putting the ball in the goal, and the main rule, players aren’t allowed to use their hands, except him as goalie.
He asks Peter (Roger Haddad) why that is,and Peter suggests “‘cause you’re normal …everything’s got normal people.”
Applause, and then the team are trying to beat Pat in goal.
Pat tells Kevin to put it away and have a shot for goal, and Kevin manages a good kick. Then more … as triumphant music surges and Pat races inside to Rennie: “Fuckin A - have I got a player! Kevin knocked me arse over tit to the back of the net. Wooh … woo…woo…woo ... hah hah hah (etc.)”
As he carries on, social worker Jill McHugh (Catherine McClements), Rennie’s bitch, comes up behind him.
Rennie introduces him and Jill offers him a cup of tea.
“This is tea,” says a startled Pat as he sips, whispering that this is the bitch. Jill overhears and confirms it, offering milk, sugar or lemon …
“I’m Ollie’s personal social worker… I try to keep him from drinking himself to death. Did you know he was an alcoholic? (Pat: "Oliver!") ...In what little time that leaves me, I work for the Foundation, ministering to the trainees here, advising on his budget …”
“Spying on me,” jokes Rennie.
Jill tells Pat they’re about to have an argument, and while he’s welcome to stay, and broaden his education, he could return to whatever had him arse over … (tit, completes Pat)
Pat says he’ll stay, and Rennie says he needs a witness, as he explains the bastards want him to be completely self-funding.
Jill tells Pat to keep out of it. Ollie always needs someone to impress.
Now if Ollie’s finished his grand-standing, they can work out how.
Jill suggests sponsorship and Rennie jokes about businesses queuing up to “Rent a Retard”, with Kevin doing in-store appearances flashing his cock.
Jill suggests a public fund raiser.
Foundation’s already got an appeal, says Rennie.
When Jill suggests a separate one in the Saltmarsh name, Rennie says he gets it - this is where they’ve been heading the whole time.
Pat doesn’t get it, and Rennie gives the Oliver Rennie crash course in how to run a charitable foundation:
“Rule one, you can always raise a dollar for kids. Kids are cute, kids equals hope and hope equals money. There’s a lot they can do for Downs’ babies these days … if there wasn’t, they’d lie and say there was … we’re the custodians of that lie ...(as he gets another milk carton from the fridge for a drink) Cannizzaro … the failures … the fuck-ups (rattling the bottle in the carton) …living proof that there is no hope … that all the cute little kids turn into Kevins and Jodys, whom you’ll never see in a Foundation commercial (Pat refuses the offer of a drink) … (Rennie aside to him) Crawler … whose only crime is that they were born a generation too soon … born at all according to the Jill McHughs … and that is why Saltmarsh will never be self-funding …Salute (he raises his mug in toast) … it’s Italian, for ‘up yours’”
Cut to Jill getting into her car, and Pat scoring a lift back into town with her.
As a train stops them, Pat says he thought he was interrupting something back there.
Jill: “You were. He was about to chase me around the desk. These little visits usually end up with his hand down my blouse and his toupée down the toilet.”
Pat asks her what she thinks of him.
Jill: “He’s er an oaf, a piss pot. He’s got the whole human race off side … but if I had to nominate one person for the Nobel prize, he’d be it.”
Pat: “How come?”
Jill: “Have you meet Donald? From the bon-bon boy? Had a conversation with him? …
Pat: “Yes, he’s very polite, very well spoken …”
Jill: “He didn’t utter a word for the first two months he was here …I had him to speech therapists, psychologists …”
Jill: “Ollie bought him a budgie.”
Pat (laughing): “And?”
Jill: “He taught the bird to talk …the bird taught him …”
Pat (musing): “No shit!?”
Pat tells Jill to pull over, as he spots Noel and Noel’s Gran (Phyllis Burford) in the street.
They offer the pair a lift home.
Gran tells Pat that Noel’s told her how Pat stood up for Noel when he got into trouble with Mr Rennie.
