Graham Kennedy's short cameo in They're a Weird Mob (1966) is his first feature film appearance, although he was an uncredited extra in On the Beach (1959).
Nino Culotta (played by Walter Chiari) is an Italian migrant who has recently arrived in Australia and is looking for work. When Graham Kennedy (playing himself) pulls up in his car and asks direction, Culotta is unable to help. A nearby man from Sydney recognises Kennedy and speaks up. At first Kennedy is flattered at being recognised before being told in no uncertain terms that he’s not welcome in Sydney and should keep driving all the way to Cape York! Kennedy is a notable Melbourne celebrity and the clip entertainingly demonstrates the rivalry between Sydney and Melbourne, to Culotta's bewilderment.
The filming of this scene cleverly keeps the three men - Kennedy, Culotta and the Sydney man - in separate frames, highlighting that they are distanced from each other because of their different places of origin. It’s a delightful piece of scripting, cinematography and editing that captures an awkward, but humorous, three-way exchange. Filmed on a busy sidewalk, it reinforces the casual informality of the Australian lifestyle. Kennedy's resignation at being dismissed so decisively also highlights the Australian disdain for celebrities. In just 50 seconds, this short clip conveys a lot about Australian identity.
They're a Weird Mob was directed by Michael Powell and based on the novel by John O'Grady, writing under the pseudonym ‘Nino Culotta’.