Based around Sandy Wilson’s musical stageplay of the same title, Russell’s extravagant production storms between delightful tackiness and exuberant fantasy in pastiche of 1920’s stage musical (after Wilson) and Busby Berkeley’s film musicals of the ’30’s. Twiggy plays Polly Browne, nervous stage manager of a production of The Boyfriend who is obliged to take the place of Rita, leading lady, (Glenda Jackson) who has sprained her ankle. Russell’s film follows the performance, which is a disaster onstage and off, as the cast compete for the attention of De Thrill, a Hollywood director in the audience. Simultaneously we follow the romantic entanglement of Polly and Tony, played by the young, blue-eyed blonde Christopher Gable. –BFI
British director Ken Russell started out training for a naval career, but after wartime RAF and merchant navy service he switched goals and went into ballet. Supplementing his dancing income as an actor and still photographer, Russell put together a handful of amateur films in the 50s before being hired as a staff director by the BBC. Russell made a name for himself (albeit a name not always spoken in reverence) during the first half of the ‘60s by directing a series of iconoclastic TV dramatizations of the lives of famous composers and dancers. And if he felt that the facts were getting in the way of his story, he’d make up his own — frequently bordering on the libelous. If he had any respect for the famous persons whose lives he probed, it was secondary to his fascination with revealing all warts and open wounds.
A film director since 1963, Russell burst into the international consciousness with 1969’s Women in Love, a hothouse version of the D.H. Lawrence novel. No director… read more
Next to no exposition, one of the only musicals I've seen focusing entirely on the production also avoiding a lots of the usual backstage drama. I didnt think Russell right for a lighthearted musical, but his in your face sensibilities are actually perfectly suitable, depicting the exhilaration and intimidation of performing in a stage production with the elaborate set pieces becoming almost overwhelming. Must see
"The Boy Friend" will always be my favorite Russell film, in fact, it's one of my all time favorite films. It has an extraordinary level of genius that's always been overlooked and misunderstood. You have to look at what's actually going on in this creation, there are so many layers to it, unlike any film I've seen. It's a mind trip – a good one.
I was skeptical about the idea of Ken Russell directing an old-fashioned G-rated musical, but fortunately the result is just as surreally weird, witty, and visually impressive as you'd expect from Russell. The top-notch cast keeps the madcap energy high, even if the songs themselves are merely adequate and some of the musical numbers go on too long. A whole lot of fun, Russell fans should not pass this one up.