The Boy Friend

Screening on Film
Directed by Ken Russell.
With Twiggy, Christopher Gable, Max Adrian.
UK/USA, 1971, 35mm, 133 min.

Long before Baz Luhrmann visited the Moulin Rouge, Ken Russell displayed his knack for visual and musical pastiche in this rarely screened gem. Swinging London’s favorite supermodel, Twiggy, makes a charming film debut as Polly Browne, a theatrical stage manager who understudies for an injured star in front of an audience that includes Hollywood director and talent scout Cecil B. DeThrill. At the same time, Polly finds herself falling in love with the leading man of the play. Polly indulges in several ornate fantasy sequences, enabling Russell to stage send-ups of Busby Berkeley’s elaborate song and dance numbers. Through the interplay between the theatrical performance and the film’s fantasy sequences, Russell creates a meta-musical, through which he simultaneously celebrates and pokes fun at the conventions of the genre.

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