a change of pace Russell did a lighter piece, The
Boyfriend. This was a commercial failure. He then
completed his most autobiographical film, Savage Messiah,
funding it with his own money, another failure. With two
flops he needed a commercial success, so returned to
classical composers with Mahler.
The Boyfriend, 1971
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 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.
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.
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.
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 did the screenplay. The film cost $750,000.
dance sequences in Busby Berkley style are
||Glenda Jackson telling
the audience to be quiet as they clap the new star
appears in a sailor's costume.
The innocent relationship of Twiggy
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.