Sleeping Dogs and other fine stories

January 15, 2011
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Mune: An Autobiography, by Ian Mune (Craig Potton Publishing, RRP $49.99):

Ian Mune is something of the elder statesman of acting here in New Zealand, with a pedigree that covers film, television and theatre.

In this autobiography, the actor, writer and director tells the story of his career, which is also pretty much the story of New Zealand’s entertainment industry ever since the 1960s.

Tauranga-born Mune had a fascination with the theatre from an early age and that fascination saw him head for Wellington and a fulltime acting career.

He started out with the Downstage theatre company back in the days when Downstage was also a mere pup.

After a two-year stint with the Welsh Theatre Company in the United Kingdom, Mune came back to New Zealand to begin what would be a long association with Mercury theatre.

Then came television, with what was probably the first programme we saw on our TV screens that showed real New Zealanders: Pukemanu, a series following life in a North Island timber town. It screened from 1971 to 1972.

Other small screen roles followed – including Moynihan — and Mune also featured in a stack of great movies such as Sleeping Dogs, Came a Hot Friday and What Becomes of the Broken Hearted?

Although it was released way back in 1977, I probably didn’t see Sleeping Dogs until around 1980 and was blown away by the grittiness of the story.

Mune both co-wrote and starred in what was Roger Donaldson’s first film and it marked the beginning of what would become stellar film careers for both men.

The screenplay was based on the C K Stead book Smith’s Dream and was the complicated but compelling story of a man caught up in the growing violence of martial law. And, of course, it starred another Kiwi classic: Sam Neill.

There’s no denying Peter Jackson is doing great things in the movie world and bringing a lot of recognition to New Zealand in that industry but it’s worth remembering the great heights scaled by our pioneers in that realm, such as Donaldson and Mune.

They are both still out there doing their thing and entertaining us and now Mune has added author to his list of achievements.

Mune: An Autobiography gives a great insight into a bloke who has been involved in acting in all its forms in this country for five decades and is showing no signs of slowing down.

If you haven’t seen Sleeping Dogs, go rent it this weekend. And pick up a copy of this book while you’re out, because it’s a great read.

Jillian Allison-Aitken

I come from the other land down under, where men are men, and sheep are nervous. I'm a sub-editor and in the past have been a proof-reader, news editor and web editor. I am also an ex-columnist, and book and software reviewer for the local daily newspaper.I still read. A lot. And surf the web. Also a lot.You'll find a little about both of those pastimes here, and on By George.

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