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4.8 out of 5 stars
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HALL OF FAMEon February 14, 2006
Blake Edwards had a unique style of film; all the films seemed to have a certain atmosphere while each maintaining an individual character. Of course, Julie Andrews was a frequent actress in his films - Edwards and Andrews are married, and have been since 1969, an astonishing longevity for Hollywood.
In 'Victor/Victoria', Edwards returns to a Parisian settings familiar to fans of his work in the Pink Panther series - there is some minor elements of slapstick (the clutzy waiter, the bumbling detective, perhaps a nod in the direction of the Pink Panther films), but the real narrative plot is drawn along by the stylish comedy of Julie Andrews (Victoria Grant/Victor) and Robert Preston (Carroll Todd), in one of his last films.
The film is actually based on a much older piece, from 1933, written by Reinhold Schünzel, a German actor and writing, known in Europe primarily from the 1920s to the 1950s (perhaps English-speaking audiences would know him best from his role in Alfred Hitchcock's 'Notorius'). This was not the first, nor the last remake of this piece.
Preston plays an aging, gay, musical theatre man-about-town, who we take it is various a performer, talent scout, and director. Through a strange set of circumstances, he happens to be in a restaurant with a down-on-her-luck singer, who has just flopped at her last audition, and was willing to sell her virtue to the hotel manager for a meatball. She has captured a cockroach, and intends to plant the bug in the salad, thus avoiding payment of the bill - Carroll Todd ('Toddy' to his friends) and Victoria escape the restaurant, and come to share a room together while figuring out what to do.
Toddy comes up with the idea of dressing up Victoria as a man to then present her as the greatest drag queen, with the absurd name of Count Victor Grezhinski, a gay Polish count. 'Who would ever believe it?' Victoria protests. 'A woman pretending to be a man pretending to be woman.'
'It's perfect!' Toddy insists.
'Everyone will know he's a phony,' Victoria insists.
'Exactly! Everyone will know HE's a phony.'
Victoria as Victor auditions for Andre Cassell (John Rhys-Davies), the greatest talent and booking agent in Paris. He schedules Victor to open in a grand venue, and the deception seems complete. That is, until King Marchand (James Garner), a Chicago gangster and nightclub owner, arrives, complete with bodyguard (Alex Karras) and moll in tow (Leslie Ann Warren). He doesn't believe the act, and is determined to discover the truth.
While Victor/Victoria is not a musical in the sense of 'Cats' or 'Showboat', it does have some really stunning musical numbers, as one would expect from a Julie Andrews production. 'Le Hot Jazz' and 'The Shady Dame from Seville' are excellent numbers (Preston does his own reprise of 'The Shady Dame' for the big finale), and other numbers are fun; Leslie Ann Warren does her own over-the-top tribute to Chicago. The original music is done by Henry Mancini, and thus another Pink Panther connection.
The costumes (done by Patricia Norris, a very experienced and wide-ranging costumer) are perfect, both for the stage production numbers (dramatic and with flair, as might befit a drag queen, then or now), and off the stage - the period setting of inter-war Paris, with the genteel poverty of some and the opulence of others side-by-side is very well done.
This is the first film in which I recall major gay figures - it was a popular film in part because the primary actors were well know, and the issue of gay life was presented both in a distant and a non-controversial manner. If there are politics in it at all, it is that sex shouldn't be a political issue. King Marchand, a bit upset at being identified as someone who might date a man (Victor) has one scene in which he re-affirms his masculinity (by going to a seedy bar and picking a fight), only to discover that people aren't always what he thought they were.
This could be a theme throughout the whole film - people are never what you think they are, and life never turns out as expected. The tone of the film is rather lighthearted throughout, and the situations play very well. Does King Marchand get the girl/guy? Does Carroll Toddy become the toast of Paris? Does Chicago get an airport?? See the film and find out.
