The Reluctant Debutante (film)
|The Reluctant Debutante|
theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Vincente Minnelli|
|Produced by||Pandro S. Berman|
|Written by||Julius J. Epstein|
|Based on||The Reluctant Debutante (play) 1955
by William Douglas-Home
|Music by||Eddie Warner|
|Edited by||Adrienne Fazan|
|Running time||95 minutes|
The Reluctant Debutante is a 1958 Metrocolor comedy film in CinemaScope directed by Vincente Minnelli and produced by Pandro S. Berman from a screenplay by Julius J. Epstein and William Douglas-Home based on Douglas-Home's play of the same name. The music score is by Eddie Warner and the cinematography by Joseph Ruttenberg.
The film stars Rex Harrison and Kay Kendall — whom he had married in 1957 after they worked together on The Constant Husband (1955) — with featured performances by John Saxon, Sandra Dee, and Angela Lansbury. The setting is London's debutante season amidst the last presentation at Court in 1958. However, because of Harrison's tax problems, the film had to be made in Paris. Kendall had been diagnosed with leukemia, but was not told, prior to filming and only completed one more film, Once More With Feeling, before her death the following year.
When 17-year-old Jane Broadbent (Sandra Dee) comes to London to live with her wealthy father Jimmy Broadbent (Rex Harrison), her stepmother Sheila (Kay Kendall) feels compelled by her social aspirations to introduce her to society. Jane is bored by the debutante balls she attends and the young men she is introduced to, but becomes interested in a drummer named David Parkson (John Saxon), who has a reputation for leading young women astray. To complicate matters, David Fenner (Peter Myers) relentlessly pursues Jane, even though she openly detests him.
As it turns out, Parkson's reputation is undeserved, but Sheila is convinced otherwise, and she tries to keep him away from Jane. Sheila's garrulous friend Mabel (Angela Lansbury) interferes with Sheila's attempts to separate the two in order to secure David Fenner for her own daughter, Clarissa (Diane Clare).
Fortunately for Jane and David, Sheila's plans fail miserably. The two young people fall in love with each other, and David Parkson proposes to Jane. He also inherits an Italian title of nobility, satisfying Sheila's concerns for Jane's social status.
- Rex Harrison as Jimmy Broadbent
- Kay Kendall as Sheila Broadbent
- John Saxon as David Parkson
- Sandra Dee as Jane Broadbent
- Angela Lansbury as Mabel Claremont
- Peter Myers as David Fenner
- Diane Clare as Clarissa Claremont
- Charles Cullum as English Colonel
- Sheila Raynor as Maid
- Ambrosine Phillpotts as Secretary
The film was the 12th most popular movie at the British box office in 1959. According to MGM records it earned $1,555,000 in the US and Canada and $1,425,000 elsewhere resulting in a loss of $355,000.
- The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study.
- "Year Of Profitable British Films." Times [London, England] 1 Jan. 1960: 13. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 11 July 2012.
- The Reluctant Debutante at the Internet Movie Database
- The Reluctant Debutante at AllMovie
- The Reluctant Debutante (film) at the TCM Movie Database
- The Reluctant Debutante at the American Film Institute Catalog