The Delinquents (1989 film)

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The Delinquents
The Delinquents (1989 film).png
Australian theatrical release poster
Directed byChris Thomson
Produced by
  • Alex Cutler
  • Michael Wilcox
Screenplay by
  • Clayton Frohman
  • Mac Gudgeon
Based onThe Delinquents
by Criena Rohan
Music byMiles Goodman
CinematographyAndrew Lesnie
Edited byJohn Scott
Distributed byVillage Roadshow Pictures
Release date
‹See TfM›
  • 21 December 1989 (1989-12-21) (Australia)
Running time
103 minutes[1]
BudgetAU$9 million[2]

The Delinquents is a 1989 Australian coming-of-age romantic drama film directed by Chris Thomson from a screenplay by Clayton Frohman and Mac Gudgeon, based on Criena Rohan's 1962 book of the same name. It stars Kylie Minogue (in her feature film debut) and Charlie Schlatter as the main characters Lola and Brownie, and was filmed in Brisbane, Maryborough and Bundaberg, Queensland.

The film was released in Australia on 21 December 1989 to mixed reviews from critics. It grossed $3,370,650 at the box office in Australia.[3] An accompanying soundtrack was also released. The film was also released internationally, including the United Kingdom, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Netherlands, and West Germany.


Lola and Brownie are teenagers in the city of Bundaberg during the 1950s. They fall in love, but because of their age must fight their parents and welfare, who try to keep them apart. Lola falls pregnant and the couple runs away so they can keep their baby and live happily ever after. Lola's mother and the police find them and take Lola home. Brownie joins the crew of a ship so he can sail the coast and look for Lola.

Meanwhile, Lola is forced to have an abortion by her mother in Brisbane. After an argument with her mother about Brownie and the abortion, Lola moves to Melbourne, becomes a waitress and bleaches her hair. Lola is reunited with Brownie after he visits the bar where Lola works whilst on shore leave. She returns with Brownie to his ship and they spend the night together in Brownie's cabin, where they are discovered the following morning by Brownie's friend and boss, Bosun. After an argument between Brownie and Bosun as to whether Lola should return to her mother or stay with Brownie, Bosun eventually relents and says that Lola can stay, so long as she is kept "out of sight" from the other sailors.

After the ship docks, Lola and Brownie attend a party held by a young couple, Lyle and Mavis. They are squatting in the property with their daughter, Sharon. One night, Lola and Brownie are arrested for underage drinking after being caught leaving a pub.

Lola is taken away by her mother and welfare to live with Aunt Westbury, a caretaker in the countryside for a fixed-term of 12 months. She and Brownie are told that they are not allowed to see or contact each other for one year. During Lola's stay in the community placement, a former charge of Aunt's visits the house. During this visit, Lola collects the mail and, after a brief conversation with the postman, realizes that her caretaker has thrown all Brownie's letters in the bin. Lola and the caretaker fight, and Lola runs away.

Finding her mother drunk and unsympathetic, Lola returns to Lyle and Sharon's home, only to be arrested and taken to a young offenders' institution to restart and complete her sentence.

During this time, a riot is started by the other inmates. After her 18th birthday, Lola is released from jail and is subsequently reunited with Brownie. They return to the house, where Lola discovers that Mavis is heavily pregnant with her and Lyle's second child. Lola wants Brownie to quit his job as a sailor, and stay with her; however, Brownie is unsure and confides in Bosun about his dilemma. Mavis goes into labor. The birth does not go well and both Mavis and the baby die.

Although Lola and Brownie offer to adopt Mavis' surviving daughter, they are unable to as they are unmarried. Lyle leaves the child with Lola to give to social services as she will be placed into foster care and Lyle is unable to bear the thought of giving up his only child.

