The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert

Website by Sarah Smysor

Plot:Two drag-queens (Anthony/Mitzi and Adam/Felicia) and a transsexual (Bernadette) contract to perform a drag show at a resort in Alice Springs, a resort town in the remote Australian desert. They head west from Sydney aboard their lavender bus, Priscilla. En route, it is discovered that the woman they've contracted with is Anthony's wife. Their bus breaks down, and is repaired by Bob, who travels on with them. On arriving in Alice, the others are shocked to learn that Anthony has a son, who is quite matter-of-fact about his father's lifestyle. Adam, Anthony and Benji return to Sydney, while Bernadette remains in Alice Springs with Bob.

Where to start your Research:

The best place to start is to watch the movie. How are you to understand the impact of the movie without witnessing the movie first. My personal research start was on the internet, I learned that when writing such a long title you need to but quotations around it to get a response. From there the possibilities are endless. Remember don’t just look in one search engine, in each system there is new material.

When I watched the movie, I wish I had of watched the movie first because I think that I would have enjoyed it more. Next go to the library. Find journals that can tell you about movie’s release and gather reviews. I was surprised that American Nathan Sanders, the publisher and editor of the US Abba Club Fanzine called for a boycott on the movie. He was offended by the film’s portrayal of Abba especially when Guy Pearce talks about swiping a turd from the toilet after Abba singer Agnetha Falskog used the restroom. There are tons of interesting facts like this one, that is why The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert is unique. I hope that you will find this website useful in you search.





Presence Online






Al Clark: Get the whole low down about the making of Priscilla Queen of the Desert from Al Clark’s Making Priscilla. After moving to Sydney Al Clark became the head of film production with beyond International group and was a commissioner for the Australian Film Commission from 1989 to 1992. The only other Australian movie he worked on before Priscilla was George Ogivie’s The crossing in 1990.

Rebel Penfold-Russell: Rebel first credit is 1985’s Unfinished business. She has been executive producer for Paws (1997), and Frauds (1993). Russell and director, Stephan Elliott have worked together often and in an interview with Jan Epstein, Elliott said there is more to come. It was Rebel's and her company Latent Images that supported the development of the picture before funding came.

Michael Hamlyn

Director/Script/ Screenplay Writer (Original):

Stephan Elliott: Stephan Elliott start in the film industry were two short films Fast and The Agreement. The first feature film Stephan Elliott directed was Frauds. The movie was asked to compete in the Cannes festival but flopped at the screening. The audience didn’t like the comedy and wanted drama instead that year. Stephan said in an interview with Jan Epstein that he would never have put the film in if he had known it would have shown so poorly. Since Frauds wasn’t successful, The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert was not entered into the Cannes Festival Competition, but was screened at the festival. The Cannes audience loved it but they were more subdued than expected. Just a week before in San Francisco the audience pulled up the chairs and went crazy.


Brian J. Breheny: In 1986, Brain Breheny got his first shot in the movie industry as a camera assistant in the TV movie Army Wives. There is not very much information about what he did between 1986 to 1994. His career was busy in 1994, because not only was he the cinematographer for Priscilla, the same year he worked on The Roly Poly Man.

Costume Designers:

Lizzy Gardiner and Tim Chappel: Stephan Elliott wanted Lizzy and Tim because he had seen their work on the TV show E Street, and knew how to make a modest wardrobe budget. It is important to realise that Priscilla, Queen of the Desert was both Lizzy and Tim’s stepping stone for the movies. Receiving an Academy Award the first time around is a big accomplishment and helped obtaining new positions

Editor: Sue Blainey

Sound: Phil Judd, Guntis Sics, Stephen Erskine, Angus Robertson

Music Score (Original and Adapted): Guy Gross

Art Director: Colin Gibson

Production Company: Latent Image Production

Finance: Polygram Filmed Entertainment, FFC (Film Finance Corporation), NSW Film & Television Office, Apocalypse




Guy Pearce (Adam/Felicia)

Sarah Chadwich (Marion)

Julia Cortez (Cynthia)

Bill Hunter (Bob)

Mark Holmes (Benji)



