The Reluctant Debutante (1958)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Comedy of Manners, Romantic Comedy  |   Release Date - Aug 14, 1958 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 94 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Any picture which gives the lovely, uniquely talented Kay Kendall an opportunity to bubble across the screen is worth watching, and The Reluctant Debutante is no exception. It's hard to pinpoint exactly what made Kendall such a special performer. Was it her grace? Her charm? Her timing? Her fascinating facial features (a combination of swooping lines and sharp angles)? Her ability to take a single word (sometimes a single syllable) and give it a little life all its own? Whatever it is, it's on full display here -- and that fact makes it all the more remarkable that both Rex Harrison (all suave urbanity) and Angela Lansbury (all delightful bitchiness) not only keep up with her but sometimes manage to give her a run for her money. Vincente Minnelli's direction is efficient rather than inspired, but he does frame his two leads in the most flattering manner possible (Balmain's gowns are especially stunning) -- and he gets plenty of opportunity to indulge his trademark obsessions with colors and fabrics. If all concerned had been working from a more inspired screenplay, the result could have been a genuine classic rather than an amusing trifle; however, with Kendall (and company) on hand, what viewer wouldn't be willing to overlook the thinness of the screenplay?