They're a Weird Mob (film)

They're a Weird Mob is a 1966 Australian film based on the novel of the same name by John O'Grady under the pen name "Nino Culotta", the name of the main character of the book. It was the penultimate collaboration of the British filmmakers Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger.

They're a Weird Mob
DVD cover
Directed byMichael Powell
Produced byMichael Powell
Written byEmeric Pressburger (as Richard Imrie)
Based onThey're a Weird Mob
by John O'Grady
StarringWalter Chiari
Chips Rafferty
Claire Dunne
Music byScore:
Alan Boustead
Lawrence Leonard
Reen Devereaux
Walter Chiari
Mikis Theodorakis[1]
CinematographyArthur Grant
Edited byGerald Turney-Smith
Williamson-Powell International Films
Distributed byBritish Empire Films (Aust)
Rank Organisation (UK)
Release date
18 August 1966 (1966-08-18)
13 October 1966 (1966-10-13)
October 1966 (UK)
Running time
112 minutes
BudgetA$600,000 (est.) or £234,925[2]
Box officeA$2,417,000 (Australia)[3]


Nino Culotta is an Italian immigrant, newly arrived in Australia. He expected to work for his cousin as a sports writer for an Italian language magazine. However, on arrival in Sydney, Nino discovers that the cousin has abandoned the magazine, leaving a substantial debt to Kay Kelly. Nino declares that he will get a job and pay back the debt.

Working as a labourer Nino becomes mates with his co-workers, despite some difficulties with Australian slang and culture of the 1960s. Nino endeavours to understand the aspirational values and social rituals of everyday urban Australians, and assimilate. A romantic attraction builds between Nino and Kay despite her frosty exterior and her conservative Irish father's dislike of Italians.[4]

A tone of mild racism exists in the film between Anglo-Saxon/Anglo-Irish characters such as Kay Kelly's dad Harry (Chips Rafferty) and Nino. Harry says he doesn't like writers, brickies or dagos. Nino is all three. But this is undermined when Nino, sitting in the Kelly house notices a picture of the pope on the wall. Nino says "If I am a dago, then so is he". Realising the impossibility of referring to the pope by that derogatory term, Harry gives in.


Cast notes

  • John O'Grady, the author of the novel, makes a cameo appearance as the grey-bearded drinker in the pub in the opening sequence of the film.[7]
  • Alida Chelli was the girlfriend of Walter Chiari, but almost did not get the part because she was thought to be too glamorous and might have upstaged Claire Dunne.[8]



They're a Weird Mob was optioned in 1959 by Gregory Peck but he could not come up with a workable screenplay. Michael Powell first read the novel in London in 1960 and wanted to turn it into a film but Peck had the rights. Powell obtained them three years later and brought in his long-time collaborator Emeric Pressburger, who wrote the screenplay under the pseudonym "Richard Imrie."[9]


The film was one of a series of movies financed together by Rank and the NFFC.[10] £166,925 of the budget came from the NFFC and Rank, the rest from the production company Williamson-Powell International Films.[11]


Walter Chiari had previously visited Australia during the filming of On the Beach (1959), which starred his then-girlfriend Ava Gardner. Claire Dunne was working as a weather girl when cast in the female lead.[9]

It was one of the last acting roles from Muriel Steinbeck.[12]


The film started filming in October 1965 and was shot at a number of locations in the area of Sydney:[13]

The film has been credited with the revival of the moribund Australian film industry, which led to the Australian "New Wave" films of the 1970s.[14]

Box office

They're a Weird Mob grossed $2,417,000 at the box office in Australia,[3] which is equivalent to $26,127,770 in 2009 dollars. However it performed poorly outside Australia.[15] The NFFC reported its overseas earnings on the film as £207,821.[16]

In 1968 John McCallum wrote that of the $2 million the film had then earned, only $400,000 had been returned to the film-makers.[17]

A behind-the-scenes documentary was shot called The Story of the Making of 'They're a Weird Mob'.[18]


The film has been released on Region 4 DVD by Roadshow. The DVD includes a TV special, "The Story of Making the Film They're a Weird Mob" as well as a picture gallery, theatrical trailer and optional subtitles.

The film has been released on Region 2 DVD by Opening in the Les films de ma vie series. The DVD has fixed French subtitles for the original English soundtrack.

See also


  1. IMDB Soundtracks
  2. Petrie p 10
  3. Film Victoria – Australian Films at the Australian Box Office
  4. "'The weird mob'—On film". Australian Women's Weekly. National Library of Australia. 29 June 1966. p. 8. Retrieved 3 September 2012.
  5. "Wardrobe to match star's busy life". Australian Women's Weekly. National Library of Australia. 25 January 1967. p. 63. Retrieved 3 September 2012.
  6. "Bright, but practical, wardrobe". Australian Women's Weekly. National Library of Australia. 9 November 1966. p. 57. Retrieved 3 September 2012.
  7. They're a Weird Mob DVD.
  8. They're a Weird Mob on IMDb
  9. "The Weird Mob goes before the cameras". Australian Women's Weekly. National Library of Australia. 10 November 1965. p. 12. Retrieved 2 September 2012.
  10. Petrie p 8
  11. Petrie p 10
  12. Vagg, Stephen (25 August 2019). "Unsung Aussie Actors – Muriel Steinbeck". Filmink.
  13. IMDB Filming locations
  14. Stafford, Jeff "Age of Consent" (TCM article)
  15. Petrie p 14
  16. Petrie p 15
  17. Andrew Pike and Ross Cooper, Australian Film 1900–1977: A Guide to Feature Film Production, Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1998, p238
  18. "Special on the making of a movie". Australian Women's Weekly. National Library of Australia. 17 August 1966. p. 15. Retrieved 3 September 2012.


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