POLLY ME LOVE
Australia, 1977, 90 minutes, Colour.
Directed by Peter Maxwell.
Polly Me Love is an Australian historical telemovie, made at the time when television studios were making series like Against the Wind and The Timeless Land. It is set in Australia, 1810, and shows two days in a small settlement outside Parramatta. It focuses on an inn, the barracks, and a wealthy house with a wild robber in the vicinity. The presentation is episodic and melodramatic for home viewing. This is heightened by a wide-ranging score, adapting themes to particular characters and incidents. The film is a vehicle for Jackie Weaver and the film is alive when she is on the screen. Direction is by Peter Maxwell who directed the comedy-crime drama Touch and Go.
1. The appeal of an Australian story, a glimpse of Australian history, romance, violence?
2. The telemovie style, brevity, episodes, melodramatic incidents, brief and melodramatic treatment?
3. Colour photography, the 1810 period - the inn, the barn, the settlement, the barracks, the house. the landscapes? An authentic period flavour?
4. The use of songs, traditional melodies?
5. The structure of the film - the activity over two days, the focus on Polly, the drama centring on her and Kane? The interaction of the various characters, classes? Law and order in a convict settlement? The credibility of the plot within the pioneering and convict days? A brief glimpse of the way of life in the convict period?
6. Life in the inn and the Dwyers running it? The weak father, the harsh and dominant mother? Their convict background? Amy and Polly as their daughters? Amy and the prostitution in the barn. the mother pressurising Polly? The singing for entertainment? The farm labourers at the inn? Drinking, fighting? The barn as a brothel? The military threat to close it, the persuasion with Polly to stay open? St. Patrick's feast day and the workers celebrating? The colony and the drinking? A microcosm of the colony centred on Dwyers' barn?
7. The barracks, the soldiers, loneliness? Cargill and his pursuit of Kane? The chase? Cargill at the Bates household and his courtesy, the appointment with Miss Bates, the prospect of a marriage? Cargill and the threat of closure of the inn? His loneliness, the arrangement with Polly's mother about her coffin Polly's visit and his awkwardness, writing letters, his explanations to Polly, her response? Miss Bates' arrival? His future in the colony, a soldier doing his job? His assistants?
8. The ugly portrait of Kane? His attraction towards Polly at the opening, people calling him an animal and his resentment, his escape from the inn, hiding in the barn, the rejection of Polly? The chase and his violence? His hiding near the Bates house, the attack on Bates, the. savage pursuit of Miss Bates? His being shot? His vindictiveness in burning the house? His return, Dillon's shooting him, his being taken to prison? A credible type from the early days of the colony?
9. The contrast with Dillon as convict? His escape, his story of his life as a forger? The attraction of Polly, her helping with the meal, getting his chains loose? His talking with her and her attraction towards him ? His advice about going to Cargill and her following it? His regrets? His being shot, arrested and taken to prison with Kane?
10. Polly as the centre of the film - as a young girl, her place in the inn, her singing? Her virginity? Her mother's force and persuasion, her father's helping her? The friendship with Dillon and bringing him food, helping his burnt hand? Her wondering about what she should do, the discussion with Amy and Amy's explanation about wedding nights - and seeing her with her customers? Her love for her father, the hostility towards her father? Her dilemma about going to Cargill, asking Dillon, awkwardness with him? Her going away back to the inn and singing songs again? Her future in the colony? How sympathetic was Jackie Weaver's performance ?
11. The Bates household, Bates and the workers getting St. Patrick's Day off, his imprudent decision to stay at the house, his being attacked by Kane, his sister and the vicious pursuit, her escape to the town and enlisting help?
12. A cross-section of the types of people in the early New South Wales colony? Classes in society? Law and order and its administration? Basic issues of survival? Drinking, sexuality? How well were these themes blended? Effectively presented, the point of entertainment, the point of a picture of life in the early colony?