Marking time in the Barry McKenzie films’ music

Midway through The Adventures of Barry McKenzie, at an underground gig in 1970s London, the central protagonist is invited to perform a song that is described by the MC as one of his “most meaningful and urgent compositions”. Barry McKenzie prefaces Old Pacific Sea with the following introduction:

G’day ladies and gentlemen, Barry McKenzie’s the name. I don’t know why me mates got me up here because I’m no Perry Como or Nelson Eddy, or for that matter I’m no George Formby and Andrew [sic] Segovia on the guitar either. But I’ve got this beaut little beach ditty that me and me mates used to serenade the sharks with down at Bondi Beach…

These remarks suggest the most significant elements evident in the film music tracks we are about to explore, namely: comedy and satire directed towards Australian struggles to assert cultural identity in the 1970s; musical intertextuality insofar as the film music track continually references familiar songs and Western/Anglophone musical items; and popular music’s role in Australian culture.

This article examines aspects of the film music of the Barry McKenzie films directed by Bruce Beresford – The Adventures of Barry McKenzie,( Australia, 1972), and Barry McKenzie Holds his Own( Australia 1974), – with particular regard to the ways in which the music places the films in a set of historical contexts. First, the music composed by former advertising songwriter Peter Best reflects a particular style and specific circumstances of film music production during the revival of the Australian film industry. Second, performance numbers in each film evoke traditions of sea shanties, bush ballads and bawdy songs. Third, the film cues exploit scoring approaches and techniques of musical “imagery” and iconicity that can be seen as historically specific to Australian cinema.

This discussion is concerned with how, far more than merely accompanying the image track, the music (or musics) in these films provide/s significant information about Australia in the early 1970s. Furthermore, at the same time that music provides information regarding historical contexts, the music and the musical nature of the films are central to their narrative, comedic and cultural operations and must form a base from which to launch critical evaluation of the films. As Hannu Salmi argues, “Films have not only given an illusion of seeing but also of hearing the past.” [1]

Our methodology for research and analysis included examination of industrial elements informing film production and especially film music composition in the 1970s, in addition to detailed textual analysis of key scenes. Reflections on his work and retrospective comments on his production approach have been provided by composer Peter Best who responded to email questions about the music production. [2]  We start with the music tracks (comprising all of the musical elements) which lead to broader filmic and cultural observations; we take this approach in preference to one in which the image track and narrative take precedence and direct us to the music. [3]

Storylines and music lines

In The Adventures of Barry McKenzie (henceforth Adventures), Barry McKenzie (aka Bazza, or Barrington Bradman Bing McKenzie) is sent to England to extend his cultural knowledge and is accompanied by his aunt, Edna Everage (Barry Humphries). Bazza has several adventures that include being almost married off to the daughter of an S&M practising pretentious middle-class couple, and performing with hippie musicians (who include British folksinger Julie Covington). [4] Bazza’s interactions with other expatriate Australians feature a great deal of Fosters Lager (the beer of choice for Bazza and his mates), [5] bawdy conversations based on sexual inexperience, and jokes orientated around basic bodily functions. Australians are thus represented as drink-loving, bawdy but naïve to the point of puerility, while the English are portrayed as corrupt and sexually perverted. In the absurdist sequel, Barry McKenzie Holds his own (henceforth Holds his own), Bazza accompanies his Aunt Edna to Paris where she is mistaken for the Queen of England, and kidnapped by vampires from the Transylvanian Tourist Industry to assist their country’s promotions campaign. Bazza and friends must rescue Edna before the evil leader, Erich Count von Plasma, discovers her true identity as an Australian housewife and sucks out her blood. While the first film explores “the innocent abroad” and “coming-of-age” themes, the second is narratively more complex but thematically less coherent, playing more obviously with film genre conventions of “gothic comedy” and comic melodrama.

The central character for the films was devised by Barry Humphries who had been involved in music theatre in the form of confrontational revues, and other cultural productions, through the University of Melbourne since the 1950s (and now performs internationally in popular Edna Everage shows). Humphries developed the Bazza character in a comic strip (drawn by Nicholas Garland) that appeared in Private Eye in the 1960s. The film reflects both Humphries’s interest in farce as well as a narrative that had appealed to both British and Australian audiences. Beresford collaborated with Humphries’s friend Phillip Adams, then head of the Australian Film and Television Board, to work on a film version. The cinematic Bazza was played by Barry Crocker who was a television variety show host and crooner in the 1960s. Crocker’s appearance in the Barry McKenzie films – especially his convincing portrayal of bawdy Bazza – signaled a significant change in his career direction, diverting it from the middle-of-the-road repertoire he had previously promoted.

Peter Best’s commission to compose the music for Adventures was not straight-forward. Best has composed for film over many years including for some well-known contemporary Australian films, for example, Crocodile Dundee (Faiman, Australia 1986) and Muriel’s Wedding (PJ Hogan, Australia 1994). [6] Best’s oeuvre as a film composer is notable insofar as his scores exemplified his skills as songwriter (lyrics and musical arrangements) and orchestral music composer (including orchestrating and conducting his own scores). This production and compositional versatility has become a recognised quality in many Australian film composers in the contemporary period. [7] Prior to working on Adventures, Best had been largely engaged in composing music for commercials in Australia, and then spent two years in London working in advertising. Through Phillip Adams’s similar background in advertising, Best had also created the music for a short film by Adams and Brian Robinson, Jack and Jill: A Postscript (Adams, Australia 1970). Best first met Beresford when studying Arts in evening classes at Sydney University. In London, when Beresford was developing the first McKenzie film, Best was recommended by Adams (who had raised the film’s finance) to compose the score, but Beresford, according to Best, preferred an English composer, Stanley Myers. Eventually, after Humphries had heard Best’s proposed theme song, he supported Adams in convincing Beresford to commission Best for the job.

According to Best, the brief for the music was sketchy: Beresford offered little guidance as to what he wanted; Humphries merely suggested classical music items that could be inserted at various points in the film; while Adams left the musical decisions up to Best. Indeed, Best does not recall a formal spotting session (where music requirements are listed and timed, and details of the musical style and approach are discussed) and, as a result, the then-inexperienced composer had difficulty determining how to approach his task. In addition, Best was required to work around arrangements of diegetic songs (performed on screen) that had been completed prior to his involvement in the film. Several songs had been written by Humphries and arranged by David McKay, an Australian then working in London as an A&R person for EMI. [8]

The composition of non-diegetic songs (heard as sound-over) also presented a challenge. Best recalls that,

Barry [Humphries] gave me half a dozen lines on an envelope – literally on an envelope – which included the immortal, “If you want to get your sister in a frenzy, introduce her to Barry McKenzie”. I wrote the rest of the lyrics – most of them really. Barry was very nice to me even though I ignored most of his helpful suggestions about where to put the Bartók. [9]

This informal approach to the original music component of these films was not necessarily unique to this film, or to Best’s scoring approach, but was characteristic of the production methods frequently adopted in Australian filmmaking at the time. In fact, to understand the production of music for Barry McKenzie films, it is necessary to consider the industrial organisation of Australian filmmaking and film composition at the time.

