Episode 40: Came A Hot Friday (1984)

Arriba! When two hapless con artists attempt to run a horse-racing scam in the small provicial town of Tainuia they end up in far more trouble than they bargained for. A fast-paced and raucous comedy, Ian Mune’s Came A Hot Friday brings another Ronald Hugh Morrieson story to the screen with style and creates one of the most indelible New Zealand movie characters in the process. Hayden and L.J. hold back their giggling long enough to talk about the craft behind the film’s comedic set-pieces, the way the adaptation streamlines (and sanitises) Morrieson’s novel, and Billy T. James’ iconic performance as The Tainuia Kid.

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Director: Ian Mune
Producer: Larry Parr
Screenplay: Dean Parker, Ian Mune from the novel by Ronald Hugh Morrieson
Director of photography: Alun Bollinger
Editor: Ken Zemke
Composer: Steven McCurdy

Cast:
Wes Pennington…
Peter Bland
Cyril Kidman…Philip Gordon
The Tainuia Kid…Billy T. James
Don Jackson…Michael Lawrence
Sel Bishop…Marshall Napier
Norm Cray…Don Selwyn

Notes:

  • The best way to watch Came A Hot Friday these days is through NZ Film On Demand. The only good DVD release is now OOP, but shouldn’t be too difficult to find from second-hand sources. NZ Videos has more info about the various ways to obtain the film.
  • Morrieson’s novel has been reprinted numerous times and copies aren’t hard to come by. There should be a copy at a library near you, and second-hand bookstores and book fairs are always a safe bet. Failing that, new copies of the Popular Penguins reprint from 2010 can be found at various online retailers.
  • There are some lovely details about the film’s production and reception in this article from NZ On Screen.
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Episode 39: Second Time Lucky (1984)

Do you enjoy puerile comedy, gratuitous nudity, and forced sentimentality? Oh boy do we have a film for you! When the Devil makes a bet with God that humanity would once again fall from grace if given a second chance, two college students find themselves propelled through history in the ultimate contest of Good vs. Evil. Designed to ride a wave of raunchy (and profitable) comedies produced in North America in the early ’80s, Second Time Lucky imports an experienced British director and young American lead actors, and attempts to recreate the Garden of Eden near Thames.

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Director: Michael Anderson
Producer: Antony Ginnane
Screenplay: Ross Dimsey, Howard Grigsby, David Sigmund
Director of photography: John McLean
Editor: Tony Paterson

Cast:
Eve…
Diane Franklin
Adam…Roger Wilson
Gabriel…Jon Gadsby
God…Robert Morley
The Devil…Robert Helpmann

Notes:

  • Second Time Lucky isn’t a particularly difficult film to get your hands on, having received DVD releases in America and Europe. At the time of writing, the UK DVD is fairly cheap and available from stores like Amazon. The entire film is also up on Youtube. We won’t link to it directly, but a quick search should be all you need to find it.
  • The brief shots of Robert Helpmann in this reissue trailer for The Tales of Hoffmann give some impression of his striking screen presence. Looking back, the similarities between his appearances in Hoffmann and Second Time Lucky are far more pronounced than the brief comparison in the podcast would indicate.
  • Director Michael Anderson really did have a strange career, encompassing both beloved war movie The Dam Busters and the much-maligned Jaws rip-off Orca: The Killer Whale.
  • The writing credits for Second Time Lucky are a bit confusing. The print we viewed includes a “Story by David Sigmund and Ross Dimsey” credit during the opening scene, along with “Additional Screenplay Material by Ron Challoner and Allan Byrns” at the very end of the closing credits. However, multiple other sources assign Allan Byrns a “Story by” credit, and at least one other doesn’t give David Sigmund a “Screenplay by” credit.

Episode 38: Death Warmed Up (1984)

What do you get when you mix together brainwashing, gory brain surgery, cryogenics, zombies, and motorbike chases? You get New Zealand’s first horror film Death Warmed Up, a delirious tale of mad science and revenge. Hayden and L.J. dive in to discuss structure, influences, and Bruno Lawrence’s exploding head.

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Director: David Blyth
Producer: Murray Newey
Screenplay: Michael Heath, David Blyth
Director of photography: James Bartle
Editor: David Huggett
Composer: Mark Nicholas

Cast:
Michael Tucker…
Michael Hurst
Sandy…Margaret Umbers
Lucas…William Upjohn
Jeannie…Norelle Scott
Spider…David Letch
Dr. Howell…Gary Day

Notes:

  • The Screenline DVD release is sadly out-of-print, but we recommend tracking down a copy if you want to see the film as it’s the only guaranteed way to see the uncut version. Copies periodically show up on second-hand sites like TradeMe. If you live in New Zealand, it can be rented from Aro Video. Information about other releases is available from NZ Videos, but we can’t vouch for their quality.
  • The interviews with David Blyth and Michael Heath included as an extra on the Screenline DVD can be viewed at NZ On Screen. The wildly OTT trailer is worth a look as well.
  • Death Warmed Up won the Grand Prix at the International Festival of Fantasy & Science Fiction Films, Paris in 1984. The jury that year was headed by Alejandro Jodorowsky.
  • There are a couple of minor errors in the plot synopsis Hayden gives in the episode. He incorrectly states that both Lucas and Jeannie are unaware of Michael’s revenge plans – it is actually only Jeannie who is in the dark. There’s also some confusion over the exact nature of Dr. Howell’s facility – in the film it is briefly referred to as a psychiatric institute.
  • Ant Timpson’s blog contains a nice recollection of his first encounter with Death Warmed Up.
  • If you’re interested in more info on the type of censorship the film suffered in several territories, a list of the Australian cuts is available at the excellent Refused-Classification.com along with some notes from Blyth.

