The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert - Movie Review

By Monica Sullivan

When 1992's "Strictly Ballroom" became an international hit, exhibitors were eager for MORE offbeat Australian movies that would do as well.  "The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert" fit the bill.  Who would ever imagine Terence Stamp, the Oscar-nominated, impossibly gorgeous "Billy Budd" in Sir Peter Ustinov's superb 1962 film of the same name, would EVER play a drag queen named Bernadette?  And yet, Stamp, who initially resisted the idea, discovered that Bernadette was a role he was destined to play.  The camera is not overly kind to Stamp at 55, yet he invests the role of Bernadette with dignity, elegance, intrigue and mystery, all the qualities of a great diva.  Hugo Weaving and Guy Pearce, too, are terrific as fellow divas Mitzi A.K.A. Tick and Felicia A.K.A. Adam.  The three of them hit the road in the title character, an outdated bus.  Along the way, Bernadette discovers romance, Tick experiences fatherhood and Adam learns how not to behave with a gang of red-necked rowdies.

The soundtrack is a keeper, with songs galore by Alicia Bridges, Gloria Gaynor, Peaches & Herb, The Village People, Charlene, R.B. Greaves, Lena Horne, Paper Lace, Patti Page, CeCe Peniston, Trudy Richards, White Plains, Vanessa Williams and Abba.  Bill Hunter, who plays a charmer named Bob, and Terence Stamp had previously worked together in the 1985 Stephen Frears film, "The Hit."  Plans were ALREADY in the works for the 1995 Universal release, "To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything, Love, Julie Newmar", starring Wesley Snipes, Patrick Swayze and John Leguizamo, but middle America's acceptance of drag queens, apparently, required squeaky clean Mary Worths who dedicate their lives to solving the straight world's problems.

© 2013 - Monica Sullivan - Air Date: 04/17/13
Movie Magazine International