He asks Gran Redcliffe about Noel and the wood-carving, but she says Noel can tell him himself: “It’s one of the things they enjoy least you know …the way we all talk about them as if they’re not present… exactly as I’m doing now …”
Noel explains he likes carving, he wants to be a sculpture and Pat suggests 'sculptor'.
Noel knows what he wants to be, he just can’t say it. He doesn’t want to do horses, the same one over and over all the time.
Pat offers to speak to Rennie, but Jill chips in to suggest to Gran that Rennie has his reasons and it’s up to her to convince Noel.
Gran gives Pat a sniffy look, pleased they’ve arrived.
Back in the car, Pat jokes that Ollie should buy him a woodpecker.
They reach a soccer ground where a warm-up has started, but Pat jokes he’s already warm.
Pat asks how things stand between her and Ollie - is she in love with him or what? - and Jill tells him it’s none of his business.
Pat asks again, and Jill says no, he doesn’t pass the physical. Does that make her shallow?
Depends, says Pat. “I think you’re looking for someone with his humanity, and compassion …”
Maybe, says Jill.
“Only younger,” says a smiling Pat.
“More my own age.”
“Does help (Jill, also smiling too much)”
Pat (pretending to get serious): “Uh huh …I’d like you to meet my brother Vince. He’s a guard in the railways ...”
Jill kicks him out of the car, calling him Canneloni …
Pat tells her to remember his name, Cannizzaro, and then returns to the driver’s side to ask a question: “How come you’re so shit-scared of retards? (bunging on a retarded voice) … Ollie’s my friend” … then he leans in through the window and kisses her, before racing off to join the practice.
Cut to Pat’s home, where Fredo is getting down the budgie cage …
The whole family is at the table … Pa (Vittorio Andreacchio), railway guard brother Vince (Jon Fabian), brother Larry (Rob Cuzensa), Viola (Gail Castenetto) and Connie (Marcella Russo).
The family joke about Jill … and then we cut to Jill and Pat making love in a shower.
Pat tells Jill his mother wants to meet her. Jill laughs …
Cut to the soccer team practising passing on their beach-side field.
Pat tells Spencer to use the inside of his foot, and Pat says the inside of his foot is blood and bones.
Pat gives him an affectionate touch, and Spencer tells him it was a joke, he knows what the inside of his foot is …”I’m retarded … not stupid.”
Cannizzaro walks away …
Cut to Noel, busy carving.
Pat comes up behind him to check out the monster. Pat asks who it is, anyone we know, and Noel says “me!”
Outside, with Rennie gardening, Pat tells him that he thinks they should let Noel do his carving.
Rennie: “Freedom of expression?!”
Rennie: “Nothing free here son. Noel pays his way with those horses."
Pat: “He hates those horses!”
Rennie (shovelling): “He told you, or you told him?”
Pat: “Look …”
Rennie: “No, you look … there’s a horse, there’s a carving (gesturing with his hands) …you’re the expert. Can a retard tell the difference?”
Pat: “That’s unfair.”
Rennie: “Don’t nag me. I’ve got Jill McHugh to nag me …(pushing a wheelbarrow away) … you’ve met her, haven’t you, Jill McHugh?”
Rennie: “Of course, you’d have to met her to be rooting her.” (emptying the wheelbarrow of soil)... You are rooting her?”
Pat: “I really like her …”
Rennie: “Don’t …it’s a free world, freedom of expression for all …” (Rennie turns back and comes up to Pat, wagging his finger) You’ve got the two things I want most in the whole bloody world. Jill … (he stalks away, then turns around, arms wide) …and hair!!”
Then he stalks up to the office.
Cut to Pat heading into a pawnbroker’s (Wayne Athony) with a large soccer trophy …
He asks how much it’s worth. “To you or to me?” responds the pawnbroker.
Cut to Pat showing Noel a brand new set of wood chisels, as Gran watches.
Pat reminds him he can only do it at home, not at work. Toledo steel, the best, a proper work light, sandpaper, files, oak and oregon and linden wood from Europe.
