Les Patterson Saves The World
Directed By George Miller
Runtime: 98 mins
Certification: M (15+)
Cast and Credits:
Sir Les Patterson/Dame Edna Everage…….. Barry Humphries
Veronique Crudite…….. Pamela Stephenson
Colonel Richard Godowni……….. Thaao Penghlis
Neville Thonge…….. Andrew Clarke
Dr Charles Herpes/Desiree……… Henri Szeps
Nancy Borovansky…….. Elizabeth McIvor
Inspector Farouk……. Hugh Keays-Byrne
Mustafa Toul……… Garth Meade
General Evans….. Arthur Sherman
Mussalov……. Josef Drewniak
Russian Scientist……. Esben Storm
Lady Gwen Patterson…….. Joy Westmore
Madge Allsop……… Connie Hobbs
(Full cast list available at www.imdb.com/title/tt0093406/fullcredits)
Executive Producer: Diane Millstead
Producer: Sue Milliken
Director of Photography: David Connell
Editor: Tim Wellburn
Casting: Liz Mullinar
Music: Tim Fin.
9th April 1987. Video: 30th August 1990. DVD: 20th Jan 2001
Filmed on location in Australia, Morocco and the USA
Produced with the assistance of AFC
Distributed by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
1988 Humpstead Productions Pty. Limited.
Box Office: I could not find any exact information about the film's takings at the Box office, but from the information I read in reviews, it does not appear to have done very well. Hence, no sequels or long lasting ravings about the film!
(Taken from Arno Mikli's review):
" …All this would go to explain why the film bombed out at the box office .It certainly did not impress this reviewer."
"…Another missing ingredient is good dialogue. It is heavily saturated with awful and ofter tastless jokes, double entendres and just plain bad lines".
The general consensus of opinion about the film is that it is lacking in plot, has too many disgusting 'toilet humor' jokes, and that only die hard Sir Les Patterson fans might appreciate it.
I found a fairly recent interview, (2/12/2002) given by Barry Humphries on ABC radio: (Audio)
The film's online presence was fairly widespread, in that it featured on all main movie web sites, but it
was lacking in depth on all the sites. This is probably due to both the date of the film, and the fact that
it never really 'took off' in box office terms. The following addresses offered information or links:
I basically got all of my information from the Internet and the film itself. I got hold of a copy of Barry Humphries Autobiography 'My life as me' but nothing about the film was mentioned.
Sir Les Patterson, one of Barry Humphries most well known characters, plays himself as a UN
Ambassador for Australia. The drunken, foul-mouthed, politically incorrect womaniser creates uproar
when, full of booze and baked beans, he attempts to address members of the UN in his speech. After
accidently 'blowing up' the leader of a powerful gulf state and putting the whole of Australia to
shame, he is sent to the Middle East to serve out his punishment. But while there, he discovers a plan
that has been formed to give people a terrible virus through contaminated toilet seats. He, and other
Barry Humphries character Dame Edna, take it upon themselves to put a stop to this evil plan and to
save the world from destruction.
Having seen the successful standup routines of both Sir Les Patterson and Dame Edna, I was hoping to
find this film equally as funny and entertaining… I was sadly disappointed. It was simply one sick
joke after the other, and had so many 'gross out' bits in it that I spent more time with my eyes away
from the screen than on it!
There are a number of lines and actions throughout the film that seem to portray Australians in general
as being stupid, racist and incredibly naive. It is a shame that they felt they had to make a mockery of
Australia as a whole I feel. Fair enough to promote Sir Les as a terrible character, but not at the expense, surely, of making all Aussie's look bad?!
With actors such as Barry Humphries and Pamela Stephenson, and Director George Miller, the film had potential to show off Australian talent and make a mark in Australian cinema. Instead, it appears to be more of an embarrassment I would think. The performances given by these actors however, were very good. Pamela Stephenson is a very versatile actor and comes across well as the blonde and beautiful Veronique Crudite, a research assistant who at one point beds Sir Les, and Barry Humphries knows his character so well that Sir Les, as disgusting as he may be, is played impeccably.
