Episode 31: It’s Lizzie To Those Close (1983)

The second feature (sort of) from director David Blyth is a marked departure from his debut Angel Mine – swapping suburban Auckland ennui for madness and isolation on a mid-1800s Canterbury sheep farm. The tale of a young English woman (Sarah Peirse) who takes up a servant position in rural New Zealand, It’s Lizzie To Those Close was originally shot and screened as a television drama under the name A Woman Of Good Character, until producer Grahame McLean decided to expand it to feature-length several years later. Hayden and L.J. sit down to dissect both versions of the film and discuss how seemingly minor changes can completely alter the tone of a work.

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Director: David Blyth
Producer: Grahame McLean
Screenplay: Elizabeth Gowans
Director of photography: John Earnshaw
Editor: Jamie Selkirk

Cast:
Lizzie…Sarah Peirse
Reginald Bowen Jnr…Jeremy Stephens
Reginald Bowen Snr…Derek Hardwick
Younger son…Bruno Lawrence
Stock buyer…Ian Watkin
Reverend…Martyn Sanderson

Notes:

  • Unfortunately only the extended version of the film, under the title It’s Lizzie To Those Close, is easily available to view through NZ On Screen. In our opinion it completely undermines all the qualities that made Blyth’s original cut so interesting, and should only be viewed as a curiosity. However, since A Woman of Good Character is only available through Ngā Taonga’s medianet resource, it may be the only option available for many people.
  • Sarah Peirse won a Best Actress Feltex award in 1982 for her performance as Lizzie. The Feltex Awards were the annual celebration of New Zealand television from 1970-1985. The name came from their sponsor – local carpet manufacturer Feltex.
  • Anyone looking to acquire Elizabeth Gowans’ novelisation of A Woman of Good Character should not confuse it with Charlotte Macdonald’s non-fiction study of the same title. Though, given Macdonald’s book covers the same subject matter from a historical perspective, it may be of equal interest. It’s available as an e-book from the website of publisher Bridget Williams Books.
  • Since the credits of It’s Lizzie To Those Close contain no character names, those listed above have been taken from ‘New Zealand Film 1912-1996’ by Helen Martin and Sam Edwards.
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One thought on “Episode 31: It’s Lizzie To Those Close (1983)

  1. I am probably not telling you something you don’t already know, but there is another version of the Elizabeth Gowans novel called ‘Heart of the High Country’ (1985), directed by Sam Pillsbury. It is available as a two DVD set (2002) released by Carlton of Canada, and is 300 minutes. It stars Valerie Gogan, Kenneth Cranham, John Howard and David Letch.

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