Welcome back to 80s Bits, the weekly column in which we explore the best and worst of the Decade of Shame. With guest writers, hidden gems and more, it’s truly, truly, truly outrageous.
‘Tis the Sydney Mardi Gras Season and what better time than now to revisit Kylie Minogue’s debut motion picture The Delinquents (1989) directed by Chris Thomson. This year Kylie celebrates her 25 years in the music industry and as a thank you to her fans is special guest at the Mardi Gras festivities. Labelled then as the ’singing budgie’, she has journeyed over the decades to the respected iconic celebrity that she is today.
The Delinquents sees the former in her first dramatic role one year after her departure as Charlene from TV’s Neighbours and timed perfectly with the release of second album Enjoy Yourself which included the soundtrack credit “Tears on My Pillow”. During press interviews for the film a young, naive and giggly Kylie reflected on her debut movie as being “fun and enjoyment.” She reflected on the difficulty of the semi-nude love scenes as feeling “embarrassed, but I would hope that Charlie was embarrassed too and then since we did a few it was OK in the end.” Having been acting since 12, the youthful 21 year old Kylie still showed a level of strength, passion and depth in the characterisation of school girl Lola.
The story follows two misunderstood kids, Lola and Brownie (Charlie Schlatter, Bright lights, Big City; 18 Again!), seen as delinquents by the adults. Set in Bundaberg, Queensland in 1957 the 15 year old star crossed lovers cannot get a break. We are taken through Lola and Brownie’s struggle who are of the age when you are completely in love from your first kiss and having to acquire a taste for beer. Their awkward first sexual encounter leads to a pregnancy and as a result, the modern day Romeo and Juliet run away, idealistically travelling everywhere from Norway, London, Paris and Seattle?…to Brisbane and Melbourne. Over the years the push-bike telegram boy and piano playing school girl harden up into James Dean and Marilyn-like images.
The movie was shot at Movie World on the Gold Coast, then being Village Roadshow Studios. The sets and scenes reminiscently depict Australia in late 1950s from cars, streets and buildings to wardrobe, attitudes and behaviours. The couple are split up after being caught for underage drinking and are not allowed any form of communication for 12 months. Defiance leads to home detention and corrective schools. “Girls live for men, for sex. It’s their downfall.”
Stylistically the movie is great at a time when groovy dancing kids were called bodgies and widgies. The soundtrack reflects this feel including tunes from Little Richard’s “Lucille” and “Slippin’ and Slidin”, The Platters “Only You” to Johnny Diesel & the Injectors “Please Send Me Someone To Love”.