DirectorKen Russell Music directorPeter Maxwell Davies LanguageEnglish
Release dateDecember 16, 1971 Based onthe musical by Sandy Wilson WriterKen Russell (screenplay), Sandy Wilson (musical) AwardsGolden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy CastTwiggy (Polly Browne), Christopher Gable (Tony Brockhurst), Max Adrian (Max Mandeville aka Mr. Max / Lord Hubert Brockhurst), Bryan Pringle (Percy Parkhill / Percy Browne), Murray Melvin (Alphonse) Similar moviesAcross the Universe, Election, He Was a Quiet Man, Naughty Girl, Still Waiting..., Jawbreaker
TaglineEMI-MGM Presents The Return Of Entertainment
The boy friend preview clip
The Boy Friend is a 1971 British-American musical comedy film directed by Ken Russell and starring Twiggy, Christopher Gable, Tommy Tune, and Max Adrian with an uncredited appearance by Glenda Jackson. It is an adaptation of the musical The Boy Friend by Sandy Wilson. It was released on DVD on April 12, 2011.
First there is the frame story where in the south of England in the 1920s a struggling theatrical troupe is performing a musical about romantic intrigues at a finishing school for young women in the south of France. To ongoing backstage dramas and audiences smaller in number than the cast, two extra ingredients arrive: a famous Hollywood film producer turns up to see the show, and Polly, the mousy assistant stage manager, is forced to go on when the leading lady breaks a leg. As Polly struggles to keep her cool while acting opposite the male lead she secretly loves, the rest of the company backstab each other trying to impress the impresario.
Next there is the musical itself. Four of the girls at the school are very forward and acquire boy friends but Polly is shy and has nobody to take her to the carnival masked ball that night. Tony, a messenger boy from a dress shop brings her a costume and the two young people are struck with each other. They meet again in the afternoon and reach an understanding, she pretending she is only a secretary so as not to seem above him. He comes to the ball and, when unmasked, is recognised as a peer's son. So Tony and Polly are both rich and can marry openly.
Thirdly, there are extensive fantasy sequences during which the characters' dreams are enacted in music and dance without words.
Twiggy - Polly Browne
Christopher Gable - Tony Brockhurst
Max Adrian - Max Mandeville aka Mr. Max / Lord Hubert Brockhurst
Bryan Pringle - Percy Parkhill / Percy Browne
Murray Melvin - Alphonse
Moyra Fraser - Moyra Parkhill / Madame Dubonnet
Georgina Hale - Fay
Sally Bryant - Nancy
Vladek Sheybal - De Thrill
Tommy Tune - Tommy
Brian Murphy - Peter
Graham Armitage - Michael
Antonia Ellis - Maisie
Caryl Little - Dulcie
Anne Jameson - Mrs. Peter
Catherine Willmer - Catherine Max / Lady Catherine Brockhurst
Robert La Bassier - Chauffeur
Barbara Windsor - Rosie / Hortense
Glenda Jackson - Rita (uncredited)
MGM bought the rights to the musical in 1957.
Dan Ireland thought Russell was motivated to make the film in response to the controversy of The Devils (1971).
Head of MGM James Aubrey ordered 25 minutes be removed from the movie for its US release.
Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times wrote, "Even when he’s not deliberately doing Berkeley takeoffs, (Ken Russell's) camera is so joyless that it undermines every scene".
Roger Greenspun wrote in The New York Times: "I am surprised to find that it is rather greatly to my taste; partly because it is often as witty as it is elaborate, partly because it works its variations on the fully recognizable and still quite wonderful Sandy Wilson words and music, and partly because it is supported by a charming and energetic cast".
Awards and nominations
The National Board of Review voted Ken Russell best director, and Twiggy won two Golden Globe awards as best newcomer and best actress (musical/comedy). The film was also nominated for the Academy Award for Best Music, Adaptation and Original Song Score, losing to Fiddler on the Roof.