Australian dockyard workers go on strike. Immigrant Italian workers are brought in as scab labour. In the midst of all this, an Italian woman meets & falls in love with one of the ... See full summary »




4 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »


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Series cast summary:
Jack Thompson ...  Maxey Woodbury 3 episodes, 1984
Greta Scacchi ...  Anna Chieri 3 episodes, 1984
Warren Mitchell ...  Laughing Les 3 episodes, 1984
Noni Hazlehurst ...  Maggie 3 episodes, 1984
Ray Barrett ...  Sam Elliott 3 episodes, 1984
Chris Haywood ...  Ernie Donaldson 3 episodes, 1984
Jay Mannering Jay Mannering ...  Davo 3 episodes, 1984
Elin Jenkins Elin Jenkins ...  Vera Donaldson 3 episodes, 1984
Frank Gallacher Frank Gallacher ...  Paddy Ryan 3 episodes, 1984
Jan Friedl Jan Friedl ...  Sheila Ryan 3 episodes, 1984
Mark Little ...  Allan Williams 3 episodes, 1984
Tony Rickards ...  Snowy Williams 3 episodes, 1984
Eileen Chapman Eileen Chapman ...  Flo Williams 3 episodes, 1984
Edward Hepple Edward Hepple ...  Harry Geahry 3 episodes, 1984
Sylvie Fonti Sylvie Fonti ...  Teresa Callini 3 episodes, 1984
Peter Sardi Peter Sardi ...  Paolo Callini 3 episodes, 1984
Joseph Spano Joseph Spano ...  Giorgio 3 episodes, 1984
Simon Chilvers ...  Cross 3 episodes, 1984
Wyn Roberts ...  Inspector Legge 3 episodes, 1984
David Cameron ...  Albert Maple-Brown 3 episodes, 1984
Bruce Myles Bruce Myles ...  Premier Hogan 3 episodes, 1984
John Lee ...  Governor 3 episodes, 1984
Anthony Hawkins Anthony Hawkins ...  Sir William McPherson 3 episodes, 1984
Kirk Alexander Kirk Alexander ...  Commissioner Blamey 3 episodes, 1984
Robert Meldrum Robert Meldrum ...  Parsons 3 episodes, 1984
Wilfred Last Wilfred Last ...  Purcell 3 episodes, 1984
Peter Black Peter Black ...  Joe Webb 3 episodes, 1984
Roy Baldwin Roy Baldwin ...  Carruthers 3 episodes, 1984
Ian Mortimer Ian Mortimer ...  Cameron 3 episodes, 1984
Robert Morgan ...  McRae 3 episodes, 1984
Julio Dalleore Julio Dalleore ...  Ottavio Jnr 3 episodes, 1984
Melissa Colosimo Melissa Colosimo ...  Bianca 3 episodes, 1984
Dan Lynch Dan Lynch ...  Johnno 3 episodes, 1984
Kashi Ross Kashi Ross ...  Maureen 3 episodes, 1984
Stephen Tulloch Stephen Tulloch ...  Peter 3 episodes, 1984
Amanda Ferraro Amanda Ferraro ...  Eileen 3 episodes, 1984
Tracy Harvey Tracy Harvey ...  Ruby 3 episodes, 1984
Victor Kazan Victor Kazan ...  Youngman 3 episodes, 1984
William Gluth William Gluth ...  Vance 3 episodes, 1984
Harold Badger Harold Badger ...  Conductor / ... 3 episodes, 1984
Bruce Atkins Bruce Atkins 3 episodes, 1984
Sally Cooper Sally Cooper ...  Mary 3 episodes, 1984
Ralph Cotterill Ralph Cotterill ...  Prime Minister 3 episodes, 1984
Lindy Davies Lindy Davies ...  Victoria Maple-Brown 3 episodes, 1984
John Karlsen ...  Professor Chieri 3 episodes, 1984
Gennaro Pellone Gennaro Pellone ...  Mr. Chieri 3 episodes, 1984


Australian dockyard workers go on strike. Immigrant Italian workers are brought in as scab labour. In the midst of all this, an Italian woman meets & falls in love with one of the Australians. Written by Steve Crook <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Romance







Release Date:

19 March 1984 (Australia) See more »

Filming Locations:

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Company Credits

Production Co:

Generations Films See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


(3 episodes)

Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


This movie marks the first of 3 times the Jack Thompson and Greta Scacchi have worked together. Burke & Wills (1985) was second and Turtle Beach (1992) was third. See more »

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User Reviews

An engrossing mini-series on the violent labour disputes of 1920s Australia
21 December 2005 | by bamptonjSee all my reviews

Set in late 1920s Melbourne, WATERFRONT begins with the Waterside Workers' Union refusing to abide by the award-conditions handed down with the Court of Conciliation and Arbitration. The waterfronts of Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Melbourne are effectively shut down. Nationalist Party Prime Minister, Stanley Bruce, authorizes legislation permitting the employment of non-union labour on the wharves and the shipping bosses respond by hiring newly arrived Italian immigrants desperate for work. These 'scabs' face expected bitter resentment by the Union as well as shameful and overt racial intimidation and abuse.

The ruse of 'free labourers' ultimately works in all the capital cities but Melbourne, where the Union executive is strong and determined. Not only are the bosses determined to ride the storm out, but the union comes under increasing hostility from other sections of the community - the strike's consequences extend into neighbouring industries which, starved of raw materials and export passages, are forced to make redundancies. WATERFRONT portrays the eviction, poverty, and racism with deft sensitivity, never retreating into gross caricatures.

While the State Labor Government, with a paper-thin majority, is put in the unenviable position of having to support the unions - its political base - it must find a seemingly illusive solution to a problem that is crippling the state. The Victorian Opposition plans to introduce a motion of no-confidence in the government, and courts the patrician Governor-General, who ultimately dismisses the incumbent government.

Jack Thompson turns in a lovely performance as Max Woodbury, an apolitical, but happy go-lucky minor Union official, who has the leadership thrust upon him after the deaths of circuit-breaker Sam (Syd Barrett) and principled, but naive socialist (Chris Haywood). Greta Scacchi plays the beautiful Anna Chieri, the resourceful daughter of a political professor who has recently escaped from Mussolini's Italy. Her father is killed in a bungled attempt at scaring-off Woodbury, into whose arms she walls when she seeks out her father's murderers.

There are some strong female roles here as wives of the strikers who ultimately come to value 'people over principles.' This is a splendidly photographed piece, with great attention to period authenticity. The entrenched racism the Italians experience is portrayed in a realistic and often brutal way. This is Old Australia where beer is drunken with steak-and-eggs or mixed-grill, everything is closed on Sunday (to the amazement of even continental Catholics!) and the billy-clubs have never been shinier. To its credit, the filmmaker's never imposes a simple solution on the crisis, and while broadly pro-Union, never paint the shipping bosses as irredeemably, rabid, capitalist machine-men.

It is difficult to maintain unquestioned sympathy and respect with the union's position, when many of its members being painted (probably very truthfully) as sexist bigots. WATERFRONT could very easily have been condense into an enjoyable movie, or perhaps even expanded into a full-blown series that expanded into Australian life during the 1920s more generally. At 300 minutes, WATERFRONT might be a little bit too long. The Third Act romance between Thompson and Scacchi seems a hackneyed plot device, although the two perform their parts exceptionally.

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