Crocodile Dundee1986 is a year fondly remembered by movie aficionados for the Tom Cruise vehicle (an airborne one anyway) “Top Gun” and Oliver Stone’s sobering Vietnam film “Platoon”. However the year’s biggest box-office success in comparison to its budget was an amiable comedy from the land Down Under. Made on under $10 million, “Crocodile Dundee” took cinema screens by storm worldwide, raking in an amazing $328 million. Taking the classic premise of a man taken outside of his comfort zone, much of its charm stemmed from comedian Paul Hogan in the title role.

Drawn into the outback by an amazing (and, as we later learn, largely fabricated) survival story, reporter Sue Charlton (Linda Kozlowski) spends a week in the bush of the Northern Territory with local legend Michael J. “Crocodile” Dundee (Hogan). En revanche she invites him to spend some time in her jungle, namely New York City, all the while falling in love with the rugged charmeur. Dundee’s encounters with the natives lead to general hilarity, as he fights street crime (That’s a knife!), unwittingly prescribes cocaine as a cure for a blocked nose, and grapples with the Big Apple nightlife. Indeed many of the gags are age old and would seem jaded were it not for Hogan who instills the various set pieces with real wit and superb comic timing. Kudos also to director Peter Faiman who has the opportunity to stage some really fantastic set pieces from an encounter with an Australian wild buffalo or the climatic subway shout-out both of which are superb in their execution and genuinely funny.

Once we’ve been introduced, Hogan rarely leaves the screen and when he does things immediately sag. A romantic sub-plot involving Sue’s newspaper editor Richard (Mark Blum) has no real spark and we really don’t know just why she would ever consider marrying him. That said, there’s a really excellent comedic turn from the ageing John Meillon as the Australian tour-organiser Walter Reilly, partially responsible for the high tales surrounding Dundee.

Crocodile Dundee OSTIn addition to some source songs, the film’s score was composer by Australian composer Peter Best and has gained a certain amount of cult following. So much so that a soundtrack album was released by the Varese Sarabande label. Best takes his inspiration from the outback, utilising several speciality instruments from the continent to replicate the sounds of the bush. The main theme is presented on lazy electric guitar, at several intervals throughout the film, swelling to a great climax at the end of the film. Best of all, these Australian sounds are employed for the New York scenes as well, underlining the “double-wilderness” idea and it works nicely. Certainly it’s not groundbreaking music but it’s synonymous with the film and will bring back the memories (and possibly nostalgia) straight away.

“Crocodile Dundee” is not a great film but it works it’s magic, either for its associated period or simply for some good, light entertainment. The sequels diminish the original’s charm somewhat so you’re best off just watching this one.

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This was one of the first films I ever saw and no matter how many times I watch it (which by now has been quite a few), I never tire of Mr. Dundee and Co. If you have any feedback, advice or just want to say hi please do leave a comment. You can also follow me on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed. Until next time then, keep cool!

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