MAD MAX was the movie that brought street machining to the masses, putting the Aussie muscle cars we loved into a context we’d never seen before, making them cooler than penguins and helping put this magazine (launched two years later) on a path to where it is today.
Who needs a Smith & Wesson or light-sabre? Here our own V8s were the weapons of choice, celebrating an era of muscle we’d never see again. It was, and still is, about us.
The opening car chase introduces a blend of maniac gang types and blundering cops against a backdrop of a disintegrating petrol-starved society “a few years from now”. Shining above it all is Max, the Main Force Patrol’s best pursuit cop who worries he’ll get dragged down into it all.
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What really strikes a chord is that it takes a black supercharged 600hp XB GT351 hardtop to make him stay.
“Kick it in the guts, Barry,” best mate Goose says when showing off the new ride.
Barry: “It’s the last of the V8s.”
Goose: “Shut the gate on this one Maxy, it’s the duck’s guts.”
Fifi: “As long as the paperwork’s clean, you boys can do what you like out there.”
Max’s ideology wavers when Goose buys it in a nasty mix of petrol and matches (“Light me, Johnny”), so he takes some family time off. But those “scoot jockey nomad trash” on their Kawasakis just happen to pick the same idyllic getaway and it all turns to shit.
They target Max’s family and he is too late to save the day, but by golly, does he make up for it afterwards, armed with an XB, sawn-off shotgun, leather pants and sweaty cheeks.
Film maker George Miller was an emergency room doctor and saw firsthand a lot of the horror he recreated here. It adds grit to the masterful script that contains so many memorable lines, including the classic, “That there is Cundalini … and Cundalini wants his hand back.”
Mad Max was a breakout movie for Mel Gibson who, after following up with Mad Max II, went on to Hollywood stardom and worse. Nevertheless, he will always be remembered as Max Rockatansky, a master of the road brought alive by the bass rumble of a 351ci Cleveland V8.
You are depriving yourself of 93 minutes in Australian cinematic history if you have not watched this film, which has spawned three sequels. It gave street machiners such a sense of identity that we would sooner place our left hand on a Mad Max VHS cover than any holy book.
1973 Ford Falcon XB GT351 coupe
1972 Holden Monaro HQ LS Coupe
1959 Chev Impala
and many others
Lots. The opening 12-minute car chase with the XB pursuit cars chasing a Pursuit Special Monaro stolen by the Nightrider is the greatest car action sequence ever filmed in Australia.
Max Rockatansky is part of the thin bronze line that controls the road gangs in a violent dystopian society. When he tries to get out, the murder of his child, wife and best friend bring him back and make him really, really mad.
COOL FLICK FACT:
The Telegraph photographer who shot the Goose flying into the bush scored the front cover and an all-expenses week in Fiji. Gerry Gauslaa, who hurt his back missing the cardboard boxes after flying a 1979 world record 24 metres, got paid $500.