Australasian Cinema > films >

Hard Knocks

Hard Knocks (Don McLennan, 1980) aka Sam; Tracy Mann, Bill Hunter, Kirsty Grant; Melbourne girl tries to stay out of gaol

David Stratton liked Hard Knocks (Don McLennan, 1980) when he wrote The Avocado Plantation (1990: 216-8). I don’t find much to like about it. Not the acting, tho Tracy Mann won an AFI for the lead role, and certainly not the photography (Zbigniew Friedrich, who also edited the film) with the poor theatrical lighting. If actors as good as Bill Hunter, Max Cullen and Tony Barry phone in their performances, there must be something wrong with the direction.

Hard Knocks makes a concerted effort to portray a young, single Australian woman as a survivor in a a repressive, patriarchal society. While the film flounders towards its subject rather than engaging it convincingly, there is a sense of desperation that makes it a worthy testament to women's place in Australia. Marcus Breen, in Murray: 60.

Mann is, indeed, heartbreakingly good as Sam, an independent young woman harassed by the police (Bill Hunter and Max Cullen in good form as the repulsive lawmen) yet succeeding in living her own life, being her own woman. Stratton: 218.

Garry Gillard | New: 18 September, 2012 | Now: 7 April, 2020