The unhappy bard of Hawera, Ronald Hugh Morrieson, died in the sure and certain knowledge of his own failure. Only one of his four novels had been published (and only in Australia) and the others languished in obscurity. He wasn’t to know that his Taranaki-gothic visions would prove perfectly adaptable to the big screen and that no less a Hollywood legend than John Carradine would appear in the first of them, The Scarecrow in 1982. Came a Hot Friday (1985) followed to huge box office success but then the Morrieson curse struck again and, due to the vagaries of the international movie business, Pallet on the Floor wouldn’t even make it in to cinemas in New Zealand.
His other novel, “Predicament”, has finally made it to the big screen and, I’m sorry to report, that Morrieson himself might prefer that it hadn’t. It’s Hawera, 1933. A socially repressed New Zealand small town, pleasant and placid on the surface but teeming with petty crims and sly-groggers underneath. When gawky teenager Cedric Williamson’s mother died his father (Tim Finn) suffered a breakdown and is silently building a huge wooden tower in his front yard.