Billy T: Te Movie

Billy T: Te Movie


Documentary celebrating the life of legendary New Zealand comedian, Billy T James. Directed by Ian Mune (Came A Hot Friday).... More

The film explores Billy’s extraordinary talent as musician, singer, comedian, actor, writer and artist (and even attempts to uncover the source of his trademark giggle). The film tells of Billy’s meteoric rise to national fame and his tragic downfall into ill-health and financial collapse.

Featuring digitally re-mastered footage of Billy’s performances and never-seen-before archival images, Billy T’s story is set alongside interviews with his family, friends and colleagues.Hide

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Flicks Review

Ian Mune’s tribute to Billy T James is well-rounded, sensitive and funny. There’s plenty of warm-fuzzies nostalgia, from the source of that famous giggle to the comedian’s stints on Te News and Mune’s Came A Hot Friday; it’s just as amusing looking back at New Zealand in the pre-PC 1980s. Nor does the film shy away from the problems in the star’s life, including the conflict that arose following his death and burial on Mount Taupiri.... More

Te Movie paints a picture many won’t have seen of James: a shy man who found his confidence on stage with the Maori Volcanics showband, a man so passionate about comedy it led him to his peril. Remastered footage brings his dual personalities back to life, from his over-the-top satire to his well-spoken everyday nature. But the film is let down by a confusing sequence explaining his family history, with daughter Cherie appearing in much of the archival footage yet no mention of why she’s not interviewed for this. Perhaps she felt she’d said her piece in 1997 when she made the TV doco Billy T: A Daughter’s Story. Much of the editing too is disjointed and distracting, flicking between points of view.

Viewers are left with a respect for two things: the legacy of the incredible Billy T James, and the difficulties of telling a story about a man no longer with us.Hide

The Peoples' Reviews

Average ratings from 8 ratings, 10 reviews
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BY Coraliee superstar

This was more a doco than a movie. And although an interesting doco...the interviewee's (is that a word?) were mostly old collegues he worked with, a relative he wasn't that close to, and various other people he came across during his life at various stages. So not so sure I can take all they say with a pinch of salt. But it was nice to 'flick' back now again to some 80's comedy scenes, and see Billy again. However I have some of the old Billy T dvds, and they make better watching.

I actually didn't realize this is a doco of Billy T made me cry and also showed me how politically correct we are these days, what Billy T got away with as funny is amazing..He's still laugh out loud funny and an icon of NZ History. Great movie.

BY GrahamP superstar

Well put together.A good doco which is easy to watch.It shows more of the man than his sketches.

BY bigspendakev superstar

This is more a story told by his friends and colleages about the man behind the image Billy T was must see tv for any kiwi in the early eighties If you havent heard or seen anything that Billy T was in i suggeset you go down to the local video shop and rent out his dvds you will soon be enthralled by his catchy laugh to his very funny wit my favourite Billy T moment is when he goes and buys a car from a car dealer and the Te News section Billy you will always be the man

There can be few Kiwis who were so universally loved as Billy T James. Even now, twenty years after his death (can it REALLY be 20 years?), people remember with great affection his ability to poke fun, the infectious giggle and the no-holds-barred professionalism.

This film shows just how passionate and professional Billy was about his craft, why he was so funny and how he made it look so easy (when actually it's darned hard work).
We also get to know a little about the private Billy T, the... More quiet, contemplative man who conquered his shyness to become a star.
Nor does the movie forget the problems which occurred after his untimely death and perhaps gives viewers unfamiliar with Maoritanga, an insight into the heartfelt views which led to the dispute.
All in all a wonderfully reminiscent film about the private and public life of a man we all loved and who is still greatly missed.Hide

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The Press Reviews

  • Certainly it covers the ground, starting with the early years in Leamington, near Cambridge (where Maori were not exactly thick on the ground in 1949), and ending with a sensitive treatment of the conflict over his body - a matter sickeningly sensationalised by news media at the time. It also usefully reminds us of his astonishing musicianship. Full Review

  • No aspect of Billy's life was glossed over and despite his wife Lynn not being interviewed, I think this documentary was well-rounded and definitely worth a watch. Full Review

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