135. Victor/Victoria

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Movie: Victor/Victoria

Release Date: March 16, 1982

Director: Blake Edwards

Starring: Julie Andrews, James Garner, Robert Preston, Lesley Ann Warren, Alex Karras.

Tag Lines: “The disguise surprise comedy of the year!”

Relevance: As previously reported on this blog (see 278. 10 and 232. Mary Poppins), Julie Andrews was one of my mom’s favorite people on the planet. She adored her, her acting and especially her singing. As a child, I was inundated with all things Julie Andrews. Her Broadway recordings on vinyl would play on weekends as my mom cooked and cleaned. Any time she was on television, whether it was a talk show, a celebrity news segment or singing with the Muppets or Carol Burnett, we were tuned in. But her movies were the big draw. We never missed a single one, including the bawdy and flamboyant ‘Victor/Victoria.’

‘Victor/Victoria’ was a musical comedy that received high critical praise and performed decently in the box office. It was nominated for seven Academy Awards, winning one for music. Despite her love for Ms. Andrews, I am not sure whether it is a film that my mom saw in theaters. She may have, she may not have. I’m leaning more towards not. What I know for sure is that she absolutely watched it when it premiered on HBO with the rest of the family, including me. More than once.

I was probably eleven or twelve when I first watched the movie and my eyes were as wide as can be the entire time it was on. It was flashy and fun and hysterically funny, although a lot of the humor went over my then adolescent head. That didn’t matter. I was completely enamored with Julie Andrews. Her performance was exhilarating to watch. I loved all of the musical numbers, costumes and make-up and snapped right along to “Le Jazz Hot!” It not only entertained me, but my entire family seemed to be enthralled with it as well. My dad may have been the least enthusiastic about the film, but he definitely laughed out loud at the Black Edwards’ slapstick high jinks throughout.

The month or so that ‘Victor/Victoria’ played on HBO, at least one of my family members would be watching. If we weren’t watching it, we were whistling or humming to one of the catchy tunes that we heard so often in the house. As I got older, and gayer, the humor of the film got more and more obvious to me, and I seemed to love the movie more with each viewing. When I went away to college, it became one of those films that my “theater” friends would flock around on a quiet Saturday night. Quiet meaning not much going on, because we definitely were not quiet while watching it, singing and laughing as loud as we possibly could.

‘Victor/Victoria’ was a sharp, funny, all around entertaining musical with one of Julie Andrews’ best performances on film. It was eventually turned into a Broadway musical starring, of course, Ms. Andrews. Unfortunately, that show is remembered more for Ms. Andrews declining her Tony nomination for her performance (the shows only one) than it was for anything else. But as I always say, there is nothing as good as the original. And ‘Victor/Victoria,’ the movie, was a true original in every way possible.

Today’s Thoughts: I don’t watch ‘Victor/Victoria’ enough. I do not own it on DVD for some bizarre reason (one that needs to be rectified immediately), and probably have not seen the film in its entirety in at least twenty years. So I was more than eager to sit down and watch it today. My husband was very excited to watch the film as well, but alas he worked. So today it was just me and my snapping fingers.

The movie is just as fabulous today as it was thirty-eight years ago. Blake Edwards was a wonderful director, and I have enjoyed a lot of his films. This is his third and final film on my list of most influential movies of all time (see 278. 10 and 265. The Pink Panther for the others). But this has to be his greatest achievement. It is absolutely spectacular. It made me smile and laugh out loud and put me in the greatest, happiest (dare I say gayest) mood I have been in since a very long time. Art that makes me happy is simply the best.

The cast is phenomenal. Julie Andrews is, of course, wonderful, but the entire ensemble is top notch. The two stand-outs for me today (and every other time) are Robert Preston and Lesley Ann Warren. Both of them are hysterically funny in their roles and make an already great movie greater. Lesley Ann Warren is sheer perfection. The character is a hoot, her accent is priceless and she has one of the most quoted lines in our household. “Lock the door” is heard (in that accent) at least three or four times a week. It always makes my husband and me laugh, and my son roll his eyes.

‘Victor/Victoria’ is a great musical comedy and one that I must say was way ahead of its time. It was rare that a movie made in 1982 focused on gay characters and culture. That alone is impressive. But the fact that it was a well made, sophisticated and well received movie is astounding. Thank you Blake Edwards.

“Bravo. Brava.”

Awards: Academy Award for Best Music, Original Song Score and Its Adaptation or Best Adaptation Score, Henry Mancini, Leslie Bricusse (winner), Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role, Julie Andrews (nomination), Academy Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Robert Preston (nomination), Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, Lesley Ann Warren (nomination), Academy Award for Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium, Blake Edwards (nomination), Academy Award for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Rodger Maus, Tim Hutchinson, William Craig Smith, Harry Cordwell (nomination), Academy Award for Best Costume Design, Patricia Norris (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical, Julie Andrews (winner), Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical, Robert Preston (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Supporting Role – Motion Picture, Lesley Ann Warren (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Original Score – Motion Picture, Henry Mancini (nomination), National Board of Review Award for Best Supporting Actor, Robert Preston (winner), New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress, Lesley Ann Warren (nomination), New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actor, Robert Preston (nomination), Writers Guild of America Award for Best Comedy Adapted from Another Medium, Blake Edwards (winner).

Ways to Watch: YouTube, iTunes, Google Play, Vudu, Amazon Prime, DVD Availability.

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