Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967)
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But I'll try: "Millie's" first half is, to quote the screenplay, "Delish," with Andrews vamping and camping throughout. I am unable to take my eyes off her as she clowns, flirts, cavorts, and also sings and dances (getting her hotel elevator to work results in a showstopper). The vehicle--a pastiche of 1920s conventions (including "moderns") and filmgoing techniques (including iris-outs and title cards)--is the frothy light story of a British import who comes to America and finds true love.
The second half gets bogged down in the overwrought script, with all the machinations of a white slavery plot and a pair of "inscrutible" Orientals who, in this day and age of racial sensitivity, get far worse than they deserve.
Some history: Ross Hunter, the producer, wanted to film "The Boy Friend," the Broadway musical that had introduced Andrews to the U.S. stage. When the rights were unavailable, he devised his own script, using the same setting--the 1920s. A "small" musical evolved.
Then Julie's star went through the stratosphere. And the Universal "suits," smelling another payday, insisted that the movie be a road-show presentation--with a road-show running time(and at which road-show prices could be charged). Little "Millie" had an intermission added, and her running time was increased considerably.
The movie's still a lot of fun and definitely recommendable (especially to Andrews fans), but let's just say that, at times, it more than shows its stretchmarks!
One of my favorite running gags of the movie is the elevator where you have to dance to get it going. Julie Andrews, Mary Tyler Moore and Beatrice Lillie had to dance. Even Pat Morita and Jack Soo danced to the tune of "Japanese Sandman". The last time I ever heard "Japanese Sandman" was the theme to an old local TV farm report show in Houston, Texas (Dewey Compton).
Thought not for everyone, this movie is thoroughly enjoyable if you can sit in you seat for well over two hours! Yes, it's long; but the entertainment doesn't stop for a minute. Everyone whose seen this movie has a favorite song (or at least *I* do)! Mine would either be the title song played during the opening sequence (which is probably the funniest, most enjoyable part of the entire film) or the "Tappioca". Actually, the funniest moment happens in an elevator (watch the movie, you'll see)!
While this is not one of the greatest films made, it's unfortunate still that many seem to think that the film is really stupid. And I will admit that it is a little hard to believe that a feel-good, socially ignorant film like this was released in 1967; just two years before such influential and memorable films as "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" and "Bonnie and Clyde" among others which this film is about the exact opposite of. A movie like this should have been released ten years before as it may have been better received.
So go out and get this film if you're in the mood for and off-beat, comedy musical with some rather odd negative overtones that are there just for the heck of it! Julie Andrews has never been better! And yes, Mary Tyler Moore CAN sing...
The only major problem with this movie is its excessive length. While the songs and production numbers are wonderfully executed, quite a few of them are only here to prove what we already know...that Julie Andrews has a great voice. Take out The Tapioca, the wedding song, and Channing's Do It Again and you would have a much tighter movie. I fast forward through these sections every time.
For those people who feel offended by the stereotypical treatment of Asians in the film ... get over it. It is all done with tongue firmly planted in cheek. If anyone thinks for one minute that all Asians run laundries and are involved in slave trading, they probably shouldn't be watching movies and television anyway. (Being from a rural area of North Carolina doesn't keep me from enjoying the lampooning I often see in the media concerning the south and southerners.)
All in all a fun way to spend a weekend night with the family.
Definitely No Raspberries!
Now I like everybody in the cast and the film looks great in terms of fashion and set design...but it's a chore to sit through. I was "lucky" enough to see the 153 minute roadshow version and I had trouble staying awake! The script is virtually nonexistent and throws in everything they can think of...including white slavery! The acting varies. Andrews is good but Moore seems bewildered, Fox looks desperate, Gavin is wooden (to say the least) and Channing is so ON she's downright frightening. There are far too many songs and dances and not one of them is memorable. For no particular reason there's an elevator in this movie that won't operate...until people tap dance! This leads to a llooonnnnggg number where Andrews and Moore have to tap dance to get to their floor! To make things worse these "amusing" cards pop up (like in silent movies) to tell us what Millie is thinking. Too bad that none of them are fun. The final nail was the script. It's full of horrible lines and "jokes" that are just downright painful to listen to! I rolled my eyes and groaned more than once. I had to struggle to stay awake through this one. The bad lines, acting and musical numbers are deadening. This only gets a 2 because I like Andrews and Moore and Andrews puts her all into the singing numbers that are far beneath her talents. If you must watch have your finger close to the fast forward! Just dreadful.
