Hoodwink (1981 film)

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Promotional poster
Directed byClaude Whatham
Produced byPamela M Oliver
Errol Sullivan
Screenplay byKen Quinnell
StarringJohn Hargreaves
Judy Davis
Dennis Miller
Music byCameron Allan
CinematographyDean Semler
Edited byNicholas Beauman
Release date
5 November 1981
Running time
89 min
BudgetAU $950,000[1]

Hoodwink is a 1981 Australian thriller film directed by Claude Whatham and written by Ken Quinnell. It stars John Hargreaves and Judy Davis. The film is based on the true story of a well-publicised Australian con artist. It was nominated for eight Australian Film Institute Awards, with Davis winning the Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role.


Martin Stang, a bank robber (Hargreaves) finds himself behind bars and decides to pursue another con job; his escape. He does this by attempting to convince prison authorities that he is blind and no longer poses a threat to society. Along his journey he befriends a sexually-repressed clergyman's wife, Sarah (Davis). The pair become intimate during Martin's day release but his con is complicated when he reveals to Sarah that he is not in fact blind.[2]



The film is based on the true story of Carl Synnerdahl, a convict who posed as a blind man to get a lighter sentence and had been forced to keep up the deception.[3] He told his story to literary agent Rosemary Cresswell, who was doing some work for the Department of Corrective Services, who in turn told the story to producer Errol Sullivan. Several directors were approached to make the movie but turned it down, including Bruce Beresford, Michael Thornhill, Phillip Noyce and Esben Storm. Eventually British director Claude Whatham was imported, which was highly controversial because the movie was made with funds from the Australian tax payer.[1]


The film was not a large success at the box office. However Carl Synnerdahl was released from prison on Errol Sullivan's bond after serving 21 years in prison and he remarried and had three children.[1]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Australian Film Institute Awards


  1. ^ a b c David Stratton, The Avocado Plantation: Boom and Bust in the Australian Film Industry, Pan MacMillan, 1990 p253-255
  2. ^ Hoodwink (1981) Prison movies. Retrieved on 4 June 2011
  3. ^ "Prisoner's blind ambition becomes a million dollar movie". The Australian Women's Weekly. National Library of Australia. 18 March 1981. p. 186 Supplement: TV WORLD. Retrieved 14 July 2013.

External links[edit]