Words from Oz: 65 classic Australian movie quotes

Gallipoli - Australian movie quotesWhy compile a list of quotes from classic Australian movies? I’m not entirely sure. Nor am I sure that my definition of “classic” will sit well with all aficionados of Australian film – my taste for the ironic appreciation of Ozploitation cinema is not shared by all. However, having compiled this list, I will take a moment to stand up for this thoroughly under-appreciated national cinema.

Australian films go largely unwatched by local audiences for a number of reasons, including the local market’s generally Americanised tastes, a sense of cultural cringe, and a public perception that local films are either “too-arty” or qualitatively inferior to Hollywood product. But even on the rare occasions when such films do receive significant recognition from general cinema-goers, the reality is that the relatively small Australian population (23 million) offers a very small market for film production. As a general rule, it is only when local filmmaking talent becomes internationally recognised that they are able to generate a profit (or eat three meals a day).

So, why did I compile a list of quotes from classic Australian movies? Because I love Australian cinema. I see, in its jarring and contradictory impulses towards counter-cultural crudity and high-art, the very nature of the Australian consciousness. From the country’s earliest cinematic beginnings in works like The Story of the Kelly Gang (1906) and The Sentimental Bloke (1919), this was a nation whose artistic output contained the spirit of a colonial culture attempting to define itself as a separate entity, rejecting the perceived classism of Britain in search of an egalitarian identity, while at the same time harbouring the deep desire to be validated by the outside world. Australia is a young country in a continuous state of becoming, and it’s all there on the big screen. Enjoy.

1. Crocodile Dundee (Dir. Peter Faiman, 1986) 

Mick Dundee: “That’s not a knife. THAT’s a knife.”

Wolf Creek - Australian movie quotes2. Wolf Creek (Dir. Greg Mclean, 2005)

Mick Taylor: “What was it your mate said again? Oh, yeah, that’s not a knife – this is a knife!”

3. The Castle (Dir. Rob Sitch, 1997)

Darryl Kerrigan: “This is going straight to the pool room.”

4. Gallipoli (Dir. Peter Weir, 1981)

Frank Dunne: “The thing I can’t stand about you, mate, is you’re always so bloody cheerful.”

5. Mad Max (Dir. George Miller, 1979)

Nightrider: “I am the Nightrider. I’m a fuel injected suicide machine. I am the rocker, I am the roller, I am the out-of-controller!”

6. Kenny (Dir. Clayton Jacobson, 2006)

Kenny: [advice on getting married] “Cut out the middle man; find someone you hate and buy them a house.”

7. Animal Kingdom (Dir. David Michod, 2010)

Janine Cody: “Hey Randall, before you go on, this boy who’s currently being looked after – tell me if you agree with this – this boy who’s being looked after, he knows who you are. And you know how these things go. They’re gonna ask him all sorts of questions about everything he’s ever seen or done. Everyone he’s ever met, the whole shamozzle. And you’ve done some bad things sweetie, haven’t you? I want this part to be clear. This is not about you doing me a favour or, me blackmailing you or anything like that. It’s just a bad situation for everyone.”

8. Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (Dir. George Miller, 1981)

Toady: “Greetings from The Humungus! The Lord Humungus! The Warrior of the Wasteland! The Ayatollah of Rock and Rolla!”

Chopper - Australian movie quotes9. Chopper (Dir. Andrew Dominik, (2000)

Chopper: “Why would I shoot a bloke BANG, then drive him to the bloody car and whizz him off to the hospital at a hundred miles an hour? It defeats the purpose of having shot him in the first place.”

10. Noise (Dir. Matthew Saville, 2007)

Constable Graham McGahan: “I got this theory about that. You know, what I read was, heaven or hell is whatever you’re thinking that second between your body dying and your brain dying. Your regrets, who you loved, who loved you. What you remember of your life, that’s the eternity everyone’s talking about. So, if you are a f*ckwit, then… when you die, in that ten seconds between your brain and your body dying, your brain remembers all the time you were a f*ckwit – over and over again… until it feels like this eternity. But if you weren’t an idiot all your life, then your brain would remember that. Your brain would remember all the occasions when you managed not to be an embarrassment – and that would be heaven.”

