Directed by Lasse Hallstrom
Produced by Stig Anderson/Reg Grundy
Written by Lasse Hallstrom/Robert Caswell
Music by Stig Anderson/Benny Andersson/Bjorn Ulvaeus
All I got to say is Thank Odin for Turner Classic Movies and their Underground program. For those of who who don’t get TCM via or cable/satellite provider I heartily recommend that you pony up the extra bucks and add it to your package. If you’re a true movie fan you probably already subscribe to TCM and if you don’t then you’re really missing out.
Take TCM Underground for instance. This is a block of cult movies usually but not limited to the horror, science fiction, counterculture, blaxplotation and just plain out and out nutso genres. TCM Underground shows movies that honestly you wouldn’t see anywhere else on any other cable/satellite channel. Seriously. TCM Underground has aired “Darktown Strutters” “Abar, The First Black Superman” “The Apple”(The Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made) “Let’s Scare Jessica To Death” “The Baby” “The Manitou” “Miami Connection” “Over The Edge” “Riki-Oh: The Story Of Ricky” “The Sadist” “Roller Boogie” “Shanks” “Two-Lane Blacktop”…do I really need to go on? TCM Underground airs at 2AM on Saturday Night/Sunday Morning and used to be hosted by Rob Zombie who showed me that whatever else you may say about him, the man has movie chops. Really. The cat knows his movies and not just horror. He knows movies like a monkey knows bananas. Dunno why he stopped being the host as I really miss him but we still have the movies.
Which brings me to ABBA: THE MOVIE and why I love TCM Underground. Until I saw this movie which they recently aired as a double feature with “Thank God It’s Friday” I had absolutely no idea this movie existed. Which really blows my mind as I totally and completely LOVE ABBA.
And just like that, my deepest, darkest secret is revealed.
I cannot tell you how many times The Wife has caught me in the basement singing along to “Mamma Mia” or “Waterloo” or “Dancing Queen” (God, how I LOVE “Dancing Queen”) while I’m mopping the floor or doing laundry. Because when I’m doing household chores you will catch me listening to A: Parliament/Funkadelic B: James Brown or C: ABBA.
Ever since I saw this movie I’ve been racking my brains trying to remember where I was and what I was doing in 1977 (my senior year of High School) that would have prevented me from seeing an ABBA movie and I seriously cannot remember. But I did have a good time watching it and singing along to all the familiar songs 40 years later.
There’s the loosest of plots holding this movie together. Ashley Wallace (Robert Hughes) is a late-night DJ at a fifth rate Australian radio station who is charged by his boss to get an in-depth, exclusive interview with ABBA who has just come to Australia on a tour. The movie was filmed during the group’s actual 1977 Australian tour which broke all kinds of attendance records.
Poor Ashley is totally and woefully out of his depth for this kind of assignment. He even forgets his press pass which means he continually has run-ins with ABBA’s Head of Security (Tom Oliver) as he chases ABBA from Sydney to Perth, Adelaide and Melbourne trying to get an interview with them. Unable to do so, Ashley interviews the fans and even though when he started out on this job he had no respect for the group (he’s a country/western fan) through the eyes of the fans he comes to discover an appreciation for what they do and the feeling they inspire in people who love their music.
But the real meat of the music is ABBA themselves. We see Benny Anderson, Bjorn Ulvaeus, Agnetha Faltskog and Anni-Frid Lyngstad in concert footage that is truly and joyously fun to watch. It’s plain they’re having a good time performing on stage and that joy transfers to their sold out stadium crowds who sing along with them. That’s the real reason to watch the movie and if you’re an ABBA fan and haven’t seen this yet then I strongly suggest you hunt it down and do so. And even if you’re not a ABBA fan and wonder what the big deal about them was, you should watch it. I know it’s hard to believe for some of my younger readers but ABBA was so huge in their day it was unreal. They came close to breaking records that only The Beatles had set. Why? I don’t get that deep into analyzing what I like. All I know is that their music makes me feel good, makes me feel like dancing and singing along and that really all I require from my music. ABBA: THE MOVIE is well worth your time to watch both as a cultural/musical study of a period of music history and just as plain ol’ good movie watchin’ time. Enjoy.