Pacific Banana
R0 - Australia - Umbrella Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: James-Masaki Ryan (8th July 2018).
The Film

"Pacific Banana" (1981)

Martin (played by Graeme Blundell) is an airline pilot having some unfortunate issues. First of all he has a strange condition in which his sneeze would cause him to lose his erection, causing unfortunate sexual failures. As for his professional life, he loses his job due to a bizarre mishandling of the CEO's wife but he gets a second chance by being transferred to the low reputation Banana Airlines. He becomes co-pilot to Paul (played by Robin Stewart who is quite the opposite of Martin. He is a womanizer with a girl in every port while engaged to two flight attendants Sally (played by Deborah Gray and Mandy (played by Alyson Best), full of confidence, and at the same time strict to his passengers. Martin on the other hand is insecure and bumbling but it seems things are about to change, as it become Paul's goal as well as all the ladies around to help Martin overcome his erection fail during their travels.

Director John D. Lamond's sex films "Australia After Dark" (1975), "The ABC of Love and Sex" (1978) and "Felicity" (1979) made waves in his native Australia, during the peak era of "Ozploitation" where sex and violence and other forms of insanity went to a commercial level of success. Though not popular with critics of the day, they were undeniable moneymakers even if acclaim or awards were not given. Lamond was looking to make a comical film in the vein of 1973's "Alvin Purple" which was one of the earliest Australian sex comedies to become a hit not only in Australia but abroad as well. The screenwriter of "Alvin Purple" and the sequel "Alvin Purple Rides Again", Alan Hopgood was enlisted to write, and the high flying sex romp "Pacific Banana" was born. The main lead of Martin was basically an extension of the character of Alvin Purple - an everyman that is not particularly attractive but the one that all the ladies somehow want to conquer. And who better to play the role than the man that played Alvin Purple in the two films and the 1976 TV series - Graeme Blundell. The film had lots of gratuitous nudity and cheesy comedy but by the release year of 1981, the film feels more like a relic leftover from the 1970s rather than innovation into the new decade.

"Pacific Banana" relies a lot on its cheap cringeworthy comedy - whether it's characters looking into camera and breaking the fourth wall, a seemingly random pie fight, facepalming antics, and flat-character yet extremely curvy ladies making dumbfounded decisions. There's even a character saying the line "grab a bit of the pussy" which is probably more cringing in 2018 due to a certain American President who inadvertently took credit for the term, but it was said in this Australian film decades before. While in the modern day a film like this would be considered sexist, derogatory, and offensive, it was made in a different time and place. It was a more innocent time before political correctness and a time when women didn't seem to know how to shave their lower region as evidenced in the film. But even in 1981, these jokes were not especially funny and the scenarios were not particularly as fun as it could have been. But the jokes were not the only thing that made the film suffer.

It was the first sex film made by the South Australian Film Corporation, and the conservative Parliament was concerned that tax dollars were being financed for "pornography" such as the specifically mentioned "Pacific Banana" which equally hurt its potential though it also gained free publicity. Screenwriter Alan Hopgood has stated that the film far deviated from the original script and added a lot of unnecessary slapstick comedy and other silly moments including the aforementioned pie-scene. Considering the comedy in "Alvin Purple Rides Again" was fairly well done, it was not exactly the screenwriter's fault that the comedy didn't have the same punch as before. Hopgood wrote it thinking the film would become a series, with the sequels taking the crew to other locations around for more sexcapades. Unfortunately with low ticket sales and a changing marketplace for feature films in the 1980s, the film more or less became a fairly forgotten film until the later video movement and reissues.

More than thirty years later, "Pacific Banana" like the main character Martin is a bit of a misfire. It doesn't get up to where it wants to go and whimpers out before the climax. (Yes the sexual puns are intended.) The film was previously issued by Umbrella Entertainment in 2004 under their "Sexy Oz Retro Collection". Umbrella Entertainment has reissued the disc under the "Ozploitation Classics" line with the exact same disc in new packaging.

Note this is a region 0 PAL DVD

Video

Umbrella Entertainment presents the film in 1.78:1 with anamorphic enhancement in the PAL format. The print used for the transfer is a fairly good one though it does have its limitations. The transfer has some specs and scratches and colors are a bit dark losing vibrancy. On the plus side, the specs are minimal and the colors are mostly consistent, there are no heavy damage marks, and film grain is still visible. It's not exactly the strongest film transfer, but it is certainly on the watchable side.

The film's runtime is 79:38.



















Audio

English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono
The original mono track sounds fair though nothing particularly special. Dialogue is fairly clear and music is well balanced, though there can be some muffled and flat toned portions here and there. There are no major issues with hiss, pops, or cracks in the track.

There are no subtitles available.

Extras

"Pacific Banana Unpeeled" featurette (25:51)
In this 2004 featurette, John D. Lamond, Deborah Gray, John Chase, and Alan Hopgood are interviewed separately as they recall the film. They talk about the actors, the nudity, the writing, the difficulties shooting on location, how the theme song came about, and much more. Lamond is for some reason in a hotel bedroom while being served by a young topless woman and Gray is for some reason at the seaside where her audio is flooded by crashing waves.
in anamorphic 1.78:1, in English Dolby 2.0 with no subtitles

"Confessions of an R-Rated Filmmaker" featurette (8:09)
John D. Lamond, the director of “Australia After Dark”, “Felicity”, and “Pacific Banana” talks about his career making fun and sexy films with no regrets. This featurette is also available on "Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation!" and "Nightmares" among other Umbrella titles.
in anamorphic 1.78:1, in English Dolby 2.0 with no subtitles

Pacific Banana Gallery
Presented are 34 stills of posters, on set photos, and behind the scenes photos.
in anamorphic 1.78:1

Deborah Gray Gallery
Presented are 20 stills of the actress, ranging from publicity photos, magazine covers, and articles. These do not necessarily cover Pacific Banana.
in anamorphic 1.78:1

Deborah Gray and Luan Peters single "Trouble" (audio-only) (2:48)
In this audio only extra, the two actresses sing "Trouble" accompanied by the record artwork and promotional stills.
in Dolby Digital 2.0

Theatrical Trailer (2:49)
The original Australian trailer filled with specs and scratches is here.
in anamorphic 1.78:1, in English Dolby 2.0 with no subtitles

Bonus Trailers
- "The True Story of Eskimo Nell" (3:01)
- "Fantasm" (2:26)
- "Fantasm Comes Again" (1:54)

Three more selections from the "Sexy Oz Retro Collection" are presented here.
in various ratios, in English Dolby 2.0 with no subtitles

Below is an excerpt from the film, courtesy of Umbrella Entertainment.

Packaging

As stated this is a reissue of the 2004 "Sexy Oz Retro Collection" release from Umbrella Entertainment, just rebranded with the "Ozploitation Classics" logo. The disc menus, disc extras are exactly the same with new packaging.

Overall

"Pacific Banana" leans too much on silly slapstick more than the T&A and it's more of an innocent failure rather than a continuation of the Australian sexploitation pics of the 1970s. Umbrella Entertainment provides a good amount of extras and the transfer with image and audio are quite fair. Fans that couldn't pick up the original out of print 2004 disc now have a cheaper alternative here.

The Film: C- Video: B- Audio: B- Extras: B Overall: C+

 


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