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on October 6, 2014
Quelle bonne affaire que d'être capable d'acheter des films que l'on ne retrouve plus nulle part et que les distributeurs ne veulent plus distribuer. Victor Voctoria quel film et que dire de Julie andrews une actrice à nulle autre pareille.
Merci pour cet achat, qui demeurera longtemps dans ma filmographie personnelle.
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on July 5, 2004
There is one word that best describes this film, and it's RIOT. The film is one big and grand RIOT. The cockroach-instigated riot scene in the restaurant is memorable. Mr Edwards shot this from the outside so that we get to see a third-person view of what is going on inside through the windows. Also, look at that RIOTY performance by Leslie Ann Warren: the scene where she walks down the train aisle spurting out vehement %$&*$# should be made a classic!! Again, this was shot using a third-person view so that we see inside the train windows but never actually hear her. The film delights in its RIOTS, we get the feeling that it makes fun of its characters in this way, albeit a tender way.
But beneath all the film's RIOTS, is a warm heart (highlighted by Henry Mancini's score.) This warm-hearted attitude transcends even through all those nightclub brawls; and I believe that without this formula, the film might not have been able to handle the issue of homosexuality so well. Excellent performances by Julie Andrews, James Garner, Robert Preston (in a delicious drag queen finale,) Leslie Ann Warren (show stealer) and the whole cast. The musical numbers are also winners. Certainly not for the Lazy Afternoon viewing, but for the Friday/Saturday night film. To those who are offended by gay contents, be warned, the film insists. This is one GAY & RIOTY film.
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on November 22, 2003
This Blake Edwards film is a sort of valentine to the many gifts of his amazing wife Julie Andrews more than ten years since her last musical, and wouldn't you know it, it was a gigantic hit. It helped that the book poked a great deal of fun at the homophobia of the nascent Reagan era, that James Garner, Alex Karres, Robert Preston and (especially) Lesley Ann Warren (in her funniest role ever, as the idiot dancehall bimbo Norma). But the real reason the film takes off is because of Julie Andrews. She may be utterly unbelieveable passing as a man, but she does get to show her great gift for dry humor, and she sings several fine, fine songs, including what may be one of her absolute careeer highlights, "Le Jazz Hot." No one has ever been less appropriate for a jazz number than Julie--she of course sings every single note exactly on the beat, and with her siganture perfect diction--, but she gives the number so much zing and warmth and excitement it just doesn't matter. When she's up there in her Josphine Baker outfit snapping her fingers and smiling expansively, and showing off her astonishing and perfect vocal range, she is every bit as showstopping and iconic as when she was spinning round the Salzburg mountaintops in THE SOUND OF MUSIC: she's up there in movie history heaven at such moments. And if that weren't enough, you also get to hear her pronounce the word "heterosexual" (several times!) like no one before or since.
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on March 12, 2003
Sounds confusing? Well, it is. Gender-bender stage act is the bases of this hilarious comedy loaded with extraordinary performances.
Victoria (beautifully plaid by Julie Andrews) is a performer who can not seem to get a job. Right as she is about to be evicted from her apartment and starve to death, she meets a cabaret performer (Robert Preston) recently fired from his nightclub. As the friendship strikes between them he comes up with an idea that could bring fame and fortune to both of them: Victoria should dress and introduce herself as Victor who happens to be a female impersonator. Thus we have Victoria pretending to be Victor impersonating Victoria. As if that was not complicated enough, add to this a mobster (James Garner) who is convinced that Victor is actually Victoria, and his short-fused floozy (Lesley Ann Warren, who is by the way brilliant) who thinks her mobster boyfriend is gay for falling for Victor and you've got non-stop action and laughter.
Truly one of a kind film. You will laugh from start to end.
