The Boy Friend (1971 film)

The Boy Friend
Directed by Ken Russell
Produced by Ken Russell
Harry Benn
Written by Ken Russell
Based on the musical by Sandy Wilson
Starring Twiggy
Christopher Gable
Max Adrian
Tommy Tune
Brian Murphy (actor)
Barbara Windsor
Vladek Sheybal
Music by Peter Maxwell Davies
Cinematography David Watkin
Edited by Michael Bradsell
EMI Films
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release dates
December 16, 1971
Running time
137 minutes (original)
109 mins (US)
Country United Kingdom
United States
Language English
Budget $3 million[1]

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.[2] It is an adaptation of the musical The Boy Friend by Sandy Wilson. It was released on DVD on April 12, 2011.


The plot exists on three levels.

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.



MGM bought the rights to the musical in 1957.[3]

Dan Ireland thought Russell was motivated to make the film in response to the controversy of The Devils (1971).[1]


Head of MGM James Aubrey ordered 25 minutes be removed from the movie for its US release.[1]

Critical reception


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.

See also


  1. 1 2 3 Dan Ireland on The Boyfriend at Trailers From Hell accessed 2 August 2012
  2. "BFI | Film & TV Database | The BOY FRIEND (1971)". 2009-04-16. Retrieved 2014-03-08.
  3. 'Boy Friend' Musical Will Have Star Cast Hopper, Hedda. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 26 Feb 1957: 22.
  4. Jordan, Scott (1972-02-08). "The Boy Friend Movie Review & Film Summary (1972)". Roger Ebert. Retrieved 2014-03-08.
  5. Greenspun, Roger (1971-12-17). "Movie Review - The Boy Friend - Film: 'The Boy Friend':Twiggy Plays Polly in Russell Screenplay". Retrieved 2014-03-08.

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