Goodbye Pork Pie

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Goodbye Pork Pie
Goodbye Pork Pie (DVD Cover).jpg
Directed by Geoff Murphy
Produced by Geoff Murphy
Nigel Hutchinson
Written by Geoff Murphy
Ian Mune
Starring Tony Barry
Kelly Johnston
Bruno Lawrence
Cinematography Alun Bollinger
Editing by Michael J. Horton
Release dates 6 February 1981
Running time 105 min
Country New Zealand
Language English
Budget NZ$350,000[1]
Box office NZ$1.4 million[2]

Goodbye Pork Pie is a 1981 New Zealand film directed by Geoff Murphy and written by Geoff Murphy and Ian Mune. The film was New Zealand's first largescale local hit. One book described it as Easy Rider meets the Keystone Kops.[3]

It was filmed during November 1979, using only 24 cast and crew. Its overheads were surprisingly minimal, to the point that the Holden Police cars used doubled as crew and towing vehicles, and that the director Geoff Murphy, performed some of the stunts himself. The film is famous for a scene where the main character drives the car onto a moving train.

Plot[edit]

In the Northland town of Kaitaia in Spring 1978,[4] nineteen-year-old Gerry Austin (Kelly Johnson) opportunistically steals a wallet accidentally dropped by a wealthy woman named Lesley Morris. Finding cash and her driver's licence inside it, he uses them to rent a yellow Mini from Hertz. With no particular aim in mind, he drifts down to Auckland. Meanwhile in Auckland, the middle-aged John (Tony Barry), has just had Sue, his girlfriend of six years, walk out on him and fly home to Invercargill. After a night on the bottle, John decides to go down to Invercargill.

Searching for transport, John notices Gerry being stopped by a traffic officer for failing to wear a seat belt. John intervenes and manages to get the officer off writing a ticket. As thanks, Gerry offers John a lift part of the way. The duo stop for petrol in the northern Waikato, but in confusion accidentally drive off without paying, drawing police attention to the car.

Further down the road, Gerry and John pick up Shirl (Claire Oberman), who is heading to Wanganui, and after informing the duo that she is a virgin, Gerry makes a bet that this will change before reaching Wanganui. After failing to pay for petrol on purpose in the central North Island, they are pursued by a motorcycle officer, with the duo ending up avoiding arrest by driving into a car wreckers. On the road to Wanganui, the trio discuss about whether Gerry had sex with Shirl or not when he tried to silence her in the chase beforehand. However, the discussion ends in a stalemate.

Shirl doesn't leave at Wanganui, and decides to stays with the guys and go to Wellington. In Wellington, the trio meet Mulvaney (Bruno Lawrence), an old associate of John's, who gives the trio overnight accommodation at his garage in Wellington, and supplies them with money and drugs in return for parts of the car. The next morning, the trio leave and head to the inter-island ferry terminal. Gerry accidentally runs a red traffic light, and is immediately pursued by the police through central Wellington. The trio avoid the police by driving through the Wellington Railway Station and stowing the Mini in an empty boxcar being shunted onto the inter-island ferry.

Arriving in the South Island, the boxcar is attached to a train destined for Christchurch, and the trio enjoy a leisurely ride, decorating the wagon with the name "Blondini" and other items found in the train's wagons. After a night of partying, Gerry finally wins his bet with Shirl. Arriving in Christchurch in the morning, the trio finds out the wagon is not leaving the city for the West Coast until that night, so spend the day on the town. Gerry and John return to the train, but notices Shirl is not there, and the train leaves without her.

After leaving the train, Gerry and John stop at a tearoom further down the coast. They find out from the television that Shirl was arrested for shoplifting, and that they're wanted in a national man-hunt of the "Blondini Gang". The duo are pursued by police down the coast, and continue to sell parts off the car for money. At one sale in Cromwell, they are short-changed and John take a full petrol can as extra payment.

At Dunedin, the duo meet Snout, who helps them avoid the police on the Dunedin Northern Motorway and buys more parts off the car. After he finds out they are heading to Invercargill, he tips off Gerry and John to the police. Stopping for conveniences, John is spotted by police and quickly returns to the Mini. Unable to find Gerry, he drives off, not realising Gerry is underneath the car trying to remove the exhaust muffler. Gerry is arrested, but manages to escape from the police car and jumps on top of the fleeing Mini. The police try to PIT the Mini, and Gerry falls off and is hit by the pursuing police car. John says goodbye to Gerry, then takes the car and proceeds to Invercargill.

John encounters a roadblock at the entrance to Invercargill and diverts through a cemetery to avoid it, but not before the Armed Offenders Squad shoots a hole in the Cromwell fuel can, spilling the petrol. Approaching Sue's house, the insecure exhaust dragging along the road ignites the fuel, setting it alight. John reunites with Sue, but their reunion is short-lived when the burning Mini draws the attention of emergency services. With police surrounding the house, John finally admits defeat and surrenders himself.

Cast[edit]

Impact[edit]

Though coming after Sleeping Dogs, the release of Goodbye Pork Pie is considered to be the coming-of-age of New Zealand cinema as it showed that New Zealanders could make successful films about New Zealand. It was the first really financially successful New Zealand film of modern times.

Production[edit]

Goodbye Pork Pie was filmed chronologically over six weeks in late 1979, following the north to south route taken by the film's protagonists. Filming began in the northern town of Kaitaia and ended in Invercargill, near the bottom of the South Island. Director Geoff Murphy had been good friends with star Tony Barry (Smith) as well as Bruno Lawrence before Goodbye Pork Pie. The three had played together in multi-media group Blerta.

Geoff Murphy cameos in the film as a man working at the second petrol station. Co-producer Nigel Hutchinson sells a banana milk shake "with an egg in it" to John a short time before Gerry falls off the car.

Cars[edit]

The yellow mini was a 1978 British Leyland Mini 1000, registered IZ6393. However, three 1978 Minis were used during filming. They were sourced from the New Zealand Motor Corporation (assemblers of British Leyland products in NZ). After the film two of the Minis that were undamaged were returned to The New Zealand Motor Corporation. The third, which had a hole cut in the roof and the front bodywork removed, was used for promotion and is still in New Zealand, its actual registration is IX2992 A fourth, 1959 Mini was used for the final scene where it was burnt out. The Police Holden HQs used in the film doubled as towing and support vehicles for the cast and crew. It is the same police cars chasing the Mini throughout both the North and South Islands.

Locations[edit]

An early scene in the film shows John and his partner in a taxi, after she has left him, crossing the old Mangere Bridge. The new bridge, at the time of the film's production, was on hold for a couple of years in an unfinished state due to prolonged industrial action.

When Shirl is picked up by Gerry and John, she is standing in front of the now-decommissioned Meremere coal-fired power station. The second petrol station the trio stole fuel from is located in National Park, at the intersection of State Highway 4 and State Highway 47.

The Christchurch railway station where the mini is stowed while in Christchurch, was closed in 1993 (with a new station built at Addington) this building was used a movie theatre and Science Alive from 1993, until the building was badly damaged in the 2011 Christchurch earthquake. The building was demolished in 2012. A later scene in the film shows Blondini and John in Cromwell, Central Otago. The part of Cromwell shown is now underwater, due to the Lake Dunstan hydroelectric project.

The scene at McNab, Southland where Gerry is caught by the police shows a decrepit old toilet block at the side of the road. It was actually a temporary structure built specifically for the film.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Elliott, Matt (1997). Kiwi Jokers: The Rise and Rise of New Zealand Comedy. Auckland, New Zealand: HarperCollinsPublishers. pp. 160–162. ISBN 978-1-86950-248-5. 
  2. ^ Mike Nicolaidi, "New Zealand", Cinema Papers, March 1986 p8
  3. ^ NA Film Archive — Goodbye Pork Pie
  4. ^ Title card: "Kataia[,] Spring 1978"

External links[edit]