Thursday, 3 November 2016

The Reluctant Debutante (1958) Review - A Guest Post by Rilla Blythe

Hello! This is Rilla Blythe, the girl who sometimes comments on your blogs while hiding behind a rather pretentious pseudonym. Like most of you I have a warm place in my heart for old movies, and was quite excited when the lovely Rose invited me to participate in the event she is hosting. Thank you Rose for organizing such a fun Hollywood celebration and for letting me do this!


The Reluctant Debutante is one of my favorite movies. It just carries me to a happy, ridiculous but sweet atmosphere of balls and fun. It’s a charming, light movie with great acting and in my opinion does not fail to entertain. It’s one of those gloriously colorful and funny 50’s movies that I love to rewatch while curled up in a blanket and drinking tea that has way too much sugar in it. I was, as Mr. Collins would say, “uniformly charmed’’  with this movie when I was introduced to it.;) So without further ado, here is my review of The Reluctant Debutante.


Seventeen-year-old Jane Broadbent (Sandra Dee) moves to London during “the season” from New York to live with her father Lord (Jimmy) Broadbent (Rex Harrison) who recently remarried. Her fashionable stepmother, Shelia (Kay Kendall) is determined to have Jane “come out” after she learns that her gossip of a cousin, Mabel Claremont (Angela Lansbury) is debuting her own daughter too. So Jane is subjected to many lavish British balls, but meets two interesting young men at the very first one. David Fenner is the first of these. Rich and a Queen’s guard, he has the mental capacity of one of Bertie Wooster’s friends. But then the second young man appears.


David Parkson, though his profession is drumming with the band, charms both Shelia and Jimmy. And of course, Jane. She is now an utterly thrilled debutante. Dancing with such an intelligent, handsome young man is joy and we immediately see he is the one. (Of course he’s handsome—apparently he is half Italian. ;)) But then in sweeps Mabel, whose tongue, as Jimmy puts it, “runs on atomic energy.” She informs them that this young Parkson’s past may not be as spotless as would be hoped.


So thereafter Jane’s parents are determined he shall have nothing to do with their daughter. David Fenner, the inept scarecrow, is now Shelia’s sole hope for Jane. The young lady in question, however, and the other David manage to go out together a few times and inevitably fall in love. After some cheery twists, everyone lives happily ever after. I’m going to stop here since this review is going to be spoiler-free.:)


Things I liked/disliked about The Reluctant Debutante

1. Jane is a sweet, frank girl who knows her own mind and isn’t afraid to speak it, but honestly doesn’t have that much character in my opinion; maybe because I don’t get to know her that well. To know or understand a character in a movie, the audience needs several close-up shots or some little scenes with just them. That doesn’t happen here, but then it’s a comedy, so I guess it’s okay.

2. Another thing I didn’t like at first was that she and David Parkson just seem to have crushes on each other, instead of real love. But then, it’s more of a comedy, not a romance.  Kay Kendall and Rex Harrison playing these hilarious parents is more entertaining than watching the usual romance play out. (Also, obviously because they were simply bigger stars.) Which brings me to the best part. :)

3. Jimmy and Shelia/ Rex Harrison and Kay Kendall. These two are simply the double cherry on the sundae. ;) Before I watched this movie, I had only seen Rex Harrison in Dr. Doolittle (which is quite a bizarre movie) and My Fair Lady. Now in both of those, as I’m sure you know, he’s an utter bear, especially in the latter where most of the time he goes about calling people presumptuous insects and squashed cabbage leaves. It was a pleasant surprise to see him acting a normal human being who treated others without contempt or indifference. :) Also, I found out they were a real life married couple during the production of this film! Sadly, she died of leukemia the next year. Enough of this little tangent though. :) Jimmy and Shelia are utterly delightful. They’re both elegant and charming yet they do the wackiest things such as listen unashamedly at doors (when Jane brings David Parkson over) and yelp when they were startled. I liked how we see a lot of the movie from their perspective, because they are such fun, entertaining characters. I just love them. :)


4. The Broadbents’ apartment! Shelia redecorated his home from the cellar to the dome    I loved the elegant architecture in their home and all the decorations. (They also have this hall with a rounded ceiling—it made me think of Bag End.) I mean, look at these bookshelves :)


Anyway, I hope I’ve somewhat sparked your interest in The Reluctant Debutante! This is a charming, light movie with with great acting. If you enjoy comedy, romance, lovely sets and costumes, and Rex Harrison playing someone who let a woman in his life, I guarantee you’ll enjoy it.


Have you seen The Reluctant Debutante? If so, what are your thoughts?
If not, are you interested in watching it? I’m sorry about the very amateur-quality review—it’s the first time I’ve done this.:)


  1. Once again, thank you so much Rilla for wanting to do this guest post!

    I had never heard of this movie before you mentioned it, but it looks absolutely lovely.
    I will have to watch it someday:)

    1. Thank YOU so much for letting me do it, dear!

      I'm glad you think so! I hope you get a chance to see it sometime.(And then maybe we could discuss it;)) It's definitely a fun movie to watch.

      ~Rilla Blythe

  2. "Mental capacity of one of Bertie Wooster's friends." Does this mean he was as hilarious? This event is so much fun; I've added a few new movies to my list and marked a couple already on it.

    1. He is rather amusing, but more annoying.:)

      Yes, I agree! I love finding out about old movies I've not seen.

      By the way, I really like your name.:)

      ~Rilla Blythe

  3. What a nice review! Thank you so much for joining in on this, Rilla. I've never seen this movie, but it sounds like a fun one. Unfortunately the pictures aren't showing up on my computer, but I enjoyed reading what you had to say, all the same. "...Rex Harrison playing someone who let a woman in his life..." Hahaha. Well put. I like that. :)

  4. Thanks so much, Miss March! I'm glad you liked it.:) Yes, it is indeed fun! It's a gem. (You can actually watch it on Dailymotion, by the way.) Yeah, the pictures aren't showing up on my computer either--I'm sorry about that.:/ I must of gotten them from the wrong place or something, I'm not sure.

    That was one of my favorite lines too, haha.;)

    ~Rilla Blythe


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