Friday, January 15, 2010

Richard Franklin

I hadn't planned to do research today. We had zoo plans, and I thought that would take most of the day. But our friends canceled because of the cold. Jack and I went, and we had fun. But without friends there, we tend to zip through the whole thing. It's funny. It felt more like a trip to see ice than animals. Most of the pretty waterfalls were frozen. And the place was EMPTY. We almost had the whole big zoo to ourselves.

But anyway, it turns out that I have time to do research. I'm glad for that because I love doing my research.

Richard Franklin....He may NOT be in with my recent mix of film people. I don't remember seeing his name on IMDb. I may be wrong though.

Well, it turns out, he IS a film guy. We have another director on our hand. Giving Lord Wiki's entry on Franklin a quick glance, I'd say his most well known Australian movie is The True Story of Eskimo Nell. His most famous American movie would likely be Psycho II.

Franklin grew up in a Melbourne suburb called Brighton. I'm looking at Google Maps. Brighton is a few minutes south of St. Kilda. It's near the coast, and there are beaches.

Franklin attended Haileybury College. It looks like an interesting school. They use a program called parallel education. The kids are provided with a single sex classes, but boys and girls are put together for drama, music, and social activities. And in the younger years, the boys and girls are in all their classes together. It's not until year five that they separate them for classes.

Lord Wiki says though that the school didn't start admitting girls until 2000. So when Franklin went, it was just a regular boy's school.

I don't really know how I feel about gender segregated schools. I never went to one. My younger sister went to one for a few years. I think she liked it a lot. My older sister went to a women's college. From what I remember, she liked it.

A part of me wants to do dive in and research the subject. But I should get back to Mr. Franklin.

In the 1960's he was a drummer for a band called The Pink Finks. YouTube has one of their videos. "Louie Louie". I've heard that song before. Is that the original, or a cover?

Lord Wiki says no. It was not the original. Here's the original. No wait! That's not the original. HERE'S the original.

So Franklin did the drumming thing for awhile. Then while some of the others in the band formed a new band called Daddy Cool, Franklin went into the world of movies. He had been a Hitchcock fan since the age of twelve when he saw Psycho. That's cool. It makes me respect the sequel more. It's not some guy who just wanted to bank on an earlier movie's success. He actually had passion for it. I think I've seen Psycho II. I don't remember whether I liked it or thought it was total crap.

Franklin went off to America. He went to film school at the University of Southern California.

Oh, this is awesome. Franklin arranged for a showing of Hitchcock's Rope to be at the school. Somehow that resulted in Franklin getting a phone call from Hitchcock. He asked Hitchcock to do a lecture at the school, and the two men became friends. I like stories like that.

In the 1970's, Franklin returned to Australia. He worked on some episodes of Homicide. Then in 1975 he directed The True Story of Eskimo Nell. Well, actually he directed some stuff in between Homicide episodes and The True Story of Eskimo Nell. I'm looking at IMDb, and there MIGHT be some porno here. I'm not sure. There's a movie called Eroticon.

Here. The New York Times has some information about it. It's a pornographic documentary about pornography. Then there was something called Loveland. It seems to have a bit of a sex thing going on as well.

Franklin wrote and directed The True Story of Eskimo Nell. This was the movie that starred Max Gillies.

Most of the filming was done in Victoria. Lord Wiki says the movie is based on a ballad called "The Ballad of Eskimo Nell". Eskimo Nell is a prostitute, I think.

No one knows where the poem originated. It's not an Australian thing. But in Franklin's movie, men go off into the Australian outback to find this legendary Eskimo Nell.

This website has the poem with a warning that it may be offensive to some. It has some sexually crude language. It's kind of cute, though. Well, I'm not really into poetry, but the sex stuff makes it a little more interesting to me.

Here's the first few minutes of the Eskimo Nell movie. It has someone reciting part of the poem. I like the music. I love film scores. Anyway, it's done by a guy named Brian May. He looks like he did the music for some important Aussie movies. I'm going to add him to my list.

This scene has some interesting dialogue. Oh! So, the voyeur guy is played by Max Gillies. I wasn't sure which guy was him.