Film Composition in the revival period

The introduction of synchronised sound in the late 1920s affected the Australian film industry in that it was unable to afford total overhauls of all aspects of film production and exhibition. Consequently Australian feature film production was reduced to a minimum from the 1930s to the 1970s. Recommendations to aid the local film industry recorded in the “Vincent Report” to the Senate in 1963 were not put into effect. [10] During the 1960s, a series of industry groups, writers and critics continually complained about the domination of Hollywood films (over 90%, with most of the remainder being British releases) in Australian cinemas. [11]  In 1970, pressure on the Liberal national government, alongside other cultural initiatives exploring national identity, led to Prime Minister John Gorton agreeing to establish and fund three initiatives to restart the Australian film industry. These were: the Australian Film School to train film personnel (opened in 1973, now the Australian Film, Television and Radio School); [12]  a film development corporation to fund feature film production aimed at commercial cinema circuits; and an experimental film fund to encourage creative innovation and young film-makers to develop skills. This revival of interest in Australian cinema encouraged financial backers to invest in low-budget film production, the first commercial hit of which was Adventures. The film was produced on AUS$250,000 and it returned this investment three months after its release in 1972.

In relation to music, Adventures was produced in the context of a developing industry in which studios were inadequate[13]  and crews were not specialised. Nor were composers skilled in the specific techniques of film composition. According to Brian May, composer for Mad Max (Miller, Australia 1979):
There was no school of Australian (film) composition, in the sense of a lineage of well-known people – because the history of the [19]30s, 40s, and 50s was that major projects were composed by English composers. [14]

However, May’s critique does not give the full picture. The majority of the scores of this period were written by Australian (or Australian resident) composers [15] . In the post-war period, however, the trend was to hire more and more international composers for film projects, [16] up to about 1962 when this trend effectively ended. [17]

Brian May’s comment does not recognise that there was only a very small number of films made in Australia in the period 1930 to 1969. According to our survey of this period of 40 years, there were 103 feature films made, indicating an average production rate of fewer than three per year. It was hardly a situation where a composer could develop specialised skills and professional profile for screen scoring. Thus in 1970, when the Australian film industry revived with the production of 15 films in a single year, there was no adequately and continuously nurtured tradition of professional film scoring to sustain it. In the lean period of 1960s’ film production, a number of Australian orchestral composers (Peter Sculthorpe, Richard Meale, Graham Hair and George Tibbits) had written film scores but, when the boom came, the industry turned to composers and musical directors from the media and entertainment industries, particularly advertising and television variety shows.

Among composers who wrote scores in the 1970s, Brian May, Sven Libaek, Eric Jupp, Tommy Tycho and Tommy Leonetti all had experience as television show band composers, arrangers and conductors. Others, including Peter Best, as well as Graham Bond, Rory O’Donoghue, Bob Young, Mike Perjanik and Bruce Smeaton were all involved in writing and producing music for the advertising industry. Smeaton recalls creating 160 orchestral arrangements of the Marlboro cigarette theme, [18] an appropriate background experience for creating a full orchestral score for film, given film music requirements of multiple cues, adapted musical ideas and leitmotifs. Some screen composers like Peter Best, Martin Armiger, Rory O’Donoghue, Brian Cadd, Roy Ritchie, Michael Carlos and Hans Poulsen had backgrounds writing, playing and producing rock music, and others like William Motzing, Don Burrows and John Sangster were high profile jazz composers, performers and musical directors. In this period, versatility seemed to be the key for success as an Australian screen composer, and not only in musical skills such as composing, arranging and conducting. Reviewing the situation in the 1990s, Martin Armiger described the challenges of working as a composer in the Australian film industry, in comparison to the main global centres:

A lot more responsibility rests with the composer. The Hollywood industry, the studio system, or the BBC system, have very structured, tightly organised music roles (like music editor and music supervisor) that don’t exist in Australia. Here as composer, you take on these roles. You’re responsible for the music editing and the overall shape of the thing, and quite often get involved in deals that get your source music, your acts and guest artists. Quite often you do your own fixing or your engaging of musicians. All that’s kind of a challenge, and also gives you a bit more independence, a bit more free wheeling. [19]

Without a system in place to divide the labour of film music production among specialised individuals, it was natural that the work should go to the most versatile in terms of musicianship, music technology and music business skills.

The lack of training opportunities for screen composers was also a factor. A few screen composers who emerged in the 1970s (such as Bruce Smeaton, Brian May, William Motzing, Cameron Allen) had received training in tertiary music schools, but the wide range of skills appropriate to film composing (apart from composing skills) had to be gained through further music or entertainment industry experience. Even for those with tertiary education, experience was key as film composition was considered too “low-brow” to be taught in the academy. Institutionally-based composers who did compose for film for extra income (for example, Eric Gross at the University of Sydney Music Department) [20] would not have considered it appropriate to pass on the specific aesthetic, technical and business skills to their students. Peter Sculthorpe, who lectured in composition at University of Sydney from the early 1960s, reported that, in 1985, he battled with his colleagues to allow an honours thesis being proposed on a film music topic by his student Nerida Tyson. Nerida Tyson-Chew has since become one of Australia’s best-known screen composers [21]  . In a 1990 Sounds Australian special issue on film music, Atherton pondered:

…where do our film and drama composers come from? Is there a film composers’ school? The answer is obvious: they come from all avenues of music-making. Most are self-taught in the art of synchronising music with pictures. It’s an apprentice-on-the-job situation. [22]

In a follow up issue over a decade later Atherton reported:

Looking at the Sounds Australian issue on Australian tertiary music education (Number 60, 2002), it was not surprising that screen music was hardly mentioned at all [given the dearth of study programs offered]. [23]

Peter Best’s background fits this picture in terms of the paucity of training opportunities and in relation to the importance of musical versatility in screen composition, as he acknowledges:

There’s a bit of each of pop, rock and classical. I’ve had no formal training, I was self-taught. My mother loved jazz, my father serious music, and I heard a lot of both. I had a preference for a long time for pop music, so I wrote some, then advertising jingles for Phillip Adams, which led into film. [24]

As a composer with advertising and popular music backgrounds, Best was well equipped to undertake scores for the Barry McKenzie films. Jingle writers are called upon to compose in virtually every Western musical genre and instrumental combination in order to make a fit with the image of the products for which they are writing music. In addition they are often required to write humorous music to enhance comically treated advertisements. Given that the Bazza films also involved songs, Best’s popular songwriting background was an advantage. This is particularly evident in Best’s work on the eponymous theme song for Adventures.

