One of the unfortunate temptations of hiring a rock star to carry a film is for the director to rely rather lazily on that star’s in-built charisma instead of trying to mould him into a character.
Witness Mick Jagger, here giving his extremely limp-wristed and exasperatingly English interpretation of Australia’s most memorable outlaw, in a characterisation so similar to his stage image that you half expect him to start shrieking, “It’s great to be Down Under!” or “Thank you, Sydney, you’ve been a great audience!”
Sent to prison for a crime he did not commit, 19-year-old Ned Kelly returns to his home on a run-down Australian ranch following his release and finds his family in dire straits.
Attempts to lead an honest life prove difficult and soon Ned, with a band of comrades, takes to the outback as a wanted man.
Realistically, the blame has to be laid at the door of director Tony Richardson, whose handling sometimes obscures the message and buries the drama.
The songs of Shel Silverstein, however, help to give the film a certain focus.