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Absolute Beginners (1986)

PG-13 | | Drama, Musical, Romance | 18 April 1986 (USA)
In London in 1958, a young photographer seeks media stardom to keep the love of a beautiful, aspiring fashion designer.


Julien Temple


Colin MacInnes (based on the novel by), Michael Hamlyn (developed for the screen by) | 4 more credits »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Patsy Kensit ... Suzette
Eddie O'Connell Eddie O'Connell ... Colin
David Bowie ... Vendice Partners
James Fox ... Henley of Mayfair
Ray Davies ... Arthur
Mandy Rice-Davies Mandy Rice-Davies ... Mum
Eve Ferret ... Big Jill
Tony Hippolyte Tony Hippolyte ... Mr. Cool
Graham Fletcher-Cook ... Wizard
Joseph McKenna 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 Alan Freeman ... Call-Me-Cobber


A musical adaptation of Colin MacInnes' novel about life in late 1950s London. Nineteen-year-old photographer Colin is hopelessly in love with model Crepe Suzette, but her relationships are strictly connected with her progress in the fashion world. So Colin gets involved with a pop promoter and tries to crack the big time. Meanwhile, racial tension is brewing in Colin's Notting Hill housing estate... Written by Michael Brooke <michael@everyman.demon.co.uk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The Sounds. The Moves. The Style. The Magic. The Musical. See more »


Drama | Musical | Romance


PG-13 | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


The film is based on a novel first published in 1959. One of the incidents portrayed in the story was based on the Notting Hill race riots of August, 1958. See more »


During the riot scenes, in one shot a double decker bus is on fire. In the next shot, it isn't burning. In the next shot, it is. (During the T.V. announcers speak to the viewing public about the 'race riots'). 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. Nobody knew exactly why. But after so many dreary years of bombs and blitz and slow rebuilding; no sugar, no jam, nothing sweet anywhere; with the whole English ...
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So What (Lyric Version)
Performed by Smiley Culture
Composed by Miles Davis
Lyrics by Smiley Culture
Brass arrangement by Gil Evans
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User Reviews

Too soon, too much, too costly
12 March 2005 | by ptb-8See all my reviews

A great idea and a huge Brit budget, ABSOLUTE BEGINNERS is so ambitious and so technically well and packed with great 80s Soho jazz musical numbers that it forgets to include the hooks for an audience. It is actually for people in theater and film who love musicals and the techniques. It isn't for the general ticket buying public who expect a conventional story with a structure. The lead actor Eddie OConnell is a bit Ken doll or even Cliff Richard...maybe that is the point but he is lacking in charisma. Visually it is a feast and musically it is very engaging, but like the Minnelli musicals YOLANDA AND THE THIEF or THE PIRATE and the Brit satire Ken Russell musical THE BOYFRIEND or John Waters 1988 film of HAIRSPRAY there has to be a strong core to break though to mainstream cinema goers; otherwise, like those films, it is relegated to cult interest and the 'noble failure' bin. In time it will be a quintessential 80s style musical and we are not far enough away from then yet. It also cost a massive amount and lost it all, killing off the studio that financed the $15m.... ugh. If made today, it would be financed by Absolute Vodka and marketed with panache, finding a huge multiplex audience and making zillions of dollars for all concerned...thus being hailed as a success and a masterpiece.

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Release Date:

18 April 1986 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Absolute Beginners See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$83,743, 20 April 1986

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints)| Dolby (35 mm prints)


Color (Rankcolor)| Black and White

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

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