Victor Victoria (1982)
A struggling female soprano finds work playing a male female impersonator, but it complicates her personal life.
In 1934 Paris, trained coloratura soprano Victoria Grant, a native Brit, can't get a job as a singer and is having trouble making ends meet. She doesn't even have enough money for the basics of food and shelter. Gay cabaret singer Carole 'Toddy' Todd may befall the same fate as Victoria as he was just fired from his singing gig at a second rate club named Chez Lui. To solve both their problems, Toddy comes up with what he considers an inspired idea: with Toddy as her manager, Victoria, pretending to be a man, get a job singing as a female impersonator. If they pull this scheme off, Toddy vows Victoria, as her male alter ego, will be the toast of Paris and as such be extremely wealthy. That alter ego they decide is Polish Count Victor Grazinski, Toddy's ex-lover who was disowned by his family when they found out he was gay. The Count auditions for the city's leading agent, Andre Cassell, who, impressed, gets him a gig performing in the city's best nightclub. In the audience on the successful opening night is Chicago nightclub owner and "businessman" King Marchand, a stereotypical macho male who falls in the love with the woman he sees on stage, which doesn't sit well with his current girlfriend, Norma Cassady. King is shocked to learn that that woman is a man named Count Grazinski. While King tries to reconcile his romantic feelings for "Victoria" (in truth, King doesn't truly believe the Count is a man), his business associates won't tolerate his change in sexual orientation. Although feeling emancipated being treated as a man, Victoria, as herself, in turn falls in love with King. To pursue something with him as a woman would mean giving up this lucrative career. But the career may also come to an end in a jail term if the authorities find out that Victoria and Toddy have committed fraud in this impersonation.
Victoria Grant, a down-and-out British soprano, struggles to find work in the nightclubs of 1930s Paris. While trying to scam a free meal, Grant meets cabaret performer Toddy, who comes up with an idea that will change everything. Acting as her manager, Toddy bills Grant as a male female impersonator. When the nightclubs eat it up, the duo makes it big -- even a Chicago mobster is enamored with Grant. But keeping the truth a secret is no easy task.
Set in 1930s Paris, starving opera singer Victoria (Julie Andrews) is aided by gay cabaret performer Toddy (Robert Preston). When Victoria dons Toddy's ex's clothes and then sends the abusive ex flying with a booming shout and an equally booming right hook, Toddy is hit with inspiration: he'll pass her off as a female impersonator. A woman pretending to be a man pretending to be a woman? It all goes well until Chicago "businessman" King Marchand (James Garner), starts to investigate, sure that a man like himself could never fall for another man! The revelation of Kings infatuation brings his body guard 'Squash' Bernstein (Alex Karras) roaring out of the closet and his spurned moll Norma Cassady (brilliantly acted by Leslie Ann Warren) off to Chicago to plan revenge with King's other "business associates".
Victoria is a poverty-stricken soprano trying to find work in Paris in the 1930's. With the help of a worldly-wise nightclub singer, she invents her alter-ego Victor, a female impersonator who is hired to sing at a fashionable night spot. "You want me to be a woman pretending to be a man pretending to be a woman?" Interwoven throughout the comedy and musical numbers are some surprisingly astute observations about gender perceptions, discrimination and the battle of the sexes.
- Set in 1934 Paris, France, the film opens with Richard di Nardo, a young gay hustler, emerging from the bed of gay middle-aged Carroll Todd (Robert Preston), a.k.a. Toddy after spending the night Richard dresses, steals some money from Toddy's wallet and leaves Toddy's apartment. Going about his day, Toddy, a performer at Chez Lui in Paris, sees Labisse, the club owner, auditioning a frail, impoverished soprano, Victoria Grant (Julie Andrews), an British national. After the audition, Labisse drily writes her off, and she responds by sustaining a pitch to shatter his wine glass using resonant frequency. Victoria reluctantly returns to her apartment to find herself deciding whether or not to trade her rent money for an Italian dish. That night, Richard comes to Chez Lui as part of a straight foursome and the jealous Toddy incites a brawl by insulting Richard and the women in his group. After the police raid the place and close it down, Labisse fires Toddy and bans him from the club. Walking home, he spots Victoria dining at a local restaurant, and she invites him to join her. As neither of them can pay for the meal, she dumps a cockroach in her salad to avoid paying their check, but it escapes and the whole place breaks out in havoc.
