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My God, the reviewer before me MUST be mad!!! Either that, or he/she must be struggling with their own sexuality! THIS is one of my favorite movies of ALL time. Julie Andrews is in fine musical form; James Garner gives one of his greatest comedic performances since "The Americanization of Emily" (also with Julie Andrews) and Lesley Ann Warren just about steals the picture! This movie scores a solid "10" for comedy, a sterling "10" for music and a rousing "10" for romance! ANYONE that DOESN'T like this movie should suck an egg! HOW did Lesley Ann Warren NOT win an Oscar? Ditto, Robert Preston? I consider myself a guy's guy, but I confess I tear up every time I hear the opening refrains of Julie singing "Crazy World," the film's theme song. Bravo, Blake Edwards!!!
"Victor/Victoria" was the film where Blake Edwards finally managed to
deliver his valentine to his wife, Julie Andrews, and convince the public
join in. Maybe because of that, it's one of his most heartfelt movies,
the enormous love between the director and his star do as much to warm up
this movie as the careful colour composition of Dick Bush's fantastic -
underrated - photography.
This is a film where everything works perfectly. The acting ranges from the impeccable (the leads) through the touching (Alex Karras) right to the truly sublime (Robert Preston and Lesley Ann-Warren). The musical numbers are lovingly staged and shot and, possibly because this is a pre-MTV film, we actually get to see dancers dancing, as opposed to machine-gun assemblies of body parts performing details of not necessarily connected movements. The directorial touch is assured, proficient but never showy: the many complicated set-ups are executed with elegance, economy - not a frivolous camera movement to be seen - and discretion. (The circular pan around Julie as she sings "Crazy World" is a lovely example of how camera movement can create emotion without drawing attention to itself.) The sets and costumes are lavish but, again, do not distract. The screenplay is witty, full of deft touches, and Edwards treats his rather daring (for 1982) theme without blinking, and with great lucidity. (The other drag film of the year was "Tootsie", which stuck to the romance and stayed away from uncomfortable homosexual touches as much as it managed to.) The timing never falters. And the score is priceless.
All in all, a flawless entertainment, which, like the best movies from the studio system's heyday of which "Victor / Victoria" is a proud and worthy descendant, rewards the attentive (and interested) viewer with far more substance - and style - than might appear at first. I do not have the space to analyse this film at the length it deserves; but I can recommend it, which I do wholeheartedly.
Dazzling art direction, lavish costumes, funny dialogue, a fabulous
soundtrack, and Robert Preston make "Victor/Victoria" one of filmdom's
most entertaining musicals of all time. Set in 1934 Paris, and filmed
in luscious color, the film tells the story of two down and out friends
who carry out an ingenious plan to get rich. Toddy (Robert Preston), a
gay performer, persuades Victoria (Julie Andrews), a struggling singer,
to change her appearance to that of a man so that she can pose on stage
as a female impersonator. Blake Edwards converts the film's clever
concept into a film of true cinematic flair and panache.
The film's music alone is enough to make "Victor/Victoria" a winner. With consummate verve, Andrews sings the lively "Le Jazz Hot", a stage performance that has been mimicked by, it seems, one in ten talent competitors in the Miss America Pageant for the last twenty years. The colorful song "The Shady Dame From Seville" is memorable as a cultural classic. Even the restrained "You And Me" is satisfying, with its old fashioned charm. And Henry Mancini's wistful and slightly melancholy original score adds melodic balance to the flashy stage numbers.
The casting is perfect. I cannot imagine anyone other than Julie Andrews as Victoria. James Garner is fine as King Marchand. And in support roles, Lesley Ann Warren adds sexy spunk as Norma, and Alex Karras is surprisingly effective as Marchand's bodyguard. But it is music man Robert Preston who leads this top notch Hollywood talent parade. Preston is likable throughout, and is a hoot in the film's finale.
If the film has a flaw, it might be in the editing. The plot in Act Two slows down. Or, to say it a little differently, it ... drags (so to speak). The 132 minute runtime is a tad long maybe, and so a few scene deletions here and there might have rendered a slight improvement in the pace. But, this is a minor issue, one that I raise only in my grasping-at-straws attempt to find something to complain about.
"Victor/Victoria" is an expressive, fun, one-of-a-kind musical garden party that easily makes my list of top fifty films ever made.
Despite all of its gender-bending commentary on sexuality, both hetero- and
homo-, "Victor/Victoria" looked and sounded in 1982 (year of "ET" and "The
Road Warrior") as if it were made in 1962 -- and that was a good thing.
