Mad Max (1979)

Australia,
88m [US TV], 91m [Australia]
35mm film, Todd-AO 35, Eastmancolor, 2.35:1
mono, English
Reviewed at The EOFFTV Review

An Australian science fiction film directed by George Miller. It is the first instalment in the series and was re-dubbed by American actors for its initial US and UK release. Production took place in November and December 1977.

Plot Summary

In the near future, society is on its last legs. Lawless roam the countryside raping and murdering with impunity. All that stands between them and total are the overworked and under-resourced men and women of the Main Force Patrol, an elite squad of motor cops. When the gangs murder the young child of one MFP driver, Max Rockatansky, he begins a one-man campaign to track down and kill those responsible.

Credits

Crew
Director: George Miller
© 1979 [no company given]
Kennedy Miller presents. Mad Max is an original story by George Miller and Byron Kennedy and was produced by Mad Max Pty Ltd. on location in Victoria, Australia
Producer: Byron Kennedy
Associate Producer: Bill Miller
Screenplay: James McCausland, George Miller
Photography [opening credits] Director of Photography [end credits]: David Eggby
Editor: Tony Paterson [opening credits] Tony Paterson, Cliff Hayes [end credits]
Music Composer/Conductor: Brian May
Sound Recordist: Gary Wilkins
Costume Designer: Clare Griffin
Make-up: Vivien Mephan
Hair Dresser: Ben Taylor
Special Effects: Chris Murray
Art Direction [opening credits] Art Director [end credits]: Jon Dowding
Vehicle Designer: Ray Beckerley
Locations: Southern Car Park, Melbourne University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia *; Victoria, Australia
Casting: Mitch Consultancy

Cast
Mel Gibson (Max [Rockatansky])
Joanne Samuel (Jessie [Rockatansky])
Roger Ward (Fifi [Macaffee])
Steve Bisley (Jim Goose)
Tim Burns (Johnny the Boy)
Hugh Keays-Byrne as the Toecutter
Lisa Aldenhoven (nurse)
David Bracks (Mudguts)
Bertrand Cadart (Clunk)
David Cameron (underground mechanic)
Robina Chaffey (singer)
Stephen Clark (Sarse)
Mathew Constantine (toddler)
Jerry Day (Ziggy)
Reg Evans (station master)
Howard Eynon (Diabando)
Max Fairchild (Benno)
John Farndale (Grinner)
Peter Felmingham (senior doctor)
Sheila Florence (May Swaisey)

Alternative Titles

Interceptor – Italian title
Mad Max: Salvajes de la autopista – Spanish title
As Motos da Morte – Portuguese title

Sequels
Mad Max 2 (1981)
Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985)
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

See also
2019: Dopo la caduta di New York (1983)
A Clockwork Orange (1971)
Mad Max (2010)
Mad Max (2013)
Ninja Mission 2000 (2000)
Strange Brew (1983)
True Romance (1993)
Weird Science (1985)
Zuijia paidang zhi nuhuang miling (1984)

Press

1979
Films Illustrated vol.9 no.99 (November 1979) p.111
The story… is nothing; the style is everything. Those who recoil from The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and The Hills Have Eyes as from abattoir cinema will find Mad Max fairly singing with film sense. It is an appalling fine film and one to be sought out at all costs. – from a review by David Castell

1980
Films and Filming vol.26 no.4 (January 1980) p.35
A disturbingly well-made piece of film-craft […] The theme has been done several times before, but is here given a certain freshness by Miller's welcome reticence over showing the ultimate horrors. By letting the imagination of the viewer do the work he achieves a more telling effect, as the camera draws back as though unwilling to dwell visually on the obscenity of violence. – from an illustrated review by Eric Braun

The Hollywood Reporter vol.261 no.36 (12 May 1980) pp.3, 7
The script… is strictly out of the “Me Tarzan, you Jane” school of in-depth screen-writing, which doesn't give the actors much to work with. Even so, Gibson as Max seems much less mad than terminally bored, a condition audiences will easily understand […] One jolting claim in the press notes is that Mad Max was nominated for 10 Australian equivalents to Oscars, including one for Best Picture. If true, it not only boggles the imagination, but says something extremely grim about the Down Under film industry during these growing years. – from a review by Robert Osborne

1981
Films vol.1 no.4 (March 1981) p.42
Miller, a former doctor who became tired of patching up car crash victims and decided to make a film about them instead, has clearly set his sights higher than the average atrocity feature and shows a thorough knowledge of the Corman school in the bargain […] But Miller fails both to sustain Max's early heroic stature, as a pivot on which the plot may turns, and to exploit the sheer awfulness of the genre itself […] Part-bike-pictures, part-thriller, part-romantic-valediction and the film promised by the opening lost somewhere between these components. – from a review by Derek Elley

1998
Radio Times vol.297 no,3971 (18 April 1998) p.43
George Miller's debut feature is a highly inventive, violent action picture, which became an international hit, made a star of Mel Gibson and has spawned (to date) two sequels […] What the film lacks in repartee, it makes up for in rip-roaring spectacle, marvellous chase sequences, terrific stunts and natty leather costumes, setting an early example of grunge chic. Throughout, Miller exhibits a striking visual style and his use of fender-level cameras helps crank up the excitement. This is as entertaining as it is simple, and greatly influenced subsequent eighties action fare: the genre was never going to be the same again after Miller's landmark classic. – author uncredited

