IMDb > Absolute Beginners (1986)
Absolute Beginners
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Absolute Beginners (1986) More at IMDbPro »

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Down 32% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Colin MacInnes (based on the novel by)
Michael Hamlyn (developed for the screen by)
View company contact information for Absolute Beginners on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
18 April 1986 (USA) See more »
The music, the movement, the romance, the passion . . . all explodes on the BIG SCREEN. See more »
A musical adaptation of Colin MacInnes' novel about life in late 1950s London. Nineteen-year-old photographer... See more » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
User Reviews:
How can I do other than love this film? See more (40 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Patsy Kensit ... Suzette
Eddie O'Connell ... Colin

David Bowie ... Vendice Partners

James Fox ... Henley of Mayfair

Ray Davies ... Arthur
Mandy Rice-Davies ... Mum
Eve Ferret ... Big Jill
Tony Hippolyte ... Mr. Cool
Graham Fletcher-Cook ... Wizard
Joseph McKenna ... Fabulous Hoplite (as Joe McKenna)

Steven Berkoff ... The Fanatic

Sade ... Athene Duncannon (as Sade Adu)

Edward Tudor-Pole ... Ed the Ted (as Tenpole Tudor)

Bruce Payne ... Flikker
Alan Freeman ... Call-Me-Cobber

Anita Morris ... Dido Lament

Paul Rhys ... Dean Swift

Julian Firth ... The Misery Kid
Chris Pitt ... Baby Boom
Lionel Blair ... Harry Charms

Gary Beadle ... Johnny Wonder

Robbie Coltrane ... Mario
Jess Conrad ... Cappuccino Man
Smiley Culture ... D.J. Entertainer

Ronald Fraser ... Amberley Drove
Slim Gaillard ... Party Singer
Irene Handl ... Mrs. Larkin
Peter-Hugo Daly ... Vern
Amanda Jane Powell ... Dorita
Johnny Shannon ... Saltzman

Sylvia Syms ... Cynthia Eve
Ekow Abban ... Santa Lucia Club Owner
Robert Austin ... Slim Brother
Gerry Alexander ... Ton-Up Vicar
Jim Dunk ... Slim Brother
Johnny Edge ... Trader Horn

Carmen Ejogo ... Carmen
Paul Fairminer ... Eddie Sex
Hugo First ... Maltese Lodger
Pat Hartley ... Ms. Cool Snr
Astley Harvey ... Mr. Cool Snr

Colin Jeavons ... Pamphleteer
Alfred Maron ... Bert the Tailor
G.B. Zoot Money ... Chez Nobody Barman
Sandie Shaw ... Baby Boom's Mum

Bruno Tonioli ... Maltese Lodger
Roland Alexander ... Dancer
Shaun Alexander ... Dancer
Ayo Antaeus ... Dancer
John Aron ... Dancer
Hoyle Baker ... Dancer
Chris Baldock ... Dancer

Andrée Bernard ... Dancer (as Andree Bernard)
Warren Bird ... Dancer
Richard Bodkin ... Dancer
Timothy Brennan ... Dancer
Mo Bright ... Dancer
Roland Brine ... Dancer
Kelvin Carter ... Dancer
Imogen Claire ... Dancer (as Imogen Clare)
Clive Clarke ... Dancer
Kirsty Davide ... Dancer
Vince Debono ... Dancer
Dennis Elcock ... Dancer
Sylvia Ellis ... Dancer
King Masher Fontaine ... Dancer
Wayne Fowkes ... Dancer
David Foreman ... Dancer
Lucille Gaye ... Dancer
Elliot Gilbert ... Dancer
John Gordon ... Dancer
Lorna Gray ... Dancer
John Greaves ... Dancer
Robert Grimsey ... Dancer
Robert Grose ... Dancer
Michael Ho ... Dancer
Isobel Hurll ... Dancer
Johnny Hutch ... Dancer
Kim St. James ... Dancer
Peter Jessup ... Dancer
Clive Johnson ... Dancer
Chua Kaa-Joo ... Dancer
Val Joeph ... Dancer
Trevor Kelly ... Dancer
Tony Kemp ... Dancer
Chrissie Kendall ... Dancer (as Chrissie Kendal)
Olivia Komlosy ... Dancer
Viv Law ... Dancer
Madeleine Lawrence ... Dancer
Paul Leonard ... Dancer
Kenny Linden ... Dancer

