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The Sundowners
Der endlose Horizont (1960)
Movie
  • Director:
    Fred Zinnemann
  • Category:
  • Writer:
    Isobel Lennart,Jon Cleary
  • Cast:
    Deborah Kerr,Robert Mitchum,Peter Ustinov
  • Time:
    2h 13min
  • Year:
    1960
In the Australian Outback, the Carmody family, Paddy (Robert Mitchum), Ida (Deborah Kerr), and their teenage son Sean (Michael Anderson, Jr.), are sheep drovers, always on the move. Ida and Sean want to settle down and buy a farm. Paddy wants to keep moving. A sheep-shearing contest, the birth of a child, drinking, gambling, and a race horse will all have a part in the final decision.
Casts
Cast overview, first billed only:
Deborah Kerr Deborah Kerr - Ida Carmody
Robert Mitchum Robert Mitchum - Paddy Carmody
Peter Ustinov Peter Ustinov - Rupert Venneker
Glynis Johns Glynis Johns - Mrs. Firth
Dina Merrill Dina Merrill - Jean Halstead
Chips Rafferty Chips Rafferty - Quinlan
Michael Anderson Jr. Michael Anderson Jr. - Sean Carmody
Lola Brooks Lola Brooks - Liz Brown
Wylie Watson Wylie Watson - Herb Johnson
John Meillon John Meillon - Bluey Brown
Ronald Fraser Ronald Fraser - Ocker
Gerry Duggan Gerry Duggan - Shearer
Leonard Teale Leonard Teale - Shearer
Peter Carver Peter Carver - Shearer
Dick Bentley Dick Bentley - Shearer

Der endlose Horizont (1960)

Although studio head Jack L. Warner wanted to shoot the movie in Arizona, Director Fred Zinnemann insisted on shooting the exteriors on-location in Australia. The shoot did not go well. Zinnemann spent twelve weeks filming scenery and sheepherding scenes in the outback before the cast arrived. Once the cast got there, the weather began alternating daily between hot sun and cold rain, which resulted in several extra weeks of filming. Robert Mitchum was so harassed by fans, that he had to move onto a boat to get away from them.

Gary Cooper was originally cast in the lead role of Paddy Carmondy, but had to back out due to poor health. Errol Flynn replaced him, but died before production began. Robert Mitchum stepped into the role for the chance to act with his good friend Deborah Kerr, with whom he had previously co-starred in Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison (1957). Mitchum agreed to give Kerr top billing, joking to the production team, "You can design a twenty-four-foot sign of me bowing to her if you like."

The man who offers to buy the horse at the end of the movie was played by Jon Cleary, the author of the novel on which this movie was based. He also did an uncredited re-write of the script.

The definition of "Sundowner" given in this movie is not the most common one used in Australia. A "Sundowner" was the term used for a swagman who arrived at a homestead or farm just at sundown, in time to ask for a meal or food, but too late to be asked to do any work. The Sundowner usually departed early in the morning, before anyone else was up and before being asked to do some work.

Deborah Kerr commented in the 1986 biography "Deborah Kerr: Not Just an English Rose", that she should have won the Oscar for her performance in this movie. She received her sixth nomination for Best Actress for her role in this movie, but lost for the sixth time, the most times an actress has been nominated for Best Actress but didn't get it.

It is the only Best Picture Oscar nominee that year not to win any Academy Awards.

Features Glynis Johns' only Oscar-nominated performance.

Gerry Duggan (Turk) was also thought suitable for a minor role of a drunk.

Mervyn Johns replaced an actor who dropped out.

The same shearing shed at Carriewerloo Station was used in the South Australian Film Corporation movie Sunday Too Far Away (1975).

Uncredited theatrical movie debut of Ray Barrett (Man at Pub/Two-Up Game).

Peter Carver was cast as Clint the Shearer only after the actor first cast was given a different part.

Gerry Duggan (Turk) worked thirty days over eight weeks.

Eileen Moore was considered for a key role.

