Interview: Crowded Lives
Activists: Life With Brian
Industrial: National Focus
Unions: If These Walls Could Talk
Economics: Beating the Bastards
Media: Three Corners
History: The Brisbane Line
Trade: The Dumping Problem
Review: Frankie's Way
The Locker Room
Spicey and Tart
Tony and Pauline
PNG Bags Plastic
Fighting Words Craig Emerson
The movie is based on Frank Sinatra's 1974 tour in which he swaps his place in the hearts of the nation for a place in union folklore as the man who did it his way and was finally forced to pay the price by Aussie workers.
At that time he was brought to our shores by Aussie promoters Robert Raymond and Danny O'Donovan, who in this version of the truth are depicted by Rod Blue (Joel Edgerton), an ambitious young man with a dangerous propensity for walking into fist sandwiches. Rod has put his already shambolic career on the line to scoop The Poo and it wouldn't make much of a story unless it all went horribly wrong.
The minute Frank steps off the plane he is hounded by a reporter (Portia De Rossi) desperate to drag up the most gob-smacking rumours from his past. But none of this makes as much impact as Frank's own reaction when he labels the journo a $2 whore.
The movie itself goes further, painting the reporter as a most spiteful character driven more by her sex drive and sensation seeking than any desire for world peace. Further, she seems determined to sever, out of envy and spite, the blossoming relationship between Rod and his young assistant Audrey (Rose Byrne).
Seething and hissing her way through life, said reporter at last appears pleased when Frank (Dennis Hopper) is hauled before the coals and seems most unlikely to allow him to be let him off lightly.
Regardless of her own largely irrelevant personality traits, millions of Australians - many of them workers - are also revolted by Frank's disrespectful attack. An apology is demanded but none is forthcoming. Frank says he is too proud of his 42 history of not saying sorry to start now and so the stand-off begins.
The man becomes off limits. More than 100 unions black-list ol' Blue Eyes, ensuring there will be no more room service, no deliveries, no power in his hotel room and no transport. His concerts have to be cancelled, with the orchestra refusing to turn up, leaving Frank and his companion Barbara (Melanie Griffith) plenty of time to get better acquainted with each other and their hotel room.
Meanwhile Rod Blue is faced with the awful possibility that this could finally spell the end of his plagued career and maybe even his relationship with Audrey.
But ACTU head Bob Hawke (dramatically overacted by David Field) steps in and saves the day. He demands, between copious quaffs of alcohol, that Frank apologise to the reporter. He then brings an end to the strikes when Frank agrees, not only to apologise, but also to play a charity concert to help make amends.
But will it be enough to win back his place in the hearts of former fans? Is Rod Blue's career ruined for all time? Will he and Audrey ever get it on? And did Frank ever really say he would "like to apologise to all the hookers in the audience for comparing them with members of the press"?
Watch The Night We Called It A Day for some of the answers. But if you want the truth, tread carefully. As someone with a limited memory of the early 70's relying on this partially factual, partially fictitious account of history is like playing Russian roulette with reality.
But then, as the prime minister of the day said at that time (though more in the context of explaining all Liberal policies past, present and future), "Life wasn't meant to be easy".
Score: Three out of five stars (He certainly did do it his way )
NB: It has been brought to this reviewer's attention that Malcolm Fraser, the "life wasn't meant to be easy" prime minister of the 1970s, was not voted in until 1975 - one year after The Night We Called It A Day was set. Though Frankie quoted the phrase in the film, I stand corrected that the real prime minister of the day was in fact Gough Whitlam.
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