ABBA MAKE AUSSIE A STAR
TOP ROLE AS DIZZY DISC JOCKEY
From FRANK CROOK in Stockholm - Daily Mirror 29 November 1977.
IT is lunchtime in Stockholm and Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, the two male superstars of ABBA, are eating McDonald's hamburgers. Benny and Bjorn are something of experts on the company's product. They have eaten Big Macs all over the world and pronounced the lunchtime burgers to be excellent. When you are on the road, recording, writing and handling business affairs almost 24 hors a day, a hamburger can sometimes seem like a feast. Takeaway food, in fact, represents a good proportion of ABBA's diet when they are working on their multi - million dollar business. At times like these, the leisurely restaurant meal is out of the question. Today the world is literally beating on their door, so Benny and Björn nibble away at their hamburgers and speak modestly of their film debut. Neither considers himself an actor and both visibly cringe when they see themselves on the screen. The girls on the other hand, see film -making as the next logical step forward.
" Frida and Anna ( Agnetha ) both love the idea of making films " said Benny. " Their work on stage is acting of a sort. But for Björn and I the recording studio is where we feel most at home. But we still enjoy being on stage. We enjoy the feeling that we are bringing happiness to a lot of people. But if we did go into films it would be on the production side. I would rather leave acting to actors. "
In ABBA - The Movie, the group do not have to act. They figure in a misty dream sequence but the only words you hear are those old familiar ABBA lyrics. The film is not quite a documentary and not quite a comedy. Lasse Hallstrom, the man who directed it, was aiming at something that fell somewhere between the two categories. The result is a comedy film with a lot of singing. Hallstrom has used footage from ABBA's Australian tour and knitted it brilliantly into what is really a paper-thin storyline. Ashley Wallace, a disc jockey on a fictitious Sydney radio station, is assigned by his boss to get an exclusive in-depth interview with ABBA for a two - hour radio documentary. Ashley has never done anything like an in-depth interview before in his life and is panic-stricken. But he sets out to find out as much ABBA as he can. That was hardly a challenge as the stores were filled to over - flowing with ABBA material. What was a challenge was actually pinning ABBA down. Ashley doesn't have a press card, and without one he can't get anywhere near them. He rushes from press conference to press conference, always arriving just after ABBA has left. Ashley's adventures are punctuated with scenes of the hysteria that accompanied ABBA's Australian tour as well as film from the ABBA concerts in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth.
An unknown Sydney actor, Robert Hughes, plays Ashley and is keeping his fingers crossed that the role will bring him stardom. The only other familiar faces in the film are Bruce Barry as Ashley's boss and Tom Oliver who has a leading role as the group's security chief who makes Ashley's life a misery. He doubles as a waiter and a barman in the dream sequence and a Sydney taxi driver in a scene ? believe it or not ? shot in Stockholm. The men behind the ABBA film ? and many of the distributors who flew to Stockholm for the preview ? believe ABBA - The film will lift Hughes to stardom. Ashley is the likeable loser who finally comes through in the end - with literally seconds to spare. The super-hype of the world of show business almost proves too much for him. He goes through life with one door closing on him and another slamming in his face. And in the ABBA film life imitated art. For the first few days of filming neither ABBA nor Stig Anderson knew Hughes was an actor. They thought he really was a disc jockey called Ashley because Lasse Hallstrom didn't have time to tell them.
©1977 Daily Mirror.