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 NZ'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 1969 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.
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).
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.
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)
Ian Wishart has been described by The Listener as “the country’s most influential journalist”. The outspoken editor of Investigate magazine has written several bestsellers examining Kiwi crime cases. Wishart gained renown as the reporter who led the investigation into The Winebox Affair, fronting a Frontline documentary on corporate fraud. He also presented 1997 found footage show Real TV.
John A Givins is a television producer and director. His company Livingstone Productions produced the award-winning historical series Captain’s Log, and eleven seasons of Queer Nation. Givins has gone on to produce programmes and develop formats for Māori Television.