Colin Friels as Malcolm demonstrates how his getaway car splits in two.


Malcolm: the beloved 1980s Australian comedy

Malcolm makes his getaway... to the NFSA
 Adam Blackshaw

Malcolm (1986) is a beloved Australian comedy, made by first-time director Nadia Tass and first-time screenwriter David Parker. We take a look at the props and designs from the film.

The getaway cars

Our free pop-up exhibition includes Malcolm’s most famous prop, which is also the largest item in the NFSA collection: the getaway car that memorably splits in two during the film. In the video below we transport the car to the NFSA and prepare it for exhibition:

In the film, Malcolm (played by Colin Friels) is a mechanical genius. His gadgets were designed and constructed by Parker, Tony Mahood (First Assistant Director) and Steve Mills in Parker’s photographic studio in Melbourne. The most challenging was the yellow 1970 Honda Z car. David Parker explains:

"We had a complete car, one for the actors, which actually split in two on a rig and we had to have one that had wheels and ran along with stunt drivers in it. So we had to have three cars – two of which we cut right down the middle. We just cut them through with an angle grinder and a hacksaw."

The car is on display at the NFSA in Canberra from 25 October to 9 October. See Malcolm first demonstrate the car in the film.

'Give us a million dollars!’

Raising the budget for Malcolm involved sacrifices on the part of the first-time filmmakers as well as an inventive approach worthy of Malcolm himself. In this clip from a 1989 interview with David Stratton, director Nadia Tass and writer-producer David Parker explain how they scared up the money:

In the clip below, Tass and Parker talk about the involvement of actor Colin Friels in the creation of the film and how he nearly missed out on playing the lead role:

Listen to more excerpts from David Stratton’s interview with Nadia Tass and David Parker on SoundCloud.

Malcolm in pictures

Posters, lobby cards and behind-the-scenes photographs from the film.