Quick Thoughts: Pork Pie

Since we laid out our hopes and expectations for the Goodbye Pork Pie remake back in our episode about that film, we thought we’d quickly check in to share our thoughts on how Pork Pie turned out. Is it a satisfying update for our modern age? Spoiler alert: no.

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pork-pie

Episode 24: The Governor (Part 3)

Our look at the 1977 mini-series The Governor comes to an end as Hayden and L.J. discuss the production of the show,┬áthe budget controversy and ensuing enquiry, and what the TV landscape looked like at the time, as well as the show’s lasting importance and the logistical problems preventing it from being commercially screened or released.

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The Governor

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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.