The duo run out through the rain to Toddy's, and he invites her to stay when she finds that the rain has shrunk her cheap clothes. The next morning Richard shows up to collect his things. Victoria, who is wearing his clothes, hides in Toddy's closet. When she thinks that Richard might harm Toddy, she ambushes Richard and literally kicks him out. Witnessing this, Toddy is struck with the inspiration of passing Victoria off as a man (the illusion convinced Richard who stumbles downstairs to his friends waiting in the car claiming a strange man wearing his clothes hit him) and presenting her to Andre Cassell (John Rhys-Davies), the most successful agent in Paris, as a female impersonator.
Cassell accepts her as Count Victor Grazinski, a gay Polish female impersonator and Toddy's new boyfriend. Cassell gets her a nightclub show and invites a collection of club owners to the opening. Among the guests is King Marchand (James Garner), an owner of multiple clubs in Chicago, who is in league with the mob. King attends with his ditzy moll Norma Cassidy (Lesley Ann Warren) and burly bodyguard Bernstein (Alex Karras), a.k.a. Squash. Victor is a hit, and King is smitten, but devastated and incredulous when she is "revealed" as a man at the end of her act. King is convinced that "Victor" is not a man.
After a quarrel with Norma and his subsequent failure with her later that night, King sends her back to America. Determined to get the truth of Victor's gender, King sneaks into Victoria and Toddy's suite and confirms his suspicion when he spies her getting into the bath. He keeps his knowledge secret and invites Victoria, Toddy, and Cassell to Chez Lui, where Toddy is now welcomed due to Victor's status as a big star. Another fight breaks out with exactly the same foursome as before; Squash and Toddy are arrested with the bulk of the club clientele, but King and Victoria escape. King kisses Victoria pretending that he does not care about Victoria's gender (although he of course actually knows that she is a woman), leading them to get together.
Squash returns to the suite later that night after posting his bail and catches King with Victoria in bed. King tries to explain, but soon receives a shocker himself: Squash reveals himself to be gay! Meanwhile, Labisse hires a P.I., Charles Bovin, to investigate 'Victor'. Victoria and King live together for a while, but keeping up the public act of Victoria being a man strains the relationship and King ends it. Back in Chicago, Norma tells King's club partner Sal Andretti (Norman Chancer), that King is having an affair with Victor. Also, Squash learns the truth about Victoria, but develops a romance with Toddy.
Although King and Victoria are in love, things start to get complicated: Victoria is unwilling to give up her Victor persona since its made her a star, and King wishes she would drop it, for their sake and his (being seen with a homosexual was not a good thing back in the 1930s). Both attempt to keep the relationship short-term and do gay stuff together, but eventually things get too unfulfilling and frustrating for them. To make matters worse, Labisse suspects Victor of being the singer he had rejected... after a waiter at club, who used to work at the same restaurant where Victoria and Toddy met and used the cockroach to avoid paying for the meal, recognizes her and reports it to Labisse. So, Labisse hires a private investigator to investigate 'Victor'.
At the same time that Victoria has decided to give up the persona of Victor in order to be with King, Sal arrives and demands that King transfer his share of the empire to Sal for a small portion of its worth. Squash tells Victoria what's happening, and she interrupts the paperwork signing to show Norma that she is really a woman, and prevent King from having to lose his stake. That night at the club Cassell tells Toddy and Victoria that Labisse has lodged a complaint against him and "Victor" for perpetrating a fraud. The complaint comes The Inspector tells Labisse that the performer is a man and Labisse is an idiot.
In the end, Victoria joins King in the club as her real self. King is stunned, as moments earlier, the announcer had said that Victor was going to perform. Toddy is revealed as the performer, having masqueraded as "Victor" to fool the Inspector. After an intentionally disastrous, but hilarious performance, Toddy claims that this is his last performance. The film ends with King, Squash, Victoria, Cassell and the public applauding enthusiastically.