Hammers Over the Anvil (1991) from Tuna and Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Tuna's comments in yellow

Australian made Hammers Over the Anvil (1991) is a relatively unknown coming of age film about a boy, Alan Marshall, who is crippled, probably by polio, but tries not to let it slow him down. His biggest dream is to ride horses like his hero, East, who is a loner, but hero to all the boys in town, and an object of lust for all of the young women. In the opening scene, East is bathing nude in a stream with his horses, while Alan talks about him.

Charlotte Rampling plays the part of a rich married woman who befriends Alan. Alan discovers that she is having an affair with East when he catches them together in East's stable. It is only a matter of time until her adultery is found out.

Charlotte and Russel Crowe (East) are magic together. Her cool, sophisticated sensuality and his rugged looks and disposition create great chemistry.

Alexander Outhred won an Australian best newcomer award for his portrayal of Alan. The locations are spectacular, and the photography breathtaking. If you enjoy coming of age stories/romance/character driven drama, this is one worth seeing.


Charlotte Rampling (then 46) was seen in a sex scene with Crowe. There is one decent (faceless) close-up of a breast. the rest of the scene is dark and distant from the camera, from the boy's P.O.V.

Russell Crowe begins the film naked, and continues that way in a prolonged and joyful horseback scene which has now earned him some notoriety on the internet. (No clear frontal, but a great scene)

Scoopy's comments: Tuna and I rarely disagree on films, but I have some reservations about this one, which I also watched today. How's that for a coincidence? To make the coincidence even spookier, there was a news service article about this film today, talking about Crowe's nude scene on horseback! That's probably the most attention the film has had in one day since it was made

I like the film itself and Tuna described it perfectly. I agree with what he said, but rent it for the story, don't buy it for the visuals. I would caution you strongly against buying the DVD. There are no features at all, and the DVD mastering is absolutely terrible - dark and often out of focus during the frame transitions.. The original scenery must have been spectacular, indeed, but the colors aren't vivid enough on the DVD to really show it off properly.

DVD info from Amazon.

It's a dark transfer, often blurry, and has no significant features.

Also, I thought Charlotte Rampling looked painfully old and tired, old enough to be playing Crowe's mom, not his lover. And, indeed, she is old enough to be his mother. She will be 56 next month, Crowe is 36. (The film is 9 years old)

Sidebar - did you know that the only other movie directed by this woman is the very quirky and obscure Sandra Bernhard movie Dallas Doll?

The Critics Vote

  • No reviews online

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary IMDb voters score it a near-classic 7.0.
My guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a B-. You will be surprised how good it is, and its honesty will win you over even if you aren't into sensitive coming of age movies.

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