GenreComedy, Sport ScreenplayJohn Romeril, David Baker CountryAustralia
Release date7 August 1975 Based onthe novel A Salute to the Great Macarthy by Barry Oakley WriterDavid Baker, Barry Oakley (novel), John Romeril Initial releaseAugust 4, 1975 (Australia) CastJohn Jarratt, Judy Morris, Barry Humphries, Chris Haywood, Max Gillies, Bruce Spence Similar moviesBruce Smeaton composed the music for The Great MacArthy and The Cars That Ate Paris
TaglineHe's footy's most forward full forward!
The Great Macarthy is a 1975 comedy about Australian rules football. It was an adaptation of the novel A Salute to the Great McCarthy by Barry Oakley. It stars John Jarratt as the title character (in his film debut) as a local footballer who is signed up (or more appropriately, kidnapped) by the South Melbourne Football Club (now Sydney Swans). It also stars Barry Humphries and Judy Morris. It was released at a time of resurgence in Australian cinema but was not very successful despite its high profile cast.
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Macarthy is a county football player who is kidnapped by the South Melbourne Football Club and made a star player in the city. The Club Chairman, Colonel Ball-Miller, give Macarthy a job in one of his companies and makes him attend night school. He is seduced by his English teacher, Miss Russell, and has an affair with Ball-Miller's daughter, Andrea.
Macarthy and Andrea get married but then divorce. Macarthy goes on strike to claim the family four tine.
John Jarratt as MacArthy
Judy Morris as Miss Russell
Kate Fitzpatrick as Andrea
Sandy Macgregor as Vera
Barry Humphries as Colonel Ball-Miller
John Frawley as Webster
Colin Croft as Tranter
Chris Haywood as Warburton
Colin Drake as Ackerman
Ron Frazer as Twentyman
Max Gillies as Stan
Dennis Miller as MacGuinness
Lou Richards as Lou Arnold
Jack Dyer as Jack Diehard
Jim Bowles as Les
Bruce Spence as Bill Dean
Peter Cummins as Rerk
David Baker was an emerging director who was interested in Barry Oakley's novel. Richard Brennan optioned it for him and they agreed to make the film together, hiring playwright John Romeril to do the adaptation. According to Brennan, Romeril's second draft was "fantastic" but later drafts included too much sex and slapstick to make it more like other successful Australian films at the time such as The Adventures of Barry McKenzie and Alvin Purple.
Philip Adams later claimed he always knew the film would struggle "because of its idiosyncratic and complex nature".
The film was shot in mid 1974. Half the budget was provided by the Australian Film Development Corporation.
The film performed poorly critically and at the box office.