Bazza scores: the adventures of Peter Best

The full version of the song “The Adventures of Barry McKenzie” is used for the end titles of the film and demonstrates Best’s multifaceted talents at work. Exploiting the now-familiar cross-marketing strategy of film and soundtrack, this song became a top 40 hit for popular entertainer Graham “Smacka” Fitzgibbon. [25] The melody of the Barry McKenzie song’s chorus is angular (like Bazza’s comic-book jaw perhaps) and difficult to sing; and its lyrics are comically awkward, especially the punchline: “If you want to get your sister in a frenzy, introduce her to Barry McKenzie.” The second section of the song, also melodically strident, constitutes a list of Bazza’s sterling qualities and is typical of Barry Humphries’s most common lyric writing strategy, the “list song.” [26] In the film, the top 40 hit had a number of narrative roles.

The main title cue of the film is an instrumental version of the song, used to link the scenes in an extended sequence narrating Bazza’s and Edna’s aeroplane journey to England. The song structure is changed by the incorporation of some other musical sections, but all the elements of the song are retained. The cue begins at the airport scene. Initially it is a simple bass line marking out two alternating chords (E flat major and C minor). After 13 bars the string chords implied by the bass-line become prominent with the bass notes still underpinning the cue. At bar 21 the string chords are played tremolo, adding to the suspense. There is a build up to bar 25 where the choir enters singing “Bar-ry Mc-Ken-zie,” a rising harmonised melodic hook that is later used at various dramatic parts of the narrative. At bar 29 the instrumental version of the tune of “The Adventures of Barry McKenzie” begins. The first two phrases of the tune are played on oboe with arpeggiated piano chord accompaniment. The flute takes over the tune for the third and fourth phrases. Against the third phrase there is a french horn counter melody. The oboe plays the fifth phrase and the flute the sixth phrase. The smoothness of this musical style is reminiscent of aeroplane programmed or airport background music. There is a musical interlude (not originally in the song) for the meal scene in the cabin (bars 42-49) that uses a staccato oboe melody with a flute and cello accompaniment. These scenes acknowledge the extended duration of the journey from Australia to England, allowing time for a variety of activities. They also emphasise the dubious characterisation of Australia as the antipodes, at once colonially linked to the “Mother Country” England while also being geographically removed. Such aspects of proximity and cultural transition are reinforced by the elements of difference highlighted in the stopover scene incorporated into this title sequence.

For the scene in Hong Kong, where the plane makes a stopover, another new musical section is introduced (bar 50-59). This is a western parody of Chinese music using parallel fourths. [27] There is a dramatic set of two fully-orchestrated rising parallel fourths followed by a descending pentatonic scale of parallel fourths in violins also employing portamento (pitch gliding) between the pairs of parallel fourths, suggesting a sinuous style. This is followed by another suggestion of Chinese music, employing xylophones and flutes in parallel fourths, and a Chinese gong stroke. This section is based on the second section of the original song. A recap of the choral setting of “Bar-ry Mc-Ken-zie” accompanies a shot of Bazza overtly ogling the exposed legs of a woman in the cabin as she reaches up to access the overhead locker. A further orchestral variation of the theme (basically strings playing the chord progression of the song) is used to accompany the shot of the plane landing at Heathrow airport. From here, the music – a kind of extended overture – gives way to location sound.

The “Barry McKenzie” choral hook is used in various other film contexts, often in different guises. It is incorporated into the early scene of the television advertisement shoot. Leading to the film climax, when Bazza arrives back at his apartment after being admitted to hospital following a fight, a brass version of the hook is used to accompany Edna’s joy at seeing him. The same musical idea is woven into the cue used towards the film’s conclusion, as Bazza flashes his privates on television. The choral version is even employed in Holds his own at the point where Bazza defeats the Asian martial artist by squirting him in the eyes with foaming Fosters Lager.

In their musical-comic representation of Australia, the Bazza films set a precedent for the so-called “quirky,” [28] self-deprecatory Australian identity films that generated substantial box office sales in the mid-1980s to mid-1990s (for example, Crocodile Dundee and Young Einstein (Yahoo Serious, Australia 1988, through to The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, (Stephan Elliott, Australia 1994). The crucial difference between the Bazza films’ music track approach and that of these later films was that the Bazza films used few pre-recorded (popular) source songs. The original songs and the song recordings in the Bazza films were an essential part of the music tracks. This meant that the scores were “through composed” in the sense that they included original instrumental music cues with original songs and adaptations of known songs, and all of these elements required input from the composer. Thus the music tracks required and, in the end, reflected the multi-skilled approach enabled by Best. However, the first film, in particular, was a learning experience for Best, who observes:

I was not confident enough to orchestrate the score and worked with a terrific arranger named Peter Jones. I sketched stuff out for him, gave him themes, hummed counter-melodies, suggested orchestral colours and decided where the music would go and how it would relate to the pictures. We worked principally with musicians from the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra as well as my usual rhythm section. We did a number of sessions. It was seat of the pants stuff with synch [synchronising the music to the image track] because we were recording multitrack and the studio, Bill Armstrong’s [music studio] wasn’t set up for film music.

Furthermore, despite the number of musicians working in similar areas of production, Best notes: “I felt absolutely alone at the time, and made all my own mistakes.” By the sequel, produced two years after Adventures, and for which Best was again commissioned to write the music, [29] he orchestrated the cues; this meant that he could “stretch his wings a bit more.” The cues were grander in scale in keeping with the narrative’s complexity and the more plot-driven screenplay, and this allowed for what Best terms “big set-pieces” for cues such as “Barry of Arabia,” “The Dam Busters” and “Death of Count von Plasma.”

Generically, the Bazza films reference both film musicals and comedies, and these elements are interwoven in a broadly populist musical and thematic approach. The musical performance numbers are informed by a standard approach to musical films in which the narrative is partially arrested for a “song and dance” sequence. Thematically, the films share concerns with other works of the time dealing with masculinity, sexuality and “ocker” culture (a vulgar and brash version of Australian masculinity). They are similar in this respect to two Tim Burstall films, Stork (Australia 1971) and Alvin Purple (Australia 1973) and spawned several other Australian “sex features” (for example, Number 96, (Bernardos, Australia 1974, The Box, (Eddy, Australia 1975). [30] The connection of sex and comedy is clearly evident in musical elements in the Bazza films. Indeed, as with other bawdy comic songs, it is the humour of the songs, drawing on exaggeration, that gives them staying power. The bawdy nature of the songs suggests a model of Australian masculinity that reaches beyond the feminist criticism of the Australian myth of male “mateship.” [31]  Indeed, extending O’Regan’s argument that Adventures produces a “fantasy of the ‘hyper-Australian”’, [32]  the film represents a kind of “hyper-masculinity.” This masculinity is graphically rendered by Bazza’s naive behaviour in relation to women, his predisposition to alcohol abuse, and his obsession with visceral performances and corporeality. These elements fuel many comic moments in the film and shape its overall narrative humour. Most relevant to our analysis, they are effectively supported by the film music track, especially in its incorporation of bawdy performance numbers.

