THE SECRET GUIDE TO ABBA - THE MOVIE

THE SECRET GUIDE TO
ABBA - THE MOVIE

The following is a collection of things to watch out for in ABBA - THE MOVIE, including hard to spot cameos, interesting facts,  bloopers and continuity mistakes. It is included as a bit of fun and is not meant to be taken seriously!

WARNING! After reading this, you may never be able to watch THE MOVIE in quite the same way. If you feel this would spoil your enjoyment of THE MOVIE, do not read on!

This page was formerly the "cynics guide".

* indicates recent updates or new additions

  • During the early scene when the radio station manager is telling Ashley that he wants him to get the "dialogue" with ABBA, watch  the desk carefully for the disappearing and reappearing copy of the Ring Ring (1975 reissue with the blue cover) album.

  • Apparently, nine-year-old future Oscar-winning Australian actress Nicole Kidman and her family are amongst the thousands of fans at Sydney Airport. Sydney fan Judy Sawyer was also among the throng, and can be spotted briefly, from behind.

  • When ABBA are "leaving the airport", the first car shown as ABBA leave Sydney airport has Victorian number plates (Sydney in in New South Wales); the next shot shows a car with Western Australian number plates. Incidentally, ABBA arrived at night, yet are seen leaving the airport in daylight.

  • When Ashley is driving from Sydney Airport to the hotel, he is caught in a traffic jam on the northern approach to the Sydney Harbour Bridge (both the airport and Kings Cross are south of the bridge, so driving across it is totally unnecessary). Also, when he is told that he’s in the wrong jam for Kings Cross, he is actually in the correct lanes to get there (notwithstanding that he shouldn’t be on the bridge in the first place), so he’s really in the right jam. Then he somehow gets off the bridge and is driving under the northern approach (he wouldn’t have been able to exit until he was across the bridge).

  • While Ashley is driving to the press conference, snippets of 'When I Kissed The Teacher', 'Dancing Queen' and 'Dum Dum Diddle' are heard. In the movie trailer, 'Knowing Me, Knowing You' is heard instead.

  • Something to watch for during many of the concert sequences is Agnetha’s disappearing plait. It’s there in one shot, gone the next, often during the one song. Also noticeable is Frida's disappearing (or multiplying) scarves. Just a few of the many instances that show the use of footage from different concerts during songs. Also noticeable at times is the difference between the venues themselves!

  • In THE MOVIE the tour starts in Sydney, then travels to Perth, Adelaide and Melbourne. The real tour travelled Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth (which makes much more sense geographically). Perhaps director Lasse Hallström is a Monty Python fan, with a fondness for the SPAM sketch!

  • During the introduction to 'Tiger', just before Agnetha and Frida start singing, well-known Sydney fan John McKechnie can be seen in the audience.

  • During 'Money, Money, Money', a lot of ABBA merchandise is shown. Amongst the genuine Australian merchandise is some Swedish merchandise that was unavailable in Australia, including a Swedish pressing of the 'Dancing Queen' single (held by a mannequin wearing an ABBA t-shirt), and the blue and yellow ABBA scarf, which I believe may be Swedish.

  • Previously I had noted that the 3 glass ABBA mugs sitting on a blue and yellow ABBA banner were probably Swedish merchandise. I've since learned that they were in fact Australian, and were sold at the concerts.

  • After ABBA sing 'Money, Money, Money' the girls are shown leaving the stage at the end of the concert, wearing different costumes.

  • The spot in the Sydney Opera House forecourt where Ashley parks his car has been a no parking zone since the Opera House first opened in 1973.

  • During 'Intermezzo no 1', Ashley is seen running around "Sydney" and buying up ABBA merchandise and magazines. At least one of the street scenes is obviously shot in Stockholm, as there are street signs plainly seen that have never been used in Australia (the shot when Ashley drops something and stops to pick it up). Amongst the merchandise that Ashley buys as research material are an ABBA Scrapbook (containing nothing but blank pages) and an ABBA writing pad (with lined but blank sheets of paper), and he also picks up two copies of the Spunky! ABBA Picture Book (with the blue cover). When Ashley is shown leaving his Sydney hotel, he is leaving the Sebel Town House, the hotel where ABBA were staying, which was clearly shown when Ashley arrived for the press conference. When Ashley is seen at the airport he boards ABBA’s personal plane (distinguished by the large ABBA logo on the lower half of the fuselage).

  • On board the plane, Ashley is reading through the magazines he bought in the previous scene. Many of the photographs shown are not in any of the magazines bought, and in fact some of them are from the tour programme

  • When Ashley is trying to buy a ticket to the "Perth" concert, European tour programmes can be seen on the ticket seller's counter. The Australian programme had a different front cover.

  • The Swedish polka tune played in the dressing room by Benny on his accordion is 'Johan på snippen'. In the following scene between Ashley and the bodyguard, another traditional Swedish tune, 'Polkan går' can be faintly heard in the background, again played by Benny.

  • Just before 'Rock Me' (performed in "Perth"), there is a young blonde guy wearing a very distinctive shirt seen in the audience. The same guy is seen as Björn introduces 'Dancing Queen' (in "Melbourne")

  • The scene of ABBA in the hotel room was filmed many months later at the Sheraton Hotel in Stockholm. Notice that because Agnetha was obviously pregnant by this time no more than her head is shown, aside form the opening long shot. Of particular note is the strategically placed thumb over the newspaper headline AGNETHA’S BOTTOM TOPS DULL SHOW. Note too the looks that Frida gives when Agnetha’s bottom is discussed (hidden behind her dark glasses).