Lyle subsequently leaves after telling Lola he intends to travel the world and taking on odd jobs to make ends meet while stopping off at different locations on his travels. He also tells Lola that he is too devastated by recent events to remarry or have another family. En route to the welfare office, Brownie sees Lola and Sharon in the taxi and runs after them. Eventually, Brownie catches up with the taxi and he is reunited with Lola and Sharon. The film ends with their wedding with their families and friends in attendance.


Original novel[edit]

The novel was published in 1962. It had been written in a TB hospital.[4]

The novel was submitted for the Miles Franklin Award.[5]

Rohan died in 1963, having only published one other book in her lifetime.

The novel was re-published in 1986.[6]


Rights to the novel were purchased by first time producers Alex Cutler and Michael Wilcox in 1985. They had been trying to obtain the rights to another Australian novel but had difficulty negotiating with the author; someone suggested they have a look at The Delinquents, which Penguin were about to reissue. They obtained finance from the New South Wales Film Corporation and Australian Film Commission and hired Lex Marinos to write a draft. In 1987 David Bowie announced in an interview he thought the book would make a good film, which re-ignited a great deal of interest in the project.[7] Bowie subsequently distanced himself from the film's production, and interviewed in 1990, he cited "a large artistic disagreement with [the] producers" over the direction of the film as the reason he was no longer involved in the film. He said, "the book that I read and the film that they were making had nothing to do with each other", adding "it was a wonderful little book and it should have been a little film. It should have been an Australian film."[8]

The Australian Film Commission provided further script development money enabling Dorothy Hewett to write a second draft. Greg Coote and John Tarnoff of Village Roadshow became involved and Coote suggested Kylie Minogue play the lead. At one stage Ben Mendelsohn was signed to appear opposite her but eventually it was decided to go with an imported actor so the film might appeal to an international market: Charlie Schlatter was chosen.[2][9]

Chris Thomson was approached to direct. He did not like the script but thought the book was wonderful, so managed to persuade the producers to hire Mac Gudgeon, who had made Waterfront (1983) with Thomson, to work on the script. Village Roadshow agreed to provide half the budget and the producers applied to the FFC for further finance in October 1988.[7]

The film was partly shot at Warner Bros studios on the Gold Coast.[2]

Release and reception[edit]

Reception[edit] later gave the movie a mixed review, scoring it 5/10.[10] On, the reviewer complimented the film's cinematography, the period details and Minogue's lead role in the film.[11] The Radio Times grades the film two stars out of five, calling it a "passable tale of teenage torment".[12]


The Delinquents was re-released in the 1989 to tie-in with the release of the film.[13] There are some differences between the film and the novel. For example, in the novel, Lola is part Asian and suffers a miscarriage on the grounds of the all-girls school. It is uncertain whether the screenplay was adjusted or the missing parts of the book were filmed and removed to meet a lower certificate.

Box office and initial screening[edit]

The Delinquents grossed $3,370,650 at the Australian box office in Australia.[3] It was the most successful Australian film of 1990 on Australian soil. In the United Kingdom it reached number one, grossing £1,072,110 in its first week.[14] It was the 17th highest-grossing film of 1989 there.[15]

After a London world premiere, The Delinquents opened in Australia and New Zealand on 21 December 1989 in wide release. Five days after the Australasian release date, it opened in the United Kingdom on 26 December 1989. It was later announced that the film would be released in other European countries; it was released on 1 June 1990 in Finland and Sweden under the name Delinquents – Nuoret Kapinalliset. It opened in the Netherlands on 8 June.It was released on 15 June 1990 in Denmark under the name For ung til kærlighed. Then Portugal on 29 June. Its last release was in Germany.

Despite having chosen an American lead actor and an American composer, with an eye to the American market, the film was never released in the United States, in part due to a problem with distribution. This led to the production company filing a lawsuit against Village Roadshow Pictures and the FFC.[9]

Home media[edit]

The Delinquents was released as VHS worldwide in 1989 and released on DVD in Australia only. The film was released internationally on digital platforms, including iTunes in 2016.