References

Periodicals

  • Cinefantastique vol.10 no.1 (Summer 1980) p.12 – review (by Paul M. Sammon)
  • Cinema Papers Special (May 1978) p.89 – credits
  • Cinema Papers no.21 (May/June 1979) p.383 – review (by Geoff Mayer)
  • Cinema Papers Special (May 1979) pp.43-49 – interview with Byron Kennedy and George Miller
  • Empire no.201 (March 2006) pp.77-88, 90-101 – illustrated article (201 greatest movies of all time)
  • Fade In vol.5 no.4 (2000) pp.80-81 – illustrated interview with George Miller (Backstory by Thane Christopher)
  • Film News vol.9 no.6 (June 1979) pp.14-15 – illustrated review (We need George Miller by Dave Maher)
  • Film News vol.9 no.6 (June 1979) p.16
  • Film News vol.9 no.7 (July 1979) pp.8-10 – interview with George Miller (Another rider of the silver screen by David Elfick and Ian Barry)
  • Film News vol.9 no.10 (October 1979) pp.14-15 – article
  • Film Review Special no.25 Sci-Fi (1998) pp.44-45 – illustrated article (Mad Max)
  • Films vol.1 no.4 (March 1981) p.42 – review (by Derek Elley)
  • Films and Filming vol.26 no.4 (January 1980) p.35 – illustrated review (by Eric Braun)
  • Films Illustrated vol.9 no.99 (November 1979) p.111 – review (by David Castell)
  • The Hollywood Reporter vol.261 no.36 (12 May 1980) p.3, 7 – review (by Robert Osborne)
  • Inside Film no.48 (October 2002) p.70 – credits, DVD review (Mad Max by David Michôd)
  • Journal of Popular Film & Television vol.13 no.2 (Summer 1985) pp.80-91 – article (Myth, male fantasy and simulacra in Mad Max and The Road Warrior by Christopher Sharrett)
  • Journal of Popular Film & Television vol.27 no.3 (Autumn 1999) pp.28-34 – illustrated article (Heroism and redemption in the Mad Max trilogy by Dennis H. Barbour)
  • Kinema no.8 (Autumn 1997) pp.57-75 – article (Mad Max, Reaganism and The Road Warrior by J. Emmett Winn)
  • Metro no.133 (2002) pp.30-34, 36 – illustrated review (Summertime blues by Matthew Dillon)
  • Metro no.138 (2003) pp.199-200 – illustrated review (Book reviews by Michael Kitson)
  • Monthly Film Bulletin vol.46 no.550 (November 1979) p.228 – credits, synopsis, review (by Tim Pulleine)
  • Radio Times vol.297 no,3971 (18 April 1998) p.43 – illustrated review (author not credited)
  • Screen International no.211 (13 October 1979) p.19 – review (by Marjorie Bilbow)
  • Screen International no.232 (15-22 March 1980) p.16 – illustrated note (UK provincial box office by Chris Brown)
  • Screen International no.248 (5-12 July 1980) p.20 – note (UK provincial box office: Outstanding ‘Empire' by Chris Brown)
  • Screen International no.250 (19-26 July 1980) p.9 – illustrated note (World news desk: South Africa by Rod Hay)
  • Science Fiction Film and Television vol.10 no.3 (Autumn 2017) pp.301-306; 329-351 – article (Mad Max: Between apocalypse and utopia by Dan Hassler-Forest); article (Nowhere to run: Repetition compulsion and heterotopia in the Australian post-apocalypse – from ‘Crabs' to Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome by Claire Corbett)
  • Sight & Sound vol.2 no.5 (September 1992) p.68 – video note (by Willian Green)
  • Variety 16 May 1979 p.38 – review (by Strat)

Books

  • After the World Ends by Claude Gaillard pp.36-37 – illustrated review
  • American International Pictures: A Comprehensive Filmography by Rob Craig  p.137
  • Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Science Fiction by Phil Hardy (ed) p.350 – illustrated credits, review
  • Australian Film 1978-1994: A Survey of Theatrical Features compiled and edited by Scott Murray p.46 – illustrated credits, synopsis
  • BFI Screen Guides: 100 Science Fiction Films by Barry Keith Grant pp.101-102 – illustrated credits, review
  • Faster and Furiouser: The Revised and Fattened Fable of American International Pictures by Mark Thomas McGee pp.316
  • Horror and Science Fiction Films II by Donald C. Willis p.238 – credits
  • Horror and Science Fiction Films III by Donald C. Willis p.167-168 – credits
  • Horror Films by Subgenre: A Viewer's Guide by Chris Vander Kaay and Kathleen Fernandez-Vander Kaay pp.17-18 – credits, review
  • Rock ‘n' Roll Monsters: The American International Story by Bruce G. Hallenbeck pp.281-282
  • Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Film Sequels, Series, and Remakes by Kim R. Holston and Tom Winchester p.321-322 – credits, review
  • Terror Tracks: Music, Sound and Horror Cinema by Philip Hayward (ed) p.238
  • Variety Science-Fiction Movies by Julian Brown (ed.) p.70 – credits, review