Written, produced and directed by Ken Russell, The Boy Friend isn’t merely one of his most exuberant films, which is already saying plenty, but it’s his happiest and most joyful.
Russell began with a solid structure provided by Sandy Wilson’s hit stage musical of the ‘50s, itself a self-conscious pastiche of ‘20s musicals. The original West End production became one of England’s longest-running shows, while the Broadway version introduced Julie Andrews to America. The year before this film was made, a Broadway revival starred Judy Carne and Sandy Duncan. It was part of a schizophrenic wave of ‘20s nostalgia that was hitting the culture with such items as the 1967 film Thoroughly Modern Millie (with Andrews) and the 1971 Broadway revival of No No Nanette at the same time that taboo-breaking projects explored contemporary themes.