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4.5 out of 5 stars28
4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 20 July 2011
Ken Russell's 'The Boyfriend' has a heart-breaking editorial history stemming back to the early seventies.
Briefly, the moguls at MGM decided they knew better than the likes of Russell and Sam Peckinpah and set about butchering some of their major works. In Peckinpah's case, 'Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid' ~ which to this day has never fully recovered.
The hailed-to-the-heavens 'director's cut' remedied the situation to a large degree, thanks to Spottiswode and Halsey's timely intervention - but it remains a somewhat early-bird director's cut; certainly some of the editing suggests Peckinpah hadn't completely finished attending to it.

Fortunately, with this release of 'the Boyfriend' we now have the final word on this previously unattractively decimated work. With all the footage previously only seen on the ridiculous - but at the the time, vital - 3-sided laserdisc, restored to it's pomp, Russell's tiny, provincial tale of back-stage back-stabbing and ultimately triumphant true love can now be properly appreciated.

It's the cliched tale of a shy, baleful understudy, Polly Browne (Twiggy) who gets her big chance when the leading lady (an un-credited, biting cameo from Glenda Jackson) breaks her ankle - and proceeds to wow and win over the ten people in the audience, while predictably capturing her true love, Tony (Christopher Gable).

So far so not-so-inspiring, it's only when Russell goes into Busby Berkely mode that 'the Boyfriend' kick-starts ~ and some of the numbers are jaw-dropping. Throwing everything at it, Polly goes from Vision of Ecstasy to sweetheart of Bacchus without drawing breath. The images are astonishing, and so charmingly overstated by an obviously-in-his-element Russell and his rip-roaringly in-simpatico cast, that it would take a cold heart indeed not to be invigoratingly warmed by it all.

The ambitious, bickering supporting cast - led by a hysterical Max Adrian and foxy Antonia Ellis - are uniformly superb. Each wishing failure and disgrace on each other, and each's self-delusional over-the-topness (hey, we're back to Cowell again !), escalating to frenzy when it's revealed that the mogul film director, Cecil B. De Thrille, is talent-spotting from his vantage high above the sparse viewing congregation.
Occasionally, what plot there is, does seem slightly contrived to get from one flowing musical opus to the next, but it's not a deal breaker. Russell powers the whole shebang along in such fine, frivolous fashion that you scarcely notice. In fact, it plays like a horror movie in that the dialogue is sporadically just a segue into the next marauding, throbbing set-piece. The charm factor is amusingly high; from every over-played routine or belted out song to every chirpy, stilted dialogue exchange, the film drips it from every frame.
'the Boyfriend's hues dazzle, it's message reassures and it's exuberant innocence refreshes. It's a simple but satisfying way to spend 2+ summer hours, if, as I do, you despise the sun.

Ken Russell at some kind of apex; amazing to think it has to be regarded as an 'early work' when it's so polished.
And not a nubile naked nun nor nightmare nympho nazi to be seen anywhere.
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on 2 November 2011
Other have written far more eloquently than I can about the story and acting but I thought that as a former cinema projectionist this might be of interest. I saw this film on its opening day in Brighton when they even had an organist to entertain before and during the interval - THAT is how long ago it was released. I seem to recall that soon after opening (which was 2 shows a day) they changed to 3 a day and believe that some hasty edits were done to help the timing.

The picture quality is extremely good in fact so clean that I wondered if they had taken it from an old style video disk Don't know. There are however several places where a few frames are completely missing and the picture jumps (silently thank goodness). This is only noticeable on fast movement.

The main song "I could be happy with you" is sharper and in a much better overall quality than the rest of the film (that is the part that is available to download in preview incidentally) but there are several marks on the print at this point. Could this be some sort of studio publicity print where just this song was printed for a special purpose??

The disk is in fact a specially recorded one-at-a-time DVD-R so cannot be expected to last as a factory made DVD might. The sound is the original 2 channel Dolby stereo mix and seems to have little top with a roll off at about 7KHz. Hi-Fi this is not, in fact I wondered if the person who performed the transfer used the home Dolby B setting instead of the professional Dolby A equalisation? Top there is not, obviously if this came from a home disk it might explain what is going on as it could easily have been duplicated with the wrong audio equalisation by someone who is not as old as me!

