Raw Deal (1977)

Country: Australia
Director: Russell Hagg
Starring: Gerard Kennedy, Gus Mercurio, Rod Mullinar, Christopher Pate, Hu Pryce, Norman Yemm, John Cousins, Michael Carman
Music: Ronald Edgeworth

In the 1970s, two of the most popular actors in Australia were Gerard Kennedy and Gus Mercurio who starred in the television series Tandarra (1976), which was a period piece set in colonial Australia. I remember thinking it was the best show on television as a kid – I couldn’t have been more than eight or nine years old. It seems strange now, to realise that there were only 13 episodes made. I must have watched a lot of repeats – or get it confused with Cash and Company, which was made a year earlier, and starred Mercurio as the same character.

The chemistry on screen between Gus and Kennedy was a key ingredient to the show, and it was not so surprising that they were teamed up once again for Raw Deal, a kangaroo western. I saw Raw Deal in the mid 1980s, when it was released on VHS, and thought it was pretty damn good. But it is one of those movies that has all but disappeared off the face of the earth. I have spent the last fifteen years hunting high and low for a copy.

At last a copy has landed in my lap. Is the film as good as I remember? Short answer: Yes!

Gus Mercurio discusses the benefits of a Winchester rifle

The story starts in an un-named rural settlement. A gang of marauders, known as the Tyrones ride into town, assemble the town folk, and then begin to steal their money and jewelery. However two men refuse to acquiesce to the Tyrone’s wishes. They are Palmer (Gerard Kennedy) – a man with a reputation as a mercenary; and Ben (Gus Mercurio) – an American gun salesman, who just so happens to have a supply of the latest Winchester repeater rifles.

Naturally enough, a gunfight ensues – with Palmer and Ben, despite being outnumbered, proving their gun-fighting prowess.

Gerard Kennedy & Gus Mercurio teaching the Tyrones some manners

Palmer and Ben’s fighting prowess bring them to the attention of an English powerbroker named Sir Charles (John Cousins). Sir Charles is worried about the Tyrone’s increasing numbers. They are almost like a small army, and it is feared they may start a rebellion (remembering that when this movie is set, Australia was still an English colony). He attributes their strength to their charismatic and daring leader, an Irishman named, O’Neil (Norman Yemm). Sir Charles figures if O’Neil was assassinated, the threat would be contained.

But he needs assassins, and Palmer and Ben appear to be perfect for the job. For a hefty fee, they agree to do Sir Charles’ dirty work.

Young Dick (Christopher Pate) about to be cured of his virginity

However, as brave and undoubtedly talented with a gun they may be, two men against an army is sheer folly. So they recruit some men to assist with their daring raid. They include: womanising ‘dandy’, Alex (Rod Mullinar), seasoned soldier, Ned (Hu Pryce), and young con-man, Dick (Christopher Pate).

The five men, armed with a hearse full of dynamite, set off across the desert to take on the Tyrones. And of course, the odds are stacked against them, but never for a moment does it appear like they are outmatched.

However, as the movie is called ‘Raw Deal’, there is some treachery involved at the climax – and once again Palmer and Ben’s gun fighting skills are put to the test.

Kennedy and Gus blasting their way to freedom

As Raw Deal has no nudity, or ultra violence, it flew under the radar when Ozploitation became popular due to the documentary, Not Quite Hollywood. The film still remains MIA, but I hope someone like Madman or Umbrella choose to seek it out, and get it out there on DVD or Bluray. It’s a good solid western, that should have a better reputation, and deserves to be seen.

Thanks to ST, for helping me acquire a copy of this gem of a movie.

12 Comments Posted in Film, Film and Cinema
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  1. Christopher Pate

    Thanks David for your kind comments. Would love a copy, to show my kids. Best wishes, Christopher.

  2. I remember this movie. I saw it in the early 80s and really really loved it. My whole family did. And you are right. The movie has disappeared from the face of the earth. I have searched for it so many times.

  3. I would love a copy too but I can’t find one anywhere. I have even been in email contact with some friends of gus mercurio to see if they can get or have one. Everyone in this movie was great. Can’t believe it did so poorly. I think I saw it on cable in the early to mid eighties and everyone I knew that watched loved it. Seems such a shame for it to just be gone

  4. I too would LOVE to see this film! My dad was in the stunt crew and I would love to see if I can spot the particular stunt he did.

    I have heard the stories of the shoot but have never so much as seen a still shot until now so thankyou very much for posting this :)

  5. I don’t know if this will lead anywhere, but Umbrella Entertainment released ‘Cash & Co’ on DVD five days ago. I am guessing if it does well, they would follow up with ‘Tandarra’… and then???


  6. How do I get a copy ??

  7. I have been searching for a copy if this movie for years. How can I get one? Can you send a digital file? Anything? Thanks…:)

  8. I just love this film. Would love to get a copy!!!!! Would pay a decent amount for a disk.

  9. I would really like to get a copy of this classic film, saw it back in the early 80’s and loved it. Please is there anyway you can get me a copy? Thanks in advance, waiting patiently.

  10. Greetings, David F. Like you, I’m seeking a copy of RAW DEAL (as you no doubt know, I sang the theme song, which I released on a recent CD, incidentally). So, if you hear of a release, I’d love to hear from you. Thanks in anticipation.

  11. Thats awesome of you to respond to the site Margaret!!! For anyone interested here is a site offering a download of the movie from a foreign VHS release, the movie is in english with subtitles but its the best I could find. If you have another let me know.


  12. Mike Saunders

    Hi I have got a copy of this film on dvd I got it years ago it was copied from a video from Australia but I would like another copy on dvd if possible my copy cost me £35 . I would like to have a clearer copy if possible . Thanks

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