The Sundowners (1960)

<strong class="MovieTitle">The Sundowners</strong> (1960)

(On Cable TV, February 2019) There is a weightiness to The Sundowners that makes it both respectable and a burden to watch. The story of a nomadic family trying to make ends meet in outback Australia, it’s a character study (adapted from a novel) of a man unwilling to settle down, something that his wife finds increasingly untenable. Robert Mitchum stars in a very manly role, with Deborah Kerr as his long-suffering wife—despite the mostly happy marriage banter between the two, much of the film’s central conflict is about whether or not they’ll be able to reach an accommodation, and the ending is far less definite than many would have wanted. But the real reason to watch the film may have less to do with plotting and more with the impressive colour cinematography—unusually enough for 1960, much of the film was shot on location in deep Australia, featuring plenty of koalas, kangaroos, sheep and sheep-shearing. Peter Ustinov makes an impression as a refined older man somehow found in the outback. It’s a solid drama that was eventually nominated for five Academy Awards (including Best Picture), but don’t expect much in terms of resolution.

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