Black And White

True story of controversial Australian murder trial

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If nothing else, Black And White would be memorable for its portrayal of a young Rupert Murdoch, ambitious proprietor of the Adelaide News. The film explores the true story of Max Stuart, an Aboriginal convicted of the rape and murder of a nine-year-old white girl in 1959. Young solicitor David O’Sullivan (Robert Carlyle) is assigned to defend Stuart, and swiftly concludes that his client has been framed by the local police. But the complacent white judiciary have no doubt that Stuart is a murdering pervert, and O’Sullivan is scuppered until Murdoch adopts the case as a populist crusade.

What fascinates the film-makers is how the case aroused furious debate and exposed faultlines in the South Australian police and legal establishment. Charles Dance is supercilious as Crown Solicitor Roderic Chamberlain, and the English appeal judges are some of the ghastliest Poms on celluloid, but the plot grips tighter than the noose threatening to drop around Max Stuart’s neck. Never flashy, but absorbing.


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