This is a film for jaded moviegoers. Just when you think that cinema is starting to look all the same, you get to watch Carol Channing get shot out of a cannon! It's just great. You'll think to yourself, "Well, now I can die. I've seen it all!" Carol Channing is absolutely phenomenal in this movie because she creates a character that has never been seen before in movies and probably never will be again. That is because she is such an oddball in real life. I know. When I lived in New York City, I was a cater waiter. I waited on Ms. Channing (or was it Muzzy, her character from this movie?) and thought to myself, "Oh my gosh, if she asks me for raspberries, I won't be able to handle it." (If you've seen the movie, you'll get my dumb joke.) Really, rent this film or watch it when it comes on television: the whole thing is so far over-the-top, you'll need binoculars just to see what's going on. This movie gets a perfect 10.
This is god-awful sap. All copies of it should be stockpiled and fired from cannons at the enemy.
If this movie had ended at intermission, it wouldn't have been so bad. As it is, this one is deadly, and it doesn't help that it comes in at a ass-numbing 2 1/2 hours. No one, but no one comes out the better for having been involved with this movie. Let's just start with Julie Andrews, since she is the star of the show. She's completely miscast, and about 15 years too old for the part. She does her best to make something of this mess, but too frequently simply gives up and resorts to playing her part like Maria from "The Sound of Music" (a movie musical I liked, by the way).
James Fox, who plays her love interest, is almost unbearably mannered in his performance, with a full repertoire of facial contortions and nervous tics that will send you to the kitchen for countless refills of popcorn, long after the popcorn is gone.
Mary Tyler Moore is simply dreadful in the most thankless role ever put to screen. I was going to chalk her disastrous performance up to being a novice, but then I remembered that she had already been in the "Dick Van Dyke Show" and was starring in "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" even as this film was released, so she has no excuse for being rotten.
Beatrice Lillie as the villianess might have been funny if she was given anything funny to do.
Carol Channing is Carol Channing, weird and hyper. However, she alone of the cast seems to know what the hell she's doing, and any scene involving her ends up being a highlight of the film.
I don't know why they decided to make this a musical. Musicals were gasping for breath by 1967 anyway; for every "My Fair Lady" or "The Sound of Music," there was a "Doctor Dolittle" and "Camelot." The music in "Millie" seems added on as an afterthought, since hardly any of the songs have anything to do with the plot, and director George Roy Hill couldn't direct a musical number if his life depended on it.
Speaking of Hill, I'll save my last comments for him. He's all wrong for this film. I'm assuming the movie was intended to be a satirical send-up of 20's silent melodramas, since it comes complete with reaction shots aimed directly at the camera and title cards elaborating on characters' emotions. But if that's so, why does Hill set everything to such a plodding pace? The thing staggers along like a rabid dog before finally collapsing under the weight of its inanity. One wishes Atticus Finch would emerge from behind a tree and put this particular rabid dog (and the audience) out of its misery.
You know what the most memorable thing about this movie is? The title song. You'll be singing it for days and days and days and days afterwards. Enjoy.
Grade: D- (because only "Moulin Rouge" is entitled to a grade of F)
Director George Roy Hill has to be given credit; he attempted a spoof of early silent movies, with effects like wipes, title cards, and visuals like using pastels for most of the colors, especially Mary Tyler Moore's outfits. He does an extended riff on Harold Lloyd's "Safety Last" (1923), which is funny and effective. Sometimes he is off by a decade or so, though. For example, when the secondary pair of lovers first meet, they duet to "Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life", which is amusing, but thirteen years early (film is set in 1922). Each character spoofs a type.
Julie Andrews is the perky heroine. Her parody is right on target, and her singing and dancing are also near perfect. I found Mary Tyler Moore irritatingly helpless, until I recognized her type was the helpless rich girl who never does anything for herself. Then, I was able to appreciate her performance. James Fox was enjoyable in his role; I didn't know he could sing. John Gavin, as Millie's boss, must have been directed to act as wooden as humanly possible; again, I didn't know he could sing.
This was one of the last 1960's "Roadshow" musicals to make a profit. It has a wonderful musical score, but an uneven script and too many "cutesy" moments offset that strength. Still, it is more than worth seeing if it comes your way.