on November 7, 2002
I agree completely with the other positive reviews of "The Last of the Blonde Bombshells", so I'll not repeat the plot details, and other comments. The film is a delight !
I must express my frustration that witty, poignant films like this, clearly aimed at an older audience, do not seem to appear in the local cineplex.
There may be one or two actresses in the world as good as Dame Judi--but none are better. She really shines here, even in a cast of superb veteran British actors, not to mention non-Brits Dukakis and Caron. So nice to see Ms. Caron on screen again, even in a cameo, some 50 years after "An American in Paris".
So--a real winner--and the price is right.
One very sad footnote--I believe that this was Joan Sims' last
film. Ms. Sims was a delightful character actress, and, of course, an indispensible member of the legendary "Carry On Gang".
She will be missed.
on March 13, 2001
A woman's movie, "The Last of the Blonde Bombshells" was both nostalgic and provocative. The cast included first-rate actors Dame Judi Dench, Olympia Dukakis, Ian Holm, and Leslie Caron who never disappoint. Add to this the vocal artistry of Cleo Lane performing the songs of the forties era, and you are transported to your own long ago and far away.
Dame Judi Dench portrays an aging woman who has just lost her husband. Her marriage brought her love and family, a fair share of things material and . . . contentment. But she is at the point now when she can reflect on her life and "The Girl Who Used to Be Me" (theme song from the equally poignant movie, "Shirley Valentine").
Much of the movie, for me, centered on the relationship between the grandmother and her young granddaughter. In a particularly moving scene near the beginning of the film, the granddaughter comes into her grandmother's home to find her alone upstairs playing a tenor saxophone. She sees a side of her grandmother she never knew existed, perhaps even sees her as a person for the first time. Her grandmother tells her that she has played only for herself over the years and only when her husband was away from the house, but that during the war years she was in an essentially all-female band that achieved some measure of recognition.
The story unfolds fairly predictably as the widowed grandmother has a chance meeting with the aging and dapper only male member of the band. With her granddaughter's encouragement, the grandmother and he set out to locate the other band members for a reunion performance at her school dance.
The characters are portrayed with sensitivity and dignity, humor and pathos. The aging process can be as unfamiliar and unsettling as was first love, intimacy, and raising a family. It involves looking back and moving ahead . . . and, in this case, moving ahead as a person of proven, continuing worth in the world's eyes and, more importantly, in the eyes of one's grandchildren. Dare I say, "Amen."
on July 31, 2003
This wonderful movie is a must for those of us who remember the good old days, when music was played by real musicians, who could read music. This is another WW 2 movie and there are hundreds of them, but this is a bitter sweet comedy drama that will make you sit back and close your eyes and transport yourself back into the era which many call, "The greatest musical period of the 20th century. Judi Dench surly deserved an award for her performance of a grandmother saxophone player who played with an all girls band during the war. She was the star. She had not played in years and after her husband had died her little grandaughter asked her to pu the band back together to play at her school dance. The story of how this came about is funny, sad, sentimental and entertaining. I will leave the rest for you to see, but I give this a 5 star rating and if there 10 stars it would get that. Enjoy an afternoon with these ladies and relax, you are in for an enjoyable time.
on January 8, 2003
This is the kind of movie I love to wrap my arms around and draw close to me...endearing, funny, serious, sad, but most of all, wonderful! I'm not sure what I loved the most, the music, the characters, the story, or the darling girl who played Ms. Dench's granddaughter...naw, I loved all of it...
on November 26, 2000
This is the story of a girls swing band during the second world war, and their eventual reunion in the present day. Our lead character is played by the wonderful Judi Dench. It's also a film about getting older and about living through war-time and all the stress and drama then returning to normal life. The acting is marvelous and the music is especially wonderful (I really hope a soundtrack is released) and the writing marvelous. This was, I think, a joint production between HBO and the BBC. It's a charming film and really worth watching.
on March 12, 2006
For all lovers of Dame Judi Dench and of great actresses of her age and ilk, this is a MUST! The DVD and video are readily available through Amazon in the US, but not here in Australia, so I count myself very lucky to have been given a copy by a friend. Judi Dench was the 15 year old, schoolgirl, saxaphone playing star of an all-girl band during the days of WW2, in London. The male musicians had been called up so, as many women took on men's jobs, the Bombshells played on as one of the top dance bands of the day. Only one of the band members was a ring-in..the drummer, played by Ian Holm, was a draft dodger who played in full make up and a blonde wig. Fifty years later and after the death of her husband, Judi decides to get the band together for a reunion and to play at her granddaughter's school dance. The coming together of these diverse characters is so funny...a drunk, a jailbird, a Salvation Army lassie, a former French resistance fighter who can kill with her bare hands and the others who are still alive (and lucid), including the fabulous Cleo Laine who still sings up a storm. True, classic movie lovers...treat yourselves to a cooy of this wonderful, warm and funny musical treat...You won't regret it !!
