Hammers Over The Anvil

Crippled with polio, youngster Alan Marshall (Alexander Outhred) admires horse breeder East Driscoll (Russell Crowe). Unlike Alan's shopkeeper father, East strikes the impressionable Alan as positively larger than life; that is, as larger than life as one can be in the Australian outback circa 1910. Exploring the local terrain, pre-teen Alan starts keeping...read more

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Reviewed by Robert Pardi
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Crippled with polio, youngster Alan Marshall (Alexander Outhred) admires horse breeder East Driscoll (Russell Crowe). Unlike Alan's shopkeeper father, East strikes the impressionable Alan as positively larger than life; that is, as larger than life as one can be in the Australian outback circa 1910. Exploring the local terrain, pre-teen Alan starts keeping a journal about country life and the mysteries of sex. Alan's nascent interest in romance escalates when the elegant Grace McAllister (Charlotte Rampling) moves to Turalla with her effete husband and promptly hires virile East as horse breeder for her ranch. Naively, Alan develops a crush on Grace, but she's already begun hankering for East's personal stud services as well. As he observes their furtive romance, Alan cannot reconcile his idolatry of East with East's adulterous behavior. Matters reach an inevitable turning point when Grace refuses to shuck her comfortable lifestyle for true love, with disastrous consequences. Based on the reminiscences of beloved bucolic Australian author, Alan Marshall, this melodramatic coming-of-age story spells out its characters' motivations in capital letters, succeeding nonetheless as meat-and-potatoes tragedy. Crowe — already an up-and-coming young star in Australia at the time — generates heat with Rampling and exudes a lithe sensuality that's since hardened into Hollywood muscle.

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