Bawdy ballads

Bawdy songs are traditionally sung by the armed forces, football teams, all-male university student cohorts and similar social groups. Historically, collections of the song lyrics were circulated through privately published chapbooks and songsters. Selected folklorists have also published them in annotated collections. [33] Since the advent of the world wide web, bawdy song collections can be found on numerous websites. [34] Cray observes that, while collectors experience some difficulty locating folk songs specific to Australian identity, the bawdy repertoire flourishes as an oral/aural tradition. [35]

Bawdy songs tend to be “speech-oriented” music. [36]  In one significant category of bawdy songs new lyrics are written to tunes of already existing songs. In Tate’s collection of “obscene songs and ballads of Australian origin,” fifteen of forty-seven songs are sung to existing tunes, usually folksongs or well known old popular songs, but also some more recent popular songs such as “The pub with no beer.” [37] However, the literature on folk-song traditions refers to the fact that the printed versions of many traditional folk songs have been “cleaned up” for more general population consumption. As US folksinger Pete Seeger puts it:

Half the best sailor songs and cowboy songs (like soldier songs) were made up by and for an all-male audience and cannot be sung in mixed company without dropping some of the verses. [38]

In Adventures, a fragment of a traditional song is included in a (slightly) bowdlerised version by Humphries. In the scene where Bazza encounters a group of Australian agricultural students at an English country dance, the students sing a verse of the traditional bawdy ballad (to the tune of “Dixie”):

I wish I was in London, I do, I do,
I’d go down to Trafalgar Square and say to old Lord Nelson:
“Get stuffed, get stuffed, you one-eyed pommie bastard.”
But they add another anti-English song fragment:
All pommies are bastards, bastards or worse,
And England is the arsehole of the Universe.

Ballads pass through periods of public approval and censure. Songs can also reflect changes in language – not just in their lyrics but also in the sentiments expressed and implied moral attitudes. In the example above, Humphries has used the word “stuffed” to replace the word “fucked,” presumably to get the song past the Australian film censors. The colourful language of the Bazza films was attacked by film critics on their release. [39]  In a documentary made at the time (and included on the DVD of Barry McKenzie holds his own) Humphries’s characteristic response was to say that anyone who objected to the language had “never read Chaucer.” Significantly, shortly after the release of Adventures, the R-certificate was introduced, enabling distributors and cinema promoters to provide appropriate warnings about film content to audiences.

The Bazza films include four specifically written ballads that fall into the bawdy song tradition: “One-eyed trouser snake,” “Old Pacific sea,” “The ratbag song,” and “Quick as a flash.” Of these, “One-eyed trouser snake” is the most characteristic of the genre, if only because of its subject matter: the penis. Indeed this song seems to have already worked its way into the vernacular folk tradition. [40] The lyrics are provided in one of the online threads of the Mudcat Café discussion group on Rugby football songs, its tune being described as “unknown.” [41] In Adventures, it is played in a typical folk song format and setting in a scene where Bazza, accompanying himself on guitar, gives an impromptu performance in the back of a VW kombi van after he is picked up as a hitch-hiker. Upper class dropout, Blanche (played by Covington) sings along, giving the song social acceptance in a “counter-cultural” context.

Typical of bawdy ballads, “One-eyed trouser snake” is a sexual boasting song:

Come all you little sheilas
And listen to me song
The moral of the trouser snake
Is short as it is long
Beware of imitations
Don’t lock your bedroom door
When my pyjama python bites you
You’ll be screaming out for more.

The other function of the one-eyed trouser snake comes into play at the end of Adventures when Bazza’s mates extinguish a television studio fire by urinating on it while simultaneously singing the song and drinking copious amounts of Foster Lager to maintain an adequate supply of urine.

Writing about ribald Australian war-time humour, Moran and Massam believe it has one or two basic functions:

(a) humour was a coping strategy that helped individual soldiers deal with stresses of war and (b) humour was used in the representation of the soldier in a war that mythologised him in “heroic” terms. [42]

They make a link between the sexual inexperience of many Second World War soldiers (who were recruited at very young ages) and the sexual boasting of the songs, limericks and writings they produced. There is an obvious parallel here with Bazza’s adventures abroad and his representation as an “innocent.” The bawdy language and boasting of his speech and songs are a way for him to cope with the fact that he is still sexually inexperienced (and incompetent). Furthermore, humour is essential to the process of heroically mythologising him. Bazza’s “beach ditties” and his colourful personality are seen as “authentic” by the music industry and the media, and his beloved Fosters Lager always comes to the rescue in humorously inventive ways.

Although the other three specially-written songs of the series are in a similar vein as they emphasise the visceral or corporeal humour and the trope of “hypermasculinity,” they are more ockerish than bawdy, as their subject matter is not sexual. “Old Pacific sea” is a list song that pulls together several different expressions for vomiting: “chunder,” “technicolour yawn,” “throw your voice,” “big spit,” “liquid laugh,” “hurl,” “regurgitate your lot.” It is also in the tradition of boasting songs: young men celebrating the fact that they drink so much they have to vomit – in this case a mixture of beer and prawns into the Pacific Ocean (or, more specifically, the Tasman Sea) at Bondi Beach.

Of the two songs Bazza sings in Holds his own, “Quick as a flash” combines boasting about the quality of Australian wit and satirising the English (Pommies). It is performed in response to a number of disparaging remarks made against Australia and Australians by upper class English people at a “posh” (upper class) party. The musical treatment is country dance music with Col the Frog playing country-style fiddle as the assembled Australians (who are all about to board a military aircraft and parachute into Transylvania) dance around the stately room using exaggerated bush dance moves.

The chorus is a list of scatological insults:

Oh I hope all your chooks turn to emus,
And kick your dunnie down flat to the grass,
I hope your balls turn to bicycle wheels,
And backpedal up your arse.
I hope every la-di-da pommie like you,
Gets the trots when he swallows a plum,
Go and dip your left eye in hot cockie shit,
And stick your head up a dead bear’s bum.

