Boy Friend, The (1971): Ken Russell Musical, Starring Twiggy

Ken Russell’s intermittently charming musical is set in England in the 1920s, centering on a provincial theatrical company, which put on stage a musical about the same romantic affairs and intrigues that occur in real life, offstage.

The stage production by Sandy Wilson became famous for catapulting Julie Andrews to international stardom. In this movie, the famous fashion model Twiggy plays the Andrews’ part, showing some (not great) talent for singing and dancing.

 

Glenda Jackson, who won a Best Actress Oscar for Ken Russell’s “Women in Love,” makes a cameo appearance as the aging star, who breaks an ankle (just like in the plot of Warner’s 1933 musical “42nd Street”), thus enable Twiggy to go on stage as an amateur and come back as a legit star.

 

As usual, Russell employs (or clutters, depends on your point of view) the musical comedy with excessive, outrageous and extravagant stylistic flourishes, resulting in a densely textured, campy movie, which has become a cult item for many spectators.

Some acts, like a dream sequence, is a deliberate homage to Busby Berkeley’s musicals of the 1930s.

Oscar Nominations: 1

Scoring (Adaptation): Peter Maxwell Davies and Peter Greenwell

Oscar Awards: None

Oscar Context

The winner of the Adapting Scoring was John Williams for the Norman Jewison’s musical “Fiddler on the Roof.”