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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 <email@example.com>
"I could be happy with you, my darling, if you could be happy with me."
I was lucky enough, thirty five years ago, to see a revival of the original musical THE BOY FRIEND at a nice little theater in upper Manhattan called THE EQUITY LIBRARY THEATER. It was on West 105th Street, near Riverside Drive, and was very good at putting on revivals of musicals. THE BOY FRIEND was a very charming, slight salute to the musicals of that period of the 1920s, with Polly (the heroine) as one of the girls at a finishing school, and the travails she has to go through before she finds happiness with Tony. With tunes like, "A ROOM IN BLOOMSBURY" they helped capture a period that just doesn't exist anymore. Too bad that.
In the original cast, the role of Polly was played by Julie Andrews, and were the first steps to her musical stardom on Broadway and in film. But that was in the 1950s. In 1971 the film version came out, starring Twiggy, Christopher Gable, Tommy Tune, Max Adrian, and Glenda Jackson. The original sweet musical was changed into a spoof of such musicals. Twiggy, the stage manager, is the understudy for star Glenda Jackson who is injured. She has to take the role on a critical night performance. But Jackson discovers that a Hollywood big-shot is in the audience looking for talent, and she is determined to reclaim her part. Except that now the cast is used to Twiggy's performing the role.
Jackson tries to get rid of Twiggy in one sequence, trying to arrange an accident while the latter is on stage. Similarly other members of the cast, including the head of the company (Adrian) are preening themselves to try to catch the bigwig's attention. Only Twiggy and Tommy Tune are being more circumspect. Twiggy wants the male lead (Christopher Gable) to notice her - she likes him. Tune wants to just perform correctly, and he seems rather less than bothered by the bigwig in the audience than anyone else.
Besides singing (quite well) several tunes of the 1920 period, Twiggy and the cast handle the musical numbers nicely (my favorite is the one where Adrian's attempts at dominating a song "Never Too Old To Fall In Love" being reduced to a comic prop in a Bath chair by Georgina Hale).
The movie is funny and likable. Who can ask for anything more from a good musical film?
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