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  Sidecar Racers To The Power Of Two
Year: 1975
Director: Earl Bellamy
Stars: Ben Murphy, Wendy Hughes, John Clayton, Peter Graves, John Meillon, John Derum, Peter Gwynne, Serge Lazareff, Paul Bertram, Patrick Ward, Arna-Maria Winchester, Vicki Raymond, Kevin Healey, Brian Anderson, Brenda Senders
Genre: Drama, ActionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Jeff Rayburn (Ben Murphy) used to be a swimmer and made it to the Olympics where he won a couple of medals, but he ended his career abruptly and has moved from the United States to Australia, where he is currently spending his time surfing. One day he notices Lynn Carson (Wendy Hughes) standing by the shore as she tries to coquettishly catch his attention, and later on sees her again in a department store where he is buying sunglasses, but then she embroils him in her shoplifting scam and he is bemused. It turns out she wants to introduce him to her boyfriend Dave Ferguson (John Clayton), who makes his living as a motorcycle racer, specifically in the sidecar contests held around the country...

Why does she want to do this? As we've seen in the opening five minutes, Dave lost his sidecar partner in a fatal accident on the track, and has been looking for a replacement, so Lynn believes Jeff will be ideal. To nobody's surprise, he doesn't turn down this offer but accepts, thus setting in motion one of the most basic plots in or away from Ozploitation, the sporting movie. Basically with these things, either the protagonist will win or lose at the end and the rest of the storyline dictates that outcome, though it's a brave writer who makes them lose. This was interesting in that Jeff was not in the driver’s seat for the competitions we saw, that role was given to the considerably less famous Clayton, Murphy being a television star, by and large.

He had risen to fame with Western series Alias Smith and Jones, notorious for his co-star Pete Duel's suicide just as the show was getting very big (it was a Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid-inspired item of light adventure). Although Duel was replaced, it was too late to save the project and Murphy went on to pastures new, including the occasional film part as in this Australian effort, an example of a Hollywood performer getting a working holiday abroad, one of the perks of celebrity. The director, Earl Bellamy, was also from American television, and he brought along one of his pals, Mission: Impossible lead Peter Graves, to play Lynn's father, though the remaining cast were Aussie. Whether this made much difference to the box office success was debatable, as locally what would interest would be the cycle action.

There was an abundance of that, so much so that the drama framing it was noticeably cliched, leaving whatever conflict there was the product of much macho posturing - Dave has a rival pair who act like arseholes throughout, but are in danger of beating him to the grand prize he has his heart set on, a chance to visit Europe and go from strength to strength in his sporting career there. Jeff is sceptical he has what it takes, but a man's gotta have a dream, and that ultimately provided the central narrative line, dressed up with some love triangle business that never really went anywhere, but at least gave Hughes something to do as her prospects were growing brighter in Australian cinematic terms. But it was the roar of the engines and mixture of tracks (not too many - they weren’t made of money) the bikes power down that supplied the excitement, such as it was, as really this was predictable from beginning to end, making it more appealing to fans of the sport. Not bad, but not exactly the greatest in its particular genre, either, however much historically interesting it may be to the aficionados thanks to largely convincing racing. Music by Tom Scott.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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