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Waterfront – Episode 1 (1984)


It’s 1928 and the waterfront unions in Melbourne are gearing up for a struggle with the shipowners who are trying to take away hard-won wages and working conditions from the wharfies. Meanwhile in Italy, Mussolini’s Blackshirts are forcing many Italian socialists to flee the country. When a group of them arrive in Australia to escape fascism, their lives soon become entangled with the wharfies with tragic results.

Curator’s notes

Scriptwriter Mac Gudgeon first approached producer Bob Weis with an idea for a feature film. Bob suggested it should be rewritten as a television miniseries because it would damage the story if it had to be abridged to feature film length. The series was bought by Channel 10 virtually sight unseen although soon after the contracts were signed, Channel 10 got cold feet and wanted to reduce the 6 hours of the miniseries to 4, by deleting the subtitled Italian segments. Bob Weis stood his ground pointing out that the contract for 6 hours was already signed. In the end the series rated extremely well. Bob recalls that the publicist Eileen O’Shea contributed enormously to its success.