Episode 22: The Governor (Part 1)

As preperation for our upcoming look at Utu, we ring in 2017 by dissecting the (in)famous TV mini-series The Governor. A sprawling historical drama covering over half a century, The Governor explores the life and career of Sir George Grey – twice Governor and 11th Premier of New Zealand, and arguably the most influential figure in the country’s early colonial years. Split into six self-contained feature-length parts, the series explores Grey’s legacy and personality by examining the impact he has on the lives of others. This week we discuss the first three episodes: ‘The Reverend Traitor’, ‘No Way To Treat A Lady’, and ‘The Mutinous Lieutenant’.

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The Governor

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Episode 21: Bad Blood (1982)

For our last episode of the year, we’re rounding off 1982 by taking a look at Mike Newell’s disturbing Bad Blood, a dramatisation of the infamous 12-day manhunt for Koiterangi farmer Stan Graham. Socially isolated, increasingly paranoid, and in serious financial trouble, Graham and his wife Dot react aggresively when their rifle is requisitioned by local authorities for the war effort. As their behaviour begins to threaten the wider community, an attempt by police to control the situation leads to a tragic outburst of violence.

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Bad Blood poster

Director: Mike Newell
Producer: Andrew Brown
Screenplay: Andrew Brown based on ‘Manhunt – The Story of Stanley Graham’ by Howard Willis
Director of photography:
Gary Hansen
Editor: Peter Hollywood

Cast:
Stanley Graham…
Jack Thompson
Dorothy Graham…Carol Burns
Ted Best…Dennis Lill
Les North…Martyn Sanderson
Trev Bond…Marshall Napier
Inspector Creswell…Bruce Allpress
Jim Quirke…Kelly Johnson

Notes:

  • The Australian DVD release of Bad Blood appears to be out of print – it is no longer listed on the Umbrella Entertainment website. It shouldn’t be too hard to track down though. Check out NZ Videos for more information, and if all else fails keep an eye on second-hand auction sites. A DVD is available from Simply Media in the UK, but we’re unable to vouch for the quality of it. It is most likely a port of the Australian transfer.
  • For more information on the real-life story Bad Blood is based on, there’s a great radio documentary from 1977 available to listen to on the Radio New Zealand website.
  • A memorial for Graham’s victims was finally constructed in 2004 and unveiled by one of the men present when Graham was fatally shot. This NZ Herald article has some good quotes.

Episode 20: Carry Me Back (1982)

When your Dad carks it on a trip to Wellington, but your inheritance relies on him dying on the farm in Marlborough, what on earth can you do about it? That’s the problem facing Grant Tilly and Kelly Johnson in John Reid’s Carry Me Back, a raucous corpse-toting farce that gives Hayden and L.J. a bit more than they bargained for.

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Carry Me Back poster

Director: John Reid
Producer: Graeme Cowley
Screenplay: Derek Morton, Keith Aberdein, John Reid
Story: Joy Cowley
Director of photography: Graeme Cowley
Editors: Simon Reece, Michael Horton

Cast:
Arthur Donovan…
Grant Tilly
Jamie Donovan…Kelly Johnson
Aunty Bird…Dorothy McKegg
TK Donovan…Derek Hardwick
Girl…Joanne Mildenhall

Notes:

  • The company that produced the DVD of Carry Me Back no longer has any internet presence, and the DVD appears to be officially out-of-print. Copies are still for sale through Aro Video and more information is available from NZ Videos. If you can’t find a copy of the DVD, fear not, the film is available to rent and buy in HD from NZ Film On Demand.
  • Carry Me Back is packed with recognisable faces in small roles, many of whom we didn’t get a chance to mention. Bruno Lawrence turns up briefly as a policeman, Ian Watkin as a strip show emcee, and Kate Harcourt makes an appearance as a motel owner.
  • Although information about Joanne Mildenhall is scarce she was obviously active in the Wellington theatre scene in the early ’80s, as evidenced by a photo reproduced on the website of Victoria University of Wellington, from an issue of the official Student’s Association magazine Salient. It’s attached to a review of a production of the Stephen Poliakoff play ‘Hitting Town’ at Downstage, in which Mildenhall played one of the leads.
  • Hayden muffs a couple of facts in this episode when speaking about Dorothy McKegg. She won her bursary to study at the Old Vic at the age of 19, and her appearances on The Black and White Minstrel Show were during 1955-1956. For more info on McKegg, you can read her biography at NZ On Screen.
  • The illustration on the original poster (above) is absolutely terrific. It’s a superb example of a type of evocative poster design than has fallen out of fashion in the past couple of decades. The signpost is somewhat inaccurate though, as the characters never travel farther north than Wellington.

Episode 19: Battletruck (1982)

It’s the apocalypse! The world has been decimated by the oil wars, leaving small settlements of survivors to fend off roaming outlaws. When Corlie (Annie McEnroe) escapes the clutches of her father, the evil Colonel Straker (James Wainwright), she is rescued by the reclusive Hunter (Michael Beck) and taken in by a small democratic commune. But Straker wants his daughter back, and he’s coming for her in his Battletruck!