Finally it plays on both my locked to the UK DVD players but at 24 frames a second, which is great as the sound is at the right pitch for once!

I have duplicated my copy, as I mentioned before it's on a cheap DVD-R disk and can be expected to scratch. Making a back-up is perfectly legal to do in the UK by the way.
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on 28 June 2011
This is not generally available in the UK, and it seems unlikely that it will be - it is a made-to-order DVD from Warners' Specialist Website - ie, each order is specially made for that customer. The format is pretty basic - a behind the scenes short, made before the US release, I guess. And the main feature. There are no chapters on the menu, although they ARE available from you DVD player's remote by using the next and back buttons. It states that it is remastered - this DOES NOT mean restored, although the quality is very good. The FULL feature is presented, complete with intermission, which I believe was not released in the UK, although to be fair, I can't remember from seeing it in the cinema on first release. It's a charming film, not too dated and pays effective homage to 42nd Street, whilst combining the feel of both the original London and Broadway versions of the show in the musical numbers. Max Adrian in particular is woderfully fruity! And Twiggy, it has to be said, is totally gorgeous, and has a sweet singing voice. Ken Russell's usual repertory players fill out the rest of the cast very effectively, with the addition of Christopher Gable as a charming Tony, and Tommy Tune doing his usual over the top dance routines. There is also a famous uncredited appearance by Glenda Jackson, as the very unlikely star of a VERY tatty repertory theatre group.

Amazon state that it is a Region 1 version. This is in fact inaccurate, as it appears to be region free and will play on all DVD players.

Great to have it at last.
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on 27 December 2011
Viewing this American DVD, I was interested in the differences it has to the version premiered at the Empire Leicester Square in 1971. Firstly, it's longer, as it includes the rather protracted 'Nymphs and Shepherds' ballet sequence, which was definitely not included on its UK theatrical release (possibly MGM felt that it may have risked its 'U' certificate as some of the bachanalian goings on are just a trifle risque, when compared to the rest of the film). Also, this version has an intermission which the UK cinema release didn't have. Otherwise, it seems to be what I saw forty years ago.
It's refreshing to see this film in its restored version and in its original widescreen format. Being a costume piece, it hasn't dated much either. The sets are great, the staging is incredibly camp, and the costumes and musical score are wonderful.
There does seem to be something wrong with one or two bits, though. The scene with Twiggy, Madame Dubonnet and the gladioli seems odd and awkwardly staged, although not sure why. The rather strange jumping of the picture during the first musical number 'Perfect Young Ladies' is strange, and was there in the cimema release, but why?
It's interesting the view this film after watching Russell's previous release, 'The Devils' as many members of the cast appear in both. (Even Twiggy pops up in 'The Devils' as an extra).
This, for me, ended a brilliant quartet of films by Russell: 'Women in Love', 'The Music Lovers', 'The Devils', and 'The Boyfriend'. I have a certain amount of affection for a couple of his subsequent efforts, but found much of his later output painful on the eye, which is a shame as forty years ago, for me, his name was the biggest draw on the poster!
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on 3 August 2011
The previous reviewers have covered the plot and history in depth so I'll skip all that.Suffice to say Ive been after this for years as I find it hilarious.A knowing look at stage life with nods to busby berkely and all those old hollywood musicals.Wonderful bitchiness,up staging left right and centre ,spot on stage sets all done with the tongue firmly in the cheek. Why its taken SO long to be issued (and even then quietly and not in any number)really escapes me.First rate and very,very camp.
NB On the back of the cover it says"this disc is expected to play back in dvd video PLAY ONLY devices and may not play back in other dvd devices including recorders and pc drives" so STILL not properly released then!
Excellent movie and a good recording
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on 25 December 2011
I remember this film when it was first shown at the cinema and later on tv. When I managed to get a video I was disappointed to find scenes missing. When I received this DVD I was so happy to find it all there. A lovely happy film, Christopher Gable and Twiggy are a delight to watch and listen to.
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on 13 July 2012
Although Amazon fail to list this as a DVD-R indeed it is, and the packaging has a warning "May not play back on dvd devices including recorders and PCs" - it would be nice for Amazon to list when they are selling none-standard media.

