Paul Hogan, still lanky and muscular as he approaches his sixtieth birthday, recalled during a recent Dallas interview inventing his most famous character, the bush-country hero Crocodile Dundee, back in the mid-1980s. It was when movies like the “Rambo” series, with their intense, larger-than-life good-guys, were dominating the scene. “I wanted to make someone that was a hero, but he wasn’t saving the world and he didn’t kill anybody,” Hogan said. So after a career in Australian television, he fashioned the laid-back, ever-resourceful Mick Dundee, who travelled to New York in the first flick in 1986 and, fish out of water though he was, cheerfully triumphed over the forces of wickedness and stupidity there. The picture became an international sensation and spawned a successful sequel in 1988, in which Dundee was followed back to Australia by American drug dealers, whom he effortlessly outwitted using his outdoor skills. Hogan describes Dundee as “the simple Outback man who doesn’t live by society’s rules. He’s a straight-shooter, and he looks at everything with a sense of humor, and I like him. Otherwise I wouldn’t have brought him back.”

But it took Hogan a full thirteen years to return Dundee to the screen (during which time the star made several other pictures, as well as appearing in a famous series of ads for the Australian Tourist Bureau); this time Mick is in Los Angeles, where he deals with a variety of Hollywood types. “I know I said ‘Never’ after the second one–I’m constantly reminded of that–but eventually I changed my mind,” Hogan admitted. What made him reconsider was a two-year stay in L.A. “After living in L.A. for a couple of years, I said, let’s put Dundee here. He so much doesn’t fit in…. He has to be in some fast-moving, slick society to contrast with.” Glitzy, glamorous California seemed to offer the perfect background. So in “Crocidile Dundee in Los Angeles,” the Aussie goes “undercover” to investigate the possibly illegal shenanigans at the Hollywood studio.

The picture is, however, different from its predecessors in more than locale. “I set out to make this one funnier,” Hogan explained. “The first one was a romantic comedy, the second was an adventure comedy, and this one is a comedy adventure.” He aimed, though, for a brand of humor that wouldn’t be offensive or insulting. “I’m not a fan of gross-out,” he noted. “I deliberately set out to make this funny, but nine-to-ninety” in terms of audience age. “It’s family-friendly,” he said, quickly adding, “but it’s not a kids’ movie. It’s not sappy. I don’t make grubby movies, but I don’t make sappy ones, either. You can certainly take the kids–or your grandma, or anybody else.”

Needless to say, Dundee once again triumphs over the bad guys in the new picture, but in one important area his creator has lost a major battle, to get his name listed among the picture’s writers (along with Matthew Berry and Eric Abrams). Those two scripters penned a first draft of the screenplay, Hogan explained, but though he largely rewrote it, the Writers Guild decided against his being credited with them. “Okay, I did write all the dialogue, and I did invent the characters, and I wrote all the jokes except two,” Hogan said with no little trace of sarcasm concerning the Guild’s decision after observing that just about everything Dundee encounters came from his own L.A. experiences. “But I didn’t change the plot by more than 50%. Therefore the credit must go to the writers of the plot. So they threw me out.” He believes that the verdict was based largely on the fact that he’s also one of the picture’s producers, and the Guild is poised to strike against producers–“the natural enemy of the writer,” as Hogan described them. “I think they made an example of me. I’m no longer a writer because I put a producer’s hat on.”

Hogan noted that he could take the matter to court, but was reluctant to do so. “I’m in the Writers Guild,” he smiled. “I shouldn’t be trying to sue them.” And whatever the credits read on the prints, it’s certain that whenever people think of Crocodile Dundee–one, two, or three–it’s Paul Hogan, not any of his collaborators, who will come to mind, as sure as he will whenever anyone talks about “slipping another shrimp on the barbie.”

“Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles” is a Paramount Pictures release.