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Battletruck poster

Director: Harley Cokliss
Producers: Lloyd Phillips, Rob Whitehouse
Screenplay: Irving Austin, Harvey Cokliss, John Beech, from a story by Michael Abrams
Director of photography: Chris Menges
Editor: Michael Horton

Cast:
Hunter
…Michael Beck
Corlie…Annie McEnroe
Straker…James Wainwright
Willie…Bruno Lawrence
Bone…John Bach
Judd…Randolph Powell

Notes:

  • It turns out that Battletruck is (God help us) getting a Blu-Ray release in Japan at the beginning of 2017. For more information on how to purchase the Blu-Ray, or the American DVD release, visit NZ Videos.
  • In some territories Battletruck was released under the title Warlords of the 21st Century.
  • While our own response to Battletruck was resoundingly negative, we should note that the film does have a fanbase. If you think our assessment was totally off, get in touch and let us know what you think we overlooked or got wrong. We’re always in the market for alternative viewpoints.
  • Roger Corman demanded the film be shot with lots of coverage so it could be built in the editing suite, but the editing was eventually undertaken in Wellington by Michael Horton without Corman’s input. After attending test screenings, Corman’s only demand was the removal of two lines of dialogue, because he didn’t like the way the test audience reacted to them.
  • If you want more information on the film, there’s an interview with director Harley Cokliss conducted by the BFI up on YouTube. His last name is spelled ‘Cokeliss’ here, a spelling he appears to have adopted professionally around the year 1990.

Episode 18: Next of Kin (1982)

In an attempt to revise their opinions on director Tony Williams (Solo), Hayden and L.J. take a slight detour to look at the obscure Australian horror movie Next of Kin. The story of a young woman who takes over the running of a rural nursing home after her mother’s death, Next of Kin began life as a local Kiwi production, but gradually morphed into an Aussie film for various financial reasons. Does it hold up better than Solo did?

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Next of Kin poster

Director: Tony Williams
Producer: Robert Le Tet
Screenplay: Michael Heath and Tony Williams
Director of photography: Gary Hansen
Editor: Max Lemon
Music: Klaus Schulze

Cast:
Linda…
Jackie Kerin
Barney…John Jarrett
Dr. Barton…Alex Scott
Connie…Gerda Nicolson
Lance…Charles McCallum

Notes:

  • Unfortunately, Next of Kin isn’t the easiest film to get hold of on DVD. There was an Australian DVD release but it appears to be out of print, so your best bet would be second-hand sources such as eBay. There is also a DVD release from Germany which appears to still be available. It has the original English soundtrack, and can be specially ordered from D&T Mailorder.
  • If you live in New Zealand, Aro Video has a copy of the Australian DVD available for rent.
  • If you want more background information on Next of Kin, the best place to start is the Ozmovies website which boasts a huge amount of information from a range of sources. Most of the research that went into this episode was drawn from Ozmovies.
  • Looking to track down the great Klaus Schulze soundtrack? It’s never had an official release, but portions of it can be found scattered through his discography. The film’s main theme is ‘Death of an Analogue’ from his 1980 album “Dig It”. The track ‘Georg Trakl’ from his album “X” also appears in the film. The bulk of the score he created for the film, however, is available as a bonus track called ‘Gem’ on the 2005 re-issue of his album “Audentity”.
  • Most of the music can be sampled on Youtube, including this video setting ‘Death of an Analogue’ to a slideshow of images from the film. Note that the top comment is from lead actress Jackie Kerin!
  • Although IMDb isn’t usually the best source for film info (it’s littered with incorrect and unreliable data) Tony Williams has posted on their message board with a description of scenes deleted from the film before it was released.
  • Tragically, Next of Kin‘s talented cinematographer Gary Hansen was killed in a helicopter accident in August 1982.
  • Although Next of Kin was Tony Williams’ last fiction feature to date, he has directed a couple of documentaries in recent years. For more information on Williams and his recent work, visit Four Donkey Films.
  • Near the end of this episode, Hayden incorrectly refers to the documentary Not Quite Hollywood, calling it “Never Quite Hollywood”. Words – how do they work?

Episode 17: The Scarecrow (1982)

Ronald Hugh Morrieson’s ‘The Scarecrow’ has one of the most memorable opening lines in NZ literature, setting a tone that could prove difficult to translate from page to screen. Never Repeats takes a gander at Sam Pillsbury’s 1982 film adaptation and discusses the production, how the film holds up, and whether it manages to capture the gothic, darkly humourous tone of Morrieson’s writing.

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Director: Sam Pillsbury
Producer: Rob Whitehouse
Screenplay: Michael Heath, Sam Pillsbury
Director of Photography: James Bartle
Editor: Ian John

Cast:
Ned…
Jonathan Smith
Prudence…Tracy Mann
Les…Daniel McLaren
Salter…John Carradine
Uncle Athol…Bruce Allpress
Constable Len Ramsbottom…Philip Holder
Narration (adult Ned)…Martyn Sanderson

Notes:

  • As we mention in the episode, the quality of the local DVD release of The Scarecrow is pretty poor, but still watchable. It can be purchased from Aro Video. The ever-reliable NZ Videos has more info on that release, as well as a Spanish DVD that came out about a decade ago. We can’t comment on the quality of that one, but it probably can’t be any worse.
  • If you want more information on Ronald Hugh Morrieson the biography available at Te Ara – The Encyclopedia of New Zealand is a good place to start. If you want to read his work, ‘The Scarecrow’ was reprinted as recently as 2012 and should be easily available to buy or borrow. The rest should be accessible through your local library.
  • There’s a great Sam Pillsbury interview from 1982 available at the Art New Zealand website. Well worth a read.
  • The film was re-titled as Klynham Summer for its release in the United States. It’s possible this was to avoid any confusion with 1973’s Scarecrow, starring Al Pacino, but the new title is so awfully generic it couldn’t have done the film any favours.
  • John Carradine really did have a hell of a career – his IMDb page lists a grand total of 351 acting credits. Sadly, around the time The Scarecrow was made he was mostly appearing in cheap trash like Vampire Hookers and Evils of the Night.
  • It was around the time we recorded this episode that our recording interface started dying on us. As a result, the sound quality isn’t as good as we’d like it to be. Hayden has solidly scrubbed the surface noise out of all the quieter moments, but it still crops up sometimes when we’re talking.