Three to Go (1971)

Randwick Ritz, Sydney:

06:00 PM, Thursday
May 02

12:30 PM, Monday
May 06

Lido Cinemas, Melbourne:

08:30PM, Sunday
May 12

12:30PM, Monday
May 13

Rating: M
Duration: 87
Country: Australia
Language: English
Cast: Judy Morris, Matthew Burton, Rina Ioannou
Director: Brian Hannant, Oliver Howes, Peter Weir



Michael is a conservative student. Judy is a country girl moving to Sydney. Toula is the teenage daughter of Greek migrants. A milestone attempt to make an Australian feature in the then-fashionable anthology art-film format, Three to Go announced an impatient new wave of filmmakers who’d go on to lead the 1970s Australian cinema revival. 2K restoration.

Preceded by Australian Colour Diary No. 43: Three Directions in Australian Popular Music (Aust., 1972, 10 mins), Peter Weir’s dreamy celebration of Australian rock, with Wendy Saddington, Captain Matchbox, and Spectrum. Both films preserved by National Archives of Australia. Courtesy of the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia.

Introduced by Richard Brennan at Ritz Cinemas.

In Peter Weir’s Michael, a young man faces a choice between life with his wealthy middleclass parents or life with a permissive group of young radicals.

In Brian Hannant’s Judy, a teenage girl persists against the wishes of her parents and boyfriend, to travel to the city in search of a more exciting life.

In Oliver Howes’ Toula, a cultural clash between Australian and Greek communities in Sydney is explored through a young Greek girl trying to reconcile her affection for an Australian boy and the social restraints expected by her family.” – adapted from Australian Cinema, edited by Scott Murray

Both films preserved by the National Archives of Australia. Courtesy the National Film and Sound Archives.

Supported by the National Archives of Australia. 

By Andrew Pike & Ross Cooper
Peter Weir, Brian Hannant and Oliver Howes each directed one part of the portmanteau film, Three to Go.

Peter Weir was born in 1944 in Sydney. His first film, Count Vim’s East Exercise (1967), was a 16 mm comedy made for the social club of Channel Seven in Sydney, where he was a studio assistant. In the following year he made another 16 mm fantasy, The Life and Flight of the Reverent Buckshotte, and began to direct film sequences for the channel’s variety series, The Mavis Bramston Show. In 1969 he joined the Commonwealth Film Unit as a production assistant and soon directed a public service board training film, Stirring the Pool, from which he progressed to Michael (in Three to Go) and a career as an independent director. Weir had considerable success with five films made in Australia: The Cars that Ate Paris, Picnic at Hanging Rock, The Last Wave, Gallipoli and The Year of Living Dangerously. He then embarked on an international career which saw him make a further eight films, including Witness, The Dead Poet’s Society, Green Card, The Truman Show and Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, all of which were nominated for Academy Awards. He retired from film-making after making The Way Back in 2010. In 2022 he was awarded the Academy Honorary Award for his lifetime achievement.

Brian Hannant was born in 1940 in Brisbane. Working as a teacher in Queensland secondary schools, he taught filmmaking to pupils and spent his spare time making short films and running the Brisbane film underground. In 1967 he was accepted as a production assistant at the Commonwealth Film Unit and worked in various positions there until he resigned in 1978 to work as a freelance director in South Australia. His other work as director at the Film Unit included Indonesian and Thai episodes in the documentary series, Our Asian Neighbours, and a feature film, Flashpoint (1972). In 1982 he worked as co-writer and second unit director on Mad Max 2 and in 1987 directed The Time Guardian, scripted by John Baxter.

Oliver Howes was born in 1940 in England. After graduating in English from the University of Sydney in 1963, he joined the Commonwealth Film Unit as a production assistant. His films after Toula (in Three to Go) included Wakabout bilong Tonten (1974), a feature sponsored by the Papua New Guinea government and filmed in Pidgin with an entirely local cast. He subsequently worked in the Papua New Guinea Office of Information and returned to Film Australia in 1976 to direct the children's feature, Let the Balloon Go, and a telemovie, Say You Want Me (1977), produced jointly by Film Australia and the Nine network. Howes’ most controversial film is the documentary On Sacred Ground (1980), about the struggles of the Aboriginal people of the Kimberley in Western Australia to secure land rights and block mining on scared sites, which culminated in the Noonkanbah crisis. Political opposition to the film posed the question of whether Film Australia’s National Program was independent of government. The film was sold to the ABC, but its screening was stopped and it was banned from sales overseas and from film festivals. Years later the ban was reversed. After leaving Film Australia Howes worked as an independent producer, making films on the environment, like River Running out of Time, and films on health and domestic violence. He now volunteers with an aid group supporting Ossu, a mountain town in East Timor. He has published articles on environmental-economic accounting and population policy.
Three to Go consists of three stories: Michael; Judy; and Toula. The stories were placed in the hands of promising young talent in the Commonwealth Film Unit, each given his first chance to write and direct a narrative film with professional actors.