I guess Franklin was really into the sex stuff. In 1976, he made another sex-oriented movie called Fantasm. It was about female sex fantasies.

In 1978, Franklin directed Patrick. This was the movie with Robert Helpmann; the one with a telekinetic man in a coma. I remember there was something gross with frogs.

The trivia page on IMDb has some fun facts. Oh! This is the movie that was re-dubbed with American voices. Robert Helpmann was very offended by that. I'm with him on that one. I was offended lately with something like that. Jack and I use this educational website called Brainpop. It has these wonderful short educational movies featuring a teenage boy named Tim and his robot Moby. Well, Jack found out that they also have a BrainPOP UK site. They pretty much have the same videos (minus the ones about American history and government) but they've given Tim a British accent. To me, that's ridiculous. It's not like we speak another language. And there IS something offensive about it. Is the American accent so awful? Will it scare a British child?

And it's ridiculous to think that Americans can't watch a horror movie with people who have Australian accents.

Anyway, back to the trivia....

The film had only one set—the hospital room. Everything else was done on location.

There are subtle references in the movie to Psycho. IMDb says ironically this film was seen by the studio when they decided to use Franklin for Psycho II. The word ironic makes me think they didn't know about the references or Franklin's love for Psycho. If that's true, I wonder if maybe they picked up on the references subconsciously.

The movie received an AFI nomination for best film. It lost to something called Newsfront. Franklin though won best director from a Spanish film festival. It's a Spanish fantasy/horror thing. For part of it, they had a zombie walk in October. It sounds really cool. They provided free zombie make up for those interested.

Here's the trailer for Patrick.

For the movie, Franklin worked with the writer Everett De Roche. Later, they decided together to do a reworking of Hitchcock's Rear Window. Their movie would take place on the road. This ended up being Roadgames. It was released in 1981.

Jen, if you're reading this....Jamie Lee Curtis was in it.

The trivia page says originally an Australian actress was cast. But then the producers felt it would be good idea to have an American actress. I guess they felt it would give the movie more international appeal. These days there's enough internationally known Australian actresses. I doubt they'd need to stick an American in to get viewers.

Lord Wiki says the movie is about a driver who suspects that someone sharing the road is a serial killer. It's all about suspicions....both accurate and inaccurate.

Here's the trailer.

When the movie was released, at the time it was the most expensive Australian film ever made. That honor now goes to Baz Lurhmann's Australia. An upcoming movie called The Downer is set to break the record.

Franklin next moved to Hollywood. In 1983 he made Psycho II. Meg Tilly was in it. I loved her in Agnes of God.

The trivia page has some gossip. It says Meg Tilly grew up in one of those families where TV is forbidden. Because of this, she knew nothing of the original Psycho and couldn't understand why the movie was receiving so much attention. One day Perkins overheard her saying, Why is Tony getting all the attention? Perkins was upset by that and wouldn't talk to her...well, at least when they weren't doing scenes. I guess he was really offended by his popularity being questioned. He asked that Tilly be replaced. A part of me thinks he had an awfully big ego. Then again, Tilly sounds a bit foolish. I understand her not being allowed to watch television. But that was her childhood. She was an adult when she started working on the movie. Once she auditioned and got the role, shouldn't she have done a little research?

I'm reading Lord Wiki's synopsis of the plot. I remember it vaguely. Norman Bates gets out of the mental institution. The character played by Meg Tilly is involved in a plot to make him think he's crazy again.

Here's the trailer for the movie.

Franklin made Cloak and Dagger in 1984. E.T's Henry Thomas was one of the stars. Lord Wiki says it was based on a story called "The Boy Who Cried Murder". It's about a boy who's mother is dead, and feels neglected by his father. He creates an imaginary spy to accompany him on his adventures. It has video games central to the plot. IMDb says that some folks see the movie as a commercial for Atari.

I may have seen the movie. I can't remember. Here's the trailer.

In 1986, Franklin did a horror movie about a killer chimpanzee, starring Elizabeth Shue. This was Link. Was that before or after The Karate Kid?

Okay. It was two years after. The Karate Kid came out in 1984. But Link DID come out before Cocktail. That was 1988.

