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September 2003   

Interview: Crowded Lives
Labor frontbencher Lindsay Tanner talks us through his new book on the importance of relationships and why politics is letting the people down.

Activists: Life With Brian
Work by men like Brian Fitzpatrick is exposing new Australians to old truths. Jim Marr reports

Industrial: National Focus
A showdown looms in Cancun, Qantas gets bolshie, casual and lazy in its response to aviation challenges, and long festering disputes fester on in Victoria and Tasmania reports Noel Hester in this national wrap.

Unions: If These Walls Could Talk
Trades Hall is preparing for a major facelift but first, Jim Marr reports, it must bid farewell to the colourful bunch who have populated its dusty corridors in recent years.

Economics: Beating the Bastards
Frank Stilwell looks at some of the proposals for building a fairer finance sector.

Media: Three Corners
So its come to this. Four Corners, one of the world's longest running television programs is now under pressure from an ABC Executive that is less cultural visionary than feral abacus.

History: The Brisbane Line
Percy Spender was Menzies' foreign minister, but, Neale Towart asks, was he also prepared to serve as Prime Minister in a Japanese controlled Australia?

Trade: The Dumping Problem
Oxfam-CAA helps set the scene for this month's World Trade Organisation in Cancun.

Review: Frankie's Way
In The Night We Called It A Day Frank Sinatra learns 'sorry' Down Under is a loaded word and refusal to say it when due will lose fans in important places, writes Tara de Boehmler.


The Soapbox
Staking Our Territory
ACTU secretary Greg Combet argued for a fairer Australia in his keynote address to last month's ACTU Congress.

The Locker Room
Seasonally Agisted
Spring is a season when a person�s thoughts turn to�horse racing. Phil Doyle reports on the fate of nags and folk heroes.

Beyond the Block
We are wild about the people who live in The Block but not too interested in those who are on the streets outside, writes Michael Rafferty.

The Westie Wing
Workers friend Ian West MLC, reports form the Bearpit about a project to raise awareness about trade unionism amongst young people.

The Awkward Squad
Paul Smith meets one of the new generation of British union leaders who is taking the ball up to the Blair spin team.


Relatively Speaking
At its heart, political debate has always been a struggle between competing views about how a society should organise itself to maximise the benefits for the majority of its citizens.


 Truckies Tip Safety on AGM Floor

 Geelong Lockout Claims Family Homes

 Aussie Labour Laws Fail US Test

 No Accident � Insurance Dough Rises

 Union Mum Wins

 Rheem Runs Cold On Entitlements

 Unions Take It Up for Footballers

 Drug Boss Fails Workers

 Ministers Urged to Take Responsibility

 Museum Jobs Face Extinction

 Less News And More Of It

 Legal Costs Threaten Access

 Learning for Life

 Activists Notebook

 Lyon Roars
 Spicey and Tart
 Tony and Pauline
 PNG Bags Plastic
 Fighting Words Craig Emerson
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Frankie's Way

In The Night We Called It A Day Frank Sinatra learns 'sorry' Down Under is a loaded word and refusal to say it when due will lose fans in important places, writes Tara de Boehmler.

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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