6.8/10
2,744
52 user 26 critic

The Boy Friend (1971)

When the leading lady of a low-budget musical revue sprains her ankle, the assistant stage manager is forced to understudy and perform in her place, becoming a star and finding love in the process.

Director:

Ken Russell

Writers:

Ken Russell (screenplay), Sandy Wilson (musical)
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 4 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Twiggy ... Polly
Christopher Gable Christopher Gable ... Tony
Max Adrian ... Max
Bryan Pringle ... Percy
Murray Melvin ... Alphonse
Moyra Fraser ... Mme. Dubonnet
Georgina Hale ... Fay
Sally Bryant Sally Bryant ... Nancy
Vladek Sheybal ... De Thrill
Tommy Tune ... Tommy
Brian Murphy ... Peter
Graham Armitage ... Michael
Antonia Ellis ... Maisie
Caryl Little Caryl Little ... Dulcie
Anne Jameson Anne Jameson ... Mrs. Peter (as Ann Jameson)
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Storyline

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 <soundex@sccsi.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A Glittering Super Colossal Heart Warming Toe-Tapping Continously Delightful Musical Extravaganza See more »


Certificate:

G | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

UK | USA

Language:

English | French

Release Date:

25 February 1972 (Ireland) See more »

Also Known As:

The Boyfriend See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$750,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Russflix See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (short UK) | (director's cut) | (US) | (TCM print)

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Final film of Max Adrian. See more »

Quotes

Max: Polly, listen to me, the careers and lives of all these boys and girls are depending on you. I'm not asking for myself, but, do it - for them.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Ken Russell's Talking Picture See more »

Alternate Versions

The 1987 re-release by M-G-M/United Artists Classics restored 26 minutes that had been trimmed for the original theatrical release from director Russell's initial 134-minute cut. The longer version included two songs, "It's Nicer in Nice" and "The You-Don't-Want-To-Play-With-Me Blues" as well as the seven minute Grecian bacchanal party fantasy. See more »

Connections

References Singin' in the Rain (1952) See more »

Soundtracks

Act I Finale: The Boy Friend
Music and Lyrics by Sandy Wilson
Performed by Company
See more »

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User Reviews

 
So much fun and quite unique for a movie musical
11 August 2014 | by TheLittleSongbirdSee all my reviews

While not among my personal favourite musicals or films, The Boy Friend was immensely entertaining in almost every sense and certainly unlike any movie musical we've seen before. The dog scats on your spats joke would have been better left out because it did wear thin and it was more tasteless than funny. But actually that is the only thing in The Boy Friend that came across as that to me, particularly for a director like Ken Russell who has been known to resort to excess and have material that people can be easily offended by. Russell always was a controversial director who fascinated a lot of people and repulsed others, no matter what you thought of him there is no denying that his directing and style was unique. So how does Russell's direction fare here? Brilliantly actually(for an unlikely choice of director for a musical), the style he brings is extravagant as can be seen in the sets, lighting and costumes that burst with primary colours and the purposeful and interesting camera shots(sweeping and a case of awkward working in its favour) showing a virtuoso at work. The spectacle is big and very eye-catching but, despite how this sounds, for Russell while not restrained as such it's not excessive either. The musical numbers are all delightful and always catchy whether in a humorous or emotional way, and they're staged with a Busby Berkeley influence that is always engaging and over-the-top to a delicious degree. Where else in a musical would you find leprechauns in a world of mushrooms, nurses pushing their patients in kaleidoscopic circular fashion in wheelchairs, aeroplane dancing in the snow and swimmers in the ocean in identical attire? The Grecian Nymph fantasy and the nymphs being led off to save the day by Tommy Tune are also great touches that provide plenty of amusement. Despite all this visual spectacle, The Boy Friend is surprisingly also brilliantly written, the satire is sharp and the backstage intrigue is intriguing and insightful. You do have to love Maisie's ad-libbing and attempts at seduction as well, and there's a fair share of emotional impact too, at the end Polly is very easy to root for. The story may sound clichéd and concept-wise it is but execution-wise it was surprising at how unconventional and breaking-new-ground the storytelling was and it's all done with fun as well as non-stop charm and nostalgia. The cast really give their all, even if Christopher Gable's acting and singing doesn't impress as much as his excellent dancing. The best being Twiggy who is charming to the hilt, Antonia Ellis who will leave you in hysterics with her ad-libbing and seduction attempts and Russell regular/favourite Glenda Jackson whose hilarious performance is one that is not easily forgotten in the long run. Barbara Windsor is always great value too. All in all, a fascinating and immensely enjoyable movie musical unlike any other that you've seen before. It's not for everybody, like Russell himself it will delight numbers of people- where I fit in- and perplex others, both viewpoints of which are totally understandable. 9/10 Bethany Cox


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