During this time a staggering number of quality films emerged from Down Under directed by the likes of Bruce Beresford, Fred Schepsi, Peter Weir, George Miller, Phillip Noyce, and Gillian Armstrong to name a few. These directors made movies on budgets there would be considered minuscule by American standards and on schedules that were considered impossible at best. In Australia, at the time, rarely did a film cost more than $100,000 or take longer than 14 days to a month to shoot.
And while each of those directors would attain great fame the world over, it was Armstrong who created a bit of a stir with the follow-up to her worldwide success of My Brilliant Career. While certainly a great movie, Career, for its time, was an almost expected Australian period piece. Her next film was decidedly not.
Star Struck is a New Wave musical with outlandish costumes, enjoyably high energy music and fun choreography. As a follow up to her previous hit, Armstrong received great reviews around the world but, sadly, the film didn't do as well at home.
Easily described as the typical story of a young girl dreaming of stardom by winning the local talent contest and using the prize money to save the family home would entirely miss the point of this movie.
While no casting director is listed in the credits, the cast is truly wonderful. Starring newcomer (to both acting and singing) Jo Kennedy, newcommer Ross O'Donovan, the late Margo Lee, and Australia's treasure Pat Evison, together they bring this routine story to a level unimaginable.
This really is one of my all time favorite movies that, sadly, hasn't really reached American audiences. Although now it is appearing on the Flix movie channel this month, and a DVD is now available.
If you enjoy "feel good" movies, with great music and a talented cast, then this is one not to miss. And costumes by Lucian Arrighi and Terry Ryan are both beautiful and quirky and production design by Brian Thomson (The Rocky Horror Picture Show) is both colorful and inspired.
At a time when Australia produced terrific somber pieces like Gallipoli, Picnic At Hanging Rock and others, Gillian Armstrong let the world know that they could have a bit of fun too.
Try to catch this movie if you can, and if you don't have Flix, see if you can rent the DVD. Trust me, you won't be sorry!