Noel knows it - it doesn’t split - and says he’ll do a sculpture for Rennie and Pat jokes “yeah he’d like that.”
“‘Cause I’m a sculptor,” says Noel proudly. “I can say it! … I can be it!”
He rushes away, and we cut to a scratch match game with captains Foster and Spencer, and with Rennie turning up in Bloods jersey wondering how he gets sucked into these things.
Pat says he wants to see everyone serious. Stay onside and stick to positions.
Kevin flattens Spencer and Pat warns him the Wanderer can wander off the field if it happens again. Bloody girls game, moans Rennie, as Gail consoles Spencer.
Kevin kicks a goal, but then when he steals a ball from team mate Foster, Pat steals the ball from him, reminding him it’s a team game and he has to pass the ball… a good player like him has to help the others.
Kevin says he’s learnt something and then flattens Pat with a kick to the shins and kicks a goal. We won, says Rennie, me and Kevin, as Pat limps away from the field.
Cut to Rennie racing up to an official foundation function at Carclew …
Rennie tells Pat he hates dressing up for these sorts of do’s, and Pat laughs “you call that dressing up?”
“I was married in this suit for eight weeks,” Rennie retorts, explaining that he got a 16 year old up the duff nine or ten years ago. She was a good sort too, he says. “They had pictures in the Melbourne Truth. You might remember it.”
He did the right thing, married her, it lasted eight weeks, she lost the baby, “here I am … this is the suit … let’s go and get pissed.”
Rennie pauses at a picture to note that it’s new. “Original by the look of it.”
He scratches the surface of the painting. “Yep”, as he reaches for a glass of French champagne. Rennie burps as Pat also scores a glass and Jill arrives to tell them to behave themselves, and to marvel at Rennie’s suit.
You’re both drunk, Jill says, and coming down the grand stairs, the chairman of the Lazarus Foundation and paediatric surgeon David Barnabas (Dennis Olsen) grandly asks “who’s drunk?”
Barnabas fondly kisses Jill and compliments Rennie on the suit - good touch to make people think they’re impoverished - and is introduced to Pat.
Barnabas takes Pat aside and says they shouldn’t use the foundation’s name, or even Saltmarsh for the team name, and to put him down for best player trophy, offering twenty dollars …
He’s only in it for the knighthood, Jill jokes, and Rennie adds he’d be Sir Arsehole …
Barnabas makes a speech to the assembled friends of the intellectually handicapped, saying the foundation needs a million dollars and holding up a cheque saying that, as of now, it needs ten thousand less, as Rennie gets stuck into the champagne.
Barnabas declares the appeal open and reveals a picture of a young, tear-sodden mentally retarded Rebecca … for Rebecca, for all the Rebeccas, he says ...
A drunken Rennie turns to Jill and says she’s on, they’ll do their own appeal.
For Kevin … for all the Kevins, Rennie and Pat toast. Jill clinks glasses with them …
Rennie smashes his glass on the floor.
Cut to a bus with the Heartbreakers soccer team heading into Adelaide CBD.
A montage follows, and they end up in a Burnside beauty salon having haircuts and makeovers.
Then the Heartbreakers take to the field, and unveil their name on a banner.
The game’s against the nurses, and Kevin gets into trouble with the referee (Graham Duckett) when he flattens a nurse and begins to wriggle on top of her…getting Kevin’s dad agitated. Pat makes Kevin go goalie …
Donald consoles Pat he’s doing his best, and when Kevin does an individual run and has a chance to score, a nurse flattens him and he receives a penalty.
Pat tells him not to try to beat the wall, but to pass it to him, and Kevin kicks the ball so hard, it hits Pat in the balls and takes him writhing to the ground.
Top shot, helluva small target, jokes Rennie, as he and Colin tend Pat. I still love him, says Jody.
As Pat gets back in the bus, Rennie says it was a bit of an anti-climax. Bullshit, says Pat, asking the team who had a good time. Kevin puts his hand up, and the others follow with cheers …
Cut to Pat pumping up a soccer ball, and Rennie on the phone, calling out to him that practice is off …he’s on to a biggie, ten grand’s worth.
