The Last of the Blonde Bombshells
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|The Last of the Blonde Bombshells|
British DVD cover
|Directed by||Gillies MacKinnon|
|Produced by||Su Armstrong|
|Written by||Alan Plater|
|Music by||John Keane|
|Edited by||Pia Di Ciaula|
|Release date(s)||26 August 2000 (US)
3 September 2000 (UK)
|Running time||84 minutes|
|Country||United Kingdom/United States|
The Last of the Blonde Bombshells is a 2000 British-American television film directed by Gillies MacKinnon. The script by Alan Plater focuses on the efforts of a recently widowed woman to reunite the members of the World War II-era swing band with which she played saxophone.
After her husband's death, Elizabeth decides to return to her musical roots and begins busking with young guitarist Paul in a plaza overlooking a London ice rink, much to the dismay of her daughter Patricia and son Edward. One day she is spotted by Patrick, who attempted to avoid enlistment during World War II by dressing as a woman and playing drums with the Blonde Bombshells, a supposedly all-female band with which Elizabeth performed when she was only fifteen years old.
The two reminisce, prompting them to begin searching for other band members for a reunion concert at a school dance organized by Elizabeth's granddaughter Joanna. At first they have little success - one has died, another is suffering from dementia, a third is serving time - but eventually they locate piano player Betty working in a seaside saloon, singer Gwen performing in a nightclub, trombonist Annie dedicated to the Salvation Army, and trumpeter Dinah, an alcoholic living in a secluded manor in Scotland.
Early rehearsals prove to be disastrous, but encouraged by Joanna and determined to shine in the limelight one more time, the group steadily improves. On the night of the dance, they are joined by double bass player Madeleine, who had left the band to join the French Resistance and finally was tracked down by Joanna. Embraced by the younger generation, they relive their former glory.
The present-day story is interspersed with flashbacks to the band in its wartime heyday that capture the music and atmosphere of the period.
- Judi Dench as Elizabeth
- Romola Garai as Young Elizabeth
- Ian Holm as Patrick
- Joan Sims as Betty
- Olympia Dukakis as Dinah
- Cleo Laine as Gwen
- Leslie Caron as Madeleine
- Billie Whitelaw as Evelyn
- June Whitfield as Annie
- Valentine Pelka as Leslie
- Millie Findlay as Joanna
- Felicity Dean as Patricia
- Nicholas Palliser as Edward
- Dom Chapman as Paul
Steven Oxman of Variety observed that "despite delightful performances from a star-studded cast, the film's thoroughly predictable storyline and low-key charm are ultimately more a sedative than a tonic." He added, "Alan Plater's screenplay is pretty thin ... and director Gillies Mackinnon can't manage to make the finish as feel-good as it needs to be ... The soundtrack's nice, Richard Greatrex's cinematography is nice and the acting is quite nice. But taken together, these niceties wind up as members of the bland."
Awards and nominations
- British Academy Television Award for Best Actress (Judi Dench, winner)
- Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film (Judi Dench, winner)
- Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie (Judi Dench, nominee)
- Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Movie (Ian Holm, nominee)
- Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Casting for a Miniseries, Movie, or Special (nominee)
- Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Costumes for a Miniseries, Movie or Special (nominee)
- Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Hairstyling for a Miniseries, Movie or Special (nominee)
- Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie (Judi Dench, nominee)
- American Comedy Award for Funniest Female Performer in a TV Special (Judi Dench, nominee)
- Lakhani, Nina (15 November 2009). "Romola Garai: An actor's life for me – at least for now". The Independent (London). Retrieved 15 November 2009.
- Variety review