The Reluctant Debutante (1958)





Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

The Reluctant Debutante is a vintage example of the sort of elegant, witty "polite" comedy that Hollywood used to pull off so well. Real-life husband and wife Rex Harrison and Kay Kendall are cast as newly wed Jimmy and Sheila Broadbent, two of London's more attractive aristocrats. Jimmy has a daughter, Jane (Sandra Dee), from a previous marriage; though the girl is dead set against it, Jimmy insists that Jane make her society debut in London. Daddy wants his darling daughter to meet the "right" kind of husband, but she's more interested in handsome-but-shady American musician David Parkson (John Saxon). Little does anyone know that David, secretly a titled millionaire, is actually the prize catch of the season. The matchless Kay Kendall manages to walk away with the picture, though she's given a run for her money by fifth-billed Angela Lansbury. The Reluctant Debutante was based on the play by William Douglas Home. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
Classics , Comedy , Drama , Romance
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Rex Harrison
as Jimmy Broadbent
Angela Lansbury
as Mabel Claremont
Sandra Dee
as Jane Broadbent
Diane Clare
as Clarissa Claremont
John Saxon
as David Parkson
Kay Kendall
as Sheila Broadbent
Peter Myers
as David Fenner
Charles Cullum
as English Colonel
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for The Reluctant Debutante

All Critics (4)

A vintage drawing-room comedy that's flimsy, lacks any edge and plays out as an exercise in high style Brit comedy.

Full Review… | May 14, 2007
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Pedestrian Minneli comedy headlining Rex Harrison.

May 9, 2007

Minnelli's comedy about the British upper class is one of his least successful films due to incongruous casting of all-American Sandra Dee as the daughter of Rex Harrison and Kay Kendall.

Full Review… | April 24, 2007

Visually creative comedy-love story.

Full Review… | August 26, 2006
Classic Film and Television

Audience Reviews for The Reluctant Debutante


Kay and Rex sparkle like the sun, hard to believe she was dying while this was being made. Angela Lansbury provides solid support and John Saxon and Sandra Dee made a handsome couple, but it is really Kay Kendall's movie all the way.

jay nixon
jay nixon

Super Reviewer

I couldn't stop laughing! The parents are silly and my favorite part is near the end of the movie- it's ridiculous! I loved it and i want to see it again! I have only seen it once.

Jessica j
Jessica j

Oh, for the days of coming out parties. It's rather surprising to me that the new connotation of "coming out" hasn't brought the the idea of debutante balls (aka coming out parties) into vogue within ther gay community. Wouldn't it be marvelous? A young homosexual man* comes to terms with his sexuality and on the summer after his seventeenth birthday, his parents through a party with lots of other young well-attired male homosexuals. Terrif, n'est-ce pas? The straight, 1950s version of the above is more or less the world of the film at hand (MGM, 1958). Sandra Dee is Rex Harrison's daughter from his first marriage. Harrision's new wife, Kay Kendall (Harrison's real-life wife) decides that Gidget must have a coming out party, for reasons that are never really specified. It's either because Kendall didn't get a deb ball due to WW2, or to show up Angela Lansbury (during the Movie Bitch phase of her career, who she doesn't really like in the first place, but whose daughter is coming out that summer. Either way, hilarity ensues. I guess. This is far from a great film, but it is a good film and I enjoyed myself. Kendall plays one of those mother types that is fun to watch in a comedy, but would be horrible to actually know; in this respect she reminded me a great deal of Jennifer Saunders in [i]AbFab[/i]. The best joke in the piece is that she spends the first act in dresses that can only be described as Nancy Reagan Red, while forcing her step-daughter to live a life she simply doesn't care for or about. This of course could not have been intentional, but it was still funny as hell. Rex Harrision has most of the best lines, but I suspect they only came off that way because of his delivery. Angela Lansbury is, of course, perfect. The second funniest joke is that and orchestral "The Boy Next Door" is used as one of the songs at the balls. Of course, that's only funny if I mention the film was directed by Vincente M I double-N then E double-L I, the director of [i]Meet Me in St. Louis[/i], for which the song was written. You may have noticed by now that the two best jokes had nothing whatever to do with the script. You're so observant. Have a cookie. Still, it's not a bad way to spend 100 minutes. *This could all apply to young lesbians, but since I never was one, I can't speak of that experience.

Rodolfo Raines
Rodolfo Raines

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