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Memento : Issue 31
The Cars That Ate Paris and The Man from Hong Kong. There were, she said, very few films written, edited or directed by women or that showed a woman on equal terms with a man. Caddie producer, Anthony Buckley, regularly updated investors on casting and shooting news. In June 1975, Buckley reported with theatrical flourish that the agony was over, with the casting of Helen Morse in the lead role. Forty-one actors were interviewed for the role of Caddie, but Morse – who also starred in Picnic at Hanging Rock – won out with her outstanding screen test. In late 1975, after viewing an early cut of the film, Long wrote that it was a fairly honest account of a woman’s life. She admitted to a few disagreements with the director, Donald Crombie, about his interpretation of the script. But, she concluded, Crombie had done a very fine job on the film. Reflecting on her experience on the film, Long suggested that it was not possible for men – ‘even the nicest, most sensitive of men’ – to truly portray a woman’s experience. Women, she said, must speak for themselves through film to change public attitudes. Joan Long went on to produce The Picture Show Man and Puberty Blues. Caddie was a critical success. Helen Morse, Jackie Weaver and Melissa Jaffer all won Australian Film Industry awards for their performances. The film also did well at the box office, with the government receiving more than 100 per cent back on its investment. The money went into the Women’s Film Fund to support women’s greater involvement in film production. The plight of Mrs X Many of the 687 requests for International Women’s Year funding came from less high-profile individuals and groups. One such submission tackled the problem of suburban neurosis in the outer suburbs of Melbourne. In the isolation of outer suburbia, the submission warned, the suburban dream could become a nightmare for women. The Mountain Districts Co-operative described the daily routine of a typical housewife, Mrs X. After seeing her husband off to work, getting the children breakfast, and doing some housework, Mrs X sat down to watch some television. The advertisements she saw showed how happy she should be: ‘She sees women taking a pride in the whiteness of their washes ... she sees adoring bright-eyed children with perfect teeth and brushed hair, and devoted husbands with super-white shirts and sensible family cars’. It was impossible for Mrs X to live up to this ideal. Instead, this typical housewife’s suburban home turned into a ‘prison of bright colours and gadgets’. The co-operative sought funding to alleviate the isolation of women in outer suburbia by running art and craft classes, a shop to sell the products and a drop-in centre. Among their requests was $15 for a wall clock. Mothers working in the shop had to pick up their children from school on time! [left] Some members of the public were offended by Flo Kennedy’s choice of language and wrote to their local members to tell them so. [below] American feminist and civil rights campaigner Flo Kennedy at the Women and Politics conference. 4 NATIONAL ARCHIVES OF AUSTRALIA NAA:A4225,GEN/162NAA:A6180,2/9/75/21