Cast members Dame Judi Dench
on September 26, 2001
Judi Dench is a recent widow who wonders what happened to her life. In her youth she was the star saxaphonist for an all girl swing band, The Blonde Bombshells. She picks up her sax and busks with a young musician. There she is reunited with the only male member of the band, a womanizing drummer who played in drag. Together, try to reunite the band. They manage to find the band leader(She played Madge in Dench's series As Time Goes by), the trumpet player(Dukakis' drunken rich lady is wonderful), the singer, and another band member who joined the Salvation Army. Together, they ready themselves for their first gig, Dench's granddaughter's school dance.
Dench, as usual, is excellent in this role. The supporting cast is cast pretty near perfectly, especially Dench's stodgy children. You find yourself rooting for the band's reunion very soon into the story, and the film does not disappoint.
on January 22, 2001
Dame Judi won a Golden Globe for her delightful portrayal of a grandmother, newly widowed, who was a member of an all girl band during World War II. At the instigation of her granddaughter, she decides to have a reunion for the grandchild's school dance. After searching in England, Scotland and France several members return. Totally predictable but a great romp where Dame Judi, Olympia Dukakis and Ian Holm tickle your funnybone. A perfect feel good movie.
"I hate those stories that begin with a funeral, but I'm afraid this one begins the day we buried George. Not that we buried him. In the interests of the environment we had him incinerated." So speaks Elizabeth (Judi Dench), George's widow. She's led a comfortable, predictable life with George. She has two grown children and a 12-year-old grandchild. But when she was 15 and in school, in the midst of World War II, she played the sax at night in an all-girl (almost all-girl) band called The Blonde Bombshells. The 'almost" was because the drummer was Patrick, a charming rogue who had no desire to fight and possibly be killed. With a yellow wig, a long red dress and makeup, Patrick looked almost as good as the others.
One afternoon after the funeral, Elizabeth finds herself in the attic of her home playing the sax she had put away. She used to practice, but only when George was out of the house on the golf course. Then two things happen. Her granddaughter, amazed at how good Elizabeth is, starts talking about how the Blonde Bombshells could be reunited and play at her school dance. Then Elizabeth encounters Patrick (Ian Holm), now just as much an aging oldster as Elizabeth, and just as much attracted to her as he was more than 50 years ago. (He also was attracted to all the other members of the Bombshells. The roses that would appear on his bass drum had a special meaning that attested to his affection.) Well, why not see if the other band members can be located, and why not give it a shot for a reunion performance at her granddaughter's school?
Why not? One member of the band is gaga. One is dead. One is in jail. One has found salvation with the Salvation Army. One they can find no trace of. One is last known to be in the States. One is a professional singer and has no intention of doing a school gig, even for a reunion. But one by one Elizabeth and Patrick bring together the surviving members of the Bombshells. We don't know if enough of them can be found. The rehearsals more often than not turn into off-key shambles. While they do this, we share Elizabeth's flashbacks of what life was like when she and Patrick were young in war-time London, playing in the band while the bombs were falling. As terrible as it was, it was the most exciting time of their lives. When the night of Elizabeth's granddaughter's dance arrives, of course, the Blonde Bombshells, filled with jitters and renewed friendship, blow the youngsters away. Afterwards, Elizabeth informs us that the Bombshells are continuing to play at gigs, and that she and Patrick have no plans to get married...but see nothing wrong with a little fooling around.
This is sentimental hogwash, expertly done, and not bad at all. What makes it work are the skill and charm of Judi Dench and Ian Holm. When I hear the term, "warm-hearted comedy," I usually cringe unless the actors are first-rate. Dench and Holm are wonders to watch as they take something as light-weight and predictable as this script and turn it into something that charms us. Then there's the "old broad" gambit that's fun if you remember the old broads. Among the Blonde Bombshells are Leslie Caron, Joan Sims, Olympia Dukakis, Billie Whitelaw and Cleo Laine. Laine sings three numbers and almost over-balances the production. She is so strong and unique a jazz talent that while she's singing the program nearly becomes the Cleo Laine Show. Another attractive feature is the number of great WWII songs played in strong swing.
The DVD picture looks just fine. There are a couple of inconsequential extras.
on June 30, 2001
This is an excellent film.
A fortnight before it`s tranmission date the BBC ran trailers for the programme and i was hooked.
When it was finally aired on BBC ONE I wasn`t dissapointed, the acting by some of the best British Character actors was brilliant. Also the script was well written with brilliant photography and a kicking soundtrack as well.
It just shows that with British talent both infront and behind the camera and with American financing you can produce high quality and entertaining Television.
5 out of 5.
On a sad note the wonderful Joan Sims sadly died a couple of days before i wrote this review.She will be sadly missed by millions of British fans. Many who remember her in the wonderful Carry On Films.