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The assistant stage manager of a small-time theatrical company (Polly Browne) is forced to understudy for the leading lady (Rita) at a matinée performance at which an illustrious Hollywood director (Cecil B. DeThrill) is in the audience scouting for actors to be in his latest "all-talking, all-dancing, all-singing" extravaganza. Polly also happens to fall in love with the leading man (Tony) and imagines several fabulous fantasy sequences in which the director is free to exercise his capacity for over-the-top visuals in this charming 1920's era flick. Written by
Bliss Blood <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Wonderful music and terrific English performers make this spoof of 30s musicals a must. Twiggy is wonderful as the understudy who must fill in for the injured star (Glenda Jackson in a funny cameo). And a Hollywood big shot is in the audience.... Hmmmm. Superb turns by Antonia Ellis as Maisie, Christopher Gable as Tony, and the rest: Max Adrian, Georgina Hale, Moyra Fraser, Barbara Windsor, Bryan Pringle, Catherine Willmer, Tommy Tune, and Murray Melvin. Great sets and costumes and all those musical numbers. Twiggy (yes, she can sing and dance) and Tune teamed up on Broadway years later in Me and My Girl. And this is the show that made a star of Julie Andrews on Broadway in 1954. Great Sandy Wilson show made into a glorious film by Ken Russell. His gentle spoof of 30s musicals, including the famous Busby Berkley dance routines and many inside jokes and lines from 30s musicals make this a total treat for fans of the genre. Jackson's "now go out there and be so great.... you'll make me hate you," is a direct quote from 42nd St, where Bebe Daniels says the line to Ruby Keeler. Also with Graham Armitage, Caryl Little, Sally Bryant, Brian Murphy, Vladel Shaybal as DeThrill, and Peter Greenwell as the pianist (who won an Oscar nomination for his orchestration). What fun! And one of Russell's best films.
Ken Russell takes a straightforward show and adds layers by having characters imagine bigtime Hollywood versions of the small touring company's musical numbers. This opens up the movie and makes for a dazzling spectacle of music, dance, and color. But without terrific performances, this would all be for nothing. Twiggy is really good as the shy Polly the stand-in. She and Christopher Gable make a nice dance team in several numbers. Max Adrian and Catherine Willmer are hilarious as the troop manager and his wife Hilda, as are Moyra Fraser and Bryan Pringle as the haughty star and his wife. My favorites are Antonia Ellis as the ferocious Maisie, Georgina Hale as the fog-horn voiced Fay, and Barbara Windsor as busty Hortense.
The music is great. Twiggy gets to sing "You Are My Lucky Star" and "All I Do the Whole Day Through." Hale and Adrian are memorable in "Never Too Old to Fall in Love." Fraser and Pringle are fun in "You Don't Want to Play with Me Blues," and the closing "Doing the Riviera" is a fond homage to Berkley with the famous chorus girls on winged plane number. Also love "The Boy Friend," "We're Perfect Young Ladies," "Nicer in Niece," "A Room in Bloomsbury," "Fancy Your Forgetting," and "Sur La Plage."
THE BOY FRIEND is a fond and loving spoof of old-time musicals and beautifully done. A must-see for all fans of classic musicals.
2011 UPDATE: Warners has issued a remastered DVD and the color in spectacular!
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