The main fault in this film lies within the script. It is poorly constructed around politically incorrect jokes and 'toilet humor'. It does not offer any kind of intellectual level, and with the scenes containing the disgusting and graphic effects of the H.E.L.P virus, it would, I feel, have to appeal to a very select few. It is, however, rather outdated now and certain politically incorrect jokes were probably overlooked at that time.
The location shootings of Morocco and the USA were nicely done. While these locations could have been made out of terrible sets or in studios and not showing true footage, the effort to capture realism was made in actual trips to these places. It also added interest and depth to the mise-en-scene of the film.
I find it hard to write a detailed account of the film, summarising each scene, as it seriously lacks substance. I also feel rather brutal in my account of it, and must note that my review is a personal one. However, almost all of the other reviews I have read about the film are of the same opinion.
Subsequent and prior work of cast and crew:
Barry Humphries, Australian comedian and actor, created the character of Dame Edna Everage in 1955, and Sir Les Patterson in 1974. Since then, he has appeared in many films, TV shows and plays as one or the other. His long acting list includes:
The Adventures of Barry Mckenzie (1972)
The getting of wisdom (1980)
Pterodactyl woman from Beverly Hills (1994)
Finding Nemo (voice – 2003)
Full acting credits can be found at www.imdb.com/name/nm402032
George T Miller, Scottish born Director, has directed a fairly broad scope of different films, both before and since this one. (He is no to be confused with other Director George Miller who directed the Mad Max films however.) His work includes:
Journey to the centre of the Earth (1999)
The man from Snowy River (1982)
The Never-Ending Story 2 (1990)
Full list at www.imdb.com/name/nm004305
Pamela Stephenson, Australian actress (and wife of Billy Connolly) has appeared in quite a few films over the years, and even more TV programs as various characters. Her work, in Australia, America and the UK, includes:
Saturday Night Live (1975)
Superman 3 (1983)
Finders Keepers (1984)
Spitting Image (voices- 1984)
Not the Nine O'clock News (1979-1982)
Full list at www.imdb.com/name/nm0827298
David Connell, Australian Cinematographer, has filmed a number of films and TV programs in his career. He even worked with Director George T Miller on The Never-Ending Story 2, as well as:
The Flying Doctors (TV- 1985)
Alice to Nowhere (TV-1986)
The Kylie Collection (video- 1988)
What the moon saw (1990)
Hercules Returns (1993)
Love, Lies and Lullabies (TV- 1993)
Moby Dick (TV- 1998)
Fill list at www.imdb.com/name/nm0003604
I could not find any information regarding the circumstances of the films production. I did find out that the location shooting took place in NSW, Morocco, New York and California. I don't know what the overall cost or budget was for the film.
Critical uptake of film now and then:
I had personally never heard of the film before I found it on the MED231 list, and was living in the UK at the time of the film's release in Australia so have no sense of how it was perceived by the public at the time. It certainly wasn't big, if even released, in the UK.
As I found very few reviews about it, and have heard nothing about it from Fellow Australians, I can only presume that the film was not a big success. Indeed, the few reviews that I have found mostly slag it off! I should think that it could be more useful now as a collectors item as I read in one of the reviews that it had even been taken off the market shortly after its release, and that obtaining it is actually quite difficult. Fans of the characters Sir Les and Dame Edna would probably love to have the film in their collections!
This film fits into the 'comedy' Genre. As far is its position in Australian cinema is concerned, it is definitely classified as such with its mainly Australian cast and crew. Although it does not actually help promote Australia in terms of its culture, it still provides viewers with a taste of Australian humor. As the two main characters, (Sir Les and Dame Edna) are such well known Australian characters, anybody watching the film from overseas would instantly recognise them, and therefore the film, as being inherently Australian. There are also quite a few references to Australia throughout the film, some of which are intentionally stereotypical.
Australian cinema is rapidly expanding and possesses qualities that make it stand out from American or British cinema. While Australian films, especially older ones, seemed to have a much lower budget than that of Hollywood films, the film industry is finally investing more money into Australia. Australian films have had to fight to find their own identity and seek ways of making low budget films as interesting and appealing as a multi million ones. Thus, a lot of Australian films focus more on script and story content rather than expensive special effects.
It is unfortunate that this particular film does not seem to give much credibility to Australian cinema, but it is still useful to have as a piece of history in the archives and a reference to look back on.