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The Picture Show Man is a 1977 Australian film about a travelling film exhibitor (John Meillon) in the 1920s. He has to deal with the rebelliousness of his son (Harold Hopkins) and a rival American exhibitor (Rod Taylor).

The Picture Show Man
The Picture Show Man (1977 film).jpg
Directed byJohn Power
Produced byJoan Long
Written byJoan Long
Based onmemoirs of Lyle Penn
StarringJohn Meillon
John Ewart
Rod Taylor
Garry McDonald
Music byPeter Best
CinematographyGeoff Burton
Limelight Productions
Distributed byRoadshow
Umbrella Entertainment
Release date
  • 5 May 1977 (1977-05-05)
Running time
98 minutes
Box officeAU$566,014 (Australia)[3]

The film was Rod Taylor's first role in an Australian film for over twenty years.[4] He was cast as an American because the producer was concerned about his ability to perform in an Australian accent.[5]



Maurice Pym is a travelling cinema operator in the 1920s who tours country New South Wales with his son Larry and pianist Freddie.



The film was based on the memoirs of Lyle Penn, whose father was a travelling film exhibitor. He saw Joan Long being interviewed on television about her documentary on early Australian cinema, The Pictures That Moved and sent his memoirs to her. She optioned them and adapted it into a screenplay. Long was reluctant to direct the movie herself and as such hired John Power.[1]

The film was funded by the Australian Film Commission ($250,000), the New South Wales government ($120,000), the Women's Film Fund, private investors and with support from then-Premier of New South Wales Neville Wran.[6]

Shooting commenced on 17 October 1976 and went until 4 December, a total of seven weeks. It took place in and around Tamworth. Relations between Joan Long and John Power were not always smooth, the two occasionally clashing over interpretation.[1]


Box officeEdit

The film was a medium success at the box office. It won Australian Film Awards for Best Art Direction, Costume Design and Supporting Actor (Rod Taylor).[6]

Home mediaEdit

The Picture Show Man was released on DVD with a new print by Umbrella Entertainment in July 2005. The DVD is compatible with all region codes and includes special features such as the original theatrical trailer, an interview with Rod Taylor, and audio commentary with Harold Hopkins, Sally Conabere, Judy Morris and Sue Milliken.[7]


  1. ^ a b c David Stratton, The Last New Wave: The Australian Film Revival, Angus & Robertson, 1980 p236-238
  2. ^ Gordon Glenn & Scott Murray, "John Power", Cinema Papers, July 1977 p23-25, 91
  3. ^ 'Australian Films At the Australian Box office' Film Victoria accessed 28 September 2012
  4. ^ "People". The Australian Women's Weekly. National Library of Australia. 17 November 1976. p. 18. Retrieved 5 October 2012.
  5. ^ Stephen Vagg,'Rod Taylor: An Aussie in Hollywood, Bear Manor Media 2010 p 191-198
  6. ^ a b Andrew Pike and Ross Cooper, Australian Film 1900–1977: A Guide to Feature Film Production, Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1998, p 312
  7. ^ "Umbrella Entertainment". Retrieved 5 May 2013.

External linksEdit