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Money Movers (1979)


On the day that one of his armoured cars is robbed, Lionel Darcy (Frank Wilson) receives an anonymous tip off that his multi-million dollar counting house will soon be hit. A corrupt detective (Alan Cassell) passes this information to crime boss Jack Henderson (Charles Tingwell), who sees a business opportunity. He takes control of the robbery plot from a senior Darcys employee, Eric Jackson (Terence Donovan), but a tough ex-cop (Ed Devereaux) makes sure the raid does not go according to plan.

Curator’s notes

Money Movers was ahead of its time, and may have suffered because of that. The film opened early in 1979, and failed badly, but it was not alone – 1979 was the worst year for Australian films, in box-office terms, since the new wave of Australian cinema had begun.

Money Movers is a 'crime procedural’, a genre that is now much more popular. It documents, with cynical precision, a complex series of plots to steal $20 million in cash. What’s unusual about the script is that it shows the plots to foil the robbery in equally complex and cynical detail. Bruce Beresford based the script on extensive research, and a book by Devon Minchin, who had founded a company like Darcys in Sydney in the mid-1950s. The insider knowledge gives it great authenticity, but Beresford shapes this into something bigger – a film about masculinity at its most predatory. Money is not the only motivator.

It’s one of the few films of the 1970s that deal with crime and police corruption as an entrenched state of being, and one of the earliest to embrace extremely violent action. The finale is somewhat apocalyptic, but it was made at a time when Australian cinema was moving in that direction – The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith came out in 1978, and Mad Max opened in April 1979, shortly after Money Movers.

The film is said to be loosely based on two real events – the 1970 armed robbery of a Mayne Nickless armoured car, and a raid on the offices of Metropolitan Security Services (the company Minchin founded) by bandits dressed as police, also in 1970.