8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
A fine movie that deserves to be better known - but beware the cheap public domain DVD releases!,
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This review is from: Mad Dog Morgan [DVD] (DVD)
Mad Dog Morgan is a real rarity, which is a great shame, because Philip Mora's film has much to recommend it and deserves much better than a dodgy cropped transfer on the Troma label. More a chronicle of the exploits of `Mad Dog' Morgan, the bushranger who inspired Ned Kelly, than a conventional narrative, it's a non-judgemental portrait of an inconsistent, unpredictable man - after going to great lengths to deny he'll ever "be made a murderer," he then becomes one almost immediately when he drunkenly sets his gun off, wounding his host, and then hurrying off to kill the man that he himself has just sent after a doctor. It's very much a seventies film (in the best sense), with a sense of the violence of both the landscape and the people trying to eke a living from it, and it constantly surprises with neat little details such as the magistrate who doles out long sentences simply because there are still so many roads to build. Despite being at the height of his drugs-and-booze lost period, Dennis Hopper gives a pretty good performance as the naïve and contradictory folk hero cum psychopath, even managing a fairly convincing Irish accent. There's an impressive supporting cast of familiar Aussie faces, not least Gulpilil as Morgan's beloved partner in crime and Frank Thring at his most superciliously unpleasant as the Superintendant: few actors could seem more natural when he and his social circle start casually divvying up Morgan's body parts in the final scene (the head for an anthropologist, the scrotum for the Superintendant's new tobacco pouch). Although not overly graphic, it's still fairly strong meat for some viewers.
Sadly, it's fallen into the public domain so you have to be wary of most of the cheap copies on DVD. For example, Waterfall's DVD leaves a lot to be desired: the print is poor and has been cropped from 2.35:1 to squeezed 1.85:1 that is best seen on a widescreen TV. The Australian Region 4 PAL DVD from Madman is a much better bet, offering a remastered 2.35:1 widescreen transfer, audio commentary, interviews and more.