Classification: comedy

Run Time: Variously listed as 98-101-104-110mins. varies from sources

Country: Australia


Box Office Figures on 13 November 1994

823,293lb. (UK)

11.059m (USA)


Opening Dates:

7 August 1994 (United States)

8 September 1994 (Australia)

30 September 1994 (Spain, Italy and Scandinavia

14 October 1994 (United Kingdom)



AFI Nominations 1994

Best film

Best Achievement in Direction

Best Original Screenplay

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

Best Achievement in Cinematography

Best Original Music Score

Best Achievement in Production Design

Best Achievement in Costume Design


Academy Awards, USA 1995

Won Best Costume Design: Tim Chappel and Lizzy Gardiner


Golden Globes, USA 1995

Nominated Best Motion Picture - Comedy/Musical

Nominated Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Comedy/Musical: Terence Stamp


Seattle International Film Festival 1994

Won Best Actor: Terence Stamp

Won Best Film


British Academy Awards 1994

Won Best Costume Design: Lizzy Gardiner and Tim Chappel

Won Best Make Up: Cassie Hanlon and Angela Conte



Sources in Murdoch library:


Media International Australia .n78. November 1995 p.33-38.

Sight and Sound .v .n5 .May 1995 p.59.

Metro .n101 .1995 p.12-16

Sight and Sound .v4 .n11 . November 1994 p.38

Cinema Papers .n101 . October 1994 p. 4-10, 86

Cinema Papers .n101 . October 1994 p. 11

Cinema Papers .n101 . October 1994 p. 62-63

Variety .9 May 1994 p. 76

Cinema Papers .n96 .December 1993 p.65

Cinema papers .n95 .October 1993 p. 63

Cinema papers .n91 .January 1993 p.3


Electronic databases:

Australian Feature Films (Informit)

Film Index International

Internet Movie Database



Clark, Al. Making Priscilla. Penguin Books: Australia. 1994

O’Regan, Tom. Australian National Cinema. Routledge: London. 1996


References not found in Murdoch library:


Film Quarterly. 50. n2. Winter 1996/97 p.41-45

Continuum .v10 .n2 1996 p.97-110

Rushes. Summer 1995 p.8-11

Cine-Bulles .v14 .n2 .Summer 1995 p. 18-21

Empire .n71 .May 1995 p. 124

Premiere .v2 .n12 .January 1995 p. 27

Empire .n65 .November 1994 p.30

Empire .n65 .November 1994 p. 53-54

Film in Review .v45 .n11/12 .Nov/Dec 1994 p. 61-62

Premiere .v8 .n2 October 1994 p. 100-107

Interview .v24. n8. August 1994 p.36-37

Metro .n100 .Summer 1994/5 p. 23-26

Screen International .n959 .27 May 1994 p.14

Film Francais n.2505/6 .6 May 1994 p.64

Screen International .n929 .15 October 1993 p.25

Screen International .n918 .30 July 1993 p.8


Polygram: The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the desert

ABBA Web Directory

OZ Film

RML Movie Page

Links to film from internet movie database:

  1. Nebbadoon Syndicate (Joan Ellis)
  2. Find-A-Video
  3. Webster's Weekly
  5. HBO review
  6. PopcornQ Reviews (5k)
  7. Popcorn Q (5k)
  8. Prof. Edwin Jahiel
  9. Radio CityNet (Bello Romano)
  10. San Francisco Chronicle
  11. NCSU Technician
  12. Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
  13. Trincoll Journal
  14. Washington Post
  15. Washington Post
Miscellaneous link(s)
  1. fan page
  2. Guy Pearce - My Hunk (Priscilla)


Presence Online

Since The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert has become both a popular Australian film and Gay film there is tons to find on the web. It really depends on the day, I have found web sites I have never been able to find again. Priscilla, has quite a following, but there are people who oppose the film. What interested me the most was the pictures found on the web. I started doing research on Priscilla before I sat down to watch the film. The costumes and set are appealing and shocked me because of the detail. If you want to do your own search start off the links I have added to my site and the possibilities are endless. Do be careful because some of the sites I found were shocking, they contained a little more information other than about Priscilla that you might not be ready to see.