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Beyond Reasonable Doubt


Wed 30 Sep 2015, 7:00pm–9:05pm
Thu 1 Oct 2015, 7:00pm–9:05pm

Where: Nga Taonga Sound & Vision, 84 Taranaki St, Te Aro, Wellington

Restrictions: All Ages

Ticket Information:

  • General admission: $8.00
  • Concession: $6.00
  • Additional fees may apply


"Beyond Reasonable Doubt" (1980, PG) is a compelling and thought-provoking real life New Zealand murder mystery that asks whether justice has really been served. The film blends documentary and drama to explore who killed Waikato farming couple Harvey and Jeanette Crewe in 1970.

“On 22 June 1970 Harvey and Jeanette Crewe were reported missing from their bloodstained Pukekawa farmhouse. After three months’ intensive search their bodies were found in the Waikato River. 'Beyond Reasonable Doubt' dramatizes what followed as, with little to go on, police suspicion focused first on Jeanette’s father, Len Demler... The investigation shifted focus when police inspector Bruce Hutton, rounding up the district’s 22 rifles, finds two which could have been the murder weapon. Ignoring evidence pointing to one local rifle owner with a reputation for violence, Hutton homes in on ingenuous farmer Arthur Thomas. Thomas’ arrest, conviction and subsequent re-trial provide the rest of the narrative. In the final scene Thomas, after nine years in jail and with his marriage over, returns home on 17 December 1979 after being pardoned by Prime Minister Robert Muldoon. In his investigative book David Yallop calls Thomas’ prosecution ‘a game where evidence was put in and taken out to serve one purpose: that Thomas was convicted’ and the investigation ‘one of the most crass, banal, amateur investigations ever undertaken in the country’s history.’ His screenplay follows the book with a carefully constructed view of justice wilfully miscarried… Yallop’s book set in motion the events leading to Thomas’ eventual pardon. As the film’s narrative unfolds drama and docudrama overlap… the restrained visual style of documentary realism makes for compelling viewing… Ends are tied up hurriedly because Thomas’ pardon and release, which came fortuitously at the end of 1979, took place when 'Beyond Reasonable Doub't was in postproduction. Benefiting from the immense public interest in the case, 'Beyond Reasonable Doubt' was New Zealand’s most successful commercial film until the release of 'Goodbye Pork Pie.'” - Helen Martin, "New Zealand Film 1912-1996"

“'Beyond Reasonable Doubt' is compulsive viewing for anyone interested in New Zealand movies or New Zealand justice.” – Gilbert Peterson, "The Dominion," 22 September 1980

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