6.2/10
1,648
53 user 21 critic

Darling Lili (1970)

Set during WWI, this movie is a cute spin on the Mata Hari legend.

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Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 1 win & 4 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Lili Smith
...
Major William Larrabee
...
Colonel Kurt Von Ruger
Lance Percival ...
T.C. Carstairs
Michael Witney ...
Lt. Youngblood Carson
Gloria Paul ...
Crepe Suzette
Jacques Marin ...
Major Duvalle
André Maranne ...
Lt. Liggett
...
Bedford
Doreen Keogh ...
Emma
Carl Duering ...
General Kessler
...
Otto Kraus
...
French General
Louis Mercier ...
French General
Arthur Gould-Porter ...
Sergeant Wells
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Storyline

WWI. Lili Smith is a beloved British music hall singer, often providing inspiration for the British and French troops and general populace singing rallying patriotic songs. She is also half German - her real last name being Schmidt - and is an undercover German spy, using her feminine wiles to gather information from the high ranking and generally older military officers and diplomats she seduces. Masquerading as her Swiss uncle, Colonel Kurt Von Ruger is not only her German handler but her lover. Kurt's boss, General Kessler, doesn't fully trust Lili as she is still half British. That is why it irks him that Kurt has entrusted Lili with the important mission of finding out more about the Allied air defense plans, the air which is becoming a more important battleground of the war. Of the five men who are most privy to such information, Kurt believes the best target is American pilot, Major William Larrabee as he is young, single and a ladies man. Lili is more than easily able to ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

She gave away secrets to one side and her heart to the other. See more »


Certificate:

G | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

24 June 1970 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Darling Lili: Or Where Were You the Night You Said You Shot Down Baron von Richtofen  »

Box Office

Budget:

$25,000,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$5,000,000 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(director's cut) | (with overture and exit music)

Sound Mix:

(70 mm prints)| (35 mm prints)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Was originally set up at Warner Brothers in 1967. See more »

Goofs

In several interior scenes, Rock Hudson's hair style and sideburns are drastically shorter than in the rest of the film. This seems to give credence to the rumors of studio interference and the necessity of re-shoots. See more »

Quotes

Maj. William Larrabee: I thought we'd go on a picnic.
Lili Smith: At 3:00 in the morning?
Maj. William Larrabee: It's the best time. No ants.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The Paramount Pictures logo does not appear in the beginning of the film, only at the end of the film. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Top Secret! (1984) See more »

Soundtracks

Smile Away Each Rainy Day
(uncredited)
Music by Henry Mancini
Lyrics by Johnny Mercer
Performed by Julie Andrews
See more »

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User Reviews

Great showcase for Julie Andrews. Not a great film.
20 May 2001 | by See all my reviews

Except for "Star!", (Which another reviewer understandably considers a "companion piece" to this film), Julie Andrews never starred in a film that was more ideally structured specifically for her many talents than "Darling Lilli." She gets to sing, act, look lovely, even let her hair down and do a striptease in her continuing efforts to get away from her Mary Poppins/Maria Von Trapp image, and much more. Lilli is certainly one of the most interesting characters she ever played; you're never quite sure whether you're supposed to root for or despise this half-English, half-German who is a London music-hall entertainer but also acting as a spy for the Fatherland in World War I and is sent to, um, extract military secrets from American Major William Larabee but falls in love with him and tries to clear both their names for the suspicious French government.

And like "Star!", "Darling Lilli" was released at the wrong time. It had enough "performance numbers" to count as a movie musical, even though it also had elements of drama, comedy, and spy intrigue, and both movie musicals and Julie Andrews were not what critics and audiences were anxious to see in the late 1960s and early 70s, when both films were released. So both bombed at the box office. "Darling Lilli" in particular, judging by the "director's cut" that director Blake Edwards prepared several years later, did not really deserve this fate. While flawed, it is still highly entertaining, and Miss Andrews is utterly radiant, whether acting, stripping, or singing some vintage WW I tunes or some lovely songs written for the film by Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer. The film should be seen if for no other reason than for the hauntingly beautiful "Whistling Away the Dark" and Julie's tender, achingly vulnerable performance of it.

But as I said, the film itself is not too great. The description of Lilli's character alone is confusing enough, and often it's hard to figure out what is going on. (Perhaps some footage that could've cleared up this confusion is in the original version of the film?) In addition to the rather muddled string of events, Rock Hudson is pretty stiff as Larabee, and the various German, French, and English accents of the supporting characters come and go. The authentic WW I aircraft is cool, but the air sequences, appaarently the ones that took the longest time out of the film's very long shooting period, are the least interesting in the film. And another reviewer also noted the film's uneasy yo-yoing between genres: the "director's cut" is probably the most serious film Edwards (Who happened to have just married Miss Andrews before they started filming this) ever directed, but he can't resist putting in some of his trademark cheap laughs, although several of them are admittenly funny. And all in all, the film is very entertaining, whether as a drama, comedy, musical, or spy thriller, and whenever Julie Andrews is onscreen, all the film's faults seem like quibbles. Obviously, Mr. Edwards is in love with his wife; can you blame him?


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