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on February 28, 2003
Is she a women pretending to be a man, pretending to be a women? Blake Edward's hilarious gender-bender has Julie Andrews impersonating a count, who is hired to perform as a female impersonator in a posh Paris nightclub circa 1920's. If you think it sounds confusing, it does, but so magnificently pulled off that one hardly minds stretching the mind to believe that anyone could ever mistake the fabulous Ms. Andrews as anything but all woman. The musical numbers are as hot as the comedy. Robert Preston plays Toddy, a gay impressario who is destine to make "Victor" the toast of Paris. James Gardner is a big time bootlegger who discovers the truth and falls in love with Victoria. Leslie Ann Warren is a hilariously, if at times grating, dumb blond.
Warner Brothers has done a wonderful job remastering this DVD. Colors are warm, rich and vibrant. For the most part, details are sharp. The newly remastered 5.1 stereo mix thunders across in the musical sequences and is very ambient throughout. Not much in the way of extras but oh, what a treat to see and hear this fun loving flick as never before.
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on February 17, 2003
As for the gay theme of the DVD hey thats part of what makes it great. The DVD is sharp clear crisp and the sound is killer good. The story is sweet and in all ways beautiful, romantic, heart touching and lovely. Yes there is a gay theme throughout the movie hey its about a woman pretending to be a man pretending to be a woman in Gay Pari'.
This movie does not attempt to preach, it just has fun in that uniquely awesome inspired playful way all good gay men have that leaves the room howling with torrents of laughter. The movie is a playful romp through 1930's Paris night life when it was taudry, common and the most fun you could have for so little money. The movie is not over the top with Gay characters that was and is the nature of this part of show business. Leave your prejudices at the door and let the movie be itself you will enjoy it even more that way. Victor Victoria is just a playful imaginative whimsical what if delight not a documentary on gay issues. Victor Victoria is a fun peek inside the very best of the gay show club life of this time period that might leave you with a better understanding of the universality of what it means to truly love another.
If you can't find it in yourself to love this movie you are cheating yourself of a purely awesome humorous and human growth experience. I'd buy Victor Victoria sooner rather than later just because its that good.
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on December 1, 2002
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 backround 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.
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on November 20, 2002
I love clever, smart, movies, which is why this movie appeals to me; it respects the smarts of its audience and speaks to them instead of *down to* them. Whether or not you buy (or approve of) the premise of an openly gay 1930's Paris, there is much broad, warm, and witty comedy to enjoy here. Julie Andrews, one of the biggest movie stars in history, had created something of a paradox after the phenominal success of 'Mary Poppins' and 'The Sound Of Music-' and wished for many years following to shed her nun/governess image. The tacky 70's sex farce 'S.O.B.' was originally thought to be the film which would do it, but she makes an even more impressive departure here as she essays a classically trained singer who discovers a new kind of independence while playing a female impresonator. In retrospect it seems like an increrdible challenge for an actor/ress, and Ms. Andrews rises to the challenge, and passes with flying colors. And the voice is incredibly fine, especially in "Le Jazz Hot" and "The Shady Dame from Seville," which has the distinction of showing the voice shatter glass. It's most beautiful in letterbox format, and has a magnificent score.
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on September 12, 2002
VICTOR/VICTORIA is an interesting mix: a big movie musical with a cozy feel, broad slapstick with a message, a sexual farce so widely palatable and unobjectionable that it borders on family entertainment. And it works on every level. The script is funny and smart, the music memorable, the cinematography lush and warm, the physical comedy perfectly choreographed. There are no standout performances here: everyone from Julie Andrews to the bit players are uniformly superb.
The commentary by Ms. Andrews and Blake Edwards is largely self-congratulatory, and there are frequent long lapses where they seem to forget what they're supposed to be doing and merely sit silently watching the movie. It all seems too off-the-cuff. They might have previewed the film and given a little thought to what they were going to say before the recorder was turned on. But this is quibbling. There are plenty of DVD packages out there with more and better bells and whistles than VICTOR/VICTORIA, but when it comes right down to it the movie's the thing, and there are few that are finer.
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