A freighter caught in a storm has resulted in ten tons of mixed nuts. They’ve got three days to unmix the nuts … he’s ringing around for some spare retards.
Gail and Spencer buggered off after the game and Pat’s going to have to met Gail’s mother. Spencer “took her out to tea, dancing …the mongoloid Cary Grant … lovely. Get the address off the file, slope over there and calm her down.”
Rennie tells Pat he’ll be dealing with the Manual Workers’ Union … he stole the job off them, undercut.
A car pulls up and a union heavy Charlie McCartney (John Cousins) storms in, complaining he’s stolen the bread from his workers’ mouths.
“I never eat anything with spit on it Charlie,” jokes Rennie.
Charlie threatens to slap a picket line on the place. Rennie offers to do the placards at ten bucks a dozen …
Done, says Charlie, shaking his hand and leaving. Lovely fella, says Rennie.
That night Pat meets with Gail’s mum, Mrs Liz Reschke (Judith Stratford), explaining at length her life and sacrifices with Gail.
She thinks Gail can be normal and she doesn’t want her with that boy.
His name is Spencer, Pat says, adding that they love each other.
She calls Spencer an animal and says she wants Gail with someone normal.
“Perhaps to Gail, Spencer is normal,” Pat says gently.
“My God, can you imagine them having sex,” says Mrs Reschke, puffing on her fag.
Pat holds Reschke’s hand - “Liz, please” - and tenderly asks her “if I were to take you now into one of the many bedrooms in this house and we were to have sex, would that be normal?”
“It would be very normal,” she sighs. “It might also be very nice.”
He leans in, as if to kiss her, then stands up and shows her a photo of Fredo, his brother - a handsome boy, Liz says. The sort of boy she wants for Gail? Pat asks.
Perhaps, Liz says.
“He’s severely brain damaged. Umbilical cord strangled him at birth… still want to go to bed with me? … Liz …”
Rennie is furious. Liz, a bloody board member, has told him Pat propositioned her …she wants Rennie to save Gail from Spencer, Rennie has to save her from Pat …
Pat: “Nothing happened … and what if it did? What matters is Gail and Spencer.”
Rennie tells Pat to keep them apart. “They don’t touch, they don’t talk.”
“They’re in love,” says Pat.
Rennie tells him to stop eating the cashews. “Every bastard’s eating the cashews!”
Rennie: “What do you think love is to a retard? Love is a fuck! This is a zoo. We’re the zoo keepers. It’s our job to feed them at regular intervals and keep them from mating.”
Pat: “You don’t believe that!”
Rennie: “When it comes to sex, I do… (sweeping up nutshells into his shoe) … what if they have a baby? Answer me that …”
Pat: “What if they did?”
Rennie: “Oh good, the baby’s normal, the parents are retards. You could change their nappies.”
Pat: “Who said she’s going to get pregnant?”
Rennie: “So we just hand out frenchies and say go for your life?”
Pat (exasperated): “(sighs) … I’m beginning to understand you …”
Rennie: “I doubt it.”
Pat: “You’re always so … scathing about them. Always making fun of them … the way you call them ‘retards’ …”
Rennie (mocking): “And you don’t?”
Pat (defiant): “Not any more.”
Rennie closes the door.
Rennie: “Cannizzaro, you’re young, you’re arrogant. It’s my belief you’re also dangerous.”
Pat (getting up): “Sure I am! Because I talk to them! Because I listen to them! Because I see them as human beings, just like you and me ...”
Rennie: “More like you than me …”
Pat: “Go ahead, laugh …”
Rennie: “If you don’t laugh, you cry.”
Pat: “Oooh, where’d you get that? Out of a fucking Christmas bon-bon? (Rennie gives a nod, Pat sends boxes scattering) … It’s like you, full of shit ...”
As Pat leaves, Rennie shouts after him “Mixed nuts! The story of my life …” as he bends down to sweep up more nut shells.
Cut to the end of a soccer game with a bunch of oldies.