“The ratbag song” is the most musically developed of the bawdy ballads. It is a classic list song in the tradition of Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Major General’s song” (from The Pirates of Penzance, 1879). Musically, it incorporates a number of sophisticated arrangement concepts including barbershop harmonies (closely voiced male vocal harmonies as heard in barbershop quartets), changes of tempo, and fleeting references to the German national anthem (on the line about Hitler) and the Zorba the Greek (dir: Michael Cacoyannis, 1964) film score by Mikis Theodorakis. “The ratbag song” opens with a semi-sung introduction, then launches into a rollicking version of the full song, excerpted below:

A ratbag is a sheila or a bloke
(Or a bloke)
Who’s kind of funny but, like,
Never sees the joke
Now take me mother’s brother Uncle Graham,
He’s a raving bloody ratbag through and through,
He collects old kettles,
Makes his own wine out of nettles,
He reckons Adolph Hltler was a Jew
He’s always seeing flying saucers landing,
Bringing ratbags to the earth from outer space,
And he’s written in his will,
That when he dies we have to
Spill his ash on Melbourne Cup day underneath the race.
Oh yes he is:
A ratbag (yes he is)
A raving ratbag (yes he is)
He’s a screwball, he’s a nut case there’s no doubt;
And if you think you’re ratbag free,
Then just shake your family tree,
Hear the great big raving ratbags fallin’ out.
If you eat your sweet and sour pork with chopsticks,
When you’re at home with no one round to see,
If you’re a Philippino healer or thinks Shakespeare was a sheila,
Or you’re trying to cure your warts with herbal tea.
If you listen to the latest teenage guru,
Or you pin your fate on Scientology,
If you grow organic food, go horse riding in the nude,
There’s a very faded chance that you could be:
A ratbag, a raving ratbag…

Apart from its humorous function of outlining many of Bazza’s cultural prejudices while showcasing Humphries’s linguistic leaps, “The ratbag song” is used as a musical theme in various other parts of Holds his own. An instrumental version is employed for the scene where Bazza slips and falls on a dog turd in the streets of London. Bazza then sings the tune of the song as he is taking a bath in Rhonda’s flat. It is incorporated into the underscore of the scene where the Australians escape Count von Plasma’s burning castle; and it is one of the tunes played by the marching band for the celebration of Bazza’s and Edna’s arrival at Sydney airport. Here, the song is a significant point of cultural comment. Its role is highlighted by the scale of the scene in terms of number of on-screen performers, attention to mise-en-scene, costume, colour and choreography, by the duration of the sequence as well as its musical sophistication, thereby underlining the scene’s narrative contribution. Speaking to the quirkiness of Australian characterisations, the scene and the song spotlight the transitional period for Australian culture in the 1970s when the cultural claims for Australian identity made by government and cultural producers were not necessarily reflected in everyday attitudes and beliefs. The song and its performative rendition in the film reference claims for self-assertion mingled with cultural cringe.

Considering the role of “The rat-bag song” in this spectacular scene, it is worth noting that the bawdy ballads in the Bazza films do not merely reflect masculinist culture of the time. They also underline the way in which Barry Humphries satirises middle-class pretensions as well as more generally the nationalist culture of the time – a culture that drove the revival of the Australian film industry. [43] Dermody and Jacka argue that the film had a specific role in the revival as it helped “to overcome diffidence and resistance to Australian cinema” due to being “truer to Australian identity and character than the more tasteful period films which followed.” [44] Although the comment by Dermody and Jacka makes it possible to view the films as something other than just “quirky” comedies, the notion of a “true” Australian identity is problematic given class, education and cultural continuums informing self-identification. Bazza songs parody such essentialism in the bawdy ballads that reduce Australian characterisation to ockerisms. In this manner, the Bazza songs reflect intertextual and satirical narrative aims for the films. Furthermore the satirical perspective informing the Bazza ballads is reinforced in the original music cues that are used as “underscore” to support the screenplay and on-screen events.

Music cues

The connection of exaggerated character traits and a “repertoire of stereotypes”[45] with slapstick comedic events on screen is represented in the original music cues. These offer an approach more akin to cartoon or film animation music than fully-orchestrated symphonic-styled screen scores. Insofar as “one of cartoon music’s implicit roles is to add to the overall comedy,” [46]  Best’s original music cues can be compared to cartoon scores.

Just as cartoon comedy is quintessentially audio-visual, Peter Best uses musical parody and other types of musical humour to enhance the comedic intentions of the script. For example, in Adventures he arranges a limp and highly decorative version of a Marlboro-style cigarette commercial theme for the High Camp Cigarlettes advertisement scene; he appropriates a 1950s cascading string orchestra gesture reminiscent of Mantovani for an impending romantic encounter between Bazza and Caroline, the actress Bazza meets on the High Camp shoot; he uses a sleazy jazz blues style with suggestive saxophone note-bending for the ensuing (eventually unconsummated) sex scene; he employs an arrangement of the “Eton boat song” to signify the sexual perversion of Bazza’s English relative, Ronald Gort; he parodies the mediocre playing and hackneyed repertoire of many old-time dance bands in the scenes of the social function that Bazza and Sarah Gort attend; and he repeatedly uses a clichéd low double bass riff and brassy-sounding chord to indicate the presence (seen or unseen) of the undercover cop who is trying to apprehend Bazza for cross dressing. These examples of intertextual musical comedy also facilitate a comic or satiric inflection on national identities and cultures.

The pastiche of musical styles is even more evident in Holds his own where, for example, Best ironically uses a staid pseudo-renaissance musical texture (with harpsichord, recorder and pizzicato string instrumentation) to portray the ambience of a saucy French nightclub. He accompanies the undignified fistfight between Bazza and his brother the Rev. Kevin McKenzie with JS Bach’s majestic organ work, “Toccata in D minor.” He appropriates the musical style of the theme of David Lean’s oft-cited movie, Lawrence of Arabia (UK 1962),as Bazza, “disguised” as an Arab, travels to England as an illegal immigrant. Best captures crass quiz-show electric organ flourishes in the scene at Australia House where English “contestants” have to answer patriotic questions to qualify for immigration entry to Australia. He constructs a clever minor-key version of the “God save the Queen” anthem with Eastern European drone and drum backing to underscore Edna’s stay in Transylvania (where she has been mistaken for the Queen of England).

A feature of Best’s humorous scoring is his use of national songs to represent “patriotic” moments – scene elements that consolidate the films’ ocker/larrikin representation of Australia. In Adventures, “Waltzing Matilda” is employed to introduce the Australian guests (including Bazza) on the television talk show called “Midnight oil: a weekly survey of the arts in Britain today.” This theme is recapped when Bazza drops his trousers and underpants for the television cameras. In Holds his own a fragment from the end of “Advance Australia fair” is introduced at the end of the Minister for the Arts’s earnestly boastful introduction to the film. The character Col the Frog (an Australian “ex-patriot” fluent in Franglais) is introduced with a fragment of the “Marseillaise.” When Bazza is called on to impersonate Kevin to save face at the seminar titled Christ and the Orgasm, “Advance Australia fair” is cued with Edna’s line, “You can’t let Australia down”. When Bazza is asking directions to the Australian Embassy in Paris, without being understood, in desperation he sings a line of “Waltzing Matilda” to a policeman. At the illegal immigrant beach landing in the south of England, the cue incorporates the melody of “Rule Britannia.” And in a self-reflexively parodic scene referring to Australian convict history, located in the interior of Australia House, a crowd of drunken Australians around a barbeque sing the folk song “Botany Bay.”