  • During this scene, music can be heard very faintly in the background. First is a radio jingle for Sydney radio station 2SM (this scene is supposed to be in Melbourne), then an instrumental piece of music is heard - this is 'Stoned', an unreleased track that has been mentioned in several books as being in THE MOVIE.

  • The footage seen when the "Adelaide" concert venue is being set up is mostly filmed in Sydney. The man talking on the phone discussing travel arrangements to Melbourne is tour promoter Paul Dainty.

  • As the crowd enters the "Adelaide" concert, tickets for the Melbourne concerts are clearly seen being taken. Adelaide tickets, like Sydney, had the 'Dancing Queen' single cover photograph.

  • In ‘Get On The Carousel’ several of the lines sung by Agnetha and Frida during the chorus have been mixed out of the soundtrack. Footage of Frida during the second verse (singing the line "reached the top") has been slowed down ever so slightly to match the vocal track (on the British VHS version).

  • * In one of the behind-the-scenes shots during 'Get On The Carousel, when ABBA are seen surrounded by pushy film crews, note that there are clearly only two cameras shown (one of which is obviously a Panavision camera), yet this confrontation is shown from both points of view. One of the crews is heard to mention Channel 9, an Australian television network who at one stage were to film a concert for later screening on television. Is the scuffle staged?

  • * Also during 'Get On The Carousel' in the scene with the photographer (filmed at ABBA's hotel in Perth, lining up a large group of people for a photograph, look very closely for British actor Robin Nedwell (from TV's Doctor in the House), American rock singer Alice Cooper, Britsh bands Gerry and The Pacemakers and The Searchers, Irish band The Dubliners, and French violinist Stéphane Grappelli, all of whom were touring Australia at the time and staying at the same hotel and/or whose tours were promoted by Paul Dainty.

  • * During 'I'm A Marionette', Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser and his family can be seen meeting ABBA backstage. Also seen during this song are several winners of a "meet ABBA" competition in Sydney, including Ross Grayson Bell, future producer of the movie Fight Club.

  • Before 'Fernando', when Frida is seen exercising with bodyguard Richard Norton, they are by the rooftop pool at the Sebel Townhouse Hotel in Sydney, yet this sequence of THE MOVIE is set in Melbourne.

  • During ‘Dancing Queen’ all of Frida’s extra vocal work has been almost mixed completely out, though if you turn up the volume you may be able to hear some of it.

  • In Melbourne the Moomba Festival started the weekend that ABBA arrived. The parade shown in THE MOVIE was held the following weekend. In fact the parade would have been going down the same city street as the crowd was standing in outside the Town Hall. An announcer is heard saying that this is ABBA's final appearance in Australia, when in reality they had not even performed in Melbourne when they visited the Town Hall. As ABBA arrive at the Town Hall, well-known Melbourne fan Luke Rogers can be seen in the crowd, holding the large photograph of Frida.

  • When Ashley returns to his hotel after missing his arranged interview with ABBA, because they are on their way to the airport to leave Australia, ABBA are in the lift in Ashley’s hotel! What are they doing there? Did they take a wrong turn going to the airport? And the in-depth dialogue he ends up getting is as long as it take to travel a few floors in a hotel elevator?

  • During ‘Eagle’ watch closely, during the line near the end of the second verse ‘and I dream I’m an eagle’ Frida lip synchs the line ‘is it true I’m an eagle?’ Agnetha gets it right though.

  • Ashley jumps in a taxi to get back to the radio station after securing his interview with ABBA. The radio station is presumably in or near Sydney (traditionally radio stations in New South Wales start with 2, as do the post codes), and he’s in Melbourne. Melbourne and Sydney are over 800 km apart by road, so it would be a long, expensive taxi ride, but it only takes 20 minutes! There has been a theory that Ashley actually goes to the Melbourne studio of his station, but this can be discounted, as at the time there weren't really any national radio networks in Australia (except for the government-owned ABC), and though there were "affiliated" stations between different markets, a Melbourne affiliated station's call sign would have started with 3 (as all Victorian radio stations did) - Ashley clearly asks to be taken to "Two TW". 

  • The interior taxi scenes and much of the exterior shots (such as the clocks) were filmed in Stockholm, though several exterior shots of the taxi itself were filmed in Melbourne. 

  • When ABBA board their plane, it is night. Yet simultaneously Ashley is travelling in the taxi in broad daylight!

  • During ‘Thank You For The Music’, when ABBA and the band are seen performing on stage, Agnetha's headband and Frida's golden cap appear and disappear at will, and the white band around Frances Mathew's neck keeps changing position. More evidence of different concert's footage being edited together.

  • Also, in the studio setting, Frida and Agnetha switch places between close-ups and longshots, and in the foreground Benny can be seen (out of focus) with headphones resting around his neck, yet cut to shots of him and Björn at the mixing desk, no headphones can be seen.

Spotted any more points of interest, or other outrageous errors or alarming discontinuities (or just something that’s plain damn funny) in ABBA - THE MOVIE? Please let me know so that I can add them here.

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© 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2007, 2017 by Ian Cole, Sydney Australia

ABBA - THE MOVIE