Wild Man is the missing link between 1970s musical legends Blerta, and the burgeoning of Blerta trumpeter Geoff Murphy as a director whose talents knew few bounds. The Blerta ensemble relocated to the mud-soaked West Coast to create this tale of pioneer con men and silent movie style pratfalls. Bruno Lawrence and Ian Watkin arrange a fight — and betting — in each town they arrive in, while Bruno channels his inner wild man from under a leopard skin. Wild Man was released in cinemas alongside John Clarke and Geoff Murphy’s Fred Dagg comedy Dagg Day Afternoon.
Conman and victim face off in the first, and arguably funniest Winners & Losers episode. Legendary vagabond The Shiner (Coronation Street's Ivan Beavis) sets out to prove to his fellow swaggers that he can con alcohol from a dour publican (Ian Watkin). Co-director Ian Mune dons a fake eye; singer Tommy Adderley plays harmonica. The real life Shiner — Irishman Ned Slattery — was immortalised in a series of stories by John A Lee. Although Lee claimed to have "once walked thirty miles side by side" with Slattery, he admitted that his Shiner stories were far from gospel truth.
Billy Apple: enigma, con man, or artist? Being Billy Apple looks at one of New Zealand's most controversial contemporary artists: a man who changed his name, then turned himself into a brand. Director Leanne Pooley (The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls) follows Apple's life, and looks at his work in the context of the development of conceptual art overseas. This opening excerpt from the 70-minute documentary sees Apple talking with the filmmaker about whether it is important his face is even seen on screen.
Craig Little was one of the first local television stars created by the highly successful regional news shows in the 70s and 80s. In 1970, he took over the presenter’s role on Auckland’s This Day but resigned three years later, tired of constant public attention. He also presented Top Town and New Faces, and worked in radio. Little ran his own PR company, and held positions in Auckland local government.
Phillip Gordon began his screen career with 70s soap Close to Home, then won fame in the mid 80s with two different roles: playing conman Cyril Kidman in hit period comedy Came a Hot Friday, and starring in Wellington-set TV series Inside Straight. He went on to act on both sides of the Tasman.
“The funniest, liveliest, most exuberant film ever made in New Zealand”. So said critic Nicholas Reid, a year after Came a Hot Friday became 1985's biggest local hit. Though Billy T’s loony Mexican-Māori cowboy is beloved by fans, he is but one eccentric here among many — as two scheming conmen hit town, and encounter bookies, boozers, country hicks, nasty crim Marshall Napier, and Prince Tui Teka playing saxophone. Until the arrival of The Piano in 1993, Ian Mune and Dean Parker’s award-loaded adaptation remained NZ's third biggest local hit. Ian Pryor writes about the film here.
Andy Anderson began drumming and singing as a Hutt Valley teenager. Since then his diverse trans-Tasman performing career has included playing in rock bands, starring as Sweeney Todd and the Pirate King on-stage — plus more than 50 acting roles on-screen, often playing rogues and diamonds in the rough, in shows from Roche, Gloss and Marlin Bay, to The Sullivans.
Hawke's Bay teen Taungaroa Emile had only acted in school plays, before he made an award-winning screen debut in landmark movie Once Were Warriors (1994). Emile played shy but rebellious teenager Boogie Heke once again in the 1999 sequel. In-between, he starred as a teen ex-con in movie romance Flight of the Albatross. Since then Emile has starred in episodes of Taonga and te reo series Aroha, and appeared in Shortland Street, acclaimed feature No 2, and 2011 TV film Tangiwai - A Love Story. In 2004 he played one of the soldiers in Taika Waititi short Tama Tū, which was invited to over 40 film festivals.
Sometime actor Taika Waititi has clearly sunk his teeth into directing. His 2005 short film Two Cars, One Night was Oscar-nominated. Second feature Boy (2010) became the most successful Kiwi film released on its home soil — at least until the arrival of Waititi's fourth movie, Barry Crump inspired adventure comedy Hunt for the Wilderpeople. In 2017 Marvel movie Thor: Ragnarok became an international hit.
Millen Baird's self-titled comedy show won acclaim, and a Best Comedy nomination at the 2009 Qantas Awards. Then Baird and friends semi-improvised as a group of big city wannabes, for web series Auckland Daze. Baird has gone on to create and act in web series Darryl - An Outward Bound Story, Leeway and Slow Pete (with wife Siobhan Marshall), and act on TV's Step Dave and The Almighty Johnsons.