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This is the Directors Cut edition with run time of 107 min. UPC scan shows 136 min which is not correct
A welcome new DVD life might be in store for Darling Lili, an underrated film whose reputation is mostly locked as one of the big, expensive flops that helped reshape Hollywood at the turn of the seventies. Julie Andrews was still at the height of her popularity when she began shooting this musical-comedy-drama with new husband Blake Edwards directing; budget overruns, studio interference, and the changing box-office climate all doomed the movie's disastrous 1970 release.
Even fans of the picture would have to admit that the weird storyline had something to do with it, too. Andrews plays a World War I singer in London and Paris who's actually a spy for the Germans (part of her cover is singing popular patriotic songs, such as "Pack Up Your Troubles" and "It's a Long Way to Tipperary"). Her new assignment is to get information from a famous pilot (Rock Hudson), but naturally she falls in love with him along the way. The movie's WWI aerial sequences (shot in Ireland) are a little like the film's approach: soaring, graceful, and disconnected from any carnage that might be happening in the trenches. However, if you can appreciate Edwards' slapstick prowess and commitment to the screwball-romance style of filmmaking, there's much to admire.
For one thing, Edwards photographs Julie Andrews with the loving devotion of a new husband. For another, his feeling for the widescreen frame as a big playground for lush color and busy action is well-served by the DVD release--this is a visually gorgeous movie. The new songs by Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer include the superb opening number--evocatively shot--called "Whistling in the Dark." The DVD is billed as a "Director's Cut," but is shorter than the original release, a result of Edwards himself reportedly retooling the picture after 1970 (the disc has a whopping hour's worth of additional scenes). Whichever way it's sliced, Darling Lili was always going to be a strangely mixed movie, with Pink Panther-style bits sitting next to Mata Hari skullduggery. Fans of Julie Andrews and the vanished elegance of visual storytelling will find much to savor nevertheless. --Robert Horton
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Things take off at about 40 minutes into the film. Until then, there is just build up with visuals that will repeat later in the film. It is a slow descent into madness like we saw in "The Shining" except not as entertaining. The film was done in black and white in order to give it a timeless effect. Vehicles in the street were mostly made blurred for the same reason. This is close to being a one man play, and is clearly not a film for everyone, but like "Eraserhead" will have its following. Ms. Carter did a bang up job.
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Julie Andrews simply glows as Lili, and delivers a deft performance. Although she indeed plays a spy working for the "Enemy", the audience oddly enough loves her anyway and wants her to escape in the tension-filled final sequence. Rock Hudson is a comical and romantic delight as Larrabee. The support cast includes Lance Percival, Gloria Paul, Jacques Marin, Doreen Keogh and Bernard Kay.
The musical score by Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer is truly beautiful, one of the best of the entire decade. When Andrews emerges out of the blackness in the first scene to sing "Whistling Away the Dark", it is indeed one of those chill-inducing moments. Andrews' musicality in this film was quite accomplished; she sings with a smokey timbre in her voice which she rarely displayed before or after DARLING LILI. Other choice moments come in the Music Hall-schmaltz of "I'll Give You Three Guesses" and the sobering "Girl in No Man's Land". Costume designer Donald Brooks decks Julie out in a splendid array of period-perfect ensembles (he also costumed Julie in STAR!).
The film was nominated for 3 Academy Awards that year: Best Costume Design (Donald Brooks); Best Song "Whistling Away the Dark" (music Henry Mancini, lyrics Johnny Mercer); and Best Music Scoring (Henry Mancini).
I simply adore this film. DARLING LILI was never made available on videocassette, and appeared only rarely on cable. Director Blake Edwards, in a bid to make the film more palatable for audiences following it's disastrous theatrical release, re-cut the film in a "Director's Cut", and that is the version you get on this DVD. The original theatrical length was 136 mins (the "Director's Cut" runs for a brisk 107 mins, not counting Overture and Exit Music sequences). The transfer is very sharp and the audio is offered in both 5.1 and 2-channel stereo. The cut scenes are all offered as bonus material, so in effect the entire film is here, albeit in pieces. Paramount might hopefully release the uncut LILI one day, but until then, you could do a lot worse than the "Director's Cut". Highly-recommended from this corner.
POSTSCRIPT (29th May 2007): DARLING LILI is now available in it's original uncut form, via the new Paramount DVD editions from the UK and Australia.
I checked out the Director's Cut edition from the library and watched it. It was okay but it seemed choppy and I kept feeling like I was totally missing parts of the movie (it really jumped around in a bad way). I assumed that was the way the movie was made but I did some research and found out it was originally 136 minutes. It seemed to me 29 minutes was a lot to cut out of a movie and maintain any kind of flow so I started looking for the 136 minute version. Thought I had found it on Amazon. I wasn't crazy about the movie so I looked on Amazon Marketplace and found a "like new" copy to purchase. What I received was the Director's Cut. I promptly notified the vendor via email that they sent the wrong movie version. The vendor emailed back that the Director's Cut is the ONLY version available on DVD. I was also told to file a claim with Amazon to avoid shipping it back (shipping was half the cost of the movie). I did that and Amazon did refund the cost of the movie and shipping. I am very fond of Amazon.
I don't particularly care about the Director's Cut (the library can always use another copy) and I still want to see the original 136 minute movie but I'm afraid to order it from Amazon because I suspect, given what I've found on the Internet, that the Director's Cut is the only version available to the U.S. I've read that the original 136 minute movie was released in Europe and also in Australia but, again, I have no proof that is true. If anyone has been able to buy a copy of the original movie I would love to know where they got it!
Thought it was worth pondering this before plunking down the money for what you might hope is the original, longer version and end up with the Director's Cut. I still can't believe that they chose to release the shorter, severely chopped version over the original. I would rather be bored through part of a movie and even fast-forward through parts of it than feel like I completely missed seeing nearly 1/3 of the movie. Hope this might help someone.
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