Talking movies, music and other close encounters of the social media kind.
I love old movie posters.
And when I was six years old a particular movie poster first caught my eye.
The year? 1977.
I remember seeing the movie poster for SLEEPING DOGS in front of the old Kings Theatre on Dixon St. I thought it looked kind of dangerous – the graphic typography that popped above the deadly looking rifle drummed up images of action and suspense.
I thought: cool – this must be another action movie from Hollywood. Because as a six year old you’d think every action movie comes from Hollywood right? But then I found out it was a New Zealand made film. Set here in New Zealand. Starring Kiwi actors.
The only action that took place in New Zealand in 1977 was the All Blacks playing the British Lions, and when “The Six Million Dollar Man’ was playing on the tele. In black and white. My parents didn’t have a colour TV just yet.
Kiwi actors? The only kiwi actors I knew back then were on ‘Play School’ playing with Big Ted, Little Ted, Manu, Jemima and Humpty Dumpty.
The fact that a New Zealand film looked like a hollywood action movie was enough to get me excited. I couldn’t even watch it because it was restricted. Hell, that made it even more cooler.
Years later I rented the movie out and watched it. And despite it being quite dated, it’s a tightly crafted and tense thriller. There are scenes of genuine hollywood action, and others that show off the scenic NZ landscape. All set against a backdrop of social upheaval and revolution.
Then there’s a very young Sam Neill (the New Zealand Robert De Niro) playing the reluctant protagonist and revolutionary ‘Smith’. A fiesty Ian Mune (who co-wrote the screenplay) playing Sam Neills’ mate – resistance fighter ‘Bullen’. The movie was directed by Roger Donaldson. He would find some success in Hollywood years later with films NO WAY OUT and THIRTEEN DAYS. And the great patron saint of bad-asses, American actor Warren Oates is in the film. That alone gave the film immense street-cred. I mean, he’s Lyle Gorch from The Wild Bunch!
Looking back on it now, and looking at the movie poster with the rifle typography, it’s weird to think that it was this little film from New Zealand that actually triggered my fascination with movies as a little kid.
Not only that, the movie Sleeping Dogs triggered the start of the NZ Film Industry in the 70s, laying the way for other movies to be made which are now considered Kiwi classics – Goodbye Pork Pie, Sons For The Return Home, Skin Deep, Smash Palace, Beyond Reasonable Doubt, Vigil, The Quiet Earth and UTU to name just a few.
The Sleeping Dogs movie poster. It looked just as good as the other movie poster that was screening around the same time.
It was not restricted, so I could actually go with my parents to watch it.
And it was playing just down the road at the Cinerama in Courtneay Place.
Some science fiction film from America called…