Episode 37: Wild Horses (1984)

There’s no way to sugar-coat it: Wild Horses is an absolute trainwreck of a film. The story of how a man’s dreams of wrangling horses are threatened by evil Government conservationists(?!), it’s a baffling mess on almost every level. Hayden and L.J. break out their tools for an impromptu autopsy in an attempt to figure out how a production with so many talented people involved could go so horribly wrong.

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Director: Derek Morton
Producer: John Barnett
Original Screenplay: Kevin O’Sullivan
Director of photography: Doug Milsome
Editor: Simon Reece

Cast:
Mitch…
Keith Aberdein
Jack…John Bach
Harry…Kevin J. Wilson
Sara…Robyn Gibbes
Sam…Tom Poata
Tyson…Bruno Lawrence

Notes:

  • If you live in New Zealand, Australia, or the UK, you’re lucky enough to be able to rent or buy a lovely restored copy of Wild Horses from NZ Film On Demand. Since the cinematography is one of the only things the film has going for it, we don’t recommend viewing inferior DVD or VHS copies, but if that’s your only option NZ Videos is the place to go for info.
  • This is probably the only chance we’ll have to talk about Derek Morton. As mentioned in the podcast he has a pretty interesting history and it’s worth checking out NZ On Screen’s great biography to get a more detailed overview of his career.
  • If you want to get a sense of how critics reacted to Wild Horses when it was released, here’s a review from Vincent Canby at The New York Times. It’s not exactly complimentary.

Episode 36: The Silent One (1984)

Growing up isn’t easy for young deaf-mute Jonasi (Telo Malese). Misunderstood and mistrusted by many in his isolated Pacific Island community, he finds companionship with a rare white turtle he encounters while fishing. But the turtle’s presence will cause buried tensions to emerge within his small community as it struggles with a lengthy drought.

Adapted from a best-selling children’s novel by Joy Cowley, The Silent One is an ambitious  debut feature from director Yvonne Mackay. Hayden and L.J. dive in to discuss underwater photography, turtle wrangling, and how the film holds up today.

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Director: Yvonne Mackay
Producer: Dave Gibson
Screenplay: Ian Mune based on a novel by Joy Cowley
Director of photography: Ian Paul
Underwater photography: Ron Taylor, Valerie Taylor
Editor: Jamie Selkirk
Music: Jenny McLeod

Cast:
Jonasi…
Telo Malese
Paui Te Po…George Henare
Luisa…Pat Evison
Tasiri…Anzac Wallace
Taruga…Rongo Tupatea Kahu

Notes:

  • The DVD release of The Silent One appears to be out of print, but copies can still be found from some sources. As usual, NZ Videos is the place to go for more information.
  • For more information on Jenny McLeod and her score for The Silent One, the interview that L.J. mentions can be found here. A more general overview of her work is available at SOUNZ.

Episode 35: Constance (1984)

Never Repeats takes a trip back in time to post-WWII Auckland, a decidedly unglamorous place to live, unless you’re Constance Elsworthy (Donogh Rees). A stylish and ambitious debut, Bruce Morrison’s Constance is both a tribute to, and subversion of, the great Hollywood melodramas. Hayden and L.J. gather round their microphones to talk about the  complex nature of the central character, the film’s design, and whether it lives up to its ambitions.

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Director: Bruce Morrison
Producer: Larry Parr
Screenplay: Jonathan Hardy, Bruce Morrison
Director of photography: Kevin Hayward
Editor: Philip Howe

Cast:
Constance Elsworthy…
Donogh Rees
Alexander Elsworthy…Martin Vaughan
Sylvia Elsworthy…Judie Douglass
Richard…Mark Wignall
Noeline…Hester Joyce
John Munroe…Donald MacDonald
Mrs. Barr…Lee Grant
Simon Maylon…Shane Briant

Notes:

  • While the Screenline DVD of Constance is indeed out of print, copies aren’t difficult to track down. NZ Videos links to an international supplier selling new copies, and there are numerous TradeMe auctions for second-hand discs.
  • If you want more Donogh Rees you can check out the short film Pheno was Here at NZ On Screen.
  • We also recommend the ScreenTalk interview with Bruce Morrison.

Episode 34: Trespasses (1984)

What do you get when you make a movie based on a popular TV series, shuffle the main characters into supporting roles, and convince Patrick McGoohan to star in it? You end up with Peter Sharp’s Trespasses, a psychological thriller about a young woman (Emma Piper) who runs off to join a commune to the consternation of her puritanical father (McGoohan). Spun-off from the TV cop drama Mortimer’s Patch and co-written by Maurice Gee, it has all the ingredients of a fascinating film. So why does it remain obscure?

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Director: Peter Sharp
Producers: Tom Finlayson, Dean Hill
Screenplay: Maurice Gee, Tom Finlayson
Director of photography: Leon Narbey
Editor: David Coulson
Music: Bernie Allen

Cast:
Fred Wells…Patrick McGoohan
Katie Wells…Emma Piper
Albie Stone…Andy Anderson
Doug Mortimer…Terence Cooper
Stan Gubbins…Frank Whitten
Bob Storey…Don Selwyn
Dave Gilchrist…Sean Duffy

Notes:

  • Trespasses is another one of those films that’s almost impossible to see (legitimately). It was released on VHS in a number of countries, sometimes under the alternate title Omen of Evil, and copies will turn up on auction sites from time to time. As usual, NZ Videos is your first stop for any further information. They provide a link to a website selling bootleg DVD-R’s of the film, but we don’t recommend paying for bootlegs.
  • While Trespasses may be difficult to see, there are two episodes of Mortimer’s Patch available at NZ On Screen. It’s a good old-fashioned cop show with great acting, solid writing, and a calm, deliberate sense of pacing. Hayden recommends checking it out.