Dixie Chicken - Episode Five

Television, 1987 (Full Length Episode)

This TVNZ light entertainment series takes its name from a Little Feat song but the music on offer is predominantly country. The set is barn-like but “yee ha” trappings never overshadow the performances (although big hats are in plentiful supply). Actor and musician Andy Anderson is a genial host (getting confessional at one point about his days on the “lunatic sauce”) and there are two numbers from Beaver. Bluesman Sonny Day channels Willie Nelson; the other soloists are Gray Bartlett, Brendan Beleski and Australian singer Annette Moorcroft.

Tasman Glacier - Polar Exercise

Short Film, 1956 (Full Length)

This National Film Unit documentary shows the NZ contingent training in the Aoraki Mount Cook area for their mission to Antarctica, as part of the Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition. On the Tasman Glacier, they practise polar survival techniques, huskies are put through their paces and an RNZAF ski plane dramatically flips before a blizzard blows in, and some classic Kiwi DIY repairs are required on the ice runway. Team leader Sir Edmund Hillary narrates in laconic style. Cameraman Derek Wright went on to chronicle Sir Ed’s famous tractor dash to the pole. 

The City And The Suburb (part two)

Television, 1983 (Full Length)

This 1983 Hamish Keith-presented documentary is subtitled 'Housing New Zealand in the Twentieth Century'. Part two picks up from Michael Joseph Savage’s 1930s state housing scheme. Keith argues that as the emphasis shifted from renting to owning, middle class suburbia became the foundation of Kiwi postwar aspirations. He looks at changing demographics in the cities — as home owners fled on newly built motorways — and argues that the suburban ideal has become bland and out of reach, as New Zealand once again becomes a country of “mean streets and mansions”.

Strassman Unplugged - Bloopers

Television, 2000 (Excerpts)

American-born ventriloquist David Strassman was the star of a self-titled show on TV2. These blooper clips from the Strassman Unplugged special see him and his puppets Chuck Wood, Ted E Bare and Sid Beaverman mocking each other as they get their lines wrong. However this isn't just a collection of missed lines — Chuck Wood goes heavy on the expletives to the studio audience and Ted E Bare has a bit of trouble wrangling his props. The show was made for TVNZ; Strassman has also appeared on television in Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States. 

One of those Blighters

Television, 1982 (Full Length)

One of those Blighters began life as a doco on Taranaki novelist Ronald Hugh Morrieson, but after interviews with many who knew him, morphed into something more offbeat: a semi-fictionalised tale of Morrieson’s mates reminiscing about his departure, interwoven with highlights from his tales of drunkards and con artists. The dramatisations are from his four novels - all became movies - plus one posthumously published short story. Amidst a cast packed to the rafters with carousing Kiwi screen legends, fellow multi-talented muso Bruno Lawrence plays Morrieson.

The Popco Special

Television, 1974 (Full Length Episode)

This 1974 end of year special for music show Popco sees acts performing cover songs in locations around Christchurch, plus inside the studio. Presenting and singing are Hayden Wood, Rob Guest (before musicals fame) and Steve Gilpin (before Mi-Sex). The performers include Space Waltz (in their glam rock glory), Annie Whittle (on the banks of the Avon), the Maggie Burke dancers in Cathedral Square, Rockinghorse (featuring 'Nature' composer Wayne Mason), Mark Williams (sparkling in green lurex), Bunny Walters, Drut (complete with a flaming guitar) and Beaver (in the finale).

Magic Kiwis - Bruno Do That Thing

Television, 1990 (Full Length Episode)

This fast-paced trip through Bruno Lawrence’s first 50 years combines interviews, clips from his many film and TV roles, and priceless material from the vaults (early acting parts, Edmund Hillary presenting Bruno with a Feltex). Bruno talks about favourite roles, the challenges of breaking into the US after hit Smash Palace, and the music-based film he long hoped to direct. LA Times critic Sheila Benson raves about both Bruno and Sam Neill. The Bruno interviews conducted for this doco would later win an extended airing in biographical doco Numero Bruno.

Blerta Revisited

Film, 2001 (Full Length)

If a single word could sum up the free-wheeling flavour of alternative music and comedy in Aotearoa during the 1970s, that word would surely be ... Blerta. The 'Bruno Lawrence Electric Revelation and Travelling Apparition' included foundation members of the NZ screen industry (Lawrence, Geoff Murphy, Alun Bollinger) plus other merry pranksters. Drawing on the Blerta TV series and beyond, Blerta Revisited  (aka Blerta - The Return Trip) is an anarchic collection of comedy skits, musical interludes and films culled from the Blerta archives. Costa Botes writes about Blerta here. 

Should I Be Good?

Film, 1985 (Full Length)

Director Grahame McLean uses the notorious (then recent) 'Mr Asia' drug smuggling saga as fodder for this Wellington underbelly tale. Hello Sailor’s Harry Lyon headlines as a musician and ex-con who partners with a beautiful journo to investigate a global drug syndicate, in between nightclub sessions with fellow musos Beaver and Hammond Gamble. High on 80s guitar licks, Should I be Good? was made in the tax break era without Film Commission investment. McLean followed it right away with The Lie of the Land, becoming a rare Kiwi to make two movies back to back.

Gloss - First Episode

Television, 1987 (Full Length Episode)

Yuppies, shoulder-pads, sports cars and méthode champenoise abound in this cult 'glamour soap'. Gloss was NZ's answer to US soap Dynasty, with the Carrington oil scions replaced by the wealthy Redferns and their Auckland magazine empire. The series epitomised 80s excess, and became something of a guilty viewing pleasure. In this Rosemary McLeod-penned pilot, a 'Remuera Revisited' plot unfolds as Brad Redfern's plans to have a quiet wedding get waylaid by ex-wife Maxine. Schoolgirl Chelsea wags, listens to her Sony Walkman and gets an unorthodox haircut.