Blake Edwards' trademark ability to combine lush romanticism with immitable
slapstick comedy was here matched by a wonderful score by his longtime
collaborator Henry Mancini, "Voila!" -- we're back in the early sixties
again. (It didn't hurt that stars Julie Andrews and James Garner were
hottest in the sixties, and had acted together in 1964's "The
Americanization of Emily.")
Robert Preston, "The Music Man" of late fifties Broadway and 1962 screen fame, further added an element of early sixties nostalgia -- with the twist that he here used his booming vocal tones in the service of a delightfully out and comfortable gay man. Preston was one of two hot contenders for the Best Supporting Actor Oscar that year. The winner was Lou Gossett, Jr. for his Drill Instructor in "An Officer And A Gentleman."
Rounding out the great cast are Lesley Ann Warren (sexy and very funny) in an Oscar-nominated role as Garner's mob moll floozie, and Alex Karras, continually funny as Garner's softhearted ox of a bodyguard. (Karras gets a classic Blake Edwards slapstick routine trapped in the freezing snow outside a Paris hotel, getting big laughs out of the simple line: "You've got heat? That's good.")
And be sure to keep a lookout for "Sherloque Tanney" as the French private detective on Victor/Victoria's trail. Tanney was Blake Edwards dentist, and appeared in almost every Blake Edwards film from "Darling Lili" (1970) on. Other than his corpse in "SOB," (1981), the French detective is possibly Dr. Tanney's greatest role on the screen. Tanney, too, gets to anchor several great trademark Blake Edwards slapstick routines.
Oh, and there's music, too. Enough music for a Broadway musical (which is what "Victor/Victoria" became), and with a sad and wistful Mancini title tune (reprised in the film by Andrews) that reminds one a bit of "Moon River" and "Days of Wine and Roses." Just like in the early sixties.
Three of the stars of this movie all made their mark playing wholesome characters, (and all in musicals, ironically) but they certainly got rid of those personas in this film. Julie Andrews finally solved the problem of Maria by playing a woman pretending to be a man pretending to be a woman, Robert Preston's gay entertainer is a long, long way from Harold Hill, and Lesley Ann Warren... well, her floozy moll ("Ya mean you really aw... quee-uh?") basically erases all memories of Cinderella. All give excellent performances in this entertaining, funny film from director/co-writer Blake Edwards. And they all get to sing some great songs from Henry Mancini and Leslie Brucusse, among them "Le Jazz Hot," (in which Andrews sings in her lower range, and actually sizzles) "The Shady Dame From Seville," (first sung by Andrews, then hilariously reprised at the end by Preston) and "Chicago, Illinois." (Warren is great in that) Though there is a long stretch in the middle that either included jokes and/or subtleties that went over my head or just wasn't funny, though not bad, otherwise it's a great comedy. In addition to the three performers mentioned, James Garner is also good as the gangster who falls for Andrews but is unsure of her gender.
Paris in the '30s is the setting for this screwball sex comedy wherein
JULIE ANDREWS, for the sake of being employed, takes a job as a woman
pretending to be a man pretending to be a woman--figure that one out.
Then we have a great moment when ROBERT PRESTON does an imitation of
Julie singing "The Shady Dame from Seville" in drag--yes drag--the
actor who played such sturdy romantic leads in the '40s and '50s is
hilarious as a gay blade who hooks up with Julie during a restaurant
scene in which she plants a cockroach in her plate to avoid paying for
That's the kind of romp this is. And it's extremely witty, with JAMES GARNER as Julie's romantic interest who hasn't figured out why he's so attracted to "the shady dame" when she's supposed to be a man.
First-rate sets and cinematography in color, and while none of it really makes any sense, the song and dance routines are fabulous with some great tunes by Henry Mancini. LESLEY ANN WARREN gives a priceless performance as a bird brained vamp in her Oscar nominated supporting role.
First of all, let me just say that I am slightly obsessed with Julie
and her work. With that out of the way... I love her in this movie
it's not your typical Julie Andrews movie. Most people see her in The
of Music or Mary Poppins or (if you know this far back in her career)
Cinderella. However, she delivers a flawless performance as
Victor/Victoria. The only skepticism I have about this movie is seeing
as a man. She's so feminine (in her mannerisms, voice, appearance, etc.)
that it's almost impossible to think that she's a man. Robert Preston is
wonderfully funny, and I always love James Garner. The movie probably
have done without Lesley Ann Warren's song and dance number (why ruin
and Robert's wonderful score?)... On a side note, Warren's character
reminded me a bit of Jean Hagen's Lina Lamont in Singin' in the Rain; they
each had their characters down perfectly, and you got just annoyed with
enough to hate them but like them at the same time...
