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Ken Russell the films
Classic Period: The Boyfriend


Ken Russell The Boyfriend

As a change of pace Russell did a lighter piece, The Boyfriend, in 1971. This was a commercial failure. He then completed his most autobiographical film, Savage Messiah, funding it with his own money, another failure. The film cost $750,000.

Twiggy in Ken Russells The Boyfriend

Rather than film the musical The Boy Friend, Russell made the film about the making of the musical. When the star of a show breaks a leg, the newcomer, Twiggy, has to take her place. A major film director comes to look at the show as a possible new film.


The Boyfriend by Ken Russell   The Boyfriend by Ken Russell

The film was badly cut by the studio before release. Russell himself says (The Lion Roars) "but twelve reels are too long to tell such a slim tale, and Sandy Wilson's music, however tuneful, has diminishing returns, as one pastiche Twenties number follows another".  The imagery however is stunning.

Ken Russell The Boyfriend with Twiggy

It was filmed in Portsmouth in the Theatre Royal. Russell wanted to film in a theatre rather than a film studio. In a case of reality imitating art, as preparation Russell and Twiggy went to an amateur production of The Boyfriend in Essex and they caused the same reaction as in the film with the famous director visiting the amateur production.

Ken Russell The Boyfriend



Twiggy in The Boyfriend  

Twiggy is a film newcomer putting in a good performance as the stage newcomer.  Glenda Jackson appears uncredited as the overshadowed ageing star. It was one day's work. Christopher Gable is the male star.

Barbara Windsor of the "Carry On" films appears. Russell wanted her to play differently from her usual image, but she didn't.  Peter Maxwell Davis again provides the music.  Photography is by David Watkin. Regulars are Michael Bradsell (editor) and Shirley Russell (costumes). Ken also wrote the screenplay.


Best Image

Ken Russell The Boyfriend

The dance sequences in Busby Berkley style are spectacular.



Best Scene

Glenda Jackson telling the audience to be quiet as they clap the new star Twiggy.




Twiggy initially appears in a sailor's costume.
The innocent relationship of Twiggy and boyfriend.




Other films released in the same year include A Clockwork Orange, The French Connection and two more Russell films- The Devils and The Music Lovers.


More films

Click title for film French Dressing * Billion Dollar Brain * Women in Love * The Music Lovers* The Devils * The Boy Friend * Savage Messiah * Mahler * Tommy * Lisztomania * Valentino * Altered States * Crimes of Passion * Gothic * Aria * The Lair of the White Worm * Salome's Last Dance * The Rainbow * Whore * Mindbender * Trapped Ashes/ The Girl with the Golden Breasts


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