Pat is kneeling, depressed. 23-0, he explains the score to Donald.
Rennie turns up with a coke for Foster.
Pat is outraged, asking Foster if he bet on the opposition?
Rennie explains he bet on Pat.
Cut to Rennie returning to Saltmarsh and a female voice saying “tough sell, honey.”
It’s Chicquita Roth (Su Cruickshank), on hand to help with the fund-raising. “Some of those faces would frighten a buzzard off a dump truck.”
She notices Rennie’s photo has a hand-painted black toupée on his hand.
Rennie tells her about their spring fete, pretty small time. Not this year it ain’t, says Chiquita.
Looking at the Saltmarsh sign, she explains she takes 65 cents in the dollar. “I’m not the charity dear, you are.”
Chiquita moves the sign over to the front of the building, as Rennie tells Pat they’ve organised the PM’s wife to visit for the fete, and they’ll shoot the arse off it for their TV commercial.
Pat notes the “ret.. (ards)..” - "the trainees" - are pretty excited. They’ve never been on TV before.
Rennie: “We won’t be using them … honey.”
Chiquita organises a fete rehearsal and pretends to be the PM’s wife. She asks if they have any more do-dads, meaning Noel’s horses.
Rennie is outraged - Noel busted his gut making them and he tells all the non-retard Hamlets to fuck off.
Rennie tells Pat to get the real thing in there and be quick about it, shouting at Chiquita:
“They’re not imbeciles … they’re human beings. Just like you and me! Only more so, because they have to work harder at it …I won’t have you or any other bastard come in here and laughing at them. That’s my privilege! You with me!? Now as to this, they’ve put up with who they are and what they are for their whole lives, so today there’s a bit of glory in it, and I’m buggered if I’ll see them cheated out of it …the general bloody public can sit and eat their tea in front of Ethiopian AIDS, they can put up with these faces! Christ knows, I have to!! Got anything to say to that?”
Chiquita begins applauding him. Bravo, do it again for the camera.
When the light goes on and she calls action, Rennie turns and walks away, saying to a smiling Pat that he can shut up too.
Fete day and a stretch limo pulls up.
The PM’s wife (Daphne Grey) gets out, and shakes Rennie’s hand. He introduces the chairman of the board, and Mrs Reschke and board member Kevin Thomas, then shows her a sign saying “The Margaret McMaster Sheltered Workshop.”
Quite an honour says the PM’s wife, and unctuous chairman Barnabas claims it as his idea. She hopes they’ll name a workshop after him as a reward for his work.
Inside Rennie tells Noel and Gran to clear off his monster heads, but Jill defiantly tells him they’ve been selling at forty dollars and they’re even taking orders.
Before Rennie can finish ordering them out, the PM’s wife arrives, looks at the carved monster heads, and says “How wonderful!”
Noel hands her one, and she says it looks a bit like Rennie. She says she must have one for the Lodge. “These are quite outstanding,” as Rennie says they try to encourage their "freedom of expression."
Barnabas ushers the PM’s wife over to Donald, and then asks for someone to explain the Christmas trinkets they make.
Kevin rushes up. Pat intervenes, saying they don’t want to, but Barnabas insists.
“What have you got to show me?” the PM’s wife asks Kevin.
Kevub shows her his dick, and she gasps. Barnabas steps between them.
Later walking to the car, Noel’s carved head in hand, the PM’s wife tells Rennie she’ll speak to her husband about his subsidy … two for one.
She looks across at Kevin and holds Rennie by the hand.
“If you’d sent me a picture of that, I’d have stayed the weekend.”
Later, Rennie’s offering the trainees tea on him. Pizza Hut!
Pat stays behind, saying he’ll lock up.
Pat lets Gail and Spencer out of a room, and the lovers head up the stairs to consummate their love.
They dance together, as Noel begins carving another head, and then they kiss, and Rennie watches from outside in the rain, as the light goes off in the lovers’ upstairs room …
Cut to day, and new soccer game.
