A pretty violent film, based on the book by Margaret Frances, from the ‘true story’ of Daniel Morgan, french director Philippe Mora’s Mad Dog Morgan is the account of the infamous outlaw of the 1850’s Australia who’s single robbery gets him 12 years of hard labor where he is systematically abused, prompting him to return to crime in a more violent fashion upon his release.
First Production duty by soon to be famous Jeremy Thomas (Bad Timing, Last Emperor, Naked Lunch), Mad Dog Morgan is messy but it is a good cult item with realistic and also grotesque violence. It stars Dennis Hopper (who is more of a presence than on an actual acting performance) who got his share of stories about him being under the influence (which is no surprise) during the shooting. He is supported by local stars, Jack Thompson, Hugh Keays-Byrne and Bruce Spence but mainly by the inevitable Native actor (but always good) David Gupilil (Walkabout), as his trusted friend and sidekick.
Sadly, there is numerous poor quality video copies of this western in the bush out there that do not give an opportunity to fully appreciate Cinematographer Mike Molloy’s beautiful use of landscape. John Scott’s unusual editing with lots of ellipsis and ruptures can even refer to Russian avant-garde, though sometimes it is not clear if it was provoked by editing job from the various greedy distributors…
Disguised as a period drama Mad Dog Morgan is a cool, even partly sleazy Ozploitation film.