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The Killing of Angel Street

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The Killing of Angel Street
Film poster
Directed byDonald Crombie
Produced byAnthony Buckley
Written byMichael Craig
Cecil Holmes
Evan Jones
StarringLiz Alexander
John Hargreaves
Music byBrian May
CinematographyPeter James
Edited byTim Wellburn
Release date
1 October 1981
Running time
96 minutes
BudgetAU $1.3 million[1][2]

The Killing of Angel Street is a 1981 Australian thriller film loosely based on the BLF (Builders Labourers Federation) green bans against development in inner Sydney city waterside suburbs. It briefly touches on the real life disappearance of Juanita Nielsen, an activist against mass development in Sydney in the late 1970s. The film is directed by Donald Crombie and was shot in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.

The mysterious disappearance of Juanita Nielson also inspired Phillip Noyce for his 1982 film Heatwave.


The film stars Elizabeth Alexander as Jessica Simmonds, who returns home from London to discover the street she grew up in being torn down by developers for high rise developments. Her father (Alexander Archdale), a vocal opponent of the developers, is killed in a suspicious fire and Jessica takes up the cause of the local residents. She joins forces with Jeff Elliot (John Hargreaves), a union leader. As they probe further into the background of the development they unearth sinister connections between the development group and organised crime.



Antony Buckley and Donald Crombie became interested in the story while making The Irishman. The first script was written by actor Michael Craig and was called The Juanita Factor being based directly on Juanita Nielsen. Cecil Holmes then worked on further drafts. However, there was concern the script would not be able to be filmed because of legal issues. It was decided to fictionalise the script and change the character's names.[1]

It was originally intended to cast an overseas star because of the large budget. At one stage Julie Christie was cast but UAA, who were going to finance the film, did not come up with enough money. Helen Morse was then approached; she tentatively agreed but wanted more work done on the script. Evan Jones was brought out to work on a new draft, but despite this Morse eventually declined. Buckley decided not to use UAA to raise money and did it himself.[1]

When Julie Christie was going to play the lead, Bill Hunter was cast opposite her. However, eventually the lead role went to Elizabeth Alexander and Crombie felt she and Hunter did not play well together. So Hunter was replaced by John Hargreaves.[3]

Donald Crombie says making the film was fraught with tension:

We researched it pretty thoroughly and we got fairly close to the beast, I think. We were peculiarly warned off by none other a person than John Dowd, who's a judge now, I believe. He rang Tony Buckley and said that this film was a bit close to the bone and - talking about me - he said, "He's got young children and he should be thinking a bit about what he's doing." It didn't put us off, but you did look under the car for about two days afterwards because you thought, hang on a minute, what's all this about... And the nexus between government and big business and crime. They're very comfortable together.[3]


The film was entered into the 32nd Berlin International Film Festival, where it won an Honourable Mention.[4]


  1. ^ a b c David Stratton, The Avocado Plantation: Boom and Bust in the Australian Film Industry, Pan MacMillan, 1990 p212-214
  2. ^ "Boom crashes as industry gets bad name with fly-by-night doctors". Filmnews. New South Wales, Australia. 1 September 1981. p. 4. Retrieved 28 May 2020 – via Trove.
  3. ^ a b "Interview with Donald Crombie", Signet, 18 December 1998 Archived 9 December 2012 at accessed 16 November 2012
  4. ^ "Berlinale: 1982 Prize Winners". Retrieved 14 November 2010.


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