Burking
Burking
Frequently slow, solemn and simplistic, the films of Fred Zinneman are the work of a director who appears to have equated artistry with neatness, objectivity with aloofness, and significance with decorative, humorless reverence…

"The Sundowners" was perhaps the best 'Australian' film made up to that time, and was, incidentally, a perceptive study of a marriage: Deborah Kerr was the wife who wanted to settle down, and Robert Mitchum the husband who didn't… It reveals much about their life-style and the land in which they live… Their good teenaged son Sean (Michael Anderson Jr.) explains the meaning of a sundowner as someone whose home is wherever he happens to be when the sun goes down…

So Paddy (Mitchum) and Ida (Kerr) are a warm and well-adjusted couple with one grown son, except for one argument—the struggle between his love of being a wanderer and her fundamental desire for the stability of a home… Paddy was a man who couldn't settle in one place… For him, most places were fit only for arrivals and departures…

The film—which constantly endeavored to show the Australian woman's compassion for the problems of women in a big male society—is also a happy celebration with other notable participants being Glynis Johns as an awfully pleasant barmaid-innkeeper who loves men's company and knows how to deal with them; Peter Ustinov as an educated but slightly mysterious Englishman, a likable drifter, a kind of an elderly turtle who wears a nautical cap, with wealth of experience, but not much of a mind to make use of it…This turtle signs on as a drover with Paddy, apparently not so much for a job but for something to pass the time…

Outstanding is a scene in which Ida, as a woman with no makeup, sitting on the wagon, spots in the window of a stationary train a well-dressed woman who obviously has all the things she doesn't... They look at each other for an instance as the rich woman applies powder to her face… Ida gently lifts her fingers over her cheeks… They stare at each other and we rapidly notice Ida's thoughts…

"The Sundowners" is one of the very best of Mitchum's films… In the pub sequence, he is at his best when he sings "Botany Bay" and "Lime Juice Tub."

Deborah Kerr gave the role both a touch of delicacy and a touch of sensuality… She wins, for her impressive performance, her sixth and last Oscar nomination…

The motion picture, splendidly photographed in Technicolor and with a nice atmospheric music, contains fires in the dry forests, shearing contests, fist-fights, the Aussie's love of beer, a game of two-up, a big race meeting, much of the beautiful Australian landscape and the life on sheep farming stations…
Celace
Celace
I would love to sit and watch this film with an Aussie. That's because as an American, I don't know enough to know how accurate this movie is--and if the accents of all the non-Australians in the leads are even close to being correct.

This film is about a family of migrant workers--not a lazy 'sundowner' (see the IMDb trivia for more on this). They travel across Australia driving and shearing sheep to make a few quid--always on the move and no permanent home of their own. As for the husband (Robert Mitchum), he loves this sort of life with few responsibilities. But the wife (Deborah Kerr) is getting tired and sees a need to settle down and finally have a house of their own--especially since their son is getting older and wants some permanence in his life. The vast majority of the film, though, is almost like a documentary--showing what the life is like--like you get a little window into their migrant ways.

This is a well made film. The acting, direction and music are all quite nice. My only serious qualm is that the film is slow and I know many folks simply wouldn't sit still for such a seemingly mundane plot. But, if you are patient, it's well worth your time.
Xarcondre
Xarcondre
We don't really talk like that in Australia so the over the top accents are actually amusing! A good movie despite this however!

The Sundowners is a 1960 film that tells the story of an Australian outback family torn between the father's desires to continue his nomadic sheep-herding ways and the wife's and son's desire to settle down in one place. It stars Deborah Kerr, Robert Mitchum, Peter Ustinov, Glynis Johns, Dina Merrill, Michael Anderson, Jr. and Chips Rafferty.

The movie was adapted by Isobel Lennart from the novel by Jon Cleary. It was directed by Fred Zinnemann.

It was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Actress in a Leading Role (Deborah Kerr), Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Glynis Johns), Best Director, Best Picture, and Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium.

