Mr Movies at the 1976 Cannes Film Festival

BY TARA MARYNOWSKY AND NATHAN SMITH

As the 2019 Cannes Film Festival opens, we look back at how Australia's Mr Movies – film critic and presenter Bill Collins – reported from the festival in 1976 for a Channel 7 TV special, Australia in Cannes.

From Queen Kong to Caligula

Here Bill introduces the festival and gives a taste of some of the films that screened. He presents us with an elaborate pin board full of maps and festival film flyers. In his characteristic presenting fashion, he enthuses about everything from Queen Kong: The Liberated Lady Gorilla to Bernardo Bertolucci’s 314-minute epic 1900:

Meeting Mad Dog

'Australians are everywhere', Bill says, spotting many familiar faces on the Promenade de la Croisette, at the hotels, bars and sidewalk cafes – all there to buy and sell films. 

On the sidewalk, Bill catches up with American actor Dennis Hopper who is promoting two films: Tracks (Henry Jaglom, USA, 1976) and Mad Dog Morgan (Philippe Mora, 1976).

Hopper says that bushranger Dan Morgan in Mad Dog was the most demanding role he'd ever played:

The Australian Film Commission is promoting a new wave of Australian cinema with a special season of screenings including Picnic at Hanging Rock (Peter Weir, 1975), Caddie (Donald Crombie, 1976), The Trespassers (John Duigan, 1976), The Fourth Wish (Don Chaffey, 1976), Let the Balloon Go (Oliver Howes, 1976) and Mad Dog Morgan.

'It's like Surfers Paradise'

On the beach, Bill discovers director Peter Weir playing his part in a memorable stunt to promote Picnic at Hanging Rock. Jack Thompson is there, along with a picnic party of young women in white dresses.

While Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver wins the Palme d’Or, Fred Schepsi causes a sensation in the Directors' Fortnight sidebar with his feature film debut, the semi-autobiographical The Devil’s Playground, about growing up in a Catholic boys' boarding school.

In the following clip, Bill also catches up with Fred celebrating with cast members Nick Tate and Arthur Dignam:

Mr Movies

Bill Collins began presenting movies on television in 1963, as a producer and host of film appreciation segments on ABC’s Roundabout.

He later introduced movies on channels Nine (1967–74) and Seven (1975–79) and most famously for Channel Ten where he presented Bill Collins' Golden Years of Hollywood (1980–1995). 

In 1987, he received the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for services to film and television.

He signed with Foxtel for its launch in 1995 and retired from television in 2018.