Pat asks Rennie if he’s got his togs. They’re one short - Spencer’s not there.
Rennie says he won’t be …at eight o’clock this morning he admitted Spencer to a home in Seacliff as a permanent resident … he won’t be turning up, not today, not ever…”It was that or be charged with rape if the girl’s mother ever found out.”
Pat: “You’ll break their hearts.”
Rennie: “I covered it up, the best I could …”
Pat: “You’re not punishing him, you’re punishing me!”
Rennie: “God punishes. I’m not God, neither are you!”
Rennie says he’s got his togs - they could use a decent goalie - but Pat says they’ll manage without him.
Rennie (after him): “Cannizzaro! You’re dangerous…”
Cut to Gail at the home, sewing away on her sewing machine.
Pat comes up to her, but she flinches at his touch. She’s crying.
He says he’s sorry, what happened was his fault.
He says he might be able to get her in to see him, but Gail sobs wordlessly.
Cut to Jill and Pat driving up to Pat’s suburban home.
Jill is at a Cannizzaro family do, with everyone there.
Mama worries about Jill - how can she have babies with those hips?
Pat introduces his family, and Jill jokes by asking what his father thinks a social worker is, exactly …
Then Jill sees Freddy, pretending to saw away with a knife at the neck of a chook.
Freddy lets the chook up …and Jill realises he’s retarded.
Pat says it’s his big trick, but Jill thinks the family is brutalising him.
Jill asks who’s caring for him, but Pat says he doesn’t go anywhere, the family’s caring for him. They love him.
Call that love, asks Jill, and Pat unloads on her, saying he’s seen her with Kevin and Noel:
“I’ve seen you flinch when they get close to you … have you ever touched them? Ever hugged them? No … have you ever taken Gail or Jody home with you at night for a pyjama party or to muck around with make-up? Talk about boys, do what girls do? Real girls? No …because you’re shit-scared of them …I said that to you the first day I met you …”
Pat calls out to Fredo, who’s decorating his hair with chook feathers - “see, to us, he’s not a freak! He’s special. Gifted. As if he had something extra … not less.”
Pat goes over to Fredo and hugs him and brings him over to Jill. “Sure, it’s peasant crap, but it works. When mum and dad die, I’ll take care of him… my wife and me …or Vince … or Connie … he’ll always have love (as Fredo puts chook feathers in Pat’s hair)”
Jill notes he can’t speak and offers to get Fredo to a speech clinic, and Pat says he bought Fredo a budgie.
“You fool,” says Jill.
“Can they cure him? Will he ever be normal?” retorts Pat. “Have an IQ of a 100, play the guitar, chat up a girl?”
No perhaps not, says Jill, and Pat says “then my way is best …I’ll handle it ...”
Jill: “Like you handled Gail and Spencer?”
Pat sends Fredo away.
Pat: “Rennie told you?”
Jill: “Gail told me.”
Pat: “Bull she told you.”
Jill: “You don’t understand anything, do you? You hurt her … Spencer hurt her …”
Pat: “Never! He loves her…”
Jill: “Huh, he had no idea what to do …she had no idea what to expect! She thought it was going to be all hugs and kisses …like on television.”
Pat: “Whose side are you on? Rennie’s?”
Jill: “I’m on their side … Gail …”
Pat: “Well you can just piss off!”
He turns away, then turns back to abuse her.
Pat: “I bring you into my home, I let you meet my family, you’re here five minutes, you want to take my brother away from me! He doesn’t need a social worker! I don’t need a social worker! … Piss off!”
Jill: “If that’s what you think …!!”
She’s interrupted by the arrival of Connie with chicken feet … the guest always has the chicken feet.
Cut to Rennie’s office, where he’s introducing Murray Watts (John Crouch) to Pat …
Murray’s the new social worker. Jill pulled the pin and quit.
Rennie: “Surprised? The way you’re going there won’t be a bastard left here.”
Very funny, says Pat, screwing his bow tie around.
Cut to another soccer match, this time against Yaronga Jail prisoners, and featuring heavies like Andrew McPhee as a jailbird.