I don't remember this movie. I'm surprised, because my sister and I watched a lot of horror movies in the 80's.

I couldn't find the trailer, but while searching for it, I ran into the trailer for The Wild Things Are. I LOVE that trailer. It's so beautiful. I got all teary-eyed when I saw it in the theater. I haven't seen the movie yet. I wonder if it's as lovely as the trailer. Have any of you seen it?

It was filmed in Australia.

Lord Wiki says that in 1991 Franklin became disillusioned with Hollywood. This happened after he made another sequel... F/X2

Franklin returned to Australia. In 1995, he made Hotel Sorrento. That sounds familiar to me. Well, there's a place in Victoria called Sorrento. Maybe that's why I've heard of it. It's on the Mornington Peninsula.

The movie earned Franklin an AFI award for best screenplay.

Next, Franklin made Brilliant Lies. Anthony LaPaglia was in it. It's about sexual harassment.
Oh. It's based on a David Williamson play. Did I mention it when I wrote about Williamson?

The last movie that Franklin made was Visitors. He worked with Everett De Roche, the same writer he worked with on Patrick Roadgames, and Link.

Well, I hope Jessica Watson didn't watch this one. It's about a woman doing a solo boat trip around the world. She goes a bit insane. Yikes.

When I looked for that trailer, I found the trailer for the remake of V. Jack's good at imitating Anna. My virtual trainer on Wii Fit reminds me of her.

Franklin died in 2007 of pancreatic cancer. He was fairly young....only fifty-nine. The recent documentary, Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild Untold Story of Ozploitation was dedicated to him.

Well, it turns out there's ANOTHER Richard Franklin filmmaker. This one is Aboriginal. I got confused at first. I was thinking, why didn't Lord Wiki tell me this guy was Aboriginal. But then I realized the filmographies and biographies didn't match.

Here's an interview with Richard Franklin. It's pretty old...originally published in 1980. I was only eight-years-old back then.

Franklin is pretty critical of Eskimo Nell. He says, Both films worked only to a limited extent and I decided to re-examine my approach to directing. The other film he's referring to is Fantasm.

It sounds like he felt more comfortable with thrillers. I guess maybe comedy wasn't his genre.

Oh, this quote is fascinating to me. He says, You are dealing with highly extreme states of real life, like murder and death, and there is a great deal of freedom to indulge one’s imagination. Not many people have seen these things in reality, so they see murder on the screen relative to the conventions of cinema, rather than reality.

That could be true. Fortunately, most of us are fairly sheltered from homicidal violence. We don't watch someone murdered in a movie and say, That's not how it looks in real life. Although I think it's different now. We have the Internet which gives us easy access to people who MIGHT know about murder and death. We have a bunch of shows about murder, some of them with the reputation of being accurate. So someone might see something on TV and say That's so unrealistic, not because they've seen someone shot in the chest before. But they've seen it on another TV show.

Franklin says interesting stuff about the beginning of thrillers. It's the question of whether there needs to be something scary in the beginning. He says that nothing happens in the first forty minutes of Psycho. But Franklin says that's okay because people have seen Hitchcock films, and they know they can expect something scary to happen eventually. He felt with his film, the audience didn't trust him yet, so he he had to put a murder scene in the beginning.

I think there's some good scary stories that start off fairly calm. I remember reading Pet Semetary and thinking something like, Well, this really doesn't have much going on, but it's still interesting. I mean a few weird things happen, but it takes a while for the horrible stuff to occur. I think that's such a great trick; the normality of the beginning adds to the fear later. Poltergeist does the same thing and so does The Exorcist.

Franklin has a quote about Australia's relationship to England and America. He says, I sometimes think that what people here want to assert is our past ties with Britain and Europe, as opposed to our present and future ties with the U.S. I am neither pro-American nor pro-British. I have lived in the US and Australia, and have spent some time in Europe, and I see people everywhere as being pretty much alike emotionally.

I agree with that. When I first became interested in Australia, I read stuff about how Australians are supposed to be. They focus more on mateship than individuality. They don't like tall poppies. They're more egalitarian. They don't open up to strangers the way Americans do (more private). They drink a lot and are obsessed with sports. They love to take the piss.....

