Pacific Banana Review
“It wants to go up, up, up, it always goes down, down, down...” One thing you have to say about the films of John D. Lamond: like his earlier Felicity, Pacific Banana doesn't half have an annoying theme song. So annoying it seems to be on almost constant repeat.
As our narrator tells us, Martin (Graeme Blundell, who had become a star in this genre due to Alvin Purple) has a problem. He has no problems attracting the ladies, but at the wrong moment he sneezes and this happens:
After a failed attempt at seduction by the company director's wife, Lady Blandings, Martin is assigned to the clapped-out Banana Airlines. His co-pilot is Paul (Robin Stewart, best known as the son in Bless This House on British TV) and the air hostesses are Sally (Playboy playmate Deborah Gray) and Mandy (Alyson Best). None of the three of them can keep their clothes on for long. Not to mention the boss's daughter Julia (Helen Hemmingway), stowing away on the flight...
If Felicity was played more or less straight (pun intended), Pacific Banana is all-out farce. All it goes to show is Lamond, his scriptwriter Alan Hopgood (who had previously written Alvin Purple). have a lot to learn about comic timing and invention. In a short film, they start repeating the jokes around the halfway mark, and having a custard-pie fight break out on board is a sure sign of desperation. The dialogue is a series of laboured puns and innuendoes. (“I've got the perfect opening for you,” says Lady Blandings. “My windsock indicates a stiff southerly coming on,” says Paul. Oh my aching sides.) Throw in several gay stereotypes and a narrator you could happily strangle. There's a lot of nudity (all female, naturally). It all ends up on a Pacific island, and the best thing you can say about this film is that Gary Wapshott's photography is bright and colourful.
Pacific Banana was unbelievably partly financed by the South Australian Film Commission, apparently in an effort to make a more commercial film. The result provoked questions as to why a government body was financing “pornography”. The film isn't funny enough for kitsch value. I've no doubt it improves after several tinnies, but otherwise no-one is likely to give a XXXX for it.
Released by Umbrella Entertainment as part of their Sexy Oz Retro collection, Pacific Banana is a dual-layered PAL format disc encoded for all regions. On the back cover are the following Sexy Oz Stats: Pacific Banana contains bums (12), boobs (40) and pubes (10). Just so you know.
The DVD transfer is in a ratio of 1.78:1 and anamorphically enhanced. As I say, this is a bright-looking and colourful film, and it gets a transfer to match. The strong sun in the Tahiti-filmed sequences sometimes casts deep and impenetrable shadows and there's some minor aliasing in places.
The soundtrack is mono, as was the film in the cinemas it played in. Nothing untoward here, though as ever Umbrella have not provided any subtitles.
The main extra is a featurette, “Pacific Banana Unpeeled” (25:51). Its tone is set from the start. “What a great idea,” says John D. Lamond. “Head off with a couple of decent looking birds who can act, good fun, a fabulous set of knockers...” He's interviewed in a hotel room, and every so often a topless waitress comes into shot and serves him a drink. He complains he isn't taken seriously. Other interviewees include writer Alan Hopgood and, alone from the cast, Deborah Gray. There's more Lamond in “Confessions of an R-rated movie maker” (8:09), and more defensiveness at his (non-existent) reputation with the critics – as opposed to Jane Campion, say, who can have Kate Winslet naked and urinating in Holy Smoke and call it art.
Also on the disc are two stills galleries, one dedicated to the film and the other to Deborah Gray. Gray and her costar Luan Peters also sing “Trouble”, a three-minute song played as an audio file over a still picture. Finally, there are trailers for other Sexy Oz Retro releases: The True Story of Eskimo Nell, Fantasm, Fantasm Comes Again as well as that for Pacific Banana itself.
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