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Monday, December 31, 2012

The Boy Friend (1971)

When the "star" (Glenda Jackson) of a rather third rate small theater company performing THE BOY FRIEND misses a performance, her unprepared understudy (Twiggy) must go on. But it just so happens, a big Hollywood producer (Vladek Sheybal) is in the audience with the idea of possibly making the show into a film. Most people usually fall into one of two camps regarding Ken Russell's film of the 1953 Sandy Wilson musical. Some find Russell's wickedly irreverent backstage musical a campy delight while others are horrified by what Russell has done to Wilson's sweetly innocent pastiche of 1920s musicals. I love the film myself. Russell manages to balance the vinegar driven backstage hysteria (which is not a part of Wilson's play) with an affectionate send up of not only 1920s Broadway musicals but 1930s film musicals too. Twiggy is charming, her wispy voice is more than adequate (the songs are hardly taxing) and she looks terrific in her 1930s white satin gowns. Alas, she's saddled with the hunky looking but hollow Christopher Gable as her partner. Three of the supporting cast stand out: that dancing giant Tommy Tune, the vampish Antonia Ellis and the smoky voiced Georgina Hale. With Max Adrian, Barbara Windsor (who has one good number, Nicer In Nice), Murray Melvin, Graham Armitage, Moyra Fraser, Catherine Willmer and Max Pringle.

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