- 1 hr 46 min
Caddie is a 1976 Australian drama film, directed by Donald Crombie, and based on the bestselling memoirs of Caddie Marsh, an independent woman living in Australia in the 1920s and 1930s. The film follows the life of Caddie (played by Helen Morse), a young woman who dreams of love and independence, but is trapped in a world of poverty, violence, and male domination. She works as a barmaid, waitress, and prostitute, trying to make ends meet and support her two sons. She falls in love with two men, her abusive husband (Takis Emmanuel) and a gentle businessman (Jack Thompson), who offer her different paths in life.
Caddie is a powerful and moving portrait of a woman who defies social conventions, fights for her dignity, and overcomes adversity. The film explores themes such as gender roles, sexual exploitation, class struggle, and racial prejudice, in a realistic and non-sentimental way. It shows the harsh realities of life for women, especially single mothers, in the early 20th century, and the limited choices they had.
Helen Morse's performance as Caddie is outstanding, as she conveys the character's strength, vulnerability, and resilience with subtlety and authenticity. She captures the nuances of Caddie's voice, gestures, and facial expressions, and makes her a memorable and sympathetic protagonist. Her chemistry with Takis Emmanuel, who plays her violent and possessive husband, is palpable and disturbing, as they have a complex and turbulent relationship that is both destructive and addictive.
Jack Thompson, on the other hand, plays a more supportive and respectful role, as Caddie's love interest and business partner. He represents a more progressive and egalitarian vision of masculinity, that values women's intellect and creativity, and challenges the dominant norms of patriarchy. His character provides a contrast and a hope to Caddie's struggle, and helps her to realize her potential and her worth.
The film also features an impressive array of supporting actors, who bring depth and variety to the story, such as Melissa Jaffer, Ron Blanchard, Drew Forsythe, Kirrily Nolan, Lynette Curran, and Noni Hazlehurst. They portray a range of characters, from prostitutes and gangsters to unionists and activists, who shape Caddie's life and worldview. They add humor, pathos, and realism to the film, and create a rich and colorful tapestry of Australian society in the early 20th century.
The cinematography by Bruce McNaughton is another highlight of the film, as he captures the beauty and the ugliness of urban and rural landscapes, with a keen eye for detail and composition. He uses natural light, shadows, and textures to create a sense of realism and intimacy, that enhances the emotional impact of the story. The music by Patrick Flynn is also effective, as he blends folk, jazz, and classical elements, to give the film a nostalgic and romantic tone.
Caddie has been hailed as a feminist classic, that challenged the dominant norms of male-centered cinema and gave voice to women's experiences and perspectives. It won several awards, including Best Actress (Helen Morse) and Best Supporting Actor (Jack Thompson) at the 1977 AFI Awards, and was nominated for Best Film, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay. It also became a box office success, and a beloved and influential film in Australian cinema history.
Overall, Caddie is a poignant and powerful drama, that portrays the struggles and triumphs of a woman who dared to be different, and inspired others to do the same. It is a film that resonates with audiences of all ages and genders, and reminds us of the importance of courage, empathy, and solidarity in the face of adversity.