Race To The Yankee Zephyr

The following information was taken from Feb. 1981 and Feb. 1982 issues of Sequence.
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David Hemmings' action-adventure feature RACE TO THE YANKEE ZEPHYR had its world premiere at the opening of Kerridge Odeon's new Regent twin-cinema in Christchurch November 1981. A capacity crowd of 900 attended the charity opening. Hemmings told the audience that the production was a 'wonderful opportunity to highlight the burgeoning New Zealand film industry.' A reviewer in THE PRESS, wrote that RACE TO THE YANKEE ZEPHYR is by far the most ambitious film yet made in New Zealand and deserves to do well. As a light adventure comedy, it also has a lot going for it; a slight but interesting plot, plenty of action and the presence of Donald Pleasence and George Peppard, and the greatest star of all - the magnificent scenery of the Queenstown area.

The prime reason that RACE TO THE YANKEE ZEPHYR was made in New Zealand was the attitude of the Australian Actor's Equity which refused to allow four overseas actors in top roles in the film. As a result Antony Ginnane, who had been providing a considerable amount of employment for film industry people in and around Melbourne, decided to come to New Zealand. It is to be hoped that Equity in New Zealand does not get to the stage of cutting off its nose to spite its face.

An international production, RACE TO THE YANKEE ZEPHYR has been directed by David Hennings, recently seen in BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT, and a cast headed by Americans Ken Wahl, Lesley Ann Warrne and George Peppard, and also Donald Pleasence. Pleasence, who seems incapable of a bad performance, holds the show together with his funny portrayal of the old, drunken scoundrel with a rather poeculiar Kiwi accent...It is the scenery, however, which sets the film apart from your average Saturday matinee movie. The director, David Hemmings, lovingly lingers on the mountains, valleys and lakes, and this probably also explains the length of the film (almost two hours)...It may not have that distinctive, casual and typically Kiwi feeling of GOODBYE PORK PIE but could prove to be equally as successful both here and overseas. The script, by Everett de Roche, tells of a missing DC3 that crashed into Lake Wakatipu during the Second World War. An old deer hunter falls out of a helicopter into the lake some thirty years later and finds the old aircraft which is packed with the American Pacific force payroll and hundreds of newly minted medals. This production has a reported budget of $10,000,000. Producers are John Barnett for New Zealand, Antony Ginnane for Australia and David Hemmings for his own company of Hemdale.

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