Best uses musical figures to represent cultural stereotypes and to pointedly match events on screen with familiar musical elements. In fact the cues can be heard as parodic of film compositional styles that reach back to the earliest days of film scores. In her research into musical exotica in 1920s film music, Aline Scott-Maxwell noted that generalising musical sounds originated in North American cinema literature of the time and were published in sources as guides for Australian orchestral and pianist accompanists for that period. This led to a situation where a whole range of musical cues and motifs “were not simply transplanted but assimilated into Australian cultural practice and (re)production.” [47]  Australian film musicians and composers in this period were very strongly guided (if not dictated to) in the orchestral arrangements for musical cues. [48] Furthermore, this affected Australian musical practice in the local context and for local productions.

Such film scoring sources proposed, for example, standard musical cues for scenes depicting “non-Western” locations or characters, music that generalised the characters as “other” in a broadly “exotic oriental” musical style and instrumentation. The Western use of simplistic parodies of “oriental” music for scenes featuring generalized Asian characters and locations has been commonly used in film scoring, even in “serious” dramatic films. According to Hollywood composer Jerry Goldsmith:

The ethnic-Oriental is particularly worth talking about because if one were to give the pure ethnological answer musically they [the producers] would throw it out in a second… (but rather) if we see a picture shot in China, we immediately have the fourths and gongs going. [49]

In this way, the narrative role of the music addresses complexities of orientalist discourses in film [50] by exploring representations of the “East,” relationships of power between East and West, and the limitations imposed by them. [51]

Apart from the “Hong Kong” scene in the traveling sequence of Adventures (detailed above) there are several other orientalist cues in the Bazza films. In Adventures pseudo-Indian music is used to underscore the sex shop scene and continues under the following scene where, on his hotel bed, Bazza practises poses from an orientalist sex manual titled The Perfumed Fanny. The cue comprises a sitar-like instrument accompanying a tune written in an “oriental”-sounding scale played on a double reed instrument. A gong, a Tibetan cymbal and Indian tabla drumming are also employed in the cue. In Holds his own a double reed instrument and hand drum are used for diegetically-located Middle Eastern-sounding snake charming music for the interior scene of the Oh Calcutta Curry Powder truck that is transporting Bazza and a group of other illegal immigrants through the English countryside. In addition a single tam tam (Chinese gong) stroke is used (non-diegetically) to introduce the Chinese waiter who is serving at Erich Count von Plasma’s dining table.

In addition to their references to generic orientalist discourses, these musical elements offer “exoticist” flourishes to the generally Western-styled music tracks, emphasising Bazza’s limited experience as a representative Australian on the (Western) international stage. The use of such musical references is also relevant to Australian cultural changes at the time of the film productions. Responding to the social changes occurring as a result of the significant post-Second World War migrant intake, in 1973, Al Grassby, the then Immigration Minister under reformist Labor Prime Minister Gough Whitlam, delivered a parliamentary speech titled “A Multi-Cultural Society for the Future.” This signaled a significant change in thinking about Australian society and identity that led to the Galbally Report, titled “The Review of Post Arrival Programmes,” in 1978 and population management policies implemented as part of a program of multiculturalism in the 1980s. [52] The way in which such discourses offered a threat to Anglo-Australians is reflected in a short scene early in Adventures when Edna prepares to travel and, in the background on radio station 2GB, a talkshow caller advocates the return of the White Australia Policy. [53] Reviews of the re-released DVD versions of the Bazza film comment on the racism and non-politically correct humour and narrative [54]  and this is reinforced in the music. However, at a time when many Australians eschewed the conservatism of the 1950s, the use of such racialised comment possibly served to underline the difficulty of government intervention to bring about change in deeply entrenched attitudes. As reviewer Ian Bennington argues:

The worldview of Australia that [Holds his own and Adventures] present is astoundingly politically incorrect, by both the standards now and then. This is no accident, it is virtually the point of the film[s]. Topless womyn [sic], beer skulling, racial stereotypes, male hegemony and some vomiting – everyone is targeted here. [55]

The amount of ambivalently affectionate self-parody and self-critique that the films present cannot be ignored. [56] It is difficult, after all, to consider that any audience might regard the films as straightforward celebrations of white masculine Australianness and Australian national superiority. But, more pertinent here, music carries much of this critically parodic content. The films make virtues out of the very naivety and lack of sophistication for which Australia was criticized – both by Britons and Anglophilic Australians – in the 1960s and 1970s. The Humphries/Best project, then, represents a gleeful returning of this crassness to its point(s) of origin.


The music in the Barry McKenzie films not only performs important narrative functions in the way it offers a comic and sometimes critical perspective on events. In addition, the music offers information about the historical moment of the film productions that assists an analysis of the various musical styles and approaches. Contemporary music scholar Philip Hayward argues that:

The McKenzie films were written and produced during a period when the irreverent and highly colloquial interpretation of Australian ‘folk’ traditions known as bush band music was attracting considerable attention in major cities such as Melbourne and Sydney. More specifically, the McKenzie films parallel – and invite comparison to – the arrival of bushband music (and the irreverent personae of its performers) in London in the same period. The Bushwackers are perhaps the most apposite example. Formed in 1969, they brought attention to traditional songs (such as “Ryebuck shearer”) in Australia before decamping to London in 1974 where, according to band mythology, fifteen Aussies lived in a three-bedroomed house while they tried, with some success, to gain popularity on the British folk club circuit. Here they found themselves preceded by the success of the McKenzie films and Bazza’s bawdy balladry, which parodied the very traditions that they held dear and required them to establish a degree of distance from the films in order to attain the credibility they desired in British folk circles. [57]

Hayward’s observations emphasise the widespread reception for and cultural role of Bazza’s music during the 1970s.

Given the significant role of music, it is curious that musical aspects are frequently bypassed in examinations of the Barry McKenzie films. This was recently highlighted when, in their preparations for a gala screening of the first Barry McKenzie film at the Chauvel Cinema in Sydney, organisers did not originally invite composer Peter Best to attend as a special guest and/or to address the audience, despite his crucially significant contribution to the work. Indeed, Best retrospectively observes that, attitudinally, the 1970s was a more supportive period for composers as craftspeople when compared with the industrial climate of the 2000s, despite the growth of budgets and facilities:

I think there was more respect for composers from producers and directors, though not from Bruce for me. I think the composer was seen as an important member of the team rather than as a sort of house-painter employed to give the product a final coat or to pump sparkle in between the pop songs that have been bought.