11. The Marsupials: The Howling III (Dir. Philippe Mora, 1987)

Agent #1: “”Werewolf was sighted near village of Leovich. Three villagers killed. Special army team are tracking monster.” Well. Do we tell the powers that be?”

Agent #2: “Werewolves loose in the Soviet Union? I’m not telling them! Call Beckmeyer in Los Angeles and get his opinion. He’s damn good on unexplained phenomenon. He knows how to deal with the White House and this weird shit.”

12. Crocodile Dundee (Dir. Peter Faiman, 1986)

Neville Bell: “Oh, God, I hate the bush.”

Mad Max - Australian movie quotes13. The Dish (Dir. Rob Sitch, 2000)

Ross ‘Mitch’ Mitchell: “That’s bullshit. You just bullshitted NASA!”

14. The Tracker (Dir. Rolf De Heer, 2002)

The Follower: “I wonder who did kill that woman?”

The Tracker: “Probably a white fella, boss. They are murderers. Shifty. Thieving. Can’t trust ’em one bit.”

15. The Proposition (Dir. John Hillcoat, 2005)

Captain Stanley: “I wish to present you with a proposition. I know where Arthur Burns is. It is a God-forsaken place. The blacks won’t go there, not the tracks; not even wild men. I suppose, in time, the bounty hunters will get him. But I have other plans, I aim to bring him down – I aim to show that he’s a man like any other. I aim to hurt him.”

16. Wolf Creek (Dir. Greg Mclean, 2005)

Mick Taylor: “I’m going to do something now they used to do in Vietnam. It’s called making a head on a stick.”

17. Breaker Morant (Bruce Beresford, 1980)

Harry Morant: “Shoot straight, you bastards. Don’t make a mess of it!”

18. Turkey Shoot. AKA Escape 2000 (Dir. Brian Trenchard-Smith, 1982)

Charles Thatcher: “One of you has been foolish enough to try to leave us before his re-education was completed. In my view this is treason, and will be treated as such. You will remember our motto: ‘Freedom is obedience, obedience is work, work is life’. Well, now understand once and for all that the reverse is also true, ‘Disobedience is treason, treason is a crime, crime will be punished!’”

The Castle - Australian movie quotes19. The Castle (Dir. Rob Sitch, 1997)

Darryl Kerrigan: “This is going straight to the pool room.”

20. Puberty Blues (Bruce Beresford, 1981)

Debbie Vickers: “Oh, god. Do I look alright?”

Tracy: “Rootable.”

21. Razorback (Dir. Russell Mulcahy, 1984)

Jake Cullen: “There’s something about blasting the shit out of a razorback that brightens up my whole day.”

22, Mad Max 3: Beyond Thunderdome (Dir. George Miller, 1985)

Dr. Dealgood: “Listen all! This is the truth of it. Fighting leads to killing, and killing gets to warring. And that was damn near the death of us all. Look at us now! Busted up, and everyone talking about hard rain! But we’ve learned, by the dust of them all… Bartertown learned. Now, when men get to fighting, it happens here! And it finishes here! Two men enter; one man leaves.”

23. Road Games (Dir. Richard Franklin, 1981)

Patrick ‘Pat’ Quid: [to his dog] “Might be able to pick this one up and take her to Perth with me? Dazzling her with my stylish rhetoric and witty innuendoes, eh?”

24. Picnic at Hanging Rock (Peter Weir, 1975)

Sara: “Miranda knows lots of things other people don’t know. Secrets. She knew she wouldn’t come back.”

Noise - Australian movie quotes25. The Castle (Dir. Rob Sitch, 1997)

Darryl Kerrigan: “Tell him he’s dreaming.”

