There’s only one sure thing in life. That’s doubt, I think.
Goodbye Pork Pie
On the entertainment pages of the Evening Post for 2 March, 1981, there is a review for Dave Brubeck’s weekend gig at the Wellington Town Hall (he was in good form, apparently), and the usual movie and theatre listings. Downstage were doing a Noel Coward play called Hayfever, and Bats were doing something called Bedroom Farce.
If we were heading out that Monday night our choices at the flicks would be: The Secret Policeman’s Ball, Close Encounters (Special Edition), Blazing Saddles, Flying High, The Warriors, or La Strada. Or we could go to the Majestic (4th smash week), or the Odeon (3rd record week) and see Goodbye Pork Pie.
The last time I saw this movie would have been on TV in the 1980s. I have always remembered the ending when one of the heroes comes to the door naked, but other than vague memories of little yellow minis driving around I had forgotten most of the film so I decided that (for the purposes of research) I would need to see it again.
I went to Aro Street Video Store and got it out. I mention this specifically because Aro Street is actually in Goodbye Pork Pie. When the heroes pull into a dodgy mechanics workshop in Wellington they are on Aro Street.
Goodbye Pork Pie is a great movie that really cracks along. It reminded me quite a bit of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. This is a good thing in my version of the world. There is a full page review in The Listener which is full of praise and which I agree with almost every word of.
Many of the things about New Zealand in the 1980s look about the same as they do now except the car stock on the road has completely changed, we don’t have red buses in Wellington anymore, and the cop cars and police uniforms are different. Also, I think that Gerry calls Shirl a bitch a few times too many, and the first sex scene smells a bit of male screenplay writer fantasy.
Was Goodbye Pork Pie the first time New Zealanders went to the cinema to see a New Zealand film and actually enjoyed themselves? I too have been made to watch Vigil and been told to admire the cinematography and note the symbolism, but wouldn’t we mostly have preferred to see Goodbye Pork Pie or Utu?
Both of those Geoff Murphy movies are cowboy outlaw movies about resisting the law (which is always an ass and always wins). I wish he’d made more movies in New Zealand in the 80s, but aside from The Quiet Earth he didn’t. Anyone could have made those Hollywood movies he directed, but only Geoff Murphy could have made Geoff Murphy movies in New Zealand in the 1980s.
As a New Zealander with a little sense of history you can’t help noticing the opening title card of this film that tells us it is a piece of History set in an age when petrol cost a buck a gallon. It’s also worth remembering that Geoff Murphy was a member of Blerta with Bruno. Which makes me feel like this film is looking longingly back at the time of Norman Kirk, and hippy culture when our economy was falsely booming and oil shocks were in the future, while also looking forward to a time when many people in New Zealand wanted to give the establishment (and Muldoon) the finger and found the cause they needed when the Springboks touched down in July of 1981 and the police changed their image in New Zealand forever.
Either that or it’s a good yarn about a couple of mad buggers who do something daft and almost get away with it.