Kangaroo (1952) starring Maureen O'Hara, Peter Lawford, Finlay Currie, Richard Boone, Chips Rafferty, Charles 'Bud' Tingwell directed by Lewis Milestone Movie Review

Kangaroo (1952)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Maureen O'Hara as Dell McGuire in Kangaroo (1952)

O'Hara Down Under

"Kangaroo" which sometimes is known as "The Australian Story" is really little more than a typical western, with recognizable western actors but with a storyline set in Australia. Does it make it anymore special? Not at all and to be honest with the exception of a couple of kangaroos and a scene feature Aborigines, which feels like something National Geographic it would have made, "Kangaroo" is ordinary. And that is a bit of a surprise because the cast includes Maureen O'Hara, Peter Lawford, Richard Boone and Finlay Currie but an ordinary idea, ordinary dialogue and barely a couple of scenes of excitement makes it just a run of a mill movie.

Criminals Richard Connor (Peter Lawford - Royal Wedding) and John W. Gamble (Richard Boone) are on the run from the law for killing a man hook up with land owner Michael McGuire (Finlay Currie) with a plan for Richard to pretend to be Michael's long lost son Dennis in order to get their hands on his money and land. But the old man's land and cattle is worth little since the drought and unless they can persuade Michael to make a fight of saving it there will be nothing. And to complicate matters Richard grows fond of Michael's pretty daughter Dell (Maureen O'Hara) except if he is meant to be her brother nothing can happen.

Richard Boone and Peter Lawford in Kangaroo (1952)

So to put it simply "Kangaroo" is just a western set in Australia and plays out like any typical 50s western with bad guys, the law, some drama and a touch of romance. In fairness the basic storyline of Richard and John planning to trick Michael into believing Richard is his long lost son is not that bad but what follows is ordinary as we get to see them work the land, shifting cattle and dealing with fires because everywhere is dry. And it is just as ordinary when it comes to the romance as Richard and Dell fall for each other because it doesn't take a genius to work out how things will play out with a bad guy becoming a good guy.

All of this makes "Kangaroo" average but it does have a few scenes which stick out for some right things and some very wrong things. The wrong is a very corny scene where whilst moving cattle they come across a tribe of Aborigines and we have a National Geographic style scene as we learn all about a tradition dance they do dressed as the animals they eat. Thankfully the couple of action scenes, one featuring a whip fight and another with an out of control windmill blade are more impressive, not amazing but compared to the rest of the movie are a welcome burst of excitement.

In a way the most disappointing aspect of "Kangaroo" is the acting because the cast of Maureen O'Hara, Peter Lawford, Richard Boone and Finlay Currie were all more capable than what they delivered here. But in truth the problem comes from flat characters and some incredibly unnatural dialogue which makes many of the interactions feel false and staged.

What this all boils down to is that "Kangaroo" might be set in Australia and actually filmed there but what you get is a routine western. It's not terrible and the basic idea is not bad but it isn't a movie where you feel the urge to watch it again.