Of course, Andrews does a beautiful job with all the songs- my favorite being her first jazz number. All in all, an impossibly wonderful performance by all involved.
DEFINITELY ten out of ten!
Many social innovations, have often as not originated in France. Take cross-dressing for instance. In the 1930's a singer created quite a sensation when her fabulous show became the toast of Paris. She traveled throughout Europe and remained a novelty for years. Her success was due to the fact that she was not a woman after all. She was a man. This fact became the inspiration for the film "Victoria/Victoria." In the movie, a talented female singer (Julie Andrews) named Victoria Grant (aka Count Victor Grezhinski) schemes with an out of work cabaret singer, Carroll 'Toddy' Todd (Robert Preston, who is fantastic in this role) to create a female impersonation act. With the help of Andre Cassell, (John Rhys Davies) a night club owner they hope to get rich with the unusual act. Complications arise however, the least of which is a visiting gangster named King Marchand (James Garner) who takes a liking for Victoria. His Chicago girlfriend Norma Cassady (Lesley Ann Warren) become jealous and informs other hoodlums to come to Paris. Alex Karras, plays Mr. Bernstein, Garners' bodyguard). The film is a solid hit for the cast and lays the foundation of it become a classic. ****
Great wit, wonderful set design, very good acting - What can one say bad about the film? Perhaps the plethora of homosexuals was a bit over the top, as was the part of the private investigator, but these are nit-picks hardly noticed against the background of most modern releases. While I dislike musicals intensely, this one is different, most obviously in the setting for the music. Unlike the incongruous breaking out in song in the middle of conversation, this movie's music occurs within the framework of nightclub acts. This adds to the credibility of a plot that could have spun out of control, much as S.O.B. did (unfortunately). What really sets this movie apart from the crowd of box-office hits that plague us is the incredible wit of the dialogue. The writing is truly wonderful! And Preston is perfect for his character, his repartee style as sharp as the lines Blake Edwards puts in his mouth. It is my tendency to pick apart films on the issue of credibility, allowing as we should for the genre of the film. H.G.Wells once said that good science fiction depended on introducing one and only one fantastic idea, and then developing a plot whose events would follow reasonably from that one idea. Bad science fiction, he said, introduces several such incredible inventions and ideas, creating a plot too fantastic for the reader to immerse him/herself in. So too with movies. Good comedy, science fiction, drama, even action plots, should have one premise that might stretch the limit of credibility, and then develop the plot reasonably from there. Most modern box-office hits fail to do this, and in the process of feeding us one fantasy after another to stimulate our interest and attract our dollars, dulls our minds. Victor / Victoria is good writing because it starts with its one major premise - an unsuccessful, though talented singer achieving fame and fortune by altering her sexual image - and lets the plot play itself out. There are a few minor stretches beside the main premise, but without fantastic physical feats, explosions, car chases, and CG effects, Edwards has created a script that pulls - rather than pushes - you in to the plot. The weakest part of the plot is the fact that Andrew's character attains success not just by cross-dressing, but also by substantially altering her act. We are supposed to ignore the fact that she has changed from simply singing to singing with well choreographed movement. However, this is not a serious flaw, because in the real Hollywood (and Broadway), very good talent is habitually unsuccessful, while the fantastic and ridiculous is placed on an altar. (Does anyone really think Schwarzenegger can act?) Did I say acting? Perhaps I saved the best for last. Andrews playing herself is perfect here, Garner is fantastic, and Leslie Ann Warren adapted to her character's personality so completely that I hardly realized it was her. And, at the risk of repetition, Preston is perfection itself. The set design was almost excessive in the distraction it caused, for you could not help noticing how artfully it was designed and lit. Finally, Henry Mancini wrote the music. The DVD commentary added substantially to the production, making the entire package a 5-star offering, a rating I rarely give.
Me thinks several semi-homophobic comments need to look in-their-mirrors!?! This classic, Blake Edwards musical/comedy is still-a-treasure after ALL-these-years! Pure Hollywood entertainment! Reviewed Julie Andrews' Vegas debut for "Billboard Magazine" at Caesars Palace in the late '70s & was dazzled by her amazing talent. She was so gracious at the after-show dinner party, personally meeting each press member at their tables! A classy lady! - Had seen Robert Preston with Mary Martin in the musical/comedy "I Do! I Do!" on Broadway in '66. This was his best movie role ever, way better than "The Music Man." & Leslie Ann Warren nearly stole-the-movie with her dead-on portrayal of the dippy gun moll!?! & Henry "Hank" Mancini's amazing score proves-the-vital element-of-music in film. It's wonderful!!!
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