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Pulling No Punches (2016)

Rod Taylor is very much himself in this lively, loving documentary.

Its world premiere was Feb. 11, 2016, on Foxtel Arts in Australia. It had its U.S. premiere April 27, 2017, at the Beverly Hills Film Festival, where it won the Audience Award for Best Documentary.

"Pulling No Punches" also won its second U.S. screening, earning Best Feature Documentary at the Burbank International Film Festival on Sept. 10, 2017. The screening was followed by a special Q&A with Tippi Hedren and Veronica Cartwright, Rod's costars from "The Birds."

That Q&A is included as a special feature on the DVD edition of the documentary, released Jan. 3, 2018. Another DVD extra is an interview with Rod Taylor and Tippi Hedren conducted in 2012. The PAL-format DVD was released in Australia/New Zealand from Umbrella Entertainment, which also offers it On Demand. As of January 2020, the DVD appears to be out of print.

The filmmakers had been working to get it licensed for release in other regions, without success. See the Viewer's Guide in the right-hand column for more information.


"Rod Taylor: Pulling No Punches" is an 80-minute documentary directed by Robert de Young and co-produced by Stephan Wellink. The interviews with Rod were conducted in late 2012 and focus on the Aussie-born actor's favorite projects.

The film was the brainchild of Wellink, who was a fan of Rod Taylor since he was a youngster and his father took him to see "The Time Machine." He had wanted to do a tribute to his fellow Aussie for years, and fate brought him together with de Young, who had already done films about Errol Flynn and Peter Finch. A Rod Taylor film would make a fine third "chapter."

Wellink said he wanted to celebrate Rod Taylor "because he was a great actor who deserved to receive greater recognition for his achievements, particularly in his homeland, Australia."

Mark Hartley, whose credits include "Not Quite Hollywood," originally was slated to be the director of the film and participated in interviews with Rod. These interviews can be previewed in a trailer on Robert de Young's Vimeo page for projects in development for Lowlands Media.  An official trailer for the film is available at the distributor's website, Beyond Productions.

Upon viewing the full documentary, I was charmed, amused, energized and mightily entertained. I was also stunned at the multitude of new-to-me photos that were included in the film.

The film is edited magnificently, with a great flow and terrific insights.

The people who are interviewed capture Rodís essence perfectly. Among the interviewees are co-stars such as Veronica Cartwright, Tippi Hedren, Angela Lansbury and Maggie Smith; Susie Porter; biographer Stephen Vagg; longtime business manager Murray Neidorf; and Nicholas Eddy, attorney and family friend.

Australian director Baz Luhrmann and Aussie actors Bryan Brown and Jack Thompson also add insights.

"My fondest memory of working with Rod for the documentary was the experience of bringing his co-star from 'The Birds,' Tippi Hedren, to his house for the interview," Wellink said. "Tippi and Rod hadn't seen each other for about 20 years and it was a great privilege to be able to bring these two stars together to talk about working with Hitchcock. They loved catching up and sharing a laugh about their early days in Hollywood."

The interviews with Rod and others illuminate the documentary's theme of his role in solidifying the Australian male identity in Hollywood.

"Rod set the mold for the Australian onscreen tough guy/charming leading man and paved the way for the likes of Mel Gibson, Russell Crowe, Hugh Jackman and others to follow,Ē de Young said in an interview published by SBS on Jan. 13, 2015.

Also interviewed is Australian film critic Bill Collins. (For non-Australians, Bill Collins seems to have been a national treasure along the lines of Robert Osborne and/or Roger Ebert in the U.S.)

More extensive portions of Collins' interview are included in a video posted by Simon Wellink, who served on the technical crew of the documentary. The outtakes show Collins' fondness for cinema, his engaging style and his ability to capture the "watchability" of Rod Taylor.

Special mentions

A particularly special segment of the documentary features Rodís artwork -- paintings, sketches and pottery. Rod's wife, Carol, urged the filmmakers to include Rod's art because is was such an important part of his life and displays his talent in so many more ways.

The documentary was a huge personal achievement for Stephan Wellink and in an e-mail on Jan. 9, 2015, Wellink said: "It is such a shame that Rod will not see our homage to him."

Stephan Wellink with Rod in 2012.

Thanks for the Special Thanks -- Diane Tomasik, webmaster



Producer Stephan Wellink
with the Audience Award
for Best Documentary at the
Beverly Hills Film Festival.

See more awards >>


The PAL-format DVD was released in Australia/New Zealand from Umbrella Entertainment, which also offers it On Demand. As of January 2020, the DVD appears to be out of print.

The filmmakers had been working to get it licensed for release in other regions, without success.

If you are able to get a copy and live in an area where the PAL color-encoding system is not used (North America uses NTSC), the disc will not be viewable in a TV-attached DVD player. But you should be able to view it in your computer's DVD drive.

Some eBay sellers are making an all-regions DVD available as a make-on-demand product. This would be a pirated copy.



Awards for the film

Beyond: Distributor's page about the movie, including trailer and brochure.


News announcing documentary (SBS article)

Lowands Media trailers page

TV Tonight: Announcing the premiere airdate in Australia.

ATOM study guide

Tolucan Times review

Blog reviews:

Laura's Miscellaneous Musings

Comet Over Hollywood

Out of the Past

A Classic Movie Blog

Journeys in Darkness and Light

Daily Review