These three stories on the problems of youth were intended as discussion-starters for community and educational groups. Each story presents a young Australian at a moment of decision about his or her future life cycle. No answers are given, but the dilemmas are posed with sympathy for both sides of each problem. In the first story, Michael (dir. Peter Weir), a young man faces a choice between the life represented by his wealthy middle class parents and the alternative of a permissive pot-smoking group of radicals. In Judy (dir. Brian Hannant), a teenage country girl persists, against the wishes of her parents and boyfriend, with her decision to go to the city in search of a more exciting life. Toula (dir. Oliver Howes), the third story, explores the culture clash between Anglo-Australian and traditional Greek communities in Sydney, with a young girl from a Greek family trying to reconcile her affection for an Anglo-Australian boy with the social restraint expected by her parents.

These case studies transcended their functional purpose to become the first major landmark in the new wave of enthusiasm and energy that swept the Commonwealth Film Unit in the late 1960s. Michael opened the trilogy flamboyantly with a film-within-a-film depicting Sydney under siege from young revolutionaries  (filmed in the early mornings at Circular Quay with a liberal array of rubble, barricades and smoke) and the scene seemed to be a symbol both of the film’s sympathy with the rebelliousness of youth and of the new spirit then felt to be storming the barricades at the Film Unit.

Of the trio, Michael was filmed first in 16 mm (later blown up to 35 mm) late in 1969, and the other two stories were shot on 35 mm early in 1970, with Judy staged primarily on location in Tamworth, NSW. Critics generally gave high praise to the trio when they were screened together on commercial television in March 1971. Each part was subsequently taken for theatrical distribution by B.E.F. and was screened widely in supporting programmes.

Each of the three stories in the film came in for individual praise. Weir’s segment won the AFI’s Grand Prix in 1970. The esteemed critic Keith Connolly praised Hannant’s episode, describing it as a film which ‘succinctly sifts urban-rural conflicts as it examines the pressures on a girl secretary’. Connolly also praised Howes’ episode when he wrote: ‘Through the protagonist, a girl in her early teens, Howes succinctly dramatizes the culture shock suffered by migrants, and the divisions between the two cultures are epitomized in traumatic confrontations between parents and children.’ (1)


The screening of Three to Go will also include a short film by Peter Weir: 

Australian Colour Diary No.43: Three Directions in Australian Popular Music (Australia, 1972, 10 mins), a dreamy celebration of Australian rock, with Wendy Saddington, Captain Matchbox, and Spectrum.

(1) Both quotations from the writing of Keith Connolly are taken from his essay ‘Social Realism’, included in The New Australian Cinema (Scott Murray ed), published by Nelson and produced by Cinema Papers, 1980.

Much of the material published above is drawn from Australian Film 1900-1977 by Andrew Pike and Ross Cooper (Oxford University Press, Australia) and is reprinted with the kind permission of the authors.

The films in this program have been preserved by the National Archives of Australia. From the National Film & Sound Archive’s Film Australia Collection.

Directors: Peter Weir (Michael), Brian Hannant (Judy), Oliver Howes (Toula); Production Company: Commonwealth Film Unit; Producer: Gil Brealey; Script: Peter Weir (Michael), Brian Hannant, Bob Ellis (Judy), Oliver Howes (Toula); Photography: Kerry Brown; Editor: Wayne LeClos; Sound: Julian Ellingworth, Gordon Wraxall; Music: The Cleves (Michael), Grahame Bond, Rory O’Donoghue (Judy); Music Editor: James McCarthy (Toula).

Cast: (Michael), Matthew Burton (Michael), Grahame Bond (Graham), Peter Colville (Neville Trantor), Georgina West (Georgina), Betty Lucas (Mother), Judy McBurney (Judy); (Judy) Judy Morris (Judy), Serge Lazareff (Mike), Mary Anne Severne (Margaret), Gary Day (David), Penny Ramsey (Heather); (Toula), Rina Ionnou (Toula), Ericka Crowne (Assimina), Andrew Pappas (Stavros), Joe Hasham (John), Gabriel Batthika (Nick), Theo Coulouris (Father), Kerry Coulouris (Mother), Yaya Lavdeas (Grandmother).

Australia | 1971| 87 mins | 2K DCP | B&W| English| M

This film is accompanied by a short film:

3 Directions in Australian Pop Music. Australian Colour Diary 43

Director: Peter Weir; Production Company; Commonwealth Film Unit.

With: Wendy Saddington & Teardrop, The Captain Matchbox Whoopee Band, Indelible Murtceps (Spectrum).

Australia | 1972| 10 mins | 2K DCP | Colour| English| UC

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