26. Two Hands (Dir. Gregor Jordan, 1999)

Pando: “You loaded your gun with old f*cking bullets you put through the f*cking wash?”

27. Wake in Fright (Dir. Ted Kotcheff, 1971)

‘Doc’ Tydon: “The aim of what you call civilisation is a man in a smokin’ jacket, whiskey and soda, pressing a bottom… button, to destroy a planet a billion miles away, and kill a billion people he’s never seen.”

28. The Adventures of Barry Mckenzie (Dir. Bruce Beresford, 1972)

Barry McKenzie: “Now listen mate, I need to splash the boots. You know, strain the potatoes. Water the horses. You know, go where the big knobs hang out. Shake hands with the wife’s best friend? Drain the dragon? Siphon the python? Ring the rattlesnake? You know, unbutton the mutton? Like, point Percy at the porcelain?”

29. Mad Dog Morgan (Dir. Philippe Mora, 1976)

Supt. Cobham: “By all means, off with his head… and don’t forget the scrotum.”

30. Kenny ( Dir. Clayton Jacobson, 2006)

Kenny: “There’s a smell in here that will outlast religion.”

31. Chopper (Dir. Andrew Dominik, (2000)

Chopper: “Look. The bloke’s been me best mate since 1975. We’ve had our fallouts from time to time, it’s no big deal. Y’know, it’s like… if your mum stabs ya, Whaddya do? Y-ya don’t get upset. Ya don’t get angry, ya go, “Shit, mum’s stabbed me, I better get off to the hospital.””

The Proposition - Australian movie quotes32. Fat Pizza (Dir. Paul Fenech, 2003)

Claudia Macpherson: “Hi! I’m Claudia Macpherson. Supermodel. And, this here is my new Abstiffy. If you try it for one second a day… you too will have abs like mine! Ah, huh. Well, probably not. But, let’s give it a whirl anyway… shall we?”

33. Ten Canoes (Dir. Rolf de Heer, Peter Djigirr, 2006)

Canoeist: “I refuse to walk at the end. Someone ahead keeps farting.”

34. The Castle (Dir. Rob Sitch, 1997)

Darryl Kerrigan: “How’s the serenity?”

35. Dark City (Dir. Alex Proyas, 1998)

Dr. Schreber: “First there was darkness. Then came the strangers. They were a race as old as time itself. They had mastered the ultimate technology. The ability to alter physical reality by will alone. They called this ability “Tuning”. But they were dying. Their civilisation was in decline, and so they abandoned their world seeking a cure for their own mortality. Their endless journey brought them to a small, blue world in the farthest corner of the galaxy. Our world. Here they thought they had finally found what they had been searching for.”

36. Barry McKenzie Holds His Own (Dir. Bruce Beresford, 1974)

Auntie Edna Everage: “Did you know, Barry, that the Prime Minister and I once slept together?”

Barry McKenzie: “Aw come off it Auntie, I don’t believe it.”

Auntie Edna Everage: “Yes, Barry. It was at the Sydney Opera House, during the second act of War and Peace.”

37. Bad Boy Bubby (Dir. Rolf De Heer, 1993)

Bubby: “Well, if that’s all there is… we’re stuffed.”

The Tracker - Australian movie quotes 38. Romper Stomper (Dir. Geoffrey Wright, 1992)

Gabe: “That’s a picture of my mum. Isn’t she beautiful? Everyone says I look like her. I’m not saying I’m good looking, I’m not saying that, but we do look alike. She’s dead now. Was a car accident. She had her head chopped off. I think it’s good to be able to talk about these things without cracking up, you know.”

39. Evil Angels. AKA A Cry in the Dark. (Dir. Fred Schepisi, 1988)

Lindy Chamberlain: “The dingo’s got my baby!”

40. Last Train to Freo (Dir. Jeremy Sims, 2006)

Train Announcer: “Next stop, West Midland.”

