Starstruck (1982 film)
Starstruck is a 1982 Australian comedy-drama musical film directed by Gillian Armstrong and starring Jo Kennedy, Ross O'Donovan and Margo Lee. The plot concerns two teenagers trying to break into the music industry. The film was shot on location in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. It was marketed with the tagline "A Comedy Musical." The hotel shots were filmed at the Harbour View Hotel in Sydney's "The Rocks" district, near the south pylon of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
movie poster for Starstruck
|Directed by||Gillian Armstrong|
|Produced by||Richard Brennan|
|Written by||Stephen MacLean|
|Distributed by||Australian Film Commission|
Palm Beach Pictures
|11 September 1982(Canada)|
|Box office||AU $1,541,000 (Australia)|
Sydney teenager Jackie Mullens works as a barmaid in her mother's failing hotel pub, but dreams of becoming a singing star. Her scheming 14-year-old cousin Angus aspires to be her manager. At a local club talent night, Jackie's performance impresses pop band The Wombats, who become her backing band. Jackie also begins dating the band's guitarist, Robbie.
In an attempt to get Jackie on a TV talent show, "The Wow! Show", Angus calls up the show's host, Terry Lambert, and tells him Jackie will be walking a tightrope between high-rise buildings, nude. Although the stunt backfires, Terry is intrigued enough to feature Jackie on the show. Jackie develops a crush on the suave Terry, and under his influence, she drops the Wombats from her act, tones down her quirky style of music and dress to be more conventional, and breaks up with Robbie who disapproves of these changes. Jackie's TV appearance with her new look and sound is a failure, and afterwards she discovers that Terry, who she thought was romantically interested in her, is actually gay. Humiliated, she reconciles with Robbie. Meanwhile, Angus' deadbeat father Lou has returned and begun romancing Jackie's hardworking mother Pearl, but the affair ends badly when Lou disappears with all the money from the pub's safe, leaving Pearl and the pub, which was already on the verge of closing, in dire financial straits.
In order to save both the pub and Jackie's singing career, Angus comes up with a plan for Jackie and the Wombats to crash The Wow! Show's New Year's Eve talent competition at the Sydney Opera House by posing as stage crew and then taking over the stage. The plan works and Jackie wins the $25,000 prize, thus becoming a star and saving the pub.
The screenplay was written by journalist Stephen Maclean, who had grown up in a Melbourne pub where his mother used to work; he also worked as a child actor. He pitched the idea of making an Australian musical to David Elfick who commissioned a script. The first choice for director was Graeme Clifford who pulle out to make Frances (1982). Gillian Armstrong became involved, attracted the idea of making a film so different from her first, My Brilliant Career.
The budget was originally $250,000 but Elfick says it went over by a couple of hundred thousand dollars.
Lead actors Jo Kennedy and Ross O'Donovan were cast despite their limited experience because of their chemistry during auditions.
The film spawned a soundtrack album, which includes the hit single "Body and Soul" sung by Jo Kennedy. The song was written by Tim Finn of Split Enz. The single made number 5 on the Australian charts in May 1982.
The film also featured music by band The Swingers who perform on screen at key moments.
The film was classified NRC (Not Recommended for Children) which limited promotion options. Clips from the film were forbidden to be shown on the TV show Countdown despite the fact that clips from Hollywood NRC-rated films screened on the show.
Starstruck grossed $1,541,000 at the box office in Australia, which is equivalent to $4,484,310 in 2009 dollars.
- David Stratton, The Avocado Plantation: Boom and Bust in the Australian Film Industry, Pan MacMillan, 1990 p147-150
- Scott Murray, "Starstruck", Cinema Papers, April 1982 p111-116
- Film Victoria - Australian Films at the Australian Box Office