Beyond Reasonable Doubt reconstructs the events surrounding a notorious New Zealand miscarriage of justice. Farmer Arthur Allan Thomas was jailed for the murder of Harvey and Jeanette Crewe. Directed by John Laing, and starring Australian John Hargreaves (as Thomas) and Englishman David Hemmings (Blowup, Barbarella), the drama benefitted from immense public interest in the case. Thomas was pardoned while the film was in pre-production, and he saw some scenes being made. It became New Zealand's most successful film until Goodbye Pork Pie in 1981.
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 arts show Kaleidoscope visits the production of the 1980 feature film about “New Zealand’s greatest and most controversial murder” — the 1970 killings of Jeanette and Harvey Crewe at Pukekawa. As much a look at film making as the film itself, the documentary features extended visits to two locations. Interviewees include director John Laing, producer John Barnett and the recently freed Arthur Allan Thomas — who spent nine years in prison after being convicted of murdering the Crewes. Beyond Reasonable Doubt was based a book by David Yallop.
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 talked of becoming "an overnight sensation in my early 60s", thanks to playing ‘Aussie Bob’ Trimbole in hit Australian drama Underbelly. Before that he had a successful 30 year acting career in both Australia (Rabbit Proof Fence, The Dish and Siam Sunset) and New Zealand (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)
If the measure of success for a casting director is the subsequent success of the actors they pluck from the crowd, then Diana Rowan has certainly done time at the top of her field. She is the casting director who helped Anna Paquin, Keisha Castle-Hughes, Kerry Fox and Lucy Lawless on their way to international careers, while developing her own talents as a writer and director of short films.
Ian Watkin's long acting career saw him playing mad doctors, priests, axe-wielding stepfathers, and American presidents. Part of the legendary Blerta troupe which toured Australasia in the 1970s, Watkin went on to appearances in everything from Beyond Reasonable Doubt and an iconic Crunchie bar commercial, to presenting Miss Universe New Zealand. He passed away in May 2016.