GONE TO GROUND
Australia, 1976, 75 minutes, Colour.
Eric Oldfield, Bud Tingwell, Elaine Lee.
Directed by Kevin James Dobson.
Gone To Ground is one of several telemovies produced by Robert Bruning in the late '70s. Popular thrillers, they established a group of telemovies which took their place in the developing Australian industry. They are fast-paced, melodramatic and somewhat implausible, but well photographed and acted - popular entertainment. They provided groundwork for actors, technicians, directors. This film was directed by Kevin Dobson who made a number of telemovies e.g. Demolition, worked in television series and such feature films as The Mango Tree (1977) and Squizzy Taylor. The screenplay is by Bruce Wishart who contributed a number of screenplays for these telemovies e.g. Is There Anyone There, Plunge Into Darkness. For this kind of telemovie, the cast is good and the film is well acted. Photography is by Russell Boyd (Picnic At Hanging Rock, Gallipoli etc.)
1. The style of Australian telemovies in the late 170s: action, energy, melodrama, suspense entertainment? Characters? Locations? Colour photography? Pace?
2. The title and the explanation given about the hunt and hiding?
3. The basic ironies of the screenplay - themes of set-up, manipulation, revelation of the truth, violent poetic justice?
4. Jim as hero - the threatening letters, the skateboard attack, his waiting wife, the reliance on Harry, the holiday, the searching for the old man, the gradual atmosphere of menace, the sniper, Harry's death? Jim having to cope? His relationship with his wife? The mystery about his past?
5. How well developed in a brief time was the character of Jim - as ambiguous hero? The mystery of his trust in Harry, his being hunted and yet not killed? The relationship with Grace? Ma Bishop? His reaction to Harry's death? His telling the truth to Grace and his wife? The flashback of his stealing the car, enjoying the speed, killing the children? His being protected by Harry? Criminal racketeering? His sense of conscience? His grief for his wife's death? The build-up to the confrontation with Harry?
6. Harry as a smooth businessman type, relationship with Grace, the revelation of his affair with his secretary? His helping Jim and the audience not knowing why? Antagonism towards Bart? The holiday house, the sniping? His death? The irony of his reappearance and attempts to kill Grace? The confrontation with Ma? His escape: the irony of his being hit by Jim? Ma's shooting him? A sketch of a credible smooth racketeer?
7. Grace and the tensions of the marriage, her having to cope, her reaction to Harry's attempt to kill her, her facing the truth?
8. The old man and his caretaking of the place, the uselessness of his death? Ma and her tough attitudes towards him, humorous touches? Her trying to help, keeping watch, saving Grace, the confrontation with Harry at the end and the execution of poetic justice?
9. The secretary and her smooth running of the office, her part in the plan, killing the sniper, arranging for Bart's arrest? Her arrest?
10. The quick pace, glossing over the improbabilities, working satisfactorily at a telemovie level in establishing character, issues, suspense, appearances and reality echoing the contemporary amorality of the business world?