Tom Lock ... Dancer
Tricia Lockhart ... Dancer
Jerry Manley ... Dancer
Peyton Martin ... Dancer
Robin Martyne ... Dancer
Jack Migdalek ... Dancer
Bob Newent ... Dancer
Albin Pahernik ... Dancer
Neil Patterson ... Dancer
William Perrie ... Dancer
Shanti Ruchpaul ... Dancer
Corinne Russell ... Dancer
Les Saxon ... Dancer
Gary Sellars ... Dancer
Alan Spencer ... Dancer
Chris Sullivan ... Dancer
Paul Telford ... Dancer
Michelle Thorne ... Dancer
Christina Thornton ... Dancer
Carl Trevors ... Dancer
Oke Wambu ... Dancer
Anthony Wellington ... Dancer
Elizabeth Wendon ... Dancer
John Willet ... Dancer

Sabra Williams ... Dancer
Barrie J. Wilkinson ... Dancer
Glen Wilkinson ... Dancer
Barrie Young ... Dancer
David Morgan Young ... Dancer
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Lynne Hazelden ... Teddy Girl (uncredited)
Deborah Leng ... Unknown (uncredited)

Derek Lyons ... Teddyboy (uncredited)

Eric Sykes ... Arcade intendant (uncredited)

Directed by
Julien Temple 
Writing credits
Colin MacInnes (based on the novel by)

Michael Hamlyn (developed for the screen by)

Richard Burridge (screenplay by) and
Christopher Wicking (screenplay by) &
Don MacPherson (screenplay by) (as Don Macpherson)

Terry Johnson (additional dialogue by)