“They’re uglier than us,” jokes Rennie.
The convicts score a goal by handball - the ref awards it. They know his name.
Kevin makes an epic run, but at the crucial moment, instead of scoring, he kicks to Jody, and the jailbird steals the ball, asking Jody “how about it?” “How about what?” she retorts.
It’s 18-0, and Rennie jokes about carrying the number first of, that’s a season’s total of 312-0.
Pat: “Christ, what I wouldn’t give for a goal.” He prays to the heavens. “Just one!!”
Second half, and Pat gets Noel to pass him the ball. He kicks the ball to Kevin the wanderer, Jody takes out the jailbird, “how about that?”, and cries go up for the Wanderer, as Kevin makes his run and kicks a goal…
Pat and Rennie shake hands as the team hug each other…
Later dusk on the beach, and Pat is talking about two goals next year and organising wheelchair basketball …
Rennie tells him there won’t be a next year or a summer … he’s written to Barnabas recommending his dismissal.
Pat laughs, accusing Rennie of being jealous.
Rennie admits he is. “The optimism, the energy, the fire in the belly. It’s what makes you the fuckwit that you are, but by Christ I wish I had it… why do you think I took you on here? I thought I could channel it …control it. I can’t, anymore than you can ...”
Pat: “So you push me out, and they’re the losers?”
Rennie: “Oh, I’m doing it for their sake.”
Pat: “You know why they turn to me? Because I see what’s possible …look at Noel. Look at Kevin with that goal today! Even Gail and Spencer. Sure, I ballsed that up, but if she never has another fuck in her life, at least she’s had one ...”
Rennie: “That’s why you’re dangerous …you won’t face reality! You come charging in here like some greaseball super hero - ‘heal the sick, raise the dead!’ - you can’t heal them Cannizzaro! You can’t unMongoloid a Mongoloid …soft place to fall, that’s all we owe them …Christ only knows, that’s miracle enough ...”
Pat: “You are a failure!
Pat: “You always were, you always will be.”
Pat tosses his glass of wine into Rennie’s face.
Pat: “There’s your soft place to fall!”
Pat tosses his glass of wine into the surf, spits and walks off. Rennie heads into the surf to retrieve the glass, shaking it, the sun setting on the scene.
Cut to a teary Pat.
He’s looking at a sleeping Freddie, as his mama sees him.
Mama tells him Jill is at the door.
“Couldn’t live without me huh?”
“Ollie’s had an accident.”
Jill explains Ollie left the scene, then gave himself up a few hours later. He’d been drinking.
She starts the car, and Pat gets in.
They drive to the police station, but Pat is reluctant to go inside, saying Rennie wouldn’t want to see him, not like this.
“No, he wouldn’t,” says Jill, walking inside the cop shop.
Cut to a board meeting, where Barnabas is telling Rennie that it’s a unanimous board decision - they’re asking him to resign. He’s sorry.
Jill knocks and enters, wondering if the board might accept some character evidence.
Barnabas notes, with respect, that she no longer has any status. But she explains it’s not from her, as the Saltmarsh workers enter.
Noel comes up first and haltingly reading from a note, explaining how one day he’s going to be a sculptor, and when he does, he’ll say thank you, Ollie Rennie.
Then Donald Hall comes up, reading from a note explaining he’s a bon-bon boy … he couldn’t talk, and then Ollie got him a budgie, and now he can talk …
Then Foster comes up, and explains the best things about Ollie is that he always pays his debts and he always loses …
Jody reads a note saying she loves him, and then Kevin comes up, and talks about kicking a goal and not flashing …
Then Gail comes up, explaining that there are many kinds of love …the best kind of love is Ollie Rennie’s kind because he helps you to love yourself … please let them have Ollie back when he gets out of jail … they love him …
Barnabas wilts and says Ollie’s done a Lazarus, back from the dead.
Pat bursts in, telling Barnabas to sit down, you fucking hypocrite.
