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Runaway

In the beginning it was only to escape…
but he was a young man in a hungry hurry
… his blood on fire

Runaway, New Zealand, 1964

Production co: Pacific Films
Producer/director: John O’Shea
Director of photography: Tony Williams
Screenplay: John Graham, John O’shea
Production adviser: Margaret Thomson
Camera assistant: Michael Seresin, Patrick O’shea
Production manager: Bob Ash
Recording engineer: Lindsay Anderson
Location recordist: Ron Skelley
Music: Robin Maconie

With: Colin Broadley (David Manning), Nadja Regin (Laura Kossovich), Deirdre McCarron (Diana), Kiri Te Kanawa (Isobel Wharewera), Selwyn Muru (Joe Wharewera), Barry Crump (Clarrie), Gil Cornwall (Tom Morton), Sam Stevens (Tana), Tanya Binning (Dorothy), Rim D Paul (Simon Rangi), Alma Woods (Mrs Milligan), Ray Columbus (Bandleader)

35mm, B&W, 102 minutes, PG

Watch the Runaway trailer (7.25MB; 52 seconds)

Runaway premiered in Wellington on 22 October 1964 and opened in: Auckland, Wanganui, Palmerston North, Invercargill the following day.

In the beginning it was only to escape…
but he was a young man in a hungry hurry
… his blood on fire
… and he discovered that life
is a mixture of good and evil
… the passionate, desperate and lonely
… and he meets them all
… from the warm beaches of Northland
to the ice-bound wilderness of Westland glaciers
the New Zealand you know
… for the first time in a film that is
compelling, intimate and brilliant entertainment!

“’He was a young man in a hungry hurry – his blood on fire’, bluffed the ad campaign for New Zealand’s first road move, John O’Shea’s Runaway, and that was where the resemblance to American moviemaking ended. The kiwi Angry Young Man of 1964 is actually a much cooler customer. David Manning (the handsome, fair and fine-featured Colin Broadley) is a yachting, nightclubbing young blade about Auckland who gets caught ‘borrowing’ from his employer, and hits the road north. In the Hokianga he divides his time between the gentle courtship of a gauche and lovely young Kiri Te Kanawa, and toy boy duties with the bored and dangerous young Euro-trash wife of the local big noise. (The sultry Nadja Regin’s credits included From Russia with Love). When this gets too much there’s only one direction left: south to his roots, via Wellington and Christchurch and into the icy clutches of the Alps. In a mountain hut waits the nemesis of any sensitive lad: Barry Crump.” — Bill Gosden, New Zealand Film Festivals, 2002

"It is not, I think, necessarily an insult to director John O’Shea and the team that made Runaway to say that, with many others, I was just a little afraid of what the film might be like. Of course New Zealanders don’t expect their countrymen to be good at this kind of thing anyway, and that’s a pity. But apart from that filmmaking is a difficult art to practise, and when both the old professionals of the game and its brilliant artists have so many failures, was it reasonable to expect Mr O’Shea, with all his talent and success with short films, would ring the bell with his first big solo effort? How good it is, then, to find that he has done so. ... New Zealanders should like its fresh view of themselves in a familiar setting, and I shall be surprised if it is not even better received overseas. … the real stars of the piece are Colin Broadley, as the man on the run, and Deidre McCarron, the girl he meets on his journey south. Mr Broadley had the right kind of sensitive face for the part and quite a bit of acting talent. … generally he does a remarkably good job. The same can be said of Miss McCarron, a beautiful woman off screen who manages to look rather ordinary when she first appears and goes on to develop a character with quite a bit of range. In the film, I imagine, mainly because their names might help to sell it, the Auckland artists Selwyn Muru and author Barry Crump turn in interesting performances. The warm, friendly Mr Muru is a complete success; but Mr Crump, who plays himself, or at any rate his public image, very well, is too well known to go down as someone else, a character in the film, and the slightly comic note he introduces makes it all the harder for the film to establish the emotional climate in which it is about to end. Apart from that, he will probably go over well with overseas audiences. … I have left to the end a word on the technical skill with which the film has been made and on its attitude… Runaway is really an English-speaking continental film. At its best, the film has more than a touch of that rare quality, style. I was very impressed with its bold opening. Anthony Williams’ quite brilliant, adventurous and finely imaginative photography. Robin Maconie’s always apt and never intrusive music. The dialogue is spare and economical, most of the scenes are short and telling, and the cutting is crisp, so that the film never drags. For all these qualities the director and his team deserve generous praise. Mr O’Shea’s hope, he told us at the premiere, was that audiences would find Runaway interesting and entertaining – I did, and I think they will – and that it would show that New Zealanders are not just inhabitants of ‘social security islands’ in the South Pacific but people (I think these were his words) with passion, character and individuality. This also Runaway does….” — F.A.J., NZ Listener, 6/11/1964

Screenings: Runaway was selected to screen in the Filmland Neuseeland programme curated in support of New Zealand's status as country of honour at the Frankfurt Book Fair 2012; and has screened on 21 May 2009 in a season celebrating the early features by Pacific Films; on 19 December 2007 in the 'Hitting the Road' season; as part of x-Film Commission marketing chief, Lindsay Shelton's 'Rarely Seen But Important (& Pleasurable)' season; and on 30 November 2005 in a selection by film maker and costume designer, Kirsty Cameron.

Writing about her selection Kirsty said "I have had a bad video copy of Runaway for many years that I never gave back to its owner because I couldn’t part with it. I love its sense of NZ as a vast place that you could still get lost in, before the days when jumping on a plane seems easier than catching a bus, and when the Far North felt like a completely different country. I love the sparse and simple framing, the culture of Auckland’s nightlife, the dance up north, the floral dresses, the lady riding a horse down a street while smoking a cigarette, the feisty character of Diana, the landscape, the beaches, the mountains ... the emptiness, the discussions David and Diana have about fate 'You have to work hard to get to heaven' and David’s half mournful / half hopeful refrain when leaving his mother 'We mustn’t be sad because I’ve found my wings'.”