Analysis of the Barry McKenzie music tracks indicates their value to the films on several levels. This discussion of the various roles for music in these specific exemplars emphasises the films as audio-visual products in which the music is integral to the films in informing narrative, audience engagement and historical setting. In doing so the Barry McKenzie films’ music tracks represent a confluence of musical, historical and cultural factors. Musically, they reflect influences from advertising and jingle writing that refer to and thus engage audiences with familiar tropes. As the music tracks for film comedies, the scores are self-reflexive and make intertextual references to other musics, yet they also provide the exaggerated “affect” associated with comic cartoon music. The limited experience in film scoring by Australian composers of the time meant that the creation of such music tracks – especially through-composed scores – was a learning experience and one that required a flexible and lateral approach to the various compositional components. All these factors contributed to the genesis of two Barry McKenzie films and their development of a generic character that spoke to emerging Australian identities. The films, their music and their musical characterisations were significant in 1970s’ popular culture and continue to resonate in Australian culture today.

[Thanks to Peter Best, Philip Hayward, and delegates at the Film and History Conference, Canberra, for various contributions to research and writing, and to referees and editors for valuable suggestions and revisions on the journal version.]


[1] Hannu Salmi, “Composing the past: music and the sense of history in Hollywood spectacles of the 1950s and early 1960s”, Screening the Past, issue 5, 1998,
[2] Best notes that all documents and scores pertaining to the film productions were lost in a fire some years previously. Musical analysis was conducted using Hannan’s notations of the score as heard on DVD.
[3]We do not argue that the music in these films can be identified as uniquely ‘Australian’. See Coyle for discussion of the problematic nature of this line of argument: Rebecca Coyle, “Introduction: Tuning Up”, in ed. Rebecca Coyle, Screen Scores: Studies in Contemporary Australian Film Music (Sydney: Allen & Unwin/AFTRS, 1998).
[4] Although Covington was involved in music theatre at the time and only circulated as a folksinger after her appearance in this film.
[5]  Due, in part, to a commercial agreement between filmmakers and beer company, although the associations of the beer with the Bazza character were later to prove problematic for the beer company.
[6] Best won three AFI awards for original music in the 1970s.
[7] See Michael Hannan The Australian Guide to Careers in Music (UNSW Press, 2003); Michael Hannan and Jude Magee, “Screen composition in Australia: the work of Martin Armiger” in Coyle; and Jude Magee, From Fine Cut to Mix: An Explanation of Processes and Issues in Australian Film Score Composition, (Unpublished Honours thesis, Lismore: Southern Cross University, 1996).
[8]  McKay had signed Best to a recording contract as a pop artist.
[9] This and all subsequent quotes from Peter Best, unless otherwise cited, taken from personal email correspondence to Rebecca Coyle, 10 October 2004.
[10] Graham Shirley, “Australian Cinema: 1896 to the Renaissance” in ed. Scott Murray, Australian Cinema (St Leonards: Allen & Unwin/AFI, 1994).
[11]Susan Dermody and Elizabeth Jacka, The Screening of Australia (Vol. 2), (Sydney: Currency Press, 1988).
[12] Responding to criticism of its marginalisaton of film composition, AFTRS (in collaboration with the Australian Guild of Screen Composers) introduced a composer-in-residence program based at its Sydney campus in the 1990s.
[13] Some localised production companies did exist, for example, jazz musician and teacher Bruce Clarke composed scores for film and television through his Melbourne-based Jingle Workshop.
[14] Quoted in Magee, 174.
[15] Those who wrote three or more scores included Lindley Evans (5), Willy Redstone (3), Hamilton Webber (9), Frank Chapple (4), Sydney John Kay (4), Alf Lawrence (3), Henry Krips (5) and Wilbur Sampson (5); and there were other prominent Australian concert composers who also contributed film scores such as Alfred Hill, Robert Hughes, Clive Douglas and Raymond Hanson.
[16] These included British composers John Ireland (The Overlanders, 1946), John Greenwood (Eureka Stockade, 1949), Ralph Vaughan Williams (Bitter Springs, 1950), Ronald Whelan (Smiley, 1956), John Addison (The Shiralee, 1957), Matyas Seiber (Robbery Under Arms, 1957), Kenneth V. Jones (The Siege of Pinchgut, 1959), Benjamin Frankel (Summer of the Seventeeth Doll, 1959), Edwin Astley (Bungala Boys, 1961). It also included American composers Sol Kaplan and Alfred Newman (Kangaroo, 1952), David Buttolph (Long John Silver, 1954), Ernest Gold (On the Beach, 1959), and Dimitri Tiomkin (The Sundowners, 1961) as well as French composers Georges Auric (Walk into Paradise, 1956), Michel Emer (The Stowaway, 1958), and Henri Croila (The Restless and the Damned, 1959).
[17] Exceptions were American Shel Silverstein (Ned Kelly, 1970), Italian Piero Piccioni (Girl in Australia, 1970), and British composers John Barry (Walkabout, 1971) and John Scott (Wake in Fright, 1971). Another British musician Patrick Flynn wrote three scores (Sunday Too Far Away, 1975; Caddie, 1976; and Mad Dog Morgan, 1976) but at the time he was resident in Australia as an opera conductor.
[18] Magee, 229.
[19] Quoted in Magee, 153-4.
[20] Michael Atherton, “Interview – the 3-Day turnaround: Eric Gross and film music before Midi”, Sounds Australian, no. 25, 1990.
[21] Telephone conversation by Michael Hannan with Peter Sculthorpe, 9 February 2005.
[22] Michael Atherton, “Synchronous sounds: the film composer”, Sounds Australian, no. 25, 1990.
[23] Michael Atherton, “Educating the screen composer in Australia”. Sounds Australian, no. 61 (2003)
[24] Quoted in Magee, 164.
[25] Released on Fable (FB-135) with Love theme from Bazza, performed by The Midnight Oil Orchestra, as a 7-inch single in 1972. Humphries also released an LP (Festival records, 1972) of party songs featuring Barry Crocker that included five of the eleven songs written by Humphries. Melbourne-based jazz performer and restauranteur Graham Fitzgibbon (1930-1979, known as ‘Smacka’) frequently performed, playing banjo, on television and radio, and at live concerts.
[26] In the Bazza films, ‘Ratbags’ is probably the best example of this technique. See Stephen Citron, A Complete Guide to the Craft of Songwriting (New York: Limelight Editions, 1992), 113-166.