The movie was filmed mainly on location in New South Wales, including towns like Nimmitabel.
Rose Of Winds
Rose Of Winds
Set in Australia in the 1920s,this wonderful movie tells the story of sheepdrover Mitchum, wife Kerr and son Anderson, drifting through the Australian wilderness,never settling down.Tired of constantly being on the move Kerr wants a home for her family,but Mitchum is insensitive to his family's wishes.

Deborah Kerr gives a fantastic performance that brings to life even the inner emotions of her character.She's never been better.Robert Mitchum is very believable in his assignment.It's perhaps one of his most complex roles.Also Peter Ustinov scores a triumph:A man too irresponsible to have a family of his own,and therefore clings to Mitchum and Kerr's family. The story isn't much on paper,but Fred Zinnemann's imaginative direction gives the incidents the needed emotions. Beautiful cinematography and sock performances from the rest of the cast makes this a movie you shouldn't miss.
Enditaling
Enditaling
For such a gifted actor as Robert Mitchum to go unrecognized by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is a shame and makes one glad that George C. Scott did what he did in refusing to receive the Oscar for his amazing work in "Patton." I don't want to mention Marlon Brando because I'm still not certain what he was up to. He seemed to want attention more than to make a statement when he flaunted the Academy. Added to this shame is the same Academy virtually ignoring Mitchum's co-star in this movie Deborah Kerr, also deserving of more formal recognition for her contributions to the Hollywood dream machine. Anyone who has any doubt about the outstanding acting abilities of these two stars needs only watch "The Sundowners" to see where I'm coming from. The rest of the cast in "The Sundowners" add to the overall effectiveness of the movie, especially the brilliance of Peter Ustinov.

There is really not much of a story. The film is more of a character study of a vagabond with a wife and a son who is trying to make a living as a sheep drover in the outback of Australia. He encounters a rather mysterious man Rupert Venneker (Ustinov) who becomes his hired hand to help with the sheep. Paddy Carmody (Mitchum) is very happy with this hand to mouth existence, living in a tent or sleeping out amongst the stars, keeping a little change in a jar, but his wife and son prefer a more settled existence, dreaming of owning their own ranch. Director Fred Zinnemann captures the essence of vagabond life down under filming on location in Australia, showing the exotic wild life in all its beauty and spender. Technicolor and wide-screen heighten the viewers enjoyment of this tale of dreams fulfilled and unfulfilled in a land that is still somewhat mysterious to the average American.

Of special note is the Australian music used by Zinnemann. In the first pub scene Mitchum bellows out in a drunken Aussie accent one of John Ford's favorites, "Wild Colonial Boy," but then sings a ballad that is seldom heard on the big screen, "Botany Bay," about the infamous penal colony from which modern Australia sprang. The versatile Robert Mitchum was also a singer and songwriter. He helped write the music of his production of "Thunder Road" and even had somewhat of a hit recording of the title song in 1958. Rupert Venneker (Ustinov) makes fun of Paddy's voice in "The Sundowners," but actually it wasn't bad.

This is a rather long film, over two hours, but a highly enjoyable one. I first saw it on the big screen when I was a senior in high school. It was one of those flicks that stays with a person. I've had the pleasure of seeing it a few more times since. It is still as fresh and as good as when first released.
Grarana
Grarana
I have a few "special" movies. This is one of them. It's about people needing people---like "Breakfast at Tiffanys." Can you imagine two more different movies. But, the theme is the same, really. We need each other. This movie is 100% honest. No gimmicks. Only one in a thousand movies can claim that. You can have your "Citizen Kane" or your "Casablanca." I'll take this movie. In a heartbeat. A wonderful story, a wonderful director, real people. Honesty. Every inch of the movie is a joy. It's the kind of movie I can watch over and over. It's a love story, really, isn't it. But, it's a love story of two people who have been married a long time. How rare is that. And, a story of a wonderful culture. And, the music is quite beautiful, I think.
Flas
Flas
Robert Mitchum had one undeniable talent as an actor, his phenomenal ability to pick up and use any kind of accent or dialect. I can't think of another actor who could have so convincingly played a New England hood in The Friends of Eddie Coyle, native Irish in Ryan's Daughter and A Terrible Beauty, and pure Australian in The Sundowners. Although the rest of the cast is great, it's his performance that pivots the whole film.

