Of Picnic At Hanging Rock, the Nutcracker and a Dinner for One.


Portrait of Robert Helpmann, London taken by A...

Portrait of Robert Helpmann, London taken by Angus McBean (1904–1990) circa 1945. Sourced from the National Library of Australia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sunday afternoon and the oft maligned ABC looked after the first half of the season’s traditional entertainment with the playing of The Nutcracker, This time around, the production was by American west coast company and a pleasant surprise to find it wasn’t ruined by over-modernisation which usually destroys the illusion, a turn-off for a trad man. Mame was on another channel, but has had its run. I was taken aback with the lead Nutcracker’s character’s remarkable likeness to Helpmann’s Don Quixote and it wouldn’t have surprised me to learn the chap got lost after a long lunch and unable to find the Nutcracker lot, stumbled onto The Man of La Mancha set. Any Australian success the all-sung Les Misérables might have, could be laid at the local audience cringe of following the lead.

The second, more engrossing bit of the season’s viewing, occurs early on New Years Eve when the invaluable SBS reruns for the umteenth time, the classic, Dinner For One,  Some of those watching this 18 minutes of unrestrained humour for the first time are in for the rare treat of Miss Sophey’s delusions and her devoted butler. Some, like I was, will be induced back year after year for more of the same. Indiscriminate viewers will hang around for the nonsense and waste of midnight’s firework tedium.

Moving on a few weeks to a fictional story that could have taken place on St Valentine’s Day in olden Victoria, 1900. There are few more chilling and ominous introductions to a movie than the opening words setting the scene to Joan Lindsay’s classic mystery “Picnic At Hanging Rock.” I read the book in awe, and a few years later when the movie was realised, every frame of the picture matched my mind picture as I read engrossed.

On Saturday, 14 February, 1900,

a party of schoolgirls from Appleyard

College picnicked at Hanging Rock

near Mt. Macedon in the State of

Victoria.

During the afternoon several members

of the party disappeared without trace.

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