Trev: “Notice the way she emphasises ‘West Midland’, makes it sound quite, what’s the word, personal. Cause we already know we’re in Midland, but she lets us know we’re on the westside of Midland. Makes you feel, like, it’s ok, we’re all in this together folks.”

41. Rogue (Dir. Greg Mclean, 2007)

Kate Ryan: “One of the rules of my tour is that you have only one chance to complain about the heat and flies. They are a fact of life up here and whinging about them all day isn’t going to make them disappear.”

42. Wake in Fright (Dir. Ted Kotcheff, 1971)

‘Doc’ Tydon: “I’m a doctor of medicine. And a tramp by temperament. I’m also an alcoholic. My disease prevented me from practicing in Sydney. But out here it’s scarcely noticeable.”

Romper Stomper - Australian movie quotes43. Where the Green Ants Dream (Dir. Werner Herzog, 1984) 

Miliritbi: You white men are lost. You don’t understand the land. Too many silly questions. Your presence on this earth will come to an end. You have no sense. No purpose. No direction.

44. The Return of Captain Invincible (Dir. Philippe Mora,1983)

Mr. Midnight: “Same old dreary demands. Self righteous, messianic, moralistic and increasingly tedious.”

Captain Invincible: “Fine talk from a sociopath paranoid schizophrenic with delusions of grandeur.”

45. Les Patterson Saves the World (Bruce, Beresford, 1987)

Les Patterson: “Hey, Nev, where were you when the shit hit the fan, dickhead?”

46. Ned Kelly (Dir. Gregor Jordan, 2003)

Ned Kelly: “And wasn’t this the challenge of your whole life, Superintendent? A feather in your cap? You can’t catch me. You don’t have a hope of catching me, so you take my friends instead – over a hundred men arrested, stuck in stinking cells without trial while their crops perish in the fields. And guess what? Not one of ’em caves in and tries to claim the reward. Not one of ’em. They loved me the just same and hated you all the more, didn’t they? Did you really think I was gonna let ’em all rot?”

47. My Brilliant Career (Dir. Gillian Armstrong, 1979)

Sybylla: “Dear fellow countrymen, just a few words to let you know that this story is going to be all about me. So, in answer to many requests, here is the story of my career… here is the story, of my career…my brilliant career. I make no apologies for sounding egotistical…because I am!”

Rabbit Proof Fence - Australian movie quotes48. Look Both Ways (Dir. Sarah Watt, 2005)

Meryl Lee: “The seven stages of grief. What’s the point in knowing where you’re up to if you’ve still got to go through it anyway?”

49. Cosi (Dir. Mark Joffe, 1996)

Roy: “I know you can take criticism, Jerry, because you must get a lot of it!”

50. Death in Brunswick (Dir.  John Ruane, 1990)

Mrs. Fitzgerald: “You’d want to eat more fruit. You look… blocked up.”

51. BMX Bandits (Dir. Brian Trenchard-Smith, 1983)

Judy: “Well, you know what they say. Two’s company. Three gets us talked about.”

52. Dead Calm (Dir. Phillip Noyce, 1989)

Rae Ingram: “You know what I’d love for lunch? Fresh asparagus, then, um, pasta – angel hair pasta with heaps of basil, garlic, olive oil and, um, apple pie. Yeah. Uh, John, have you got a towel?”

53. The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (Dir. Stephan Elliott, 1994)

Bernadette: “It’s funny. We all sit around mindlessly slagging off that vile stink-hole of a city. But in its own strange way, it takes care of us. I don’t know if that ugly wall of suburbia’s been put there to stop them getting in, or us getting out. Come on. Don’t let it drag you down. Let it toughen you up. I can only fight because I’ve learnt to. Being a man one day and a woman the next isn’t an easy thing to do.”

54. Dead End Drive-In (Dir. Brian Trenchard-Smith, 1986)

Frank: [Picks up weights for a moment, then puts them back down] “F*ck it. Strong enough.”