This may also serve as a warning for any other Warner Brothers Archive Collection titles.

So one star off for a supplying the product on a none standard short lived fragile medium.

The film? Delightful with Twiggy in a strange role. For a Ken Russell film this one is really short on gore and horror. Before you are tempted to try any other of his films, do check out the parental advisories as many of them are far from family friendly.
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on 6 August 2013
"The Boyfriend" is one of my all time favourite movies. But beware if you are simply looking for the story and it's songs on film - when I asked people who were familiar with the original show/musical if they liked this version, I was surprised by the violent level of criticism they responded with! But to be fair, they were not far off as Russell stomps all over the source material in this re-telling, which uses the "show" of The Boyfriend as just a show-within-a-film, and concentrates more on the bickering, the egos and the behind the scenes drama that plays out among the cast in the theatre where the show is being staged.

The main "plot" of this version of The Boyfriend is that before the performance (that we are about to see in the film) starts, the main star of the show pulls out due to injury so her understudy, who is a nerdy production manager, has to step in and save the show by playing Polly Brown, heroine and star of the story. We then see how the show turns out as the cast bumble through with the unexpected replacement doing her best, and also, every now and again, we see chunks of the show as "imagined" by both the show's director and a visiting movie producer, if it were to be produced with a mega budget. With all this going on it's unsurprising that the full length version of the film lasts over 2 hours.

The reasons why I love this movies is that its constantly hilarious. The cast playing "the cast" are nearly all Russell regulars, and they do a superb job. Standouts are Antonia Ellis as the scheming Maisie, furious that an unknown is being propelled into the limelight instead of her, Max Adrian as the harassed director, and surprisingly, Twiggy (I say that because she wasn't a professional actress) who is superb in the role of gawky, love-struck Polly. But the whole cast are good. The contributions by Nancy, Dulcie and Fay are all great, with Georgina Hale as Fay, but then she's always good, and a particularly deranged performance from Sally Bryant as Nancy (I think) who seems capable of opening her eyes wider than would appear to be humanly possible. Also Barbara Windsor steals many scenes as the maid Hortense with a truly ear-splitting French accent.

Another reason I love this movie is the visual appearance of it. Everything backstage looks authentic (it's set in the 1920's), but it's Russell's flair and sense of style that bring the film to life. The threadbare but very camp theatrical production seems to have props and scenery that would be virtually impossible to implement into a real stage show. Like the set for the costume ball? No stage is that big! And I am referring to the actual show here, not the "re-imaginings". But it's all part of that crazy Ken Russell imagination. He consistently uses lighting and sudden fast changing shots in the "show" portions that makes the action look almost cartoonlike. Going back to the fantasy sequences, these are actually among my least favourite parts of the film. They seem to add nothing except extra running time. The "I Could Be Happy" sequence with the gnomes and mushroom houses is typical Russell goofery, but the giant gramophone record and endless lines of dancing girls are actually quite boring.

"The Boyfriend" is a delight in my mind. For fans of the original score, you won't find it here, as a lot of the songs have been savaged in this version, in fact the actual plot of "The Boyfriend" itself barely surfaces, but as a film in it's own right, I think it's superb and very entertaining.
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on 25 February 2016
Although this is a made on demand dvd, the quality is great. For some strange reason theis film hasn't had a normal dvd or blu-ray release before, and I'd only seen it on TV a few times ( in the cut down 105 minute version) and then on laserdisc.
Luckily, this dvd is widescreen and the full 137 minute cut, which hasn't been available for ages.
Couldn't fault the picture and sound, and a few extras thrown in as well make it a must buy for anyone who likes the movie.
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on 4 April 2016
I last saw this film when l was 15. Yes and ever since I've wanted to see it again. The soundtrack for the film was available but there weren't videos available then. When I finally received this copy I thought I might be disappointed as time can make things appear better than they actually were.
I was absolutely delighted that I still love it & noticed a lot that I missed all those years ago. Thank you so much!!!
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