Endings are a tricky matter. A movie can contribute unimaginable effort into giving the audience its (fake) blood, (fake) sweat, and (fake) tears, yet one eensy-weensy flawed move in the concluding 15 minutes can derail the entire experience. A single late-inning wrong turn can remove whatever snowballing sense of goodwill was being patiently rolled by the paid professionals. I’m not sure where “Crocodile Dundee” stands these days as a former king of screen comedy in the eyes of the average moviegoer, yet there’s one concrete truth about the picture: it ends absolutely perfectly.
An amiable, endearingly absurd Aussie import that conquered the world in the mid-1980s, “Dundee” might appear a little stiff (and animal unfriendly) to a modern world fully versed in most pop culture from Down Under, but at the time of “Dundee’s” release the novelty was blinding, the filmmaking witty, and star Paul Hogan was an undeniably captivating lead actor/walking tourism ad. Women loved him, men wanted to be him, and pre-teen boys wore out VHS tapes by repeatedly pausing the scene where co-star Linda Kozlowski strips down to a thong swimsuit for a foolhardy refreshment break in the croc-infested outback.
Hogan scooped up all of the credit for the success of “Dundee,” yet any closer inspection reveals that much of its rhythm can be attributed to composer Peter Best, who provides the film with an captivating mix of Didgeridoo-flared Australian musical touches, mandatory synthetic 80’s beats, and the driving climatic percussion swirl that rivals the “March of the Swivelheads” track from “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” as the finest closing musical moment of 1986.
The final five minutes of “Dundee” is glazed with a vibrant romantic posture, inspired directorial staging, and warmly aware acting. However, what ultimately drives the moment to blossom is the deceptively simple scoring selection; this propulsive, finger-tapping orchestration that pushes the characters along while building to a bursting dramatic closure that demands the now softly lathered audience to leap out of their seats and cheer. It’s rare to have a feature film trust the music so completely, and the confidence pays off with an ending that’s extraordinarily perfect in tone and satisfying in the old-fashioned, sold-out-Saturday-matinee, stifle-a-tear manner the moviegoing heart craves every now and then.
Here’s “Theme from Crocodile Dundee.”
Here’s the climactic scene from the picture.
Here’s the Theatrical Trailer.