'Who the hell’s Nino Culotta. That’s what you asked yourself when you first picked up this book, wasn’t it? Well I’m Nino Culotta. My father baptised me Giovanni—John—well Giovannino is like Johnny, and Nino is an easier way of saying it. Or a lazier way, if you like.
'Just off the boat from Italy—the north—Nino Culotta arrives in Sydney. He thought he spoke English but he’s never heard anything like the language these Australians are speaking.
'They’re a Weird Mob is an hilarious snapshot of the immigrant experience in Menzies-era Australia, by a writer with a brilliant ear for the Australian way with words.' (Publication summary : Text Classics)
Italian sports journalist Nino Culotta is lured to Sydney during the mid-1960s to work for his brother's new magazine for migrant Italians. When he arrives in the country, however, Nino finds out that there is no magazine and that his brother has taken off with the investors' cash. Left in the lurch is his brother's business partner, Kay Kelly. Nino vows to pay off his brother's debt and gets a job as a builder's labourer. In doing so, he learns how to talk, act, and drink like an Australian male. His numerous attempts to woo Kay are repeatedly rebuffed with humorous results, but in the end she falls in love with him. Nino's introduction to the country and its culture finds him bemused but ultimately confident that he has a future here.
The Australian Centre for the Moving Image suggests this film is 'very much a product of the assimilationist view dominating Australian immigration policy at the time'.
'Was Australian culture born modern or has it always been behind the game, never quite modern enough? Was it always already or only always almost modern? David Carter’s essays examine the complex engagements of Australian writers, artists, editors and consumers with 20th-century modernity, social and political crisis, and the impact of modernisms. Always Almost Modern ranges from the great mid-century novels of authors such as Eleanor Dark and M. Barnard Eldershaw to the unprecedented bestseller that was They’re a Weird Mob, from famous to largely forgotten local magazines and to film and television, and from the avant-garde to nationalism, communism and the middlebrow. Chapters engage with key themes in contemporary literary and cultural studies, exploring new ways of understanding Australian culture in terms of its modernity and transnationalism.' (Publisher's blurb)