Alvin Purple

Alvin Purple (Tim Burstall, 1973) colour, 97 min., prod. Tim Burstall for Hexagon Productions, wr. Alan Hopgood dp Robin Copping; Abigail, Graeme Blundell, Sally Conabere, Noel Ferrier, Jon Finlayson, Alan Finney, Jill Forster, Penne Hackforth-Jones, Dina Mann, Kris McQuade, Dennis Miller, Debbie Nankervis, Anne Pendlebury, Jacki Weaver, Elli McClure, Jennifer Hagen; comedy; brief review of DVD release: Matt Coyte, Empire, 42, September 2004: 117

Director Tim Burstall wanted to push the boundaries and identify more with what the real Australian public wanted after the failure of his first film. 2000 Weeks - a serious-minded drama about a writer who only has two thousand weeks to live - ended up being a critical and commercial flop for Burstall, deeply affecting his outlook on Australia’s cinema industry for the rest of his life. This film could be his revenge and it was pretty sweet. Alvin Purple has the notoriety of being the first R-rated film in Australia and the highest grossing film, from 1971 to 1977, according to the Australian Film Commission. It was also the first major feature to be bought for global distribution in the USA. The film was made on $200 000 and ended up grossing $4 million, making stars out of its cast and crew, many of whom had successful TV careers. It seemed that while the critics hated it, the Australian public, and the rest of the world, loved Alvin for his true Aussie charm and outrageous fortune. It paints a salacious view of Australian culture, yet celebrated the “Ocker” male, as The Adventures of Barry McKenzie had done the year previously. It was one comedy that kicked off the run of Australian film’s most successful eras in cinema. But whether you love it or hate it, there is no doubt that Alvin Purple had a significant impact in challenging the country’s attitudes towards sex and gendered roles. Laura Keenan.

It's pretty much what you'd expect from an Australian cinema enjoying its first phase of liberal censorship: an adolescent insistence on outraging 'decency' with a display of sundry organs, tits and bums; a story that could well have been written as they were going along; and jokes comprising a barrage of appalling double entendres. Ponderous at every level. Time Out London - http://www.timeout.com/film/reviews/77786/alvin-purple.html

By today's quite liberal cinematic standards, the smutty soft-core porn antics of Alvin Purple, and the explosive sex comedies of Australian film during the 1970s, seem somewhat tame and non-eventful. But in the context of the repressive time when they were released to Aussie audiences, these saucy little sex capers were cutting edge stuff, pushing the boundaries of censorship, thumbing their nose at a stuffy 'establishment' and giving audiences something to get, well, excited about. Craig Miller, Urban Cinefile - http://www.urbancinefile.com.au/home/view.asp?a=9299&s=DVD

For those of us that enjoy seventies cinema, Alvin Purple has a reasonable amount to offer. There's a fair amount of naked flesh - both female and male - and pretty mild, but entertaining sex on display. The actresses are all attractive and enthusiastic. The swinging seventies ethic take full flight in this one. Blundell's a generally appealing, kind-faced lead, but it's suprising how unfunny this film is. He doesn't have many amusing lines, and the extent of the humour is basically a few fast-motion scenes of him taking cold showers, running from desperate women and so on. So I'd have to view this one as a failure if it's being sold purely as a comedy. Interestingly enough, the film does seem to try to explore the emptiness of Alvin's sexual obsession - that he lacks true companionship no matter how much fun he has. There are obvious moments of seriousness in the film, that begin to resonate as a character study of loneliness. Don't let me put you off Alvin Purple, though. I found it slightly disappointing in some aspects, but quite fun in others. It's certainly a nice fantasy concept - that a man who has virtually nothing to offer, can be irresistable to women. Boris Lugosi, Girls, Guns and Ghouls - http://www.girlsgunsandghouls.com/alvinpurple.html

When released in 1973, Alvin Purple was highly controversial, both due to its subject matter and the frequent nudity and innuendo. Seen today it is hard to work out what the fuss was all about. It certainly does not go anywhere near as far as films like Baise-Moi or Romance in depictions of sex. In fact, it is rather coy at times. The difference between Alvin and these more recent films is the tone. Where contemporary film-makers seem determined to camouflage the smut with excessive seriousness, Alvin is a light-hearted, good-natured fantasy that still manages to skewer aspects of the so-called sexual revolution of the Seventies. Phillip Sawyer, michaeldvd.com.au - http://www.michaeldvd.com.au/Reviews/Reviews.asp?ID=5549


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