Episode 1: Sleeping Dogs (1977)

Welcome to the first episode of Never Repeats! We kick off with Roger Donaldson’s Sleeping Dogs (1977). We talk about the film’s production, its politics, and how we think it holds up today. We also discuss at the source material, C.K. Stead’s novel Smith’s Dream, so strap in, this one could go pretty long.

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Sleeping DogsDirector: Roger Donaldson
Producer: Roger Donaldson
Screenplay: Ian Mune, Arthur Baysting
Director of Photography: Michael Seresin
Ian John

Smith…Sam Neill
Bullen…Ian Mune
Gloria…Nevan Rowe
Mary…Donna Akersten
Colonel Willoughby…Warren Oates
Jesperson…Clyde Scott
Taupiri…Don Selwyn


  • The local DVD release (which misspelled Warren Oates name on the cover) recently went out-of-print, though it shouldn’t be too hard to find second-hand. Those of you not averse to streaming can rent or buy a digital copy from NZ Film On Demand.
  • Although Murray Grindlay is responsible for the country songs on the soundtrack, we forgot to mention the contributions of David Calder, Matthew Brown, and Ariel Railway who were also responsible for much of the music in the film.
  • The great Ian Watkin has a small but memorable role in the film as the proprietor of a diner. We’ll be talking about him a bit next week, and his name will come up quite often thereafter. He was a busy character actor in both film and television, though most people probably remember him as the sleazy Uncle Les in Peter Jackson’s Braindead (1992).
  • This first episode is pretty damn long – we had a lot of stuff to talk about! Future episodes will be considerably shorter, typically covering two films in about 50 minutes.
  • Got any feedback for us? Please get in touch and let us know – we’d love to hear from you!

Next week we’ll be covering Landfall and Wild Man, both also released in 1977. Both films are available to stream in full at NZ On Screen if you want to check them out beforehand.

3 thoughts on “Episode 1: Sleeping Dogs (1977)

  1. Great work. This movie really affected me as a 14yr old. The idea that NZ was a safe little place away from everywhere was smashed. And it had an element of prescience 3 years later, some of the police scenes were created in reality during the protests against 1981 Springbok Tour. Seems its message is still very relevant today.


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