Matilda (1978 film)

Matilda is a 1978 American comedy film directed by Daniel Mann and starring Elliott Gould, Robert Mitchum and Lionel Stander. The screenplay by Timothy Galfas is based on the eponymous 1970 novel by Paul Gallico.

Theatrical release poster
Directed byDaniel Mann
Produced byAlbert S. Ruddy
Screenplay byTimothy Galfas
Based onMatilda by Paul Gallico
Music byJerrold Immel
CinematographyJack Woolf
Edited byAllan Jacobs
Distributed byAmerican International Pictures
Release date
  • June 22, 1978 (1978-06-22)
Running time
105 minutes
CountryUnited States

Plot summary

A small-time talent agent discovers an amazing boxing kangaroo and figures to use him as his stepping-stone into the big time by having him compete with a human pugilist.

The story is based loosely on the 1970 novel of the same name by Paul Gallico.



The film was budgeted at $5.2 million. Producer Al Ruddy explained that "we debated over using both a real kangaroo and an actor in costume and opted for the latter as cross-cutting proved too jarring for the viewer. However the costume was a $30,000 investment that paid off as it not only allowed freedom of movement, but we were able to program it with transistors to allow us to direct the actor's tiniest gesture." Critic Tom Allen wrote in The Village Voice that "Matilda is worked by a person in a fur suit and fixed mask. ... The technicians do not even get the ears to wiggle and the mouth to pucker until the final minutes."[1]

Gould said "Al Ruddy wanted to buy back my position, my points in the picture, he offered me hundreds of thousands of dollars, which at that point I decided would be bad karma. That was bad judgment on my part.”[2]


  • "When I'm with You, I'm Feelin' Good" - Music by Carol Connors, Lyrics by Ernie Shelton, Sung by Pat Boone & Debby Boone, Record Produced by Mike Curb
  • "Waltzing Matilda" - (uncredited), Lyrics by A.B. 'Banjo' Paterson, Music by Christina Macpherson


  1. Harry Medved and Michael Medved. The Golden Turkey Awards London, Sydney, Melbourne, Singapore, Manila: Angus and Robertson Publishers, 1980. ISBN 0-207-95968-4. page 157-8.
  2. "The Lesser Known (or Less Celebrated) Films of Elliott Gould (Part 1)". Hidden Films. July 24, 2013.
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