The Boy Friend

Overview

The Boy Friend began life as Sandy Wilson's small-scale pastiche of British musical comedies of the 1920s. When the play was brought to America in 1954, its star was the teenage Julie Andrews. Because The Boy Friend requires a minimum of sets, props, and costumes, it has become a favorite of amateur theater groups throughout the world. But director Ken Russell, notorious for his onscreen excesses, abandoned the film's simplicity. He fashioned a humongous parody of the Busby Berkeley film musicals of the 1930s, ...
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Overview

The Boy Friend began life as Sandy Wilson's small-scale pastiche of British musical comedies of the 1920s. When the play was brought to America in 1954, its star was the teenage Julie Andrews. Because The Boy Friend requires a minimum of sets, props, and costumes, it has become a favorite of amateur theater groups throughout the world. But director Ken Russell, notorious for his onscreen excesses, abandoned the film's simplicity. He fashioned a humongous parody of the Busby Berkeley film musicals of the 1930s, staged on a scale that made Berkeley seem stylistically modest. Fashion model Twiggy plays Polly Browne, an aspiring musical comedy star, working as stage manager of a production of The Boy Friend. She is transformed into a star when she replaces leading lady Rita Monroe Glenda Jackson, unbilled, who twists her ankle seconds before the curtain goes up. Before the evening is over, Polly is scampering over outsized sets, and ducking around seemingly thousands of chorus girls and boys. Christopher Gable, who plays Polly's on-stage leading man, also choreographed the lavish musical numbers.
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Special Features

Vintage Featurette All Talking...All Singing...All Dancing
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
The Boy Friend is perhaps the most audience-friendly of Ken Russell's 1970s films; it is certainly the least intimidating and the most intentionally silly. It's also one of the more interesting adaptations of a stage musical, using the framework of a seedy troupe presenting The Boy Friend and a famous Hollywood impresario imagining the work's film potential to supplement the original's coy spoofing. For a while, this works well, but by the midpoint, repetition sets in, especially in terms of the actors trying to upstage each other and of the ingenue's on-stage role replicating her off-stage situation. That said, Russell and his choreographic team's work in the "film visualization" numbers is truly impressive, creating fascinating visuals -- Busby Berkeley-esque kaleidoscopes of human figures, bizarre elfin imagery, a dazzling playing-card symmetricon, an oversized record player -- that linger long after the last frame. The editing is also sharp, and the overall physical design is wonderfully evocative. The cast includes the usual range of Russell grotesqueries, although toned down and played more effectively for comedy. He also has in Twiggy a leading lady of genuine softness and appeal; her talent -- especially her singing -- may be limited, but she projects a believable and winning innocence. Christopher Gable and Tommy Tune are on hand to provide some real dancing, and Antonia Ellis is a bitchy delight. Best of all is Glenda Jackson in what amounts to a cameo, making an indelible impression with her four or five minutes of screen time. The Boy Friend eventually runs out of steam, but its dizzying visual highlights make up for that.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 5/27/2011
  • UPC: 883316331095
  • Original Release: 1971
  • Source: Warner Archives
  • Time: 2:16:00
  • Format: DVD

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Twiggy Polly Browne
Christopher Gable Tony Brockhurst
Max Adrian Max
Bryan Pringle Percy Parkhill
Murray Melvin Alphonse
Sally Bryant Nancy
Ann Jameson Mrs. Peter
Glenda Jackson Rita Monroe
Graham Armitage Michael
Barbara Windsor Hortense
Antonia Ellis Maisie
Moyra Fraser Madame Dubonnet
Peter Greenwell Pianist
Georgina Hale Fay
Robert La Bassiere Chauffeur
Caryl Little Dulcie
Brian Murphy Peter
Vladek Sheybal De Thrill
Tommy Tune Tommy de Thtill
Catherine Willmer Catherine
Catherine Wilmer Lady Brockhurst
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies Conductor
Technical Credits
Ken Russell Director, Producer, Screenwriter
Maurice Askew Sound/Sound Designer
Harry Benn Producer
Michael Bradsell Editor
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies Musical Arrangement
Graham Ford Asst. Director
Christopher Gable Choreography
Terry Gilbert Choreography
Peter Greenwell Score Composer
Gillian Gregory Choreography
Simon Holland Art Director
Shirley Russell Costumes/Costume Designer
Brian Simmons Sound/Sound Designer
Tony Walton Set Decoration/Design
David Watkin Cinematographer
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Menu

Disc #1 -- The Boyfriend
   Play
   Special Feature
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2001

    Justice, please

    Its a lovely splendiferous film that deserves to be restored and re-released in widescreen format.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews