“They shared the music
They shared the madness
They shared their secrets”
Critical Review and Bibliography by Sarah Turnbull
Director: Michael Pattinson
Assistant Directors: Anna Cahill, Witemara Rakete
Executive Producer: David Arnell, William T Marshall, Michael Caulfield
Script Writer: Jan Sardi
Cinematography: David Connell
Editor: Peter Carrodus
Original Music: Dave Dobbyn, (songs by John Lennon, Art Phillips)
Production Design: Kevin Leonard-Jones
Costume Design: Paul Sayers
Starring: Noah Taylor as Randolf
Beth Champion as Emily
Willa O’Niele as Vicky
Dannii Minogue as Didi
Malcolm Kennard as Danny
Joan Reid as Sister Annunzia
Joan Watson as Randolf’s mother
Peter Vere-Jones as Jock
Lorraine Parry as Reporter
Steve Parr as Radio DJ
Don Langridge as Cop
Also known as ‘One Crazy Night’ (1993)
Genre: Teen, Drama
Production Company: Avalon/NFU Studios
International: Beyond Films
Run time: 94mins
Country: New Zealand, Australia
Certification: Australia: M
Distribution: Buena Vista Distribution, Trimark Pictures,
Hollywood Pictures Home Video
Australian Theatrical release date for ‘Secrets’ was Dec 6th 1992. I couldn’t find the Box Office figures and success, most probably due to the fact that it wasn’t well received by audiences and did not play in cinemas for long (information from a phone call to the Australian Film Commission). Internationally the film was released in early 1993 as ‘One Crazy Night’ (America, New Zealand), I could not find these box office figures either. The Urban Cinefile and Encore Magazine acknowledged the film’s release dates but that was all of the information on offer. The AFC told me that if a film has negative figures associated with it, it is often very difficult to find them published anywhere and I believe this is the case in this circumstance.
I was not really surprised at the lack of online material about this film as it never did very big things in Australia or New Zealand. There was a great deal of information about cast members Dannii Minogue and Noah Taylor, and a fair amount on Director Michael Pattinson and writer Jan Sardi, but overall the film was not well represented. Obviously in 1992 the internet was not a common place as it is today, and the film company would not have dedicated a site just to this movie, but I did think there would be a few more reviews or comments made about it. I mainly used search engines ‘Google’ & ‘Yahoo’ Australia using keywords: Secrets/1992/Pattinson etc, and the most helpful information appeared on www.imdb.com. More helpful information on the internet about ‘Secrets’ can be found at the following addresses:
- Information on ‘Secrets’, cast, crew, synopsis etc
- Biography & Filmography of Michael Pattinson & Jan Sardi www.imdb.com/name/nm0666498/
- Film review and plot synopsis
- Noah Taylor biography
-Dannii Minogue Information
- Australian film general information
I searched the internet and several on-line journals but counldn’t find any solid reviews that were particularly helpful. Due to lack of interest and success of this film, most of the reviews I read were negative and very brief. I also expanded my search at Alexander Library to newspapers around the time of the films release, all of which were useless as I didn’t find anything. I phoned the Australian Film Commission and spoke to an Information Officer who was extremely helpful in explaining a few questions I had about the research I had already done. She directed to the Australian Film Commission website, in particular the ‘Get the Picture’ document which had a lot of useful information. This was certainly my most valuable research tool.
The year is 1964 and ‘Beatle Mania’ has swept the world. ‘Secrets’ is a film by Michael Pattinson that is set in this crazy time when John, Paul, George and Ringo are about to land in Melbourne and play their first ever Australian concert.
Amidst the mayhem lies our five central characters; a group of teenagers that find themselves trapped in the basement of the hotel where The Beatles are staying. Scriptwriter Jan Sardi constructed these persona’s in opposition to one another which greatly aids the characterisation of the film. Emily (Beth Champion) is a shy and sensible country girl who adores John Lennon. Noah Taylor (Randolph) mimics George Harrison in accent and dress. Catholic girl Didi (Dannii Minogue) wears far too much make up and dreams of making love to Paul McCartney. Vicky (Willa O’Neile) is a hair-dresser’s assistant who thinks Ringo Starr is by far the best and lastly, Danny (Malcolm Kennard)is the odd man out. He claims he hates The Beatles, dresses like a rockerbilly, and insults the rest of the group. This combination of characters is where the film begins.
This film can definitely be classified as fitting into the genre of a teen drama, often referred to as a ‘coming of age’ movie. The central characters are all teens and it focuses on the ‘pop idol’ phenomenon that teenagers often experience. Through out the film we go on a journey with the eclectic group and slowly one by one they share with each other their deep, dark secrets. The topic of their secrets- Virginity which also further cements this film as a teen drama as this topic a major part of growing up.
The character of Emily is in my opinion the most important one. We first see her as a typical country girl; her dowdy clothes, old- fashioned hairstyle and traditional family values easily identify her as this. Early in the film, when asked by ‘bad boy’ Danny if she is a virgin she says that she is. At first Emily is dominated by Danny, but slowly she gathers confidence and emerges triumphant over his loud and intimidating threats. By the end of the film she has transformed into a modern girl, her clothes have changed, her hair is cut and she has admitted to the group her darkest secret. She and Danny share a close bond and the group is united in the experience that they have just shared. This demonstrates a ‘coming of age’ as is the case in most teen drama’s. Although this storyline is very compacted to have happened in one day, it does seem believable when one is on the journey that the film takes them on.
