Malcolm (1986 movie) is by far some of director Nadia Tass' best work: the story of an autistic, reclusive tram enthusiast named Malcolm (Colin Friels) who, upon being fired from his job, takes in Frank (John Hargreaves) and Judith (Lindy Davies) as boarders. Frank slowly draws Malcolm into a life of crime, and Malcolm's genius with gadgets brings in an element of fun, as well as bringing in the cash for the trio.
"It's a getaway car, Frank." Malcolm's skills with electronics would be unparalleled in the realTM world. Arguably the most famous gadgets in the film are that of the getaway car - one that splits in half down the middle, and allows both driver and passenger to drive each half like a motorbike - and the ashtray-bins that open up to reveal... a clown's head. (Like the ones you see in sideshows where you put the pingpong balls in their mouths and stuff. You don't know those clowns? Jeez. Go to a sideshow already.)
"Can I keep me tram?" Ironically, Malcolm's fascination with trams is what starts the ball rolling: at work with trams (it is unclear to me what position he holds at the tram depot) he has built himself a working, one-man tram, which he takes for a joyride around the quieter streets of Melbourne in the early hours of the morning, before returning and being fired. However, despite this setback, he maintains his fascination, at one point boring his audience to tears with descriptions of different models of tram.
"Hands up you arseholes." Frank and Judith's arrival into Malcolm's house slowly draws Malcolm into a life of robbing banks. However, Malcolm is not very good at it, and, despite getting away with it, also loses the money on one occasion. Upon seeing this, Frank decides to help Malcolm get away with the money (this time) and Judith comes along for the ride.
"You're turning him onto a bloody crim!" It must be said that initially both Frank and Judith were reluctant to join in on Malcolm's schemes, Judith more so than Frank. However, upon seeing (most notably) the getaway car, Frank is impressed and decides to help Malcolm with the final scheme, which succeeds quite nicely.
This film is full of fun. That is the least that can be said about this heart-warming comedy about three Melburnians - and, as expected, has had praise heaped upon it, shown by the 8 AFI awards it earned. It even scored some positive comments upon its DVD re-release in 2001. Without a doubt, Malcolm is one of Australia's iconic films of the 20th century. 8.5/10
P.S. David Parker (writer) and Nadia Tass collaborated again on the 1990 film "The Big Steal"...