The movie itself is amazing in that the characters created are so engaging that even though the film really has no plot, just a series of connected wanderings, you enjoy it nevertheless. The film ending is also offbeat. Normally you would think that Deborah Kerr would win out in her desire to settle down on a farm. But unusual for Hollywood she gives in to Mitchum's wanderlust.

In their travels herding sheep through rural Australia of the 1920s these people, hardworking and living close to the poverty line look like their lives are fun. Like Mitchum's Paddy Carmody says he has no worries and no ulcers because he doesn't own any property or has any money in the bank. A whole lot like the real Mitchum in his Kerouac like youth. It's what makes this film just good fun.
Cenneel
Cenneel
"The Sundowners" was a favourite movie of mine at the time of its initial release in 1960,and watching it again recently it still came across as a an engaging and pleasant little movie but one that perhaps has lost something of its impact with the passing years,ones in which Australian movies and actors have come to the fore internationally.In 1960 it was considered necessary to import two Hollywood names to give world wide box office appeal,something not necessary today with performers like Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett.(Of the egregious,smarmy self -centred Anglophobe Mr Gibson I will remain silent) Sundowners are itinerants ,moving from place to place in a small wagon picking up work on an as and when basis.The Carmody family-Paddy,Ida and teenage son Sean -are one such but while Paddy is content with the life the others are keen to put down roots and buy a farm. The picaresque tale tells of how the family as they drift across Australia finding work at a sheep station,becoming race horse owners etc gradually resolve their conflicts En route they meet a nomadic upper class Englishman,played as well as ever by Ustinov who acts as a kind of comic relief as he dispenses well honed epigrams The central section dealing with life on the sheep ranch is the best with some richly comic scenes including a shearing contest and some bar room scenes straight out of John Ford

The accents of Kerr and Mitchum are not secure or convincing but they carry the roles through sheer star power and their are strong contributions fron Glynis Johns and John Meillon

Still enjoyable but a remake with indigenous actors would be an interesting idea Still,all in all a bitter-sweet little gem of a movie I am glad I saw it again
Love Me
Love Me
Anyone who enjoys the tales of the pioneers' trials to carve a nation out of the wilderness will enjoy the The Sundowners. The cast as would be expected is superb. It's a treat to see quintessential American tough-guy-with-a-soft-spot Robert Mitchum, one of my all-time favorite actors, pull of an Aussie accent. Deborah Kerr as the long-suffering but loyal wife and devoted mother is also worthy of high praise. Peter Ustinov and his English accent provide great comic relief. All in all, very good entertainment and insight into a lifestyle not familiar to the general American public, 7/10.
Uickabrod
Uickabrod
I saw this movie twice, but would never hurry to see it again. While Deborah Kerr, Robert Mitchum, Peter Ustinov, and Michael Anderson, Jr. were rather convincing in their roles, the movie was was insipid. Again, Robert Mitchum did well as Paddy...the sheep drover who wanted to never settle down...and Deborah Kerr seemed to click with him as she portrayed Ida, the wife who, though she loved him, was at a conflict with him, since she did not want to keep on going across Australia.

But, there was really no story, basically. They stopped, slept, started again the next day, and that was it. While the movie was wholesome, again, it was just there, and nothing would motivate me to sit through it another time.
Dorizius
Dorizius
First of all, this is one of the most gorgeous films to look at that I have ever seen. Although I can't at this point identify the processing, I suspect Cinemascope, which produced results that, in films of 40- or 50-year vintage, are superior to the best of today's cheaper, inferior techniques. The brilliant color, combined with the superb cinematography of the grandeur of the Australian outback. make the movie a big piece of eye candy. The performances, too, are first-rate, from a wonderful cast (Mitchum, Kerr, Ustinov, Glynis Johns - who could ask for better?), and the story is a warmly human one which draws us in. However, having said that, and having enjoyed the movie immensely, one doesn't feel the desire to see it again, as one does with similar movies that have a more deeply textured story, e.g. The Quiet Man. I think it is just that the story, though interesting on a superficial level, does not have the depth or complexity to make the film a 'keeper'. However, the Australian Tourist Bureau should be eternally grateful.
JOIN
JOIN
This was a unique western in that (1) there are no villains; (2) no gunfighters and gunfight and (3) only one man is shot in the whole film.