[27] In classical music history, the terms parody and pastiche have fairly specific (but overlapping) meanings. Parody was a term used in Renaissance music to refer to compositions based on pre-existent pieces of music (a common practice). Such items were regarded as clever rather than humorous. For modern times the definition of musical parody given by The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (ed. Sadie Stanley, London: Macmillan, 1980, Vol.14, 239) is: “A composition generally of humorous or satirical intent in which turns of phrase or other features characteristic of another composer or type of composition are employed and made to appear ridiculous, especially through their application to ludicrously inappropriate subjects”. Historically pastiche (or ‘pasticcio’) in late 17th and early 18th Century opera refers to the commercial exploitation of ‘favourite arias’, selections of which were assembled in new works (288). So new works were devised from bits of existing works. Interestingly, the term is used in The Cartoon Music Book (ed. Daniel Goldmark and Yuval Taylor, Chicago: A Capella Books, 2002, 28) to refer to the practice in cartoon music of stringing together well known classical, popular or folk tunes, e.g. “This same pastiche style was applied even more heavily to the Plane Crazy Score (1928) which features a catalogue of familiar public domain tunes”. The Hong Kong scene in Adventures seems to be more parody than pastiche because it is meant to be a send-up of the Hollywood practice of using the parallel fourths, xylophones and gongs to represent Chinese music. But it could be identified as pastiche if one considers the various elements as being appropriated from the Hollywood cliché library.
[28] See Jonathan Rayner, Contemporary Australian Cinema: An Introduction (Manchester/New York: Manchester University Press, 2000), especially his ‘quota quirky’ argument, 129-165.
[29] Based in part on Beresford’s grudging acknowledgement of the commercial hit achieved by the Adventures theme song.
[30] See Scott Murray, “Australian cinema in the 1970s and 1980s”, in ed. Scott Murray, Australian Cinema  (St Leonards: Allen & Unwin/AFI, 1994); Tom O’Regan, “Cinema Oz: the ocker films”, in eds. Albert Moran and Tom O’Regan, The Australian Screen  (Sydney: Penguin, 1989).
[31] See Sophie Watson and Rosemary Pringle, “Fathers, brothers, mates: the fraternal state in Australia”, in ed. Sophie Watson, Playing the State: Australian Feminist Interventions  (Sydney: Allen and Unwin, 1990).
[32] Tom O’Regan, Australian National Cinema  (London/New York: Routledge, 1996), 52.
[33] See Ed Cray, “Introduction” in ed. Ed Cray, Bawdy Ballads , (London/Sydney/Cologne: Omnibus, 1970); and ed. Brad Tate, The Bastard from the Bush , (Kuranda, QLD: The Ram’s Skull Press, 1982).
[34] For example, the Gun Plot site (<>) is a collection of sea shanties as sung by sailors in the Royal Australian Navy, and the Rocketshitty site (<>) includes a substantial ‘hash hymnal’, a collection of obscene songs that are performed by the Rocketshitty branch of an international running-for-fitness social organization known as the Hash Harriers.
[35] Cray, xxi.
[3]See Cray, xxxiii.
[37]A song repopularised via Gordon Parsons’s version recorded by Slim Dusty in the 1950s; see Jon Fitzgerald and Philip Hayward, “At the confluence: Slim Dusty and Australian country music”, in ed. Philip Hayward, Outback and Urban: Australian Country Music vol. 1  (Gympie: The Australian Institute for Country Music, 2003).
[38]Pete Seeger, The Incompleat Folksinger  (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1972), 416.
[39] Adventures  was heavily criticized particularly in the Melbourne press, and in fact was not accepted for distribution by mainstream cinema distributors, requiring Adams to rent cinemas in Sydney and Melbourne to screen the film (Geoffrey Mcnab, “A fistful of Fosters”, in The Guardian, Jan 8, 2003,
[4]The One-eyed Trouser Snake song was possibly a reference to One-eyed (or One-balled) Reilly, a song that underwent several variations.
[42] Carmen Moran and Margaret Massam, “A ‘trace of history’: cartoons from the Australian War Memorial Christmas books of the Second World War”, Journal of the Australian War Museum, no. 39, Oct, (2003) at
[43] See Rayner, 8-21.
[44] Dermody and Jacka, 170. Beresford’s selection of Adventures was affected by the fact that he was advised (by Sir Michael Balcon of Ealing Studios) to launch his directing career with a film “likely to be a popular success” (Coleman, 52) and build investor confidence, rather than his first preference to direct The Getting of Wisdom (which he went on to direct and was released in 1977). As it happens, Beresford claims that it took many years to restore critical confidence in his work following critical panning of the Bazza films. See Peter Coleman, Bruce Beresford: Instincts of the Heart (Sydney, etc: Angus & Robertson, 1992), 61; Sue Ramadan, “An examination of Australian cultural identity as depicted in four Australian films: The Adventures of Barry McKenzieAlvin PurpleSunday Too Far Away, and Picnic at Hanging Rock” (Unpublished Honours thesis, Sydney: UNSW, 1976).
[45]O’Regan 1996, 255.
[46] Daniel Goldmark and Yuval Taylor, “Introduction”, in Goldmark and Taylor, xiv.
[47] Aline Scott-Maxwell, “Oriental exoticism in 1920s Australian popular music”, Perfect Beat: The Pacific Journal of Research into Contemporary Music and Popular Culture, vol. 3 no. 3 (1996) July, 47.
[48] See John Whiteoak, “Film music”, in eds. John Whiteoak and Aline Scott-Maxwell, Currency Companion to Music and Dance in Australia (Sydney: Currency House/Press, 2003).
[49] Quoted in Earl Hagen, Scoring for Films: A Complete Text, (New York: Criterion Music Corp., 1971), 164-5.
[50] See David Hanan, “Is there an Australian inflection of orientalism?”, in Deb Verhoeven (ed) Twin Peeks: Australian and New Zealand Feature Films, (Melbourne: Damned Publishing, 1999).
[51] See Edward Said, Orientalism (London: Routledge, 1978).
[52] See Jon Stratton, Race Daze: Australia in Identity Crisis (Sydney: Pluto Press, 1998).
[53] The term used to stand for a set of laws (primarily the Immigration Restriction Act of 1901) restricting immigration by people of non-European descent.
[54] See Gary Couzens, “The Adventures of Barry McKenzie (DVD Review)“, at  (2003); Tony Moore, “Barry McKenzie holds his own (Review)”, in
[55] Ian Bennington, “Barry McKenzie holds his own (Review)” at (2003, 29 July).
[56] See Barrie Pattison, “Australian film comes down from the gum tree”, in Film, series 2, no. 2, May (1973).
[57]Personal correspondence by email.

Created on: Monday, 11 July 2005 | Last Updated: Friday, 29 July 2005

About the Author

Rebecca Coyle and Michael Hannan

About the Authors

Rebecca Coyle

Rebecca Coyle is Associate Professor in Media Studies at Southern Cross University in Australia. She is Director of Research and Research Training for the School of Arts and Social Sciences. She has edited two anthologies on Australian feature film music, is editor for Screen Sound: The Australasian Journal of Soundtrack Studies, and currently leads an ARC Discovery project around this work.

Michael Hannan

Michael Hannan is Professor of Music at Southern Cross University in Australia. He is a composer, performer and music researcher. His research covers professional music education, creative music practice and screen music. In 2010 Hannan was a visiting researcher at Queensland University of Technology (QUT) working on the collection of screen music manuscripts bequeathed to QUT by Brian May.View all posts by Rebecca Coyle and Michael Hannan →