The Last of the Blonde Bombshells

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The Last of the Blonde Bombshells
The Last of the Blonde Bombshells.jpg
British DVD cover
Directed by Gillies MacKinnon
Produced by Su Armstrong
Written by Alan Plater
Starring Judi Dench
Ian Holm
Music by John Keane
Cinematography Richard Greatrex
Edited by Pia Di Ciaula
Release dates
26 August 2000 (US)
3 September 2000 (UK)
Running time
84 minutes
Country United Kingdom/United States
Language English

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.

It features Carry On actress Joan Sims in her final acting performance before her death in 2001, and Romola Garai in her first professional role.[1]

The film was a joint project of BBC Films and HBO. It premiered in the US on 26 August and in the UK on 3 September.


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.

Principal cast[edit]

Critical reception[edit]

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."[2]

Awards and nominations[edit]


  1. ^ Lakhani, Nina (15 November 2009). "Romola Garai: An actor's life for me – at least for now". The Independent (London). Retrieved 15 November 2009. 
  2. ^ Variety review

External links[edit]