"Victor/ Victoria" (1982)

Ok all of you musical lovers in our debating society. My first choice for viewing was “Victor/ Victoria”. This is one of my all time favorite movies. Basically, the plot goes like this. Down-on-her-luck singer Victoria Grant (the glorious Julie Andrews) meets her fairy godfather, in the form of the fabulous Carroll “Toddy” Todd (an equally glorious Robert Preston). Madcap slapstick antics and beautiful music ensue as Victoria becomes the toast of Paris, as the Polish female impersonator Count Victor Grezhinski. S/he attracts the attention of a Chicago nightclub owner King Marchand (James Garner), and his girlfriend/moll Norma Cassady (a truly inspired Lesley Ann Warren). Meanwhile Toddy attracts the attention of King’s equally yummy bodyguard Mr Bernstein (Alex Karras) . With amazing music by Henry Mancini, direction by Blake Edwards , amazing cinematography, art direction, and choreography, Victor/ Victoria amazes me every time I watch it.

 Personally, I have many favorite parts of this movie. The cockroach scene in the diner always make me laugh. The staged musical numbers "Le Jazz Hot" and "The Lady from Seville" have my toes tapping. Robert Preston's interpretation of the latter number makes me laugh hard. Lesley Ann Warren cracks me up every time she appears on screen. Just watching her reaction as she finds out about Victoria in the first nightclub scene leaves me in stitches.  Even James Garner teaching "Sweet Adeline" to a bunch of rough french barroom brawlers leaves me laughing. Even the bittersweet romance between the two leads resonates with me. As a gay man, I can identify with living in the closet with the one you love. "Crazy World" says it all. 

 This one is in permanent rotation in my DVD collection. When and if  it wears out it will be replaced quickly. A classic! ***** five stars on my board.

One of my all-time favorites, too, svf.

I love the recurring character of the waiter, who kind of has an inkling as to what’s going on but can’t be bothered to fully figure it out.

The second brawl at Chez Lui, after they do “You and Me.” is perhaps my favorite scene – it’s such a great number, a couple of polished pros doing the not exactly ad-libbed ad libs … wonderful!

LOL. I love the waiter too. So snarky, and so very droll. He is the only character in the movie that actually tops Toddy’s witty lines. I also enjoy Richard’s girlfriend/sugar mama, especially in the scene you mentioned. So full of herself. I love the comeuppance she gets!

I am not a fan—but then, I hate nearly all of Blake Edwards’ films, and I think Julie Andrews was laughably miscast.

I have a rare tape of the original 1933 Viktor und Viktoria, starring the great Renate Muller and Hermann Thimig, and it dances rings around the 1981 version. Sadly, it’s all but impossible to find.

I like V/V a lot too but I can’t give it my highest recommendation and I wouldn’t buy the DVD (although I did tape it and I have the soundtrack). There are a lot of stellar bits that you’ve already mentioned (it’s “The Shady Dame from Seville” though), plus “Chicago, Illinois,” Toddy’s first number “Gay Paris” and “You and Me,” the Preston/Andrews duet. Oh, and that freaky reversed faces number is oddly brilliant.


The segments dealing with King Marchand and later the detective trying to ascertain Victor’s true sex are horrible. They bring the movie to a screeching halt. Nothing but an enormous waste of screen time, and Marchand’s insistence in finding out the answer before pursuing Victoria really undermines what could have been an amazingly powerful moment, when King says “I don’t care if you are a man” and kisses Victor. Imagine how stunning that moment would have been without the scenes of King sneaking in and out of Victor and Toddy’s suite.

Excise those scenes entirely (and replace them with a single short scene of the “Cockroach!” waiter and the club owner colluding to expose Victor) and then the movie would be nearly perfect. After replacing James Garner with someone who’s younger and actually attractive.

I’d love to see the original, Eve – perhaps some day, after I achieve full acolyte status, you’d be willing to share it.

I’d never really thought about anyone other than Julie Andrews in the role – who would you want to have seen in it? Robert Preston, OTOH, has a second “role of a lifetime” role in Toddy – it really fits him like a glove.

The second song is actually “The Shady Dame from Seville”.

I love this movie and had the DVD on opening day.

Am I the only one who found the Easter Egg?

Nobody gets their mitts on my Viktor und Viktoria! It’s as rare as Weimar-era hens’ teeth. Poor Renate Muller, she was so adorable, like a German Claudette Colbert.

Hmmm, who would have been good in the Edwards version? Well someone in her 20s, for one thing: 47-year-old Julie Andrews as a “struggling young actress” is pretty depressing, and (bless her little cotton socks) she never had any sex appeal even when she was young. It needed someone young and sexy and androgynous.

Oy. I’m with Twickster on that Eve. Always love seeing the source material. So how do I achieve my acolyte status? Does it involve wearing a robe?

Mea Culpa Otto. I knew I was going to miss that one I always mess up song titles. Ask Jayjay.

Mockingbird…easter egg? WHERE? Please divulge!

Nobody gets their mitts on my Viktor und Viktoria!


Nah, I was thinking after I became a full acolyte I could grovel on the floor in front of the TV while you ran it.

Jamie Lee Curtis? Can (could) she sing? I’d suggest Kathleen Turner for the voice, but she wasn’t (isn’t) exactly androgynous.

Hmm, retro-casting this 20 years later is a little tricky…

Damn, you’d think an acolyte-wannabe would preview her post and get her coding right…

I’m not a big Edwards fan generally, but I think this is one of the happy exceptions, though it does run a bit too long–I can’t argue with the pacing of the hotel room business except it’s such a shift in gears so late in the film. Also, this is the section where Warren is absent, and the movie misses her terribly. I think the detective is hilarious, though, so I’ll have to disagree with Otto there.

Andrews is fine and generally believable, especially in comparison to Dustin Hoffman’s Tootsie of the same year–at least her deception is on the stage, whereas “Dorothy” is supposed to pass as a woman under the more unforgiving eye of the TV camera. Still, the Hoffman/Pollack film resolves better, while Edwards seems unwilling to examine the final decision Andrews makes, ending with a funny show-stopper instead.

Ultimately, V/V would be a good-not-great musical, except for one important factor: the brilliant Robert Preston, who owns the film from the first scene to the last. He brings reservoirs of experience, hurt, and strength to the film through Toddy that adds layers of complexity to the story (and props to Edwards for writing him without pity or condescension). That Preston wasn’t nominated for an Oscar for The Music Man is maddening, but that he lost the Oscar this year to Lou Gossett Jr. (!) defies belief (though it may have been because he never flames up or goes over-the-top like most other actors would’ve been tempted to do). An incredible (and incredibly touching) performance and the thing that makes the movie indelible.

Emma Thompson would’ve been 22. Sings, dances, comedy, acting…

We have so few musical movies being made these days that we don’t necessarily know which of our current faves have serious musical chops.

Oh, and bear in mind, Twickster, that if you’re recommending Kathleen Turner for her singing in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, that was Amy Irving doing the singing.

I was … and I knew that. :smack:

Here, by the way, are two photos of Renate Muller—