Produced by
Chris Brown .... producer
Al Clark .... executive producer
Robert Devereux .... executive producer
Nik Powell .... executive producer
David Wimbury .... associate producer
Stephen Woolley .... producer
Original Music by
Gil Evans 
Cinematography by
Oliver Stapleton (director of photography)
Film Editing by
Richard Bedford 
Michael Bradsell 
Gerry Hambling 
Russell Lloyd 
Casting by
Leonara Davis 
Susie Figgis 
Mary Selway 
Production Design by
John Beard 
Art Direction by
Stuart Rose 
Ken Wheatley 
Costume Design by
Sue Blane 
David Perry 
Makeup Department
Lynda Armstrong .... assistant makeup artist
Elaine Bowerbank .... chief hair stylist
Peter Frampton .... chief makeup artist
Sue Love .... assistant hair stylist
Daniel Parker .... assistant makeup artist
Chris Taylor .... assistant hair stylist
Production Management
Peter Kohn .... production manager
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Tony Aherne .... third assistant director
Ray Corbett .... assistant director
Kieron Phipps .... second assistant director
Art Department
Peter Bryant .... supervising prop dresser
Bob Devine .... assistant construction manager
Richard Dicker .... supervising drape (as Dick Dicker)
Geoff Kingsley .... construction manager
Ken Powell .... supervising plasterer
Adrian Start .... supervising painter
Peter Walpole .... prop buyer
Derek Whorlow .... supervising stagehand
Arthur Wicks .... property master
Joanne Woollard .... set dresser
Andrew Ackland-Snow .... draughtsman (uncredited)
Steve Furneaux .... carpenter (uncredited)
Barry Gibbs .... set dresser (uncredited)
Emma Harrison .... scenic artist (uncredited)
Darryl Paterson .... dressing props (uncredited)
Sound Department
Paul Cridlin .... sound maintenance
David Grimsdale .... sound editor
Derek Holding .... sound editor
Gerry Humphreys .... dubbing mixer
David John .... sound mixer
Eddy Joseph .... sound editor
Howard Lanning .... sound editor
Matthew Launay .... boom operator
Tim Partridge .... dolby sound consultant (uncredited)
Lionel Strutt .... adr mixer (uncredited)
Special Effects by
Andy Williams .... special effects technician
Neil Corbould .... special effects technician (uncredited)
Stephen Hutchinson .... special effects trainee (uncredited)
Mark Meddings .... special effects supervisor (uncredited)
Visual Effects by
David Smith .... optical cameraman (uncredited)
Nick Wass .... Rostrum camera: titles (uncredited)
Camera and Electrical Department
Graham Attwood .... still photographer
Stuart Game .... camera loader
Frank Heeney .... gaffer
Colin Manning .... grip
Roger Mayne .... original period photography
David Morgan .... focus puller
Mike Proudfoot .... camera operator (as Michael Proudfoot)
Carlos Melville .... electrician (uncredited)
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Roger Burton .... costume consultant
Barbara Rutter .... assistant costume designer
Joyce Stoneman .... wardrobe supervisor
Editorial Department
Clive Barrett .... assistant editor
Paul Conway .... assistant editor
Stuart De Jong .... assistant editor
Mary Dockwrey .... second assistant editor
Helen Eley .... assistant editor
Leonard Green .... assistant editor
Mark Latimer .... assistant editor
Ian Moore .... second assistant editor
Andy Stears .... assistant editor
Kevin Phelan .... unit projectionist: Mercury Theatres, London (uncredited)
Music Department
Michael Clifford .... music editor
Gil Evans .... conductor
Gil Evans .... music arranger
Clive Langer .... music mixer
Clive Langer .... music producer
Cynthia Lole .... music coordinator
Don Mcpherson .... music coordinator
Colin Purbrook .... musical associate
Daniel Secunda .... music coordinator
Ray Williams .... executive music supervisor
Alan Wistanley .... music mixer
Alan Wistanley .... music producer
David Bedford .... orchestrator (uncredited)
Transportation Department
Mark White .... transportation
Other crew
Matthew Binns .... location unit manager
Tim Coghlan .... assistant to producer
Jennifer Collen-Smith .... unit publicist
Jane Cotton .... dance stage manager
Valerie Craig .... production coordinator
Tracy Drew .... title designer
Stewart Hadley .... crew
Mary Holdsworth .... script supervisor
Ray Jones .... supervising rigger
Amanda Pirie .... assistant to director
Jenny Pollitt .... assistant to producer
David Saggs .... production accountant
Kathy Sykes .... production coordinator
Jonathan Thornton .... assistant choreographer
Sue Thornton .... assistant dance stage manager
David Toguri .... choreographer
Jordan Stone .... set production assistant (uncredited)
Crew believed to be complete

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"Absolute Beginners - The Musical" - International (English title) (poster title)
See more »
108 min
Black and White | Color (Rankcolor)
Aspect Ratio:
2.20 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints) | Dolby (35 mm prints)

Did You Know?

After submitting the film for a 15 certificate producer Stephen Woolley was contacted by the BBFC and told that Patsy Kensit had revealed a nipple in one of the film's scenes. Despite Woolley's assurance that this was not the case because Kensit had been insistent during filming about not revealing her body, UK censor James Ferman painstakingly trawled through the movie using a BBFC "freeze frame" machine until he was finally convinced that the original information was incorrect. Only then did he grant the film an uncut certificate.See more »
Boom mic visible: When Harry Charms is auditioning young singers with Colin, there is a boom mic visible when Harry and Colin first enter the studio.See more »
[first lines]
Colin:[narrating] I remember that hot, wonderful summer. When the teenage miracle reached full bloom and everyone in England stopped what they were doing to stare at what had happened. The Soho nights were cool in the heat, with light and music in the streets. And we couldn't believe that this was really coming to us at last...
See more »
Movie Connections:
References "Naked City" (1958)See more »
Having It AllSee more »


This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.
9 out of 12 people found the following review useful.
How can I do other than love this film?, 21 January 2010
Author: James Hitchcock from Tunbridge Wells, England

It is often said that the British just can't do film musicals. That even though we're pretty good at theatrical musicals, the cinematic version is, like gridiron football and republicanism, something best left to our cousins across the Atlantic. This prejudice even survived the award of a "Best Picture" Oscar to "Oliver!", and by the mid-eighties the traditional style of film musical was at a pretty low ebb even in America and virtually extinct in Britain. "Absolute Beginners" was therefore something completely unexpected. It was a British musical which owed nothing to Broadway and very little to the sort of pop-and-rock musicals ("Saturday Night Fever", "Fame", "Flashdance", etc.) which Hollywood had started to turn out in the seventies.

