Summer City

  • 1976
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Comedy, Drama

Notable only as young actor Mel Gibson's first film, this low-budget Australian teen drama was released on video in the U.S. in the 1980s, in the wake of Gibson's super-stardom. The film is evidently in the public domain — no copyright notice appears in the credits and at least eight video labels (including Facets Video, Front Row Entertainment, Video...read more

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Reviewed by Frank Lovece

Notable only as young actor Mel Gibson's first film, this low-budget Australian teen drama was released on video in the U.S. in the 1980s, in the wake of Gibson's super-stardom. The film is evidently in the public domain — no copyright notice appears in the credits and at least eight video labels (including Facets Video, Front Row Entertainment, Video City Productions, Video Gems, Westlake Entertainment Group and Wham! USA) have distributed it, and unfortunately, it's no lost gem. Three 1960s surfing buddies — good-guy Robbie (writer-producer Phil Avalon), coarse ladies'-man Boo (Steve Bisley) and nice-but-dim Scollop (Gibson) — take a fourth friend, stick-in-the-mud Sandy (John Jarratt), on a weekend road trip before his wedding. Remarkably little happens for the first half-hour; mostly, we watch Robbie's car driving around. The guys stop for burgers and pinball, get scolded by a bald, middle-aged driver, try to pick up a couple of girls walking along the road, and have beers at an old-man bar. They finally arrive at a beach town, and check into a campground. Later, at a dance, Boo sweet-talks the campground-owner's daughter, Caroline (Debbie Forman), to a water tower for swimming and sex. The next day (after several long minutes of rapid cloudscapes, stock surfing footage and other padding), Caroline comes looking for Boo, hysterically convinced — the very next day — that she's pregnant. She finds Sandy, who helpfully delivers an equally hysterical lecture: "You threw something that's sacred, you threw it out the door!" Sandy subsequently learns that his fiancee cheated on him with Boo, Caroline's father comes a-hunting for the boys with his rifle, and things take as many bad turns as the film's music, which in one surreally bouncy instance could have been lifted straight from the Sesame Street playbook. Gibson — a 19-year-old National Institute of Dramatic Art student paid a few hundred dollars for his work — isn't outstanding, but he's fine and projects a natural ease in front of the camera, as does Bisley (who went on to play one of Gibson's fellow cops in MAD MAX and became a major Australian TV star). In one or two close-ups, however, where Gibson's youthful face is frankly beautiful, a genuine screen presence is evident. Single-name actress Abigail was a leading Australian sex-symbol a couple of years past her prime. Ward "Pally" Austin (1935-1998) was a popular radio personality known for his outrageousness, though it's hard to say who he played here. The sadly, excruciatingly dull film was shot in the town of Catherine Hill Bay, New South Wales.

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  • Released: 1976
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Notable only as young actor Mel Gibson's first film, this low-budget Australian teen drama was released on video in the U.S. in the 1980s, in the wake of Gibson's super-stardom. The film is evidently in the public domain — no copyright notice appears… (more)

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