peteg's blog - noise - movies - 2023 08 17 TheSet

The Set (1970)

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Craig Mathieson pointed to SBS's Homegrown Cinema collection and near the start is this time capsule of Sydney in 1970. Like Winter of Our Dreams a decade later, this is a city that never existed where students and recent transplants not only had shelter but oodles of space and time to enjoy everything and self-actualise, which perhaps involved making movies like this one. It was prelapsarian even for the motorcyclists (before helmets became mandatory in 1972) and drinkers of Fosters out of ring-pull cans, a kind of paradise nobody recalls now.

Things open with some gratuitous nudity, including sort-of-lead Sean Myers and Amber Rodgers running nude on a beach for reasons unknown. After she departs for Europe he settles down to building a career in the arts under the desirous gaze of Brenda Senders, an institution recently returned from Europe. She wants him for a boy toy but he is more interested in exploring the gay scene as embodied by the helpful, failing architecture student, Bronzed Aussie and upper toff Tony Brown. (The set of the title is apparently a theatre set being conceived and prototyped by the pair and not, as I thought, the denizens of the social scene.) The running joke is that the Bronzed Aussie is a terrible lay. There are other threads even more risible.

Things are lame for the most part until we get to the drag queens who have apparently been one major and reliable fount of shamelessness in Sydney (though I've found those from Melbourne to be funnier). The general vibe is that everyone is randy and that the boys are less hassle than the local princesses.

The main failing of this thing is the weak script, which is disjointed or segmented like Roger Ebert's Beyond the Valley of the Dolls; clearly these guys made what they knew. There are sundry other failings jostling for the lead such as the lifeless cinematography that just sometimes tries to be a bit arty. I guess you could see it as a distant antecedent to the far superior The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.

All you need to know is at Ozmovies.