Stockholm, 5th December 1977

ABBA-The Movie (Swedish-Australian: color)

By Kell - Variety (New York) Wednesday, 14 December 1977

A Polar Music International AB (Sweden) / Reg Grundy Productions (Australia) production, AB Svensk Film (Stockholm) release.

Features entire cast.

Directed by:  Lasse Hallström, Bob Caswell
Camera (Eastmancolor):  Jack Churchill, Paul Onorato
Producers:  Stig Anderson, Reg Grundy
Editors:  . Lasse Hallström, Malou Hallström, Ulf Neidemar
Costume designer: Ing-Marie Nilsson
Music by:  Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus, Stig Anderson
Reviewed in:  Stockholm, Sweden, 3rd December, 1977
Running time:  94 minutes

Cast:

ABBA

Themselves: Anni-Frid Lyngstad, Agnetha Fälskog, Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus

Station manager Bruce Barry
Disc Jockey Robert Hughes
Bodyguard Tom Oliver (Tom Oliver also plays the roles of the butler / taxi driver / barman / golf caddie.)
ABBA manager Stig Anderson

ABBA-The Movie is a Scandinavian, plus other European territories, saturation-booked release to coincide with EMI’s release of the Swedish pop group’s latest Polar Records LP ABBA-The Album. The record features the four new songs introduced in the film, the later otherwise mostly using group’s established hits as performed on various Australian stages during ABBA’s all-time record breaking concert tour Down Under last Winter.

Film, of course, also opens immediately in Australia. It will be released worldwide as an English-speaking, English-singing feature, and looms as a winner in ABBA-conscious territories. It should also do nicely in the U.S. if release is timed carefully with ABBA attack on the record market there.

ABBA-The Movie is a handsomely-produced smooth, fast and wittily-edited musical entertainment that, in Lasse Hallström’s script and direction, is both a bit of a documentary of ABBA’s Australian tour and of its four personable performers’ background and work methods and a slight but funny story about an Aussie disk-jockey’s chasing of the group and being most of the way thwarted in his attempts to do a taped in-depth interview with the Swedes.

The professional Australian actors perform with obvious gusto. So does ABBA as a group whereas Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus, Anni-Frid Lyngstad and Agnetha Fältskog have not wished to attempt any acting. Apart from glimpses of them in dressing rooms, on balconies and at airport receiving adoring crowds of fans, they are seen mostly doing their stage work.

ABBA, of course, stands for easy on the ear pop music of rock derivation, carefully-honed arrangements, catchy lyrics of no great substance and a stage presentation that has audiences on their feet and cheering loudly. The two girls do a lot of hip-wriggling and bottom-pushing of rich sex appeal, but at the same time remain as cool as any ziegfeld girl of the past. The cleanness of ABBA’s act and their obvious bourgeois appeal is never in doubt.

Top marks to all technical credits, including Jack Churchill’s and Paul Onorato’s amazing control of the Panavision filming even in the tightest of spots, and the editing job done collectively by director Lasse Hallström, his wife Malou Hallström and Ulf Neidemar.

© 1977 Variety. Thanks to Samuel Inglles