One of Australia's most popular and well-known directors, Bruce Beresford got his start producing short documentaries as the head of the British Film Institute Production Board from 1966 to 1970. After returning to Australia in 1971, he directed his first features, the rowdy Barry Crocker and Barry Humphries comedies The Adventures Of Barry McKenzie and Barry McKenzie Holds His Own, which he also co-scripted. Both films found great commercial success in Beresford's native country and helped to establish their director's reputation.
Beresford began attracting international attention in the late 1970s and early '80s with the satire Don's Party, the period drama The Getting of Wisdom, and Breaker Morant, a bitter account of the Boer War. The latter film, which was screened in competition at the 1980 Cannes Festival, won a particular amount of acclaim and a number of honors, including the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Film.
In 1983, Beresford began making films in the States with the admired drama of a country singer, Tender Mercies; following that success (he won a Best Director Academy Award nomination for his work), his track record proved decidedly erratic, from the silliness of King David (1985), to his well-received adaptation of Beth Henley's tragi-comedy Crimes of the Heart (1986) to the critically acclaimed popular drama Driving Miss Daisy.
In 1991, Beresford's The Black Robe, a drama revolving around one of the more tumultuous periods in Canadian history, scored him another critical victory. As with his work during the previous decade, however, Beresford's subsequent efforts were erratic: while Mister Johnson (1991) and Silent Fall (1994), met with some favorable--if limited--recognition, films like A Good Man in Africa (1994) and the Sharon Stone death row drama Last Dance (1996), proved to be failures. He bounced back in 1997 with Paradise Road, a World War II drama starring Cate Blanchett, Glenn Close, and Frances McDormand, and in 1999 he directed Double Jeopardy, a thriller starring Ashley Judd and Tommy Lee Jones.