Ned Kelly is basically an outback western in which director and coscripter Tony Richardson’s simplicity becomes a pretension of its own. It is a film to which one applies the damning word ‘interesting’.
In the 1870s Australia was a brutal frontier, settled by Irish, English and Scots convicts and their descendants.
In the film, the convict stock are continually harassed by the English police troopers and the settlers’ ranging cattle and horses impounded by the authorities on the slightest pretext. Unable to exist otherwise, Kelly and the other Irishmen turn to rustling.
Mick Jagger is a natural actor and performer with a wide range of expressions and postures at his instinctive command. Given whiskers, that gaunt, tough pop hero face takes on a classic hard bitten frontier look that is totally believable for the role. However he has no one to play to. Jagger’s Clyde has no Bonnie, his Sundance Kid has no Butch Cassidy.