The film was also adapted from an unexpected source; the Colin MacInnes book of the same name about youth culture in late 1950s London. I doubt if MacInnes, who died in 1976, ever imagined that his novel would ever be turned into a musical. The story is set in the long hot summer of 1958. (At least, that's how MacInnes describes it, although Met Office records show that the summer of that year was wet and cool). The main character is Colin, a young photographer. In the original novel he was unnamed, but here he is named after his creator, rather oddly given that the book was not intended to be autobiographical. (MacInnes would have been 44 in 1958, a generation older than his character).

Colin falls in love with Crepe Suzette, an aspiring fashion designer, but she gets engaged to her boss Henley of Mayfair, motivated by career advantage rather than love, as Henley is an arrogant and unpleasant individual, old enough to be Suzette's father. In the book, in fact, the compulsively promiscuous Suzette is also not very pleasant, but here her character is very much softened. The film also deals with the Notting Hill race riots, shown here as having been whipped up by a Fascist rabble-rouser, unnamed but clearly based upon Oswald Mosley. The said demagogue is in league with a corrupt property developer who wants to drive the black inhabitants out of Notting Hill, at the time a very run-down area, in order to further one of his redevelopment schemes.

"Absolute Beginners" was panned by the critics and failed at the box-office. Together with the commercial failures of two other films released about the same time, "Revolution" and "The Mission", it led to a decline in the fortunes of Goldcrest, the major British film studio of the eighties. Some even started talking of a crisis in the British film industry, which had produced so many great films in the first half of the decade. The film was also disliked by literary purists who complained that it was not faithful to the original novel, particularly in the rewriting of MacInnes' ending and the bowdlerisation of Crepe Suzette's character.

And yet I loved the film and still do, even though the critics were partly right. Yes, the film has its flaws. Eddie O'Connell makes an uncharismatic hero, and seems too old for the part of Colin, who is supposed to be a teenager. (O'Connell has faded from view since 1986 to such an extent that I have been unable to find his exact date of birth, but he appears to be about thirty). The storyline does not always flow smoothly, perhaps not surprisingly given that it was the first feature film of its director Julien Temple, thitherto better known as the maker of pop videos and a documentary about the Sex Pistols. As for the literary purists, they are certainly right about its lack of fidelity to its literary source, although in its defence I should say that had it not been for this film I should in all probability never have discovered MacInnes' brilliant novel or his other writings.

The acting, like much in the film, is deliberately stylised. (Those who call it wooden are missing the point). The lovely Patsy Kensit makes a delightful heroine as Suzette in what has been described as her breakthrough role. At the time she was hailed as the "British Bardot" and is still a familiar face, even if she has never achieved her much-quoted ambition "to be more famous than anything or anyone".

Despite its faults, "Absolute Beginners" is a cool and stylish movie. It probably has little to do with the fifties as they actually were, but a lot to do with the fifties as they should have been. It has an immense drive and energy with an absolutely irresistible soundtrack. Modern audiences might be surprised that this is largely jazz based, given that we now tend to look back at the late fifties as the birth of the rock-and-roll era. At that time in Britain, however, before the rise of the Beatles, jazz was still very much part of the youth scene, particularly of the "mod" subculture, rock being associated with the mods' rivals, the "rockers". A number of leading musicians, such as David Bowie, Sade and the Style Council contributed to the film. (Bowie also makes an acting contribution as the property developer Vendice Partners).

I have a personal reason why this film is a favourite. It brings back memories a long hot summer- not that of 1958, when I was not even born, but that of 1986. At the time, I was young and in love and went to see the film with my girlfriend. I remember us coming out of the cinema together on a warm summer's evening, exhilarated by what we had just seen, and walking along the London Embankment, laughing and singing Bowie's great theme song to one another. "As long as we're together, all the rest can go to hell- I absolutely love you". With a memory like that, how could I do other than love this film? 8/10

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