Wake in Fright - Australian movie quotes55. Hercules Returns (Dir. David Parker, 1993)

Charlie: “When your God tells you to beat the shit out of somebody, you do it. That’s what religion is all about!”

56. Ghosts… of the Civil Dead (Dir. John Hillcoat, 1988)

Maynard: “Officer, come here. I wanna spit in your f*cking eye!”

57. The Club (Dir. Bruce Beresford, 1980)

Jock: “With the team we’ll have next year Jesus Christ would be flat out making the reserves!”

58. Dogs in Space (Dir. Richard Lowenstein, 1986)

Tim: “That’s TV, Sammy. That’s what you watch when you’ve got no brain, Like you and me.”

59. The Last Wave (Dir. Peter Weir, 1974)

David Burton: “We’ve lost our dreams. Then they come back and we don’t know what they mean.”

60. The Chain Reaction (Dir. Ian Barry, 1980)

Eagle: “Listen, WALDO isn’t exactly human. WALDO is a multinational corporation, working the ass-end of the nuclear cycle.”

Barry McKenzie Holds His Own - Australian movie quotes61. Stone (Dir. Sandy Harbutt, 1974)

Undertaker: “OK, Go Down, you got it; but believe me, whoever got you is going to get got too; and that’s a promise.”

62. The Year of Living Dangerously (Dir. Peter Weir, 1974)

Billy Kwan: “If it’s in focus, it’s pornography, if it’s out of focus, it’s art.”

63. Don’s Party (Dir. Bruce Beresford, 1976)

Cooley: “Your wife, mate… your wife is one of the great bourgeois monsters of our time!”

64. Patrick (Dir. Richard Franklin, 1978)

Matron Cassidy: “Why did you choose the Roget Clinic, Mrs. Jacquard? We tend to attract certain types – lesbians, nymphomaniacs, enema specialists…”

65. The Great McCarthy (Dir. David Baker, 1975)

McCarthy: “You know what I think? I reckon you think it’s as good as a holiday seeing how the other half lives. Cheap restaurants, legal advice to bums and has beens. Sleeping around with…”

Miss Russell: “Footballers?”

 

There’s no doubt that I’ve missed more than a few. Let me know, and I’ll add them to the list as they come.

James Curnow is an obsessive cinephile and the owner and head editor of CURNBLOG. His work as a film journalist has been published in a range of print and digital publications, including The Guardian, Broadsheet and Screening the Past. James is currently working through a PhD in Film Studies, focused primarily on issues of historical representation in Contemporary Hollywood cinema.

20 thoughts on “Words from Oz: 65 classic Australian movie quotes

  1. I know you already have two Wake in Frights, but as an American, I always assumed “What’s the matter with him? He’d rather talk to a woman than drink?” was the definitive line. I think Jack Thompson (Dick) says it, though it could be Peter Whittle’s Joe. Doc Tydon also says something about singing opera that I remember liking, though I guess I didn’t like it enough to really remember it.

  2. The Dish is one of my favourite films of all time – a lovely cast and a nostalgic flashback to the Australia I arrived in 40 years ago…altogether, some great stuff here.

  3. Thanks for the list. I’m going to Australia for three weeks in April so am excited to watch some of these movies! I did see “Red Dog,” which I liked a lot. I didn’t know what it was about so I cried through the second half. (Hope that doesn’t make me a sap queen!).
    Barbara (from Seattle)

  4. If you think Australians don’t watch Australian films, then you should know that Americans rarely get to watch Australian films. They just don’t get distributed/promoted. For a novice who’s completely unfamiliar with the country’s output, are there 2-3 you’d recommend starting off with? Cheers.

  5. I love Aussie films! Not the same ones as you, but still there are a few really great lines in there, and there are some aussie actors who really know how to deliver almost anything and make it sound brilliant.

  6. I’m going with number 6 as my favourite James. If I think of any others later, I will comment accordingly. This could start a trend of ‘International Film Quotes’, be prepared…
    Regards from England, Pete.

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