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The Reluctant Debutante [Remaster]


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Editorial Reviews

It's social season in London, and amid the swirl of coming-out balls the aristocratic Broadbents (real-life marrieds Rex Harrison and Kay Kendall) are intent on giving their American-educated 17-year-old daughter Jane (Sandra Dee) the right entry into society and a proper upper-class beau. One complication: flighty Mabel Claremont (Angela Lansbury) is eager to match that same beau with her daughter. And another: Jane, of course, has her own ideas about these matters - and an eye for a guy (John Saxon) who's a drummer in the dance band. Comedy is in season for The Reluctant Debutante, a rib-tickler of societal foibles and follies given spirited direction by Vincente Minnelli and featuring a full dance card of deft badinage.

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Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Rex Harrison, Kay Kendall, John Saxon, Sandra Dee, Angela Lansbury
  • Directors: Vincente Minnelli
  • Format: NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Warner Bros.
  • DVD Release Date: March 2, 2011
  • Run Time: 94 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (72 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B004KN3NXE
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #23,804 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

78 of 78 people found the following review helpful By Chrissy1018 on December 2, 2003
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
I just love this movie. It's one I watch over and over.
Sandra Dee plays Jane, a young American woman who goes to London to live with her father (Rex Harrison) and new stepmother, Lady Broadbent (Kay Kendall). When Lady Broadbent finds out her snooty relative Mabel Claremont (Angela Lansbury) is launching her daughter in the very last London Season, Lady Broadbent is determined that Jane will have a perfect coming out. Though Jane tries, she is bored to tears by the dull men she meets, until she sees a gorgeous drummer with a very questionable reputation.
This is a very humorous movie, and one of the first that Sandra Dee was in, so this is a great flick for fans of her work (another of my favorites with her is "Gidget"). Rex Harrison, as the charmingly tolerant father & husband, is probably best known for the roll of Henry Higgens in the movie of "My Fair Lady," and if you liked him in that classic, you'll likely enjoy this movie as well. And of course, a much younger Angela Landsbury is very fun to watch as she and Kay Kendall play off each othr as highly competitive but exceedingly polite social rivals.
This is a great one to watch with your girlfriends, or your mother/daughter, or to just curl up on the coach with some good ice cream on a Sunday afternoon. Being a movie from the 1950s, it's very tame, with no course language or nudity, and the sexual content doesn't go beyond a few kisses, though there are a few implications when Lord & Lady Broadbent speculate on what could be keeping their daughter out so late with her young man.
I'd also recomend it to those who enjoy the subtle dry social wit of the recent movies based on the works of Oscar Wilde: "An Ideal Husband" and "The Importance of Being Earnest".
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 25, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
Imagine Patty Duke going to live with Cathy's parents in London, instead of vice versa, and you have the idea for the movie - straight down to the Frankie Avalon type with whom she falls in love. It is a great movie to look at - incredible furnishings, rich clothes, impeccable manners. It is enjoyable mainly due to Harrison and Kendall (whose pratfalls and facial expressions are worth the price alone). When Dee and Saxon are on screen, it is frankly drippy. All the viewer's sympathies are with the "morally wrong" Kay Kendall who simply steals the movie. It also has a great "wouldn't I like that life?" quality to it all. The world of debutantes and balls, of secretaries arranging all one's social appointments, of unthinking wealth more than sufficient for this lifetime, yet not impinging on one's enjoyment of all. The movie has a wonderful politically unaware feel to it - sort of "Before the Fall" of old mores and manners and dress of the mid-60s. It's not non-stop laughter, but amusing all the way - and you'll remember Kendall and Harrison's charm.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
It's the start of the "Season" in London, and Jimmy Broadbent (Rex Harrison) is expecting a visit from his long-estranged teen daughter Jane (Sandra Dee), who now lives full-time with her mother in the States. Eager to introduce Jane to his new wife Sheila (Kay Kendall) and their society friends, Sheila instead takes matters into her own hands when, at the spur of the moment, she arranges for Jane to become a debutante.

The "Season" in London involves girls of a certain age attending endless parties and balls, meeting all the right eligible young men and making their official debut into polite society. Everything goes smoothly for the Broadbents' plans for Jane, until Sheila unknowlingly introduces Jane to well-known "scoundrel" David Parkson (John Saxon), a drummer in one of the oft-booked debutante ball bands. In addition to the drums, David has a reputation for playing fast and loose with his conquests - and the Broadbents, not wishing for Jane to become the latest fodder for serial gossip Mabel Claremont (Angela Lansbury), try to quash the budding romance.

Based on the stage hit by William Douglas-Home (which originally starred Wilfred Hyde White, Celia Johnson and Anna Massey) THE RELUCTANT DEBUBANTE was decidedly old-fashioned even by 1958 when it was first released. It doesn't stretch the romantic comedy genre, nor is it one of director Vincente Minnelli's flashier assignments. The charm of THE RELUCTANT DEBUTANTE lies within the sublime casting of real-life husband and wife Rex Harrison and Kay Kendall, who both breeze through the proceedings with panache, throwing off the script's bon mots with great enthusiasm. One of the heartbreaks in watching the film is knowing that this was one of Kay Kendall's final roles before dying of cancer.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 24, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
"THE RELUCTANT DEBUTANTE" is the kind of champagne that is unfrotunately no longer served. Based on the London stage hit, this American made (MGM) production brings together the elements of both a young American star (Sandra Dee) and two consummate British performers, Rex Harrison and Kay Kendall, married in this film and also at the time. With support from a handsome John Saxon and a delightful Angela Lansbury, as a cat-in-tweeds, this film serves as testament to the stylish, sophistcated comedies of manners which are staples of the British theatre and cinema. More than anything, this film is proof of Kay Kendall's talents as a comedienne who turns every gesture into a witty ballet of wit and grace, and as a reminder that her death in 1959 robbed the cinema of one of its brightest talents. This film recalls a time when pictures were lovely to look at, delightful to the ear, and aspired to be nothing more than charming distraction. While Dee and Saxon are the weaker links, Kendall and Harrison are to be studied as examples of impeccable timing and chemistry.
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