Suzi, Smokie, The Snowdroppers and a Film About A Red Dog

Well, I have so many big things going on in my life at the moment I don’t know where to begin – So I won’t! I do however need to throw down some words and share a tune, just to keep my hand in as they say, so this post is going to be about the film Red Dog which I’ve just finished watching with the other half.

I think I’ve mentioned this around here before, but back in 2012 I put in place a regular monthly event where a group of around seven of us from my neck of the woods would go to our local theatre/cinema to watch whatever turned out to be showing on the last Thursday of the month. It ended up being a great way of randomly trying out new genres, or foreign language films, as well as potentially catching the big Hollywood blockbusters of the day.

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As regular visitors around here would probably expect, a spreadsheet was kept, where I recorded all the films we went to see, who the lead actors were, the directors, the country of origin, and of course a star rating. Of late my little group has dwindled and I can see the demise of Film Club soon, as some of us have retired and grandchildren have started to put in an appearance. We had a great run of it though, and as fate would have it, back in 2012, the first three films we went to see all starred animals. The first was War Horse based on Michael Morpurgo’s 1982 novel of the same name. The second was The Artist, the French Oscar winner shot in the style of a black-and-white silent film and starring (amongst others) a little dog called Uggie. But best of all for me, and the recipient of a 5-Star rating, was Red Dog.

Red Dog was a 2011 Australian film set in the 1970s, based on the true story of a dog adopted by the workers of Dampier, a tough mining town in Western Australia. I won’t give too much away, but suffice to say, the storyline revolved around the theme of loyalty and nothing gets to me in a movie more than the undying devotion of a dog – Many tears were shed that first time I watched it in the cinema, and even tonight, on probably the 5th viewing, a fair few tissues were needed to see me through. Red Dog was known locally as the Pilbara Wanderer, and there is still a statue of him in the town of Dampier, erected by the workers of the mining company in his memory. He was indeed the Greyfriars Bobby of Australia.

But I am making this film sound a bit depressing whereas it is anything but. Labelled a comedy-drama for good reason, there are moments of great hilarity throughout which is what you would probably expect from an Aussie film about a bunch of sex-starved males on a red, dusty outpost of that vast country. It also had a great soundtrack made up of carefully selected ’70s music and songs performed by The Snowdroppers who played the role of house band at the local bar. This Australian blues band have been praised for their energetic live performances and on-stage musical theatrics, drawing influence from not only blues but also rockabilly and punk. This is not a clip from the actual film, but the song Do The Stomp is the one they perform in the bar, which has more than a touch of the old Wild West about it.

The big surprise for me however was the inclusion of the song Stumblin’ In by Chris Norman and Suzi Quatro, but it fitted a particular scene in the film really well and I ended up downloading it when I got home. It only reached No. 41 in the UK Singles Chart, but had hit the top spot in Australia, which is how it probably came to be included. Despite the film being set in the early ’70s, this song was from 1978, but watching the pair of them in the video clip here, they do represent that earlier phase of the decade perfectly, before punk and it’s antithesis disco took over. The song was written by that prolific partnership comprised of Mike Chapman (an Australian) and Nicky Chinn who between them scored a succession of massive hits written for the likes of glam-rockers Sweet, as well as for Mud, Smokie (of which Chris Norman was a member) and Suzi. (Excuse the cringeworthy clip here, but it seemed to be de rigueur at that time to re-enact the lyrics whilst singing these two-handers.)

Stumblin’ In by Chris Norman and Suzi Quatro:

So, “What’s It All About?” – I have been so busy of late I needed some downtime this evening, and watching a favourite old movie is sometimes just the tonic we need. A good soundtrack can really lift a film and the song choices for Red Dog were excellent I thought.

In case you are wondering where my full moon post is this month, I think I’m actually all mooned-out at the moment, as there is nothing left for me to learn about our only satellite. We should all have been witness to the Pink Moon on Friday night though, and if anyone wants a reminder about how it got that name, here is a link to my Nick Drake post from last year.

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We don’t really do Easter is a big way here in Scotland but if you do celebrate it, hope you have a good one. The perky weather presenters are promising us an exceptionally warm weekend for the time of year, which would be all well and good if we didn’t know that it’s only because we’re killing the planet. In a few years time Scotland will look like the  Western Australia of Red Dog if something doesn’t change. Those with the power to do something about it are all so consumed with the mechanics of Brexit, that none of the really big stuff is being tackled at all, and I fear we are all stumblin’ in to something much, much bigger.

Until next time…

Stumblin’ In Lyrics
(Song by Mike Chapman and Nicky Chinn)

Our love is alive, and so we begin
Foolishly laying our hearts on the table
Stumblin’ in
Our love is a flame, burning within
Now and then firelight will catch us
Stumblin’ in

Wherever you go, whatever you do
You know these reckless thoughts of mine are following you
I’m falling for you, whatever you do
‘Cos baby you’ve shown me so many things that I never knew
Whatever it takes, baby I’ll do it for you

Our love is alive, and so we begin
Foolishly laying our hearts on the table
Stumblin’ in
Our love is a flame, burning within
Now and then firelight will catch us
Stumblin’ in

You were so young, and I was so free
I may been young, but baby that’s not what I wanted to be
Well you were the one, oh why was it me
‘Cos baby you’ve shown me so many things that I’ve never seen
Whatever you need, baby you’ve got it from me

Our love is alive, and so we begin
Foolishly laying our hearts on the table
Stumblin’ in
Our love is a flame, burning within
Now and then firelight will catch us
Stumblin’ in
Stumblin’ in
Stumblin’ in

Author: Alyson

Whenever I hear an old song on the radio, I am immediately transported back to those days - I know I'm not alone here and want to record those memories for myself and for the people in them. 50 years ago the song "Alfie" was written by my favourite songwriting team Bacharach and David - The opening line to that song was "What's it all about?" and I'm hoping that by writing this blog, I might find the answer to that question.

10 thoughts on “Suzi, Smokie, The Snowdroppers and a Film About A Red Dog”

  1. Hi. I wonder if Red Dog made it to any theaters in my area when it came out. Don’t think I’ve heard of it. Sounds like a good one.

    I saw Amazing Grace today, the music doc with Aretha that was filmed in 1972. For various reasons it didn’t get released till 2019. It’s great.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for reminding me about Amazing Grace – will have to look out for it when it opens here.

      Yes, Red Dog I thought was an excellent movie, but a tough watch if you’re a dog lover.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Since moving back to Nottingham in 2017 we’ve been members at Broadway Cinema in the town and regularly catch all that’s now (and sometimes all that’s not); funnily enough, one of my favourite films I’ve seen in the last couple of years is Kedi. It’s about cats. In Istanbul. I absolutely loved it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi – I’ve heard of that film but not sure where now. Wonder if it was over at your place. I’ve just watched the first few minutes and am intrigued – I shall return to it. There’s something about dogs in films, and especially their unwavering loyalty, that really gets to me though. I remember shedding a few tears when leafing through a children’s book about Greyfriars Bobby whilst on holiday in Edinburgh once – The family disowned me!

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  3. Hope you’re having a good weekend! Glorious weather here but like you I worry about the underlying causes. I really felt like joining Extinction Rebellion in London but I don’t think I could have coped with the heat (ironically) plus difficult public transport services to navigate, but I feel really humbled by everyone who’s taken part, especially all the young’uns. It feels like something is happening, people are waking up, at last… we’ve just got to keep going…. even though I know the likes of Trump will never be convinced and even if they were they wouldn’t care because it doesn’t pay.
    I’d never heard of the Snowdroppers – that’s rather good. I don’t think I could watch Red Dog… I’ve always been one to cry where animals are concerned if anything bad/sad happens whether fictional or not, but I’ve definitely got worse the older I’ve got, and I’m picking up from this that tears would definitely be in order! From what you said in your reply to John above though about Greyfriars Bobby, I’m glad I’m not the only one!

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    1. I’m with you there C – The weather was glorious, but like you, it is tough to really appreciate it when you know it could be caused by something much more sinister. Something is definitely happening now and both respectable middle-classers as well as young’uns are getting involved and facing arrest, such is the strength of feeling. Ironically for you, it was too warm, and ironically for me I would have had to fly down adding to my carbon footprint – Will leave it to the locals for now but down the line who knows.

      As for Red Dog, it’s a whole packet of tissues job, and I really embarrassed myself in the cinema first time around. Just couldn’t control the tears which then progressing to full-scale sobbing. Needless to say the mascara was all over the place by the time I left. Yes, the Snowdroppers were unknown to me before the film but Australian and perfect for the house band in a redneck mining town bar. The lyrics in that song were perfect too.

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  4. Thanks to an early girlfriend, I was a bit of a Suzi Quatro fan on the quiet. If you had asked me to tell you what year ‘Stumblin’ In’ was released without resorting to research, I would probably have confidently guessed at 1975. 1978? Blimey! The chronology of my youth becomes ever more confused the further away from it I travel.

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    1. Ah, so you had to be a Suzi Quatro fan on the quiet! I get that though, as the songs she sang were pure pop and her leather-clad image was not entirely authentic was it. Those two songwriters were responsible for an awful lot of chart hits from our youth, so they certainly knew what they were doing. No, I wouldn’t have placed it at 1978 either and I’m usually quite good at getting the year right with ’70s songs. It did fit the film well though, as the storyline covered the period 1971-79, and was the kind of thing suited to an outpost of Western Australia where “cool” music wouldn’t have put in an appearance. The Snowdroppers were great as house band, but they were from 2011!

      I’m going to have to pop over to your place now as I see I’ve missed some of your recent posts which look as if they are very interesting indeed.

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  5. Can’t watch dog films anymore, they make me cry. Just the trailer of that new Dennis Quaid flick has me tearing up.

    Poor old moon, so easily forgotten! (No, you’ve done well to keep going as long as you have.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Humans and dogs – Can be a tough gig.

      I think the moon did ok out of me as I wrote 18 “Moon Posts” in that series. Learnt loads, but running out of songs now, and new facts and figures. I shall return in the summer for the big anniversary.

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