The Picture Show Man is gently nostalgic. It’s another episodic tale set in Australia’s past about a lovable old man (representing Britain and traditionalism) that has difficulty accepting change, and a younger man (Australia) who must learn to stand on his feet.Director John Power and writer-producer Joan Long make the period setting believable - art direction and costumes are also fine. John Meillon is just right as the showman, and John Ewart entertaining as his pianist. Harold Hopkins from Don’s Party plays Meillon’s son. Rod Taylor is well cast as Pym’s American rival, although he doesn’t have a great deal to do. Judy Morris is odd (too old perhaps for the role?) as a flighty dance instructor.
The film’s chief problem is the script. Most Australians probably know nothing about the travelling cinema exhibitors of the silent and early sound era. The backdrop is fascinating, but the screenplay struggles to attach an interesting story to it. Occasionally, The Picture Show Man just seems to run out of steam.A lively score from Peter Best (including a jaunty theme song) helps move the film over the slow patches.