REVIEW: ABBA The Movie (1977)

abbathemovie

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1977, Polar Music International/Reg Grundy Productions Pty. Ltd.

Director:
Lasse Hallström
Producers:
Stig Anderson
Reg Grundy
Writers:
Lasse Hallström
Bob Caswell
Cinematography:
Jack Churchill
Paul Onorato
Editing:
Lasse Hallström
Malou Hallström
Ulf Neidemar

Cast:
Anni-Frid Lyngstad (Herself)
Benny Andersson (Himself)
Björn Ulveaus (Himself)
Agnetha Fältskog (Herself)
Robert Hughes (Ashley Wallace)
Tom Oliver (Head Bodyguard/Bartender/Taxi Driver)
Bruce Barry (Radio Station Manager)
Stig Anderson (Himself)
Richard Norton (Himself)

Part-documentary, part-storyline, the Swedish superstar group goes to Australia, where while on tour, one man goes on a quest.

Sweden’s superstar music group ABBA are going to Australia for a massive tour. A local radio station manager decides he must get in on the group by having his number one disc jockey, Ashley Wallace, to interview the group. The station manager hopes that with ABBA being interviewed, the radio station’s rating will blow off the roof.

When the group arrives, they sneak out the back to evade the massive fan crowd. Ashley’s constant attempts to get an interview with the band are met with constant resistance from the band’s bodyguard. However, while he sets that plan in motion, he interviews fans of the group and follows them to each show in hopes to get that interview. When Ashley finally gets in touch with manager Stig Anderson, he has high hopes until he learns they were unable to do the interview. Ashley is in dire hopes of finally giving up and ultimately quitting his job until the unexpected happens.

By 1977, Swedish group ABBA were international superstars thanks in part to their hit song “Dancing Queen”. The group, consisted of co-lead vocalists Anni-Frid Lyngstad and Agnetha Fältskog, pianist Benny Andersson, and guitarist Björn Ulveaus, gained a massive following in Australia and thus, we have the release of this film. Filmmaker Lasse Hallström, who at the time was directing all of ABBA’s music videos, teamed up with Bob Caswell to make this unlike any ordinary music film. The film would not only be a concert movie of sorts, but include a storyline featuring local Aussie actors in roles.

Robert Hughes is fun to watch as Ashley Wallace, the local radio DJ who is hired to interview ABBA. In between the band performing, we see Ashley researching the group as well as his many attempts to reach the band. Tom Oliver has three roles in the film, the most prominent being ABBA’s head bodyguard, who constantly rebuffs Ashley’s attempts to interview the group. What tends to be quite fun is that ABBA not only performs on stage, but are seen in two dream-like sequences that involve Ashley himself conversing with the band.

Fans of action cinema will get to see Richard Norton, who later gained fame as an action actor and stunt coordinator in Hollywood and Hong Kong, as ABBA’s fitness trainer and fellow bodyguard. He can be seen in a scene escorting ABBA’s getaway car and later, training Anni-Frid for the upcoming show. He was the band’s trainer during this tour of Australia.

ABBA: The Movie is a fun ride with Sweden’s superstar group, along with a plot of a radio DJ in hopes to interview the band. ABBA fans will truly enjoy this film.

WFG RATING: A-

DVD

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