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Sunday, 11 November 2012

The Reluctant Debutante (1958) - Star of the month... Angela Lansbury

'The Reluctant Debutante' is a 1958 comedy directed by Vincent Minnelli and starring Rex Harrison, Kay Kendall, Angela Lansbury, John Saxon, Sandra Dee, Peter Myers and Diane Clare. The film's screenplay is by Julius J. Epstein.

The film was later remade as "What a Girl Wants" (2003) with Amanda Bynes.

The film is set in London, 1958. 17 year old Jane Broadbent (played by Dee) arrives in London to live with her wealthy father Jimmy Broadbent (played by Harrison) and her stepmother Sheila Broadbent (played by Kendall). In order to compete with her "second cousin twice removed, and twice isn't far enough", Mabel Claremont (played by Lansbury), Sheila is determined to give Jane a coming out party to make her debut. Along the way, Jane falls in love with drummer David Parkson (played by Saxon), whom Sheila disapproves. 

Watch the trailer:

Musical program

The musical score features memorable MGM songs including "The Boy Next Door", "Easy to Love", "You Are My Lucky Star", "Love" and "How About You?". The contemporary "Rock Around the Clock" also makes an appearance.

Did you know...

  • This film was shot in Paris, as Rex Harrison was experiencing tax problems and was unable to stay in the US or the UK
  • This was the 12th most popular movie at the British box office in 1959

Closing remarks

Not a bad film but in comparison to the rest of Vincente Minnelli's body of work, this is somewhat a disappointment. That said, Angela Lansbury steals the show as the stuck up and snobby Mabel Claremont. Lansbury and Kendall play an amusing game of keeping up with the Joneses as their characters attempt to outdo each other throughout the film. Real life husband and wife Harrison and Kendall also make a great pair. Overall a below average, yet very predictable romantic comedy. 

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