Ken Russell Alan Warner - Essay

Alan Warner

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Certainly one school of thought will disagree with the method by which the Sandy Wilson musical [The Boy Friend] has been transferred to the screen yet one must always remember to credit Ken Russell with an understanding of and a yearning for the cinema in its most flamboyant and visual form. The original setting of the 'twenties musical is used as the basis upon which the screenplay has been built….

[The] much-publicised sequences are [those] in which Russell works [the 1930's film director and choreographer] Busby Berkeley kaleidoscopic formulas to an intense degree…. (p. 49)

Overall one feels that whilst Berkeley's routines were bordering on the self-indulgent, Ken Russell has endangered his tribute in that it tends to underline that they were much better suited to their original contexts and that to overload an idea can unintentionally step over the mark of appreciation….

The picture will undoubtedly be viewed by many who will not appreciate the adulatery send-up which Ken Russell has unashamedly devoted his efforts to, but even these audiences cannot fail to be entertained by the assembled company and to this end, the film is a successful venture. (p. 50)

Alan Warner, "Reviews: 'The Boy Friend'" (© copyright Alan Warner, 1972; reprinted with permission), in Films and Filming, Vol. 18, No. 7, April, 1972, pp. 49-50.