The soundtrack album was released in Australia and New Zealand by Mushroom Records and in the UK by PWL Records.[16] The soundtrack release consisted of old standards (one of them performed by Minogue and one by Johnny Diesel and the Injectors), as well as one track from the film's score. "Tears on My Pillow" was released as a single in November 1989, peaking at number 20 in Australia. "Please Send Me Someone to Love" was released as the second single in January 1990, peaking at number 11 in Australia. Tears On My Pillow went to number one in the UK for one week in January 1990, and was the 26th best-selling single of the year in the UK during 1990.

  1. "Please Send Me Someone to Love" – Johnny Diesel and the Injectors (Written by Percy Mayfield) (4:25)
  2. "Slippin' and Slidin'" – Little Richard (Written by Little Richard (as Penniman)/Eddie Bo (as Edwin J. Bocage)/Al Collins/James Smith) (2:33)
  3. "Twenty Flight Rock" – Eddie Cochran (Written by Ned Fairchild/Eddie Cochran) (1:45)
  4. "Break Up" – Jerry Lee Lewis (Written by Charlie Rich) (2:40)
  5. "Be-Bop-A-Lula" – Gene Vincent & His Blue Caps (Written by Gene Vincent/Tex Davis) (2:36)
  6. "Lucille" – Swanee (Written by Richard Penniman/Al Collins) (2:24)
  7. "One Night" – Fats Domino (Written by David Bartholomew/Pearl King) (2:50)
  8. "Only You" – The Platters (Written by Buck Ram/Ande Rand) (2:38)
  9. "Tears on My Pillow" – Kylie Minogue (Written by Bradford Lewis) (2:31)
  10. "Theme From The Delinquents" – The Delinquents Orchestra (Composed and Conducted by Miles Goodman) (2:24)

Songs heard in the film but not on the soundtrack album:

  1. "Three Steps To Heaven" by Eddie Cochran (Written by Eddie Cochran)
  2. "Tennessee Waltz" by Pattie Page (Written by King/Stewart)
  3. "Great Balls of Fire" by Pattie Page (Written by Otis Blackwell/Jack Hammer)
  4. "Since I Met You Baby" by Ivory Joe Hunter (Written by Joe Hunter)
  5. "Chantez Chantez" by Dinah Shore (Written by Albert Gamse/Irving Fields)
  6. "My Babe" by Little Walter (Written by Willie Dixon)
  7. "She's My Baby" by Johnny O'Keefe (Written by Turnball/Molfast/Finch)
  8. "Roll With Me Henry" by Johnny O'Keefe (Written by Turnball/Molfast/Finch)


Chart (1989) Peak
Australian Albums (ARIA)[17] 20

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Delinquents (12)". British Board of Film Classification. 27 November 1989. Retrieved 23 September 2016.
  2. ^ a b c David Stratton, The Avocado Plantation: Boom and Bust in the Australian Film Industry, Pan MacMillan, 1990 p350-352
  3. ^ a b Film Victoria - Australian Films at the Australian Box Office
  4. ^ "Dead Novelist's Book Praised". The Canberra Times. 30 August 1963. p. 17. Retrieved 8 March 2014 – via National Library of Australia.
  5. ^ "THE MILES FRANKLIN AWARD". The Canberra Times. 20 April 1963. p. 22. Retrieved 8 March 2014 – via National Library of Australia.
  6. ^ "THE BEST WEEKEND". The Canberra Times. 26 January 1986. p. 82. Retrieved 8 March 2014 – via National Library of Australia.
  7. ^ a b Patricia Amad & Philippa Hawker, "The Delinquents", Cinema Papers, July 1989 p4-7
  8. ^ The Simon Bates interviews, BBC Radio 1, Jan-Feb 1990
  9. ^ a b Helen Barlow, "The Australian Film Finance Corporation", Cinema Papers, August 1991 p36
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ "The Delinquents". Retrieved 12 February 2017.
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^ " – Various – The Delinquents". Hung Medien. Retrieved 29 November 2014.

External links[edit]