This feature is a dramatized reconstruction of actual events surrounding a notorious miscarriage of justice. Farmer Arthur Allan Thomas was jailed for the murder of Harvey and Jeanette Crewe but later exonerated. Directed by John Laing, produced by John Barnett and starring well-known English actor David Hemmings (Blowup, Barbarella), the docudrama leveraged the immense public interest in the case. Thomas was pardoned when the film was in pre-production. It became New Zealand's most successful commercial film until Goodbye Pork Pie.
Gamelan music has been taught and played at Victoria University (and later the NZ School of Music) since the mid 70s, when lecturer Allan Thomas purchased a set of gamelan instruments on the Indonesian island of Java. This magazine piece from arts show 10AM showcases Victoria’s gamelan orchestra in action. Thomas and fellow lecturer Jack Body provide eloquent testimony to the popularity of this age-old music, and the access point it offers into Asian culture for New Zealanders. Body also provides his own spin on a gamelan composition.
TVNZ’s arts programme Kaleidoscope visits production of John Laing’s film based on David Yallop’s book about “New Zealand’s greatest and most controversial murder” — the 1970 killings of Jeanette and Harvey Crewe at Pukekawa, and the subsequent conviction and eventual pardon of their neighbour Arthur Allan Thomas. A primer on film production as much as the film itself, there are extended visits to two locations. Interviewees include producer John Barnett, director Laing, first assistant director Murray Newey and the recently freed Thomas, who observes a courtroom sequence.
Veteran producer/director John Laing has worked in film and television in New Zealand, Canada and the UK. His feature films include the Arthur Allan Thomas-inspired Beyond Reasonable Doubt, cross-cultural romance Other Halves and thriller Dangerous Orphans. Laing has also directed a long list of popular drama series for TV, including Go Girls, Nothing Trivial, Street Legal, Inside Straight and Marlin Bay; plus tele-feature Safe House.
Veteran actress Kate Harcourt has had a long and distinguished career in theatre, television and film. Her first television role was as a presenter on the Wellington version of children’s show Junior Magazine. She would later appear in TV dramas such as Country GP, Plain Tastes, and the TV play Loose Enz - Free Enterprise. Harcourt has also acted in a number of feature films including Mr Wrong, Apron Strings and Savage Islands.
Actor Roy Billing has become 'an overnight sensation in my early 60s' playing ‘Aussie Bob’ Trimbole in the hit Australasian TV drama Underbelly. But before that he had a successful 30 year acting career in both Australia (Rabbit Proof Fence, The Dish and Siam Sunset) and New Zealand (Under the Mountain, Inside Straight, Gliding On and Skin and Bone).
After working at the National Film Unit, the BBC and Canada's National Film Board, John Laing made his feature film debut as a director with Arthur Allan Thomas drama Beyond Reasonable Doubt (1980). Since then he has directed another six features, and many television shows and tele-movies. Laing has also produced for both Outrageous Fortune and Mercy Peak.
In the 1970s and 1980s, the multi-talented Dave Fraser brought his multiple musical talents to score everything from features and National Film Unit documentaries to television dramas and commercials. Image credit: Alexander Turnbull Library, 1/2-215042-F (Detail)
Peter Hayden’s long storytelling career spans fact, fiction, feather and fur. Hayden has worked extensively behind the scenes on a run of nature documentaries, made for company NHNZ. His acting career includes roles in classic goldmining drama Illustrious Energy and Maurice Gee series The Fire-Raiser. In 2017 Hayden was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for services to film and television.
Jack Body, OMNZ, composed for everything from gamelan orchestra to the Kronos Quartet, and been described as a leading figure in awakening local interest in Asian and Pacific music. His soundtrack compositions ranged across children’s tales, te reo dramas and natural history films. Body’s collaborations with director Vincent Ward include early classic Vigil, and (with John Gibson), 2008’s Rain of the Children. He passed away on 10 May 2015.