Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Greek studs and disco kings artefact Wednesday - Heartbreak Kid mementos

In the old Lakeside social club, there were many memorable framed jerseys, as well as many of less worthwhile calibre. And yet the two frames included in this week's artefact segment were found not on a wall in the social club, but hidden away in a drawer. The two frames are signed mementos from the Australian film The Heartbreak Kid, which starred Alex Dimitriades and Claudia Karvan. The film is fondly remembered by sections of the Greek-Australian community, if for no other reason that it included Dimitriades in the role of a young Greek Australian stud (as opposed to Dimitriades' turn as the hedonist bisexual Ari in Head On, sometimes derisively called 'that poofter film') as well as for its soccer scenes based out of South Melbourne Hellas, which was one of the film's key sub plots.
'Thanks for the use of your soccer field. Claudia Karvan'
'To everyone at Hellas, thanks! Alex. D.'
The Heartbreak Kid was of course not the first bit of Australian film or television to feature South Melbourne Hellas. The still popular sitcom Acropolis Now would occasionally feature references to South Melbourne Hellas and soccer, including a whole episode centred on a Hellas player played by Russell Crowe. West Adelaide Hellas and Adelaide City Juventus also featured briefly in the now long forgotten Garry McDonald film Struck by Lightning.

For those who recall The Heartbreak Kid (and to a much lesser extent its soapy spinoff Heartbreak High) many would be surprised to learn that the film was originally a play set in a Sydney high school, covering much the same territory, albeit in a far more chaste manner. In the play there's desire, but no sex; there are class issues, but they play second fiddle to the puppy love of a student for his teacher. The movie in that sense has a harder edge. Without wanting to wax philosophical (because the film deserves its own thorough analysis) the migrant issues are portrayed in a much more brutal manner, along with the working class aspect as one of the results of moving the film's setting from Sydney (where the main Greek characters were Sydney Olympic fans) to working class inner Melbourne (the film shot at Prahran High), where Dimitriades' character is a talented player whose ambition is to play for South Melbourne Hellas, as well as (notably) Australia.

The film had several soccer scenes, including extensive filming of Middle Park. Sydneysider Dimitrides is a fine actor, but he ain't no soccer player, and thus for those scenes where his character is required to perform some soccer sequences - especially one memorable late night scene after breaking into Middle Park - Con Boutsianis was hired to be the stunt double, which explains the framed photo below.

'To all the players and members of 'Hellas', thanks for all the help and support!
Special thanks to Barry and of course, the Disco King himself, Con Boutsianis!
Thanks once again, and good luck this season. From a friend. Alex D.'
Ben Hudson has noted on Facebook that "the producers wanted to hire Francis Awaritefe as a soccer consultant, but when they saw how poor Alex was as a player they decided the consultant also needed to be a body double - at which point they switched to Con Boutsianis because Francis couldn't manage it for some reason..."

All of which is, as usual, a very long winded way of saying when we do get the social club up and running, these would be a couple of very nice items to put on display.

5 comments:

  1. Really enjoyed that movie. Haven't seen it for years. Moving out (starring a very young vince colossimo) contained similar themes-a true wog inter gyration classic. Has dated badly though.

    @est1959

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    1. I'm not much of a film buff myself, so haven't seen Moving Out; but I had pegged in memory that Heartbreak Kid would very much be a dated, cringeworthy film, but upn revisiting it I found it's held up remarkably well.

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  2. Thanks for the insight, SotB. I always through The Heartbreak Kid was a very Melbourne story. And, was aghast when the TV series was set in Sh!tney.
    Now I feel a bit silly.

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    1. I think Richard Barrett (the original playwright, who also adapted the play to a screenplay) was a high school teacher before becoming a full time writer. The TV spin off really was quite farcical - I'm not sure how much involvement Barrett had with it.

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  3. I posted the link on Facebook, and got a comment from Ben Hudson about how Boutsi got the stunt double's job, which I've now added to the piece.

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