Ken Russell's “The Boy Friend” Sunday, July 31, 5:30 PM Aero Theatre


The Art Directors Guild Film Society and American Cinematheque present a rare screening of Ken Russell’s blithe musical masterpiece, as the third in this year’s series highlighting the work of renowned Production Designers and their creative colleagues.

This is an opportunity to watch the original widescreen color “directors cut” of Ken Russell’s ‘The Boy Friend”, starring Twiggy and Tommy Tune.  Only several prints survive. MGM’s 1971 release, pared down from 136 minutes to 109, did not fare well at the US Box Office.

The film’s Award winning stage, costume and production designer Tony Walton (“All That Jazz”, “A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum”, “Murder On The Orient Express”, “The Wiz”, “Pippin”) will take part in a panel discussion moderated by ADG President Thomas A. Walsh following the screening. The discussion will focus on the art of adapting and designing musicals for the screen.

Set in the stylish 1920’s of England,” The Boy Friend” is a Busby Berkeleyesque stylish extravaganza, rich in its fantasy art deco and art nouveau costumes and settings. The film which stars the famous sixties model Twiggy (singing and dancing in her film debut), Broadway musical star Tommy Tune, and actor Christopher Gable is the story of a young stage actress who falls for a visiting film producer on her very first night understudying the leading lady.

A provincial theatre company, under the management of  “Mr. Max” Mandeville (Max Adrian) is mounting their production of a feel good musical at the Theatre Royal in Portsmouth, England. When, as in “42nd Street”, the star Rita Monroe (Glenda Jackson) sprains her ankle, someone had to replace her. It falls to the shy, waifish stage manager Polly Browne (Twiggy) who’s carrying a torch for the leading man Tony Brockhurst (Royal Ballet dancer Christopher Gable, who choreographed the film.) Famous Hollywood director Cecil B. DeThrill (Vladek Sheybal) is scouting for his movie musical extravaganza. Angling for their big break, lead dancers Tommy (Tommy Tune) and Maisie (Antonia Ellis) upstage each other, hoping to be “discovered” by DeThrill. Both sweet and satiric, Russell’s atypical light fare is filled with fantasy sequences. Sometimes we’re watching De Thrill’s plans for the musical in his head; sometimes we’re seeing scenes embellished in the actors’ fantasies.

“Bad boy” director Ken Russell, famous for going wild when unleashed, was named Best Director by the National Board of Review, and Twiggy won two Golden Globes for Best Newcomer and Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical.

Shirley Russell (Ken’s first wife and constant collaborator) designed inventive, captivating costumes. The Sur le Plage sequence, full of dancing sea creatures, is a standout.
Tony Walton received the Best Art Direction Oscar for “All That Jazz” and was nominated for an Academy Award for “The Wiz”, “Murder on the Orient Express” and “Mary Poppins.” He won an Emmy for his work on “Death of a Salesman,” and is a multi-time winner and nominee of Broadway’s most prestigious prize, The American Theatre Wing’s “Tony” Award.

All screenings start at 5:30 p.m.

General admission: $11. American Cinematheque members:$7 Students/Seniors with valid ID: $9 Tickets can also be purchased on or by visiting the Aero Box Office 24-hour information is available at 323-466-FILM (3456)
For more information about American Cinematheque and the Aero Theatre go to


About Author

Robin Menken

Robin Menken Robin Menken lives in Los Angeles. She was the Artistic Director of the Second City Workshops, taught at UC Berkeley, USC, Barcelona\'s Ateneu and the Esalin Institute. She was Roberto Rossellini\'s assistant, and worked with Yevgeny Vevteshenku, Glauber Rocha and Eugene Ionesco. She sold numerous screenplays and wrote the OBIE winning The FTA SHow (touring with Jane Fonda, Donald Sutherland and Ben Vereen.) She was a programming consultant and Special Events co-ordinator for numerous film festivals, including the SF, Rio, Havana and N.Y Film Festivals. Her first news outlet was the historic East Village Other.

Leave A Reply