Most of it is a simple story of "Sundowners:" a group of migrant-type workers who go from job to job - in this case as "sheep drovers." These workers never have a permanent place to call home.

In this particular story, the wife (Deborah Kerr) and their teenage boy (Michael Anderson Jr.) want a home while the husband (Robert Mitchum) doesn't want to settle down in one place. It may have American actors but the scene is Australia. I found a number of the accents hard to decipher. Peter Ustinov, Glynis Johns and Dina Merrill all add to this impressive cast, which provides a lesson in solid acting. Ustinov's character adds humor to the film, and the scenery is nice to ogle.

You'd think with all these positive points I would rate this film higher, but something was missing, perhaps a little excitement. This is too low-key. The ending was kind of strange: not a a happy one but not unhappy either.

Yeah, it's a nice family story but not one I would go out of my way to watch again.
Swordsong
Swordsong
Desptite the "struggles over accents", the dramaturgy went along well and the stringing together of the events in the lives of the Carmody family kept me watching and enjoying what came along. The sheep shearing was believable, and Mitchum's exhaustion was realistic and was genuine.

Debora Kerr's wife was what I, as a male, sympathized with. Tis is not comparable to "Thousand Mile Fence"having to do with Aboriginal experiences. In a way it is a mirror of it in those who had taken over the land in their struggles to survive. My wife and I were there a few years ago, on the east coast, the barrier reef from Kairns down to Sydney, never getting to the outback, so after that we watched every Australian film we could.
Anarius
Anarius
I was a bit disturbed to see a rather vitriolic, negative review of this film. The Sundowners has its faults, and is probably not in "must see" category, but it entertains, pleases and amuses. Its genre should probably be called "adventure lite"...the drama keeps you engaged, but doesn't get the adrenaline going.

The acting is solid (in particular, Ustinov really "completes" the cast nicely), the cinematography is excellent and all in all, it's a good film for a rainy night. I'd agree with the poster who pointed out that you probably won't want to watch it over and over again, but to me, this isn't necessarily a knock on it; after all, think how tedious it would be if all films were as arcane as, say, "Pulp Fiction."

A solid 7 out of 10.
Celak
Celak
There was a time about 30 years ago when 'The Sundowners' seemed to be on television every month. Not any more.

And that's a pity, because it's a great, sprawling story about the life of itinerant workers in the Australian Bush.

Robert Mitchum at his laid-back blokish best and Deborah Kerr lead a great character-driven cast of slightly misfit individuals who follow the trail of ad-hoc labour. It's a feel-good movie which - like all feel-good movies - has lots of little moral things to say. But they are never overstated. There are no bad eggs, no serious villains, just lots of harmless adventures with some serious and comic interplay. It's almost like a musical with the songs removed.

'Sundowners' is a long movie, too, for what it has to say. Not so much a day-in-the-life as a year-in-the-life of this married couple and their youthful teenage son. She is getting tired of the endless trail, of living in a wagon and a tent. She wants a house. He doesn't. He likes the variety and vagary. He hasn't 'dunroamin'.

There are some splendid scenes of post-colonial small-town Australian life before the nation got stroppy and wanted to become an antipodean USA. Cinematography is sweeping and wonderful.

