Monday, June 29, 2009

Victor Victoria (1982)

Julie Andrews’ Victoria decides to swing the other way… but not really. Dame Andrews (Darling Lili) distances herself from earlier roles, in Victor/Victoria, by playing a soprano singer in financial trouble willing to do just about anything for a meal; she “[was] going to trade [her] virtue for a meatball”, but settles at pretending to be Count Victor Grezhinski, a female impersonator.

The setting; Paris: 1934, although you only briefly see the snowy Paris early on in story, most of the action happens inside of Chez Lui, a famous club and the hotel rooms. Victoria, at the end of her rope, runs into Toddy (Robert Preston) in a restaurant, where she cleverly schemes to plant a cockroach in her salad. The fortunate meeting turns into a bigger scheme to get big money, Toddy suggests that Victoria becomes Count Victor Grezhinski, the world’s greatest female impersonator. Their plan would have gone along smoothly, if King Marchand (James Garner) hadn’t shown up to Victor’s grand opening and fallen in love with her, and continued to cause a commotion throughout the movie to prove that Victor is a fraud because he was in denial of his own sexuality.

The light-heartedness of the story helps soften the controversial issues that director and writer Blake Edwards (The Pink Panther) slipped into the storyline. The musical renditions by the lovely Julie Andrews make you want to sing along to “Le Jazz Hot”, and “The Shady Dame of Seville”. The quick humour, Toddy’s version of “The Shady Dame of Seville” is bound to get some laughs. The liveliness of the actors brings so much life to the screen that will have the audience singing along. All this and more make Victor/Victoria a classic.

The concept of pretending to be the opposite sex isn’t new; Shakespeare wrote about it in Twelfth Night and even a modern version of the idea was integrated in Connie and Carla. This twist will never grow old, and there will always be an audience who will find it amusing to watch such a storyline. Truthfully, who can pass up a Julie Andrews film? The woman is a classic.

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