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Priscilla, Queen of the Desert - Drag Queens and Aborigines

  • Nov 25, 2000
Pros: Some outstanding acting

Cons: some parts a little slow

To some day fly down the road on the roof of the bus - feather boa trailing in the wind behind me - that is what life is all about!

Hard to compare this movie to another as there really is no comparison. I liken it to The Full Monty with its' campy humor but in reality a story laying underneath. Based in Australia you have other problems as well - their unique language with its' quirky slang sayings, similar to English humor.

Starring Ms. Mitzi (aka Tick) played by Hugo Weaving, who is a good drag queen but honey, not the best in the world. She deals with cabaret life, lip-syncs her songs, and sells ‘Wo-Man' cosmetics to make ends meet. Faced with a new gig in the outback, she/he/whatta I call her here?, hooks up with Ms. Bernadetta (Terence Stamp) and Ms. Felicia (aka Adam) played by Guy Pearce. Naturally the true star of the show is Ms. Priscilla - the beat up, run down bus that will transport these ladies to their rendezvous.

While on the road there is a good deal of argument between the ladies because we all know you just can't get three ladies to live together without one of them getting pi$$y and when you are dealing with Queens, one of them is always pi$$y! In a fit of anger, Mitzi admits the little pub they are traveling to belongs to his ex-wife, bringing even more anger from Felicia while Bernadetta (who is going through a bereavement process at the time) is far more sympathetic.

Priscilla has a hissy fit, being the biggest Queen of them all, and decides to break down in the middle of nowhere. While waiting for her owners to get help, Priscilla demands a make-over, and ends up a shocking, irritating lavender - as all true Queens should be. Am I giving Priscilla an attitude here? Well she had one! Being rescued by an Aborigine, the ladies and the tribe put on quite a show. To say they were ‘taken' with the ladies is quite an understatement. This is also when they meet up with the mechanic that repairs the languishing Priscilla, a gent by the name of Bob that sighs longingly over Bernadette!

While stuck in this little town getting Priscilla primped, the ladies perform a little show at the local establishment, but are met with two thumbs down. Bobs' wife, however, is a huge hit with her ability to .... ummmm .... perform a fete with pingpong balls that is awe inspiring! Some people have so damn much talent! Bob joins the troop as they move on to their final destination, Alice Springs, still lusting after the ever flirtatious Bernadette.

Ms. Mitzi, in the meantime, must come to grips with his own sexuality as he will soon be confronting his son and ex-wife. Deciding on the macho tactic, he is put in a major tizzy when he discovers his son is part of the audience viewing his show. His son, however, is in complete awe of his father, begging to see his interpretation of ABBA, a performance he is noted for. Hanging in the background, we find Ms. Felicia longing - perhaps in his Adam role - to climb the infamous King's Canyon but of course he/she wants to do it in full drag.

There is absolutely no way to describe this show, its' costumes, its' performers or its' diverse attitudes! The costumes are worth watching the show alone, in fact they won the Academy Award for Best Costume Design. While it drags (oh, geez, sorry for that pun) with the basic acting, the stage performances and the rehearsals for their performances make the whole show. There are some terrific one liners in this flick and some down right out loud hearty laughter, but there are also some tears. As with The Full Monty, we find the father and son relationship that has been neglected and wants to be renewed. We find three lonely, wonderful people (I'll just settle for that term) that have huge hearts and a lot to give and are often shunned because of their lifestyles.

The one thing I really enjoyed about this movie, the director or producer or whoever didn't try to shove the standard gay lifestyle down your throat but let you accept these people as they were - hard, soft, loveable, harsh and oh, so frisky. There is a really hysterical rendition of ‘I Will Survive", played by some Australian instrument I am not familiar with, that brings you to your knees. Packed full of outstanding music and of course, the glorious - the outstanding - the ever high flying Priscilla, may she sail forever!


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Susi Dawson ()
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About this movie


Stephan Elliott (EYE OF THE BEHOLDER) wrote and directed this tale of two drag queens and a transsexual that embark on a road trip to a remote resort town in the Australian desert on a bus christened Priscilla. When Anthony "Tick"/Mitzi (Hugo Weaving) is invited to perform in Alice Springs, he recruits flamboyant young stud Adam/Felicia (Guy Pearce) and the legendary, refined Bernadette (Terence Stamp) to join him. Mitzi, however, fails to disclose one important fact to his friends: his wife is the one who invited them to Alice Springs. With one big secret about to be revealed and another one up his sleeve, Mitzi is a little stressed. <br> <br> With long hours on the road ahead of them, the trio lip-synchs campy songs on the bus, creates fabulous costumes, and meets a multitude of colorful characters along the way. They party with friendly aborigines, are confronted by judgmental townspeople who are averse to drag queens, and meet Bob (Bill Hunter), a warmhearted mechanic and drag fan who joins them for...
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Cast: Reb Russell
Director: Stephan Elliott
Release Date: 1994
MPAA Rating: R
DVD Release Date: Polygram Music Video (August 26, 1997)
Runtime: 1hr 44min
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