I'm really glad Smash Palace is FINALLY going to be released on DVD. It's an amazing film. Shot in New Zealand, and released in 1981 (that long ago?), I remember it well.
Bruno Lawrence plays Al Shaw, a rather eccentric fellow who is a very difficult person to like. He is abusive to his wife (pointedly in a difficult-to-watch scene where he has a 'romantic interlude' with his wife, who then leaves him), obsessed with race cars, and a peculiar friend to a few selected souls, who don't always return the favor. He certainly has problems with authority figures. On the other hand, he loves his daughter terribly (in the positive sense of the word). After his wife leaves him, he makes the decision to re-unite with her, and that decision makes his whole world teeter on the brink of complete and utter disaster. The tension is very high for the entire film. You're just waiting for him to self-destruct. The only question is, who is he going to take with him?
Personally, I don't blame his wife for leaving him, as he is quite difficult to live with (though she gives him some good reasons for his hostility). And for his best friend, well, let's just say Al's not happy with him, either.
Twenty-three years after its release, I still remember this film vividly. That's the power it has. This isn't a movie with black-and-white, good-guy/bad-guy characters, every one is more complicated than that. It is a film that is gripping and disturbing, but, as I've said, very memorable. A fine early effort from director Ronald Donaldson, who has gone on to direct 'Cocktail', 'White Sands', and last year's 'The Recruit'.
Personally, I liked this film better than any of those very good efforts.