Wednesday 10 April
This program celebrates one of the true legends of Australian screen culture, John Flaus, who turns 90 in April this year. It also marks a little over 70 years since the start of Flaus’ involvement in “cinema” in Australia. His life in cinema demonstrates his extraordinary contribution as a scholar, teacher, poet, cinephile, actor, broadcaster, mentor, writer, script advisor and much in-demand voiceover artist. He has also been a significant influence on several generations of Australian film scholars, film buffs, cinephiles and filmmakers. A great friend and supporter of the Melbourne Cinémathèque, Flaus’ peripatetic career across the Australian film and television industries is, inevitably, very difficult to document and describe. For many of us in Melbourne he is most fondly remembered as the host, with Paul Harris, of the legendary Film Buffs Forecast on 3RRR throughout the 1980s. John has also been a constant presence on television and cinema screens in Australia for 50 years – making over 100 appearances in films and TV shows like Newsfront (1978), Palace of Dreams (1985), Traps (1985), The Castle (1997), Tracks] (2013) and Jack Irish (2012–2021) – a significant mentor to actors and filmmakers, and quite simply one of the great talkers about movies. Following on from our 2014 program devoted to films that were particularly important to John (marking his 80th birthday), we are celebrating his 90th by screening a program that brings together his key featured performances across three quintessentially Melbourne-set films, all completed during the first decade of his acting career, after leaving Sydney in the early 1970s. This includes his wonderfully nuanced and physical performance in the central role of John Ruane’s Queensland (1976), his turn as a professional criminal returning to old haunts in Chris Fitchett’s Blood Money (1980), and his iconic, self-referential appearance as cinephile Steve in Dave Jones’ profoundly meta, Yackety Yack (1974).
John Ruane (1976) 52 mins – Unclassified 15+
Made while he was student at Swinburne, Ruane’s low-budget short feature is a fascinating time capsule of mid-1970s inner suburban Melbourne that provides an intimate and unvarnished portrait of working-class lives, male friendship and the always unfulfilled dreams of romance and escape. Flaus brilliantly inhabits the central role of a factory worker moving between the down-at-heel settings of unreconstructed local pubs, the dog track, his shared room and the streets of Northcote. Grittily shot by Ellery Ryan, and featuring Bob Karl and Alison Bird in other key roles, it remains one of the most impressive Melbourne-made films of the 1970s revival.
DCP courtesy of John Ruane and Ray Argall.
8:10pm YACKETY YACK
Dave Jones (1974) 86 mins – R 18+
Jones plays Maurice, an American director discussing the film he’s shooting with his cast mates, before inveigling them into murder. Both homage to, and satire of, the Brechtian modes of cinema exemplified by Godard in the late 1960s, this ultra-low-budget, intellectually playful film was shot in La Trobe University’s TV studios when both Jones and Flaus were teaching in the Media Centre. Jones’ seemingly improvised but carefully scripted and staged roman-à-clef is one of the key works of Melbourne “poor” cinema and a fascinating portrait of cinephilic excess. With Peter Carmody and Peggy Cole.
9:50pm BLOOD MONEY
Chris Fitchett (1980) 62 mins – M
Flaus stars in this tense, low-budget thriller as Pete, an ageing professional criminal whose terminal cancer diagnosis leads him back to Melbourne to tie up some loose ends. The film’s flavoursome noir influence can be largely attributed to Flaus, who, before shooting began, introduced Fitchett to several films in the genre including Jean-Pierre Melville’s neo-noir Le samouraï, which became a significant inspiration. Co-starring Chrissie James and featuring an early career supporting role for Bryan Brown as Pete’s younger brother, it was co-written by Fitchett, John Ruane and Ellery Ryan.
16mm print courtesy of ACMI.