These stereotypes MAY be true in some kind of statistical sense. But from what I've read and experienced these past few years, I really don't see a difference between American and Australian people.

I realized something this weekend. I know of someone who sometimes fits the negative stereotype of Americans that Australians have. But then I realized that a certain Australian person reminds me of this American. Their personalities, and the way they react towards, others are very similar.

We use a different accent, and we drive on opposite sides of the road. But I think we're pretty much the same. I mean we're NOT all the same. We're all individuals. I just don't think as a whole that Americans have one type of personality while Australians have another.

Franklin says Americans make good films, but we make awful fast food. I can agree with that. Although I haven't eaten a lot of Australian fast food. Is it better? The problem with America is we have WAY too many chain restaurants. It's annoying. Most of it is crap. I noticed there's much less chain restaurants in Australia.

Franklin seems somewhat annoyed by the animosity that's shown towards America. He talks about a line in Roadgames where a character says about the Nullarbor Plain, My God, it’s like being at the end of the world. Franklin thinks Australian find find the line to be offensive—that we're feeding into the stereotypes that foreigners have of Australia. He says, but I believe that most Australians see the Nullarbor Plain as a frontier area, and the alienation that we derive from the setting is perceived in the same way by Australians as by people overseas. It is a very powerful and universal image, and I don’t believe that it’s selling Australia out.

I wonder if people actually complained. Or was Franklin like me—imagining that people are offended about something.

I remember a few people complaining about our love for McLeod's Daughters. I think they thought I'd believe this one show represented how all Australians truly are. Now it MIGHT have given me a stereotype of Australians who live in rural areas. I can't deny that. But I'm smart enough to realize that there's a variety of people and lifestyles in Australia. I know most Australians live in cities and don't ride horses on a daily basis. I also understand that McLeod's Daughters is a soap opera, and true farm life is probably much less dramatic.

Franklin talks about casting. He said he wasn't told he had to use an American actor. He was told to find one who had international standing. I guess at that time there were no Australians that qualified. He says, There is no doubt that our actors are of international standard; it’s just that they don’t yet have the standing. I think what he's saying is Australian actors are GOOD enough, but they're not yet well known enough.

I think the tide has definitely turned. Australian actors are quite popular here now, although sometimes we don't initially realize they're Australian.

Franklin was not so happy with union stuff. He complains about their insistence on coffee breaks. He says there's not enough daylight to do all the filming. What he ended up doing was have coffee available so people could just drink it on set. That makes sense.

He talks about Patrick being re-dubbed. He didn't like the whole ordeal. Although his grief wasn't about the loss of Australian accents. He says he had tried to neutralize the accents by making everyone use the Queen's English. He felt that was the most universal form of English. The US distributer didn't think Americans would enjoy a British accent, so he had it dubbed. Interesting. Maybe they would have been more satisfied with an Australian accent.

He says along with the re-dubbing, there was also editing and restructuring. Franklin was much more upset about that. He says they cut the ending of the film, and he feels that destroyed it.

I wonder if the original Australian version is available in America.

Well, has the movie, and one of the reviewers says FINALLY! The complete Australian language version of Richard Franklin's gem from 1978! Well, that's good. I think it would be kind of funny to see both versions and compare them.


  1. Wow - this is completely random, but I knew Richard Franklin! He was the father of a friend at my residential college at the University of Melbourne. Our first year of uni coincided with the release of Hotel Sorrento - which subsequently was put on the Year 12 English syllabus.
    My friend had a pretty amazing childhood. She remembers meeting Alfred Hitchcock, living on a movie set, spending every weekend at Disneyland and (most impressively for me) was taught to swim in Fiji by Brooke Shields, as they were working on Blue Lagoon!

  2. Niki,


    How fun for your friend! And I'm with you. I'd be most impressed with the Brooke Shields in Fiji bit.

    It sounds like an awesome childhood.

    BTW, took a quick glance at your blog. There's some fun reading there. My husband loves cooking, so maybe I'll send him the link.