Jill tries to intercede, but Pat pushes past her, saying someone has to have the guts to tell these bastards what they are …
No knighthoods in the truth, are there, he says, as he approaches Barnabas.
“No knighthoods in justice,” as he grabs Barnabas by the tie.
“Ollie was right. You’re in it for all you can get. So you want to shut down Saltmarsh! Destroy this man’s dream! And he’s given you the perfect excuse! Hasn’t he?! So he got drunk, so he’s an alchy (sitting on the board table, and taking the glasses off a board member) … I, myself, have been known to have a drink ...”
Ollie lets out an “oohhhh”.
Pat: “Hear that? You try putting up with what he has to put up with? You’d be running around with a brandy bottle in your hand all day too, because he loves them … (thumping the back of Barnabas’s chair) …yes, you do love them (approaching Ollie) … in a way I never could …I went home last night and looked at my little brother …and I realised you were right …you and Jill …a soft place to fall …”
Barnabas (sharply): “You could use one right now!”
Pat turns back to him.
Pat: “Sure, he hits them occasionally. For their own good! Sure the unions are sueing us and Kevin poked his dick out at the PM’s missus, but those are the risks you take helping them grow! Me, I pushed too hard, too fast, people got hurt, though ... (bending over to grab Mrs Reschke by the shoulders) ... who among us can begrudge a fuck between friends?”
Barnabas gets out of his chair, but Pat pushes him back into it.
Pat: “I haven’t finished yet! …(Rennie looks disturbed) … Last night I called you a failure. You’re not. You, Oliver P. Rennie (leaning into two female board members) … what’s the P. stand for? You are a triumph of the human spirit! (Rennie looks dubious) … I’m the failure …I’ve failed you when you needed me the most …that document you have before you, recommending my dismissal (shoving Barnabas in his chair towards the board table) … I urge you, sign it … go on, I’ll wait.”
Barnabas: “What document Ollie?”
Pat (realising): “You didn’t put it in?”
Rennie (stage whisper): “I would now!!”
Pat (realising): “I go! He stays! (shaking Barnabas’s hand) My sacrifice is not in vain!”
Pat slaps Barnabas on the shoulder and high fives various trainees as he heads out of the room …then turns to hold up Foster’s hand in triumph:
“Independence … with dignity!!”
Pat leaves, and we cut to him standing alone, looking out at the sea and the bay.
He walks past the sign, “Independance with Dignity”.
He climbs up and tears out the “A” in “Independance”, then walks away from the home down the driveway as the camera cranes up …
Just then a bus with the Heartbreakers comes up, and Pat touches hands with them through the glass.
Inside the bus, Jody intuits that Jill loves Pat, and Jill replies “worse luck.”
“I’ll let you have him,” Jody says.
Jill pats her, as Pat keeps walking.
Rennie (calling after him): “That’s right. Just wreck the joint and walk away!”
Pat turns around.
Rennie: “Wheelchair baskeball, I think you said. I’m not taking on wheelchair basketball by meself.”
Pat walks back towards him.
Pat: “We’ll need wheelchairs.”
Rennie: “How many? Half a dozen? We’ll get ‘em …”
Pat: “Do you know how?”
Rennie: “I’ll tell you how. We’ll go to the Spastic Centre and steal’ em off the Spastics. What are they gunna do? Run after us? Stick with me son, you might learn something ...”
They walk back towards Saltmarsh, the workers now off the bus and welcoming them, as the camera begins to crane up over the scene.
Pat reaches over to touch Ollie’s toupée away and he tears it off and tosses it away.
The image freezes.
End titles begin, with live action intercuts … Pat juggling; rubber bands joining into a long strand; an end song begins, as Philippa (Philippa Lewis) kicks a soccer ball; goalkeeper Rennie is beaten by a kick; players high five; Pat bounces a ball on his head and Jody rushes out to kiss him, followed by the others, who hug him; Pat tries on Ollie’s toupée and stares at himself in a locker mirror and is caught by Ollie, and then crew end credits roll...
The final shot is of the sign, now spelled correctly, “Independence with Dignity” ...