Meanwhile, Polly is engaged in a tentative flirtation with leading man Tony (Christopher Gable), but she’s unsure if his romantic inclinations extend past the constraints of the stage and curtain. Twiggy’s wide-eyed and guileless performance makes her the innocent center to a world where everyone’s trying to get ahead.
Russell keeps the film moving at a brisk pace, where backstage relations play out in a whirlwind of excitement and adrenaline and onstage numbers often trip over into a fantasy world where the actors become mythic divine figures engaging in a bacchanalian feast or lovers spinning away on a massive record player or gnome-like denizens of a mushroom-capped village.
Russell pays homage to all variety of 1930s MGM musical entertainments, but it’s his Busby Berkeley recreations that astound. All corners of media have seemingly co-opted Berkeley’s signature overhead kaleidoscopic shots at one point or another, but I can’t think of a more satisfying set of nods toward the musical great than what Russell achieves here. He doesn’t just create overhead patterns using female legs; he captures the bizarre and fanciful spirit of Berkeley in scenes such as a collection of tap-dancing human dice and the aforementioned record player number.
Even the numbers that are played as straightforward, onstage set pieces are directed with verve, like an early Charleston that features the wonderful Tommy Tune.
The Boy Friend is a remarkable musical-lover’s musical, and even though it deserves better than a burn-on-demand disc, I’m just glad it’s available in this solid presentation. The DVD includes a vintage eight-minute featurette on the making of the film, and while a lot of it is film clips, it’s worth watching solely for a shot of Russell and Twiggy singing together in the studio.