If you're a third-millennium city slicker weened on computer shoot-'em-ups, who can't live without an I-Pad and two mobile phones, then this gradually evolving experience jogging along at cart-horse speed is going to seem slow, uneventful and perhaps rather boring. However, if you can enjoy a piece of well-acted, character-driven drama, that offers a kindly take upon simple human affairs, I think you will find this uplifting and worth the effort.
Ochach
Ochach
Whoopie, BBC2 are showing "The Sundowners" .. i've seen this film so many times over the years ( I'm 48 now) .. It's a great matinée film for a Sunday afternoon, either this or FA Cup football..( Salisbury v Nottingham Forest) .. think i'll plump for Sundowners ,this film has such a cozy feel good atmosphere to it. Ustinov ,Mitcham,Kerr, and that little lad all give excellent performances. ..Ahhh memories!! i remember 1st seeing this film when i was about 8, kneeling in front of the black and white telly, Mum in the kitchen making us a Sunday roast, ( I'm having to pad this film description out as IMDb require at least 10 lines before they'll accept it) .. anyhoo, as i was saying, Mum cooking the Sunday roast, the smell of gravy wafting through into the living room, my brother playing with buttons on the floor ( he liked buttons, don't ask!). Anyhoo, hopefully this should be enough for now, bloody good film.
Lestony
Lestony
Director Fred Zinnemann helmed this wonderful screen-adaptation of Jon Cleary's book about an Australian sheepherder at odds with his headstrong wife: he wants to keep moving, traveling from place to place without putting down roots, while she would prefer settling in one spot to give their teenage son a chance to make friends. Richly-textured comedy-drama comes together splendidly after an awkward beginning. Well-matched Robert Mitchum and Deborah Kerr (reunited from 1957's "Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison") are terrific in the leads, Peter Ustinov equally fine as a bachelor they befriend along the way. A lengthy film, but never a boring one, with beautiful cinematography from Jack Hildyard, memorable characters and set-pieces. Five Oscar nominations, including Glynis Johns for Supporting Actress, but no wins. ***1/2 from ****
Coiron
Coiron
A superb performance by Deborah Kerr, Robert Mitchum, Peter Ustinov, and Glynis Johns. Why has it not been released as a DVD? The son's relation to his parents is good and well presented. Deborah Kerr's great desire for a home, and Robert Mitchum's resistance are realistically presented. Peter Ustinov is torn between devotion to the Carmodys and his desire to wander. The devotion seems to win. Glynis Johns is superb -- she is as good in this as in Mary Poppins. Altogether, a splendid movie.
Wymefw
Wymefw
In "Heaven knows ,Mister Allison" ,Robert Mitchum and Deborah Kerr had a tiny island for themselves ;in "the sundowners " they have the whole Australia.Mrs Carmody wants to settle down ,she wants a home ,she wants her boy to go to school.Mr Carmody registers the same desire ,but always something happens.This family and their friend (Peter Ustinov) are very endearing characters and as you follow them in their two hours + journey ,you never get bored a single minute.And however ,it's not an action-packed story ,all that happens could happen in real life and this simple life is depicted with respect for the audience.The documentary side is very interesting.
Runemane
Runemane
Being an Aussie I was pretty annoyed at some of the reviews in here by Australians. I think you have to be of a certain vintage to appreciate the life of the Australian drover. This was an occupation of former days. Both my grandfathers did it. Not with their families but they took to the road when they needed the work. A nomadic life is what many Australians had to endure as unlike what most people might think, Australians were mostly a poor lot of people with simple comforts. I do believe that Fred Zimmerman has done a brilliant job in capturing a moment in time with the Carmody family. This is my favorite Robert Mitchum movie. His accent was great. The best I have ever heard for an American. Very believable is his character. Deborah Kerr is like many women I once knew. She was also brilliant. I love looking at the scenery to see the beautiful countryside near where I live before it became fenced off with barbed wire everywhere. Great movie, definitely worth watching.
Xangeo
Xangeo
A couple and their teen-aged son roam the Australian outback in the 1920s. Kerr and Mitchum, in the second of the three times the pair teamed up over a four-year period, work well together and provide the star power. Ustinov can deliver droll lines with the best of them. Add in location cinematography under the direction of veteran Zinnemann and everything is there for a sure-fire winner. A key ingredient missing, however, is a compelling story. It's all very pleasant watching the stars interact with the locals, including Johns, Merrill, koala bears, kangaroos, and sheep (lots of sheep), but there is little in the way of plot to sustain interest, especially at a running time exceeding two hours.
Varshav
Varshav
I recently watched Heaven Knows Mr Allison and Kerr and Mitchum made a great team. They were reunited three years later for this Australian family adventure. My taste in movies is usually of the more vicious type of film, such as Pulp Fiction or Reservoir Dogs, and so The Sundowners is strange departure for me. I normally despise Pollyanna styled story lines but I am such an admirer of Robert Mitchum that I gave this one a shot. I was not disappointed in the least as the usually bad tempered actor plays a man prone to wandering with his wife and son throughout Australia's outback and working transient jobs, including one as a sheep shearer. He shows perfect comedic timing and Kerr is excellent as his long suffering wife. Peter Ustinov and Glynis Johns add even more substance to an awesome cast. I have added this film to my favorite of Mitchum,s, along with Cape Fear and Night of the Hunter.
Tamesya
Tamesya
Mild-mannered dramas such as this have never been too common, not just because commerce-savvy producers don't like to gamble on them, but also because they are tough to get right. In the late 50s and 60s however director Fred Zinnemann was making a fair few of them, and gaining respect within the industry as he did so. He is perhaps the only Hollywood filmmaker of any generation who could really thrive on this kind of picture. But what really determined whether a Zinnemann picture was going to be a success or a failure was the suitability of the cast.

What pictures like this don't need is the passionate, dedicated acting of the young "method" followers - too much power and presence. But neither do they need the likability and restraint of, say, James Stewart or Gary Cooper - not real enough for this world. No, a picture like this is only suited to players who strike that balance between expressiveness and believability. So thank goodness we have Deborah Kerr and Robert Mitchum, performers do not claim to become their characters, but simply play them with sincerity. And thank goodness for Peter Ustinov and Glynis Johns - animated eccentrics, but in a way that seems natural, so you could almost believe they were well-meaning members of the public who wandered onto the set and were given a job out of sympathy. These people are not likable in the manner of familiar screen personalities, but they are likable in the way that real people in our lives could be, and it is this factor that gives their fairly mundane story its appeal.

The 1950s had seen Zinnemann's transition from extrovert expressionist to sensitive impressionist. Rather than roughly forcing us to take on the protagonists point-of-view with subjective camera angles and mood-based lighting schemes, he now gently encourages us to see the world the way the characters do. He begins the Sundowners by immersing us in the beauty and harmony of the outdoors, with tiny patterns of movement that are common to almost all of his pictures - trees standing proud in a caressing breeze, horses idly flicking their tails. He devotes an unusual amount of time to shots irrelevant to the narrative, taking time to admire the beauty of a scene or follow creatures scurrying through the bush. This broad focus gives us the feeling that the Carmodys are simply a part of this environment. In the outdoor scenes there are a great deal of pans and sideways tracking shots, keeping up the feel of people always on the move. And some of these are fantastically well-timed, such as the sharp pan as Robert pulls up just after Kerr has been watching a well-to-do woman applying makeup.

But even the most mild-mannered drama cannot exist without some conflict. The conflict in the Sundowners is never the subject of a major scene or confrontation; it is played out in quiet, by-the-way moments, and mostly upon the face of Deborah Kerr. Although she and Mitchum are both leads, and in fact Mitchum probably has the more lines and screen time, Kerr's character is at the dramatic heart of the story. Scenes like the fistfight or the sheep-shearing contest are simply diversions - it is Ida's frustration at being torn between loyalty to her husband and her own desire to settle down and have a real home that really drives the plot forward. Isobel Lennart's screenplay cleverly hides her struggle in amongst all the scenes of humour and warmth so as not to unbalance the overall feel of the picture. And Zinnemann is smart enough to draw this strand of the story out, treating Kerr to close-ups at key moments, keeping her held in unbroken takes in the rare moments of stillness. Most of all however we have Kerr's own performance, a little against type but probably closer to the woman she was in real life. In keeping with the character, her words and movements are simply getting on with the business of living, and yet she provides a subtle commentary on proceedings with her face. It is her contribution more than anyone else's that brings together the two threads of the Sundowners - the straightforward depiction of life as it happens and a direct and involving emotional honesty.