The character of Danny is virtually the opposite to Emily. He starts off brash and aggressive, but with the influence of Emily and the group his character softens. His continual ‘nudging’ of each of the group members is the catalyst for why they reveal their secrets to each other. This character is obviously imperative for the film to work. The other three characters of Randolf,Didi and Vicky in my opinion are there just to fill in the screen space. Noah Taylor does perform the comedic function rather well, but Minogue and O’Neile are not all that convincing in their roles.
There is a strong sense of frustration in the film in that these people are trapped inside a basement whilst their idols are on stage performing the music that they love. The music of the film really enhanced it, and the actual Beatles footage made an otherwise relatively uneventful film interesting to me. I found that there were a lot of dead spots in which these five characters were on screen unnecessarily, and it sometimes dragged on when it didn’t have to.
The gang finally emerge from the basement to find themselves as small time celebrities for their ‘Beatle antics’, they have missed the concert that they desperately wanted to see but have one last chance to meet the Beatles at the airport before they leave. We see Emily confronted by her father and it is here that the final piece of her character development is put into place; she kisses him and says she’ll be home soon, but joins her friends in a taxi to chase the Beatles. She has for the first time done what she wants to do, not what her traditional family want her to do. She is an adult.
Although ‘Secrets’ is not ground breaking in any way, it is a simple tale of a group of typical teenagers at this time in history. The storyline is universal and even though I’m from a different generation I could definitely identify with it. The historical footage of the hysteria surrounding the Beatles was unbelievable and Pattinson did a really good job of making the film seem as if it was really set in that time, even though it was made in 1992.
Producer/Director of ‘Secrets’ Michael Pattinson is no stranger to the world of Australian Film and Television. He has worked mainly as a Director, but also has also done some Producing and Writing. His most notable works include the television shows ‘Stingers’ (1998), ‘Profiler’ (1996), ‘Flipper’ (1995), ‘Police Rescue’ (1990) & ‘Prisoner’ (1979) and films ‘Almost’ (1990), ‘Ground Zero’ (1987) & ‘Moving Out’ (1983).
Writer Jan Sardi has worked as Writer/Producer on several of Australia’s more successful features such as ‘Love’s Brother’ (2003), ‘Shine’ (1996), and television series such as ‘Halifax FP’ (1994), ‘Snowy River’ (1993), ‘All Together Now’ (1990) & ‘The Flying Doctors’ (1986).
Noah Taylor was the most successful of the young actors featured in ‘Secrets’ having gone on to appear in many Australian and International films. His most noted performance in which he cemented himself overseas as an actor was for his portrayal of a young David Helfgott in ‘Shine’ (1996). Other films include ‘The Year My Voice Broke’ (1987), ‘The Nostradamus Kid’ (1993),’Almost Famous’ (2000), ‘Vanilla Sky’ (2001), ‘Tomb Raider’ (2001) & (2003).
Other cast members Malcolm Kennard and Beth Champion appeared in Australian television series ‘E Street’ and ‘A Country Practice’, but did not go onto feature in any highly successful features as Taylor did. Dannii Minogue went on to a successful recording career, but has shied away from acting in recent years focussing more on music and modelling.
The film ‘Secrets’ although not a typical “quirky” Australian comedy it does reflect Australian culture in the time in which it is set. The film would not have to be Australian to work, the storyline is universal in nature. It is classified as a comedy, however more distinctively fits into the category of ‘Teenpic’; “a film that deals with the drama or comedy of growing up in a specific social environment”.
‘Secrets’ was described by the Hollywood Bitchslap review as a “cross between the 1980’s Brat Packer ‘The Breakfast Club’ and Bob Zemeckis ‘I Wanna Hold Your Hand’, describing it as a coming of age film with a schematic nature of character construction similar to Sardi’s work in ‘Shine’. Other Australian films classified into this style include ‘Looking for Alibrandi’(2000) and other Pattinson films ‘Moving Out’(1983) & ‘Street Hero’(1984).
In my opinion ‘Secrets’ is not a typically Australian film, it doesn’t mock or parody our Australian ways. It does however follow Tom O’Regan views of what Australian comedy usually focuses on; “Many Australian stories focus on people who would normally be cast into supporting roles, the ordinary, the daggy, the ugly”. I feel it is because of these ‘ordinary’ characters that the film although it is simple and pleasant does not offer a great deal to the audience.
The information I gathered about this film for the most part was quite negative. Due to the lack of box office figures and representation on the net, journals, and in newspapers I feel that ‘Secrets’ was considered by most to be quite a non-eventful piece of Australian film. The film did not win any awards for cast or crew that I could find which further indicates an unsuccessful release.
O’Regan. T. Australian National Cinema (London, Routledge, 1996)
Gillard, G. Quirkiness in Australian Cinema (Murdoch University 2004)
MED 231 online Lecture noted, Week 10:Teenpic, cited 2nd March 2004