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Break of Day (1976)

Tom Cooper, a married man recently returned from WWI, falls in love with an artist visiting his country town, but he has misgivings after meeting her city friends.


Ken Hannam


Cliff Green
1 win & 4 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Sara Kestelman Sara Kestelman ... Alice
Andrew McFarlane ... Tom Cooper
Ingrid Mason Ingrid Mason ... Beth
John Bell ... Arthur
Tony Barry ... Joe
Ben Gabriel Ben Gabriel ... Evans
Malcolm Phillips Malcolm Phillips ... Robbie
Dennis Olsen Dennis Olsen ... Roger
Geraldine Turner ... Sandy
Sean Myers Sean Myers ... David
Kate Ferguson Kate Ferguson ... Jean
Graham Midinsky Graham Midinsky ... Billy
Maurie Fields ... Lou (as Maurice Fields)
Eileen Chapman Eileen Chapman ... Susan
Greig Pickhaver Greig Pickhaver ... Gas Victim (as Greg Pickhaver)


Tom Cooper, a married man recently returned from WWI, falls in love with an artist visiting his country town, but he has misgivings after meeting her city friends. Written by David Kinne <davros@gargoyle.apana.org.au>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Gallipoli gave him anger - she gave him passion! [Video Australia] See more »


Drama | History | Romance | War


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Release Date:

31 December 1976 (Australia) See more »

Also Known As:

Al primo chiarore dell'alba See more »

Filming Locations:

Maldon, Victoria, Australia See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Eastmancolor)
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Did You Know?


This movie was filmed during April, May and June 1976. See more »


There is a reference to Alice's house being her Shangri-La. However, 'Shangri-La' was first mentioned in James Hilton's book, Lost Horizon, first published in 1933, this film is set in the early 1920s. See more »


Australia Will Be There
Written by Walter William "Skipper" Francis
Performed by the Marist Singers of Eastwood.
See more »

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User Reviews

Lest we forget
12 April 2016 | by tomsviewSee all my reviews

I saw this movie when it first came out in 1976. Back then I thought it was unusual, but not all that significant. However I never forgot it. Now, 40 years later, I feel it is more unique than I first thought.

It must have been the first film to depict the Australians landing at Gallipoli since "Tell England" in 1931. There have been many depictions since, especially around the 100th Anniversary last year, but "Break of Day" was made quite a few years before mini-series such as "1915", "A Fortunate Life" and "Anzacs". However, with the exception of Peter Weir's Gallipoli, like nearly all films and series since, it didn't capture the scale of the event - no doubt budget being the limiting factor.

In 1976, many veterans of WW1 were still alive, although they would have been around 80-years of age. And yet the Anzac legend had been through a number of evaluations, especially in light of the Vietnam War. The lead character, Tom Cooper (Andrew McFarlane), is the antithesis of the glorification of war, an attitude that reflects 70's sentiment as much as that of the 1920's.

Andrew McFarlane almost seems too good-looking for the part, in the same way that Hollywood's Jeffery Hunter often seemed too handsome for many of his roles. His character, Tom Cooper, is complex; he works on the town newspaper, but seems happier in the bush. His near abandonment of his pregnant wife and the relationship with the much older Alice Hughes (Sara Kestleman) is arresting, and adds to the slightly unsettling nature of the film - there is subtext all over the place, but the film is subtle enough not to spell it out.

The film has a detached quality with the pace and feel of the Merchant Ivory films, which it predates, or even a film such as Fred Zinneman's "Five Days One Summer". The film has many things in its favour including a fine orchestral score by George Dreyfus, and a believable recreation of 1920's rural life in Australia. We see a number of Alice Hughes' paintings, which were beautifully painted by Queensland artist Dale Marsh - it's a small point, but it adds to the texture of the film.

"Break of Day" has atmosphere to spare, and is a movie that doesn't deserve to be totally forgotten.

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