In 1972 Sir Frank Packer was a powerhouse of the publishing world and the father of Kerry, who could do little right in the patriarch’s eyes. This was the year that Cleo Magazine hit the newsstands and defined women as sexual, thinking beings capable of running more than just a household.
Paper Giants brings to the screen the birth of Cleo Magazine which changed the humble women’s publication in Australia forever. Ita Buttrose, played to a tee by Asher Keddy takes on the might of the stubborn Sir Frank. With a little subterfuge and the assistance of the more affable Kerry (Rob Carlton), she backs her female instincts and puts everything on the line to make Cleo a success. Juggling marriage, motherhood and the demands of the Packer dynasty, Buttrose typified the very women Cleo was aimed at but were the Australian public ready to be confronted by female sexuality and a naked male centerfold?
Those who lived in Australia through the seventies will be aware of the equal rights movement, Germaine Greer and The Female Eunuck and the freedom that the contraceptive pill gave women. However, the battle in the boardroom which existed then is still evident today, as is the fashion which is hitting the high streets in a retro-modern way.
Recently released on DVD, Paper Giants is everything which is good about Australian-made drama. It’s factual without being dull, well acted and has the flash of humour to which everyday Australians can relate.
Step back in time.
Reviewed by Debbie McTaggart