|Directed by||Roger Donaldson|
|Written by||Roger Donaldson|
Anna Maria Monticelli
|Editing by||Michael J. Horton|
|Release dates||30 April 1982|
|Running time||108 minutes|
|Box office||NZ $600,000 (New Zealand)|
Smash Palace is a New Zealand feature film, released in 1981. The film chronicles a former race car driver (played by Bruno Lawrence) who inadvertently helps ruin his own marriage, then kidnaps his daughter (Greer Robson). Lawrence's character runs a carwrecking yard in an isolated area of New Zealand's North Island. Smash Palace was the second feature directed by Roger Donaldson. Critical acclaim in the United States won him interest from Hollywood, and the chance to direct the first of a number of films financed outside of New Zealand, The Bounty.
The film centres around the "Smash Palace" car wrecking yard known on the North Island Volcanic Plateau, where former racing driver Al Shaw (Lawrence) lives with his unhappy French wife Jacqui (Jemison) and daughter Georgie (Robson). Jacqui begins a relationship with Al's best friend, local police officer Ray Foley (Aberdein). After a violent argument she leaves Al, taking Georgie with her. Al kidnaps Georgie and takes her into hiding, but shortly afterwards Georgie falls ill and the police catch up with Al when he tries to rob a pharmacy at gunpoint. Al ends up cornered in Smash Palace, and agrees to hand Georgie over in return for Ray.
- Bruno Lawrence as Al Shaw
- Anna Jemison as Jacqui Shaw
- Greer Robson as Georgie Shaw
- Keith Aberdein as Ray Foley, policeman
- Desmond Kelly as Tiny
- Sean Duffy as Frank
- Lyn Robson as Linda
- Margaret Umbers as Rose
- Roy Sturch as crash car driver
- Buick as Jazz the dog
The film won much acclaim for the performance of the late Bruno Lawrence, one of New Zealand's best-known actors. It was successful in its home land, and received positive reviews in the United States; Veteran critic Pauline Kael described it as "amazingly accomplished". Roger Ebert called it one of the best films of 1981, "so emotionally wise and observant that we learn from it why people sometimes make the front pages with guns in their hands and try to explain that it's all because of love". The New York Times picked it as one of its ten best movies of the year.
At the 1982 Manila Film Festival, Bruno Lawrence received an award for Best Actor for his portrayal of Al Shaw.
As of October 2012, movie website Internet Movie Database rates the film 7 out of 10.
Much of the film was shot on location at car dismantling business Horopito Motors, which has existed on the same site since the 1940s, in the former town of Horopito near Ohakune. A scene from road movie Goodbye Pork Pie was also shot in the same location.
- New Zealand Film 1912-1996 by Helen Martin & Sam Edwards p78 (1997, Oxford University Press, Auckland) ISBN 019 558336 1
- Mike Nicolaidi, "New Zealand", Cinema Papers, March 1986 p8
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