HAMMER OVER THE ANVIL (1991) is a little-known Austrailian film that came to prominance ten years after its release when an Internet fansite posted information that it contained a Russell Crowe nude scene. Luckily, for people who are seeking out the film for this purpose, the naked horseback scene is the first thing in the film. Those who want to stick around for the rest of the movie will be treated to a fairly enjoyable coming-of-age story.
The film is told through the eyes of young crippled Alan Marshall (Alexander Outhred), who idolizes East Driscoll (Crowe), the local horse breaker. Alan wishes to overcome his polio and ride a horse. However, Alan learns that East is having an affair with one of Alan's married friends, Grace McAlister (Charlotte Rampling) the plot thickens...
I thought this was a pretty decent "rites of passage" type of film, although it was a bit melodramatic at times. It is directed well and the acting (and casting) is superb. You'll see better movies this year, and you'll see worse... but HAMMERS OVER THE ANVIL is definitely worth watching.
HAMMERS OVER THE ANVIL is presented full-frame (1.33:1). Although I'm not sure what the original ratio should be, I didn't notice any major framing problems with the DVD. Colors are bland and muted and detail is not as sharp as I would have hoped. However, this is definitely not the worst transfer from Fox Lorber/Winstar -- very watchable.
The audio on the DVD is in 2.0 stereo. There is no use of the surrounds at all during the movie. The sound is clear and acceptable, with very little stereo separation.
Except for some brief biographical screens, there are no extras on this title.
This movie was an enjoyable diversion. I wouldn't exactly "recommend" it, but it is definitely worth a rental for anyone who may enjoy a film about the rocky, sometimes painful, process of entering from adolescence into adulthood. (Or anyone who wants to see a naked Russell Crowe, of course!)