Directed by Peter Faiman and starring the ever-sublime Paul Hogan, 1986’s Crocodile Dundee captured the hearts of the world with its portrayal of a charming and weathered Australian rogue making his way as a fish out of water in the big bad Big Apple.
Also starring Linda Kozlowski as the titular rascal’s love interest and Mark Blum as his rival for her affections, Crocodile Dundee was in fact partly inspired by the real-life survival story of Australian bushman Rod Ansell.
In 1977, the cattle grazier-cum-buffalo hunter became famous after becoming stranded in a remote part of Australia’s Northern Territory, and then surviving on limited supplies for an incredible 56 days. Consequently, he became the chief muse for the development of the character of Mick Dundee.
Made in a deliberate attempt to produce a commercial Australian flick that would appeal to a wide American crowd, fingers were firmly crossed that Crocodile Dundee would be a hit. But would audiences get it and gel with its humour? Only the reviews and the receipts would tell.
Captivated by the tale of a rugged Australian hunter’s brush with death after getting too close for comfort with a crocodile, New York-based reporter Sue Charlton (Kozlowski) travels down under to meet the enigma that is Mick ‘Crocodile’ Dundee (Hogan).
Arriving in the remote hamlet of Walkabout Creek, Sue is about to experience a world she never knew existed, as adventures in the outback with the pleasant but uncouth Dundee lead to danger, amazement, and of course, romantic attraction.
Following her own brush with death and Mick’s subsequent heroics, Sue suggests that he return with her to New York to continue her feature story, and experience a very different kind of jungle.
As Mick leaves Australia for the first time ever, he is forced to come face-to-face with some very ‘strange’ customs, often with hilarious results. But the real question is, will his and Sue’s feelings stretch across the divide of the very different worlds they come from, or will the boy from the bush prove more trouble than he’s worth?
Proving to be nothing short of a worldwide phenomenon, following its release Crocodile Dundee became the highest-grossing film of all-time in Australia, the highest-grossing Australian film worldwide, the second-highest-grossing film in the United States in 1986, the highest-grossing non-US film at the US box office ever and the second-highest-grossing film worldwide for the year.
With a golden turn from Hogan that was wonderfully complemented by a sterling performance from Kozlowski, this flick’s stratospheric performance was well deserved. Yet, for a film made on a budget of under $10 million, it was still an incredible surprise.
While its two sequels (1988’s Crocodile Dundee II and 2001’s Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles) failed to garner quite the same love, affection and success as the original, this first outing for the legend of Michael J Dundee, will always retain a place in the hallowed hall of cinema’s most endearing creations.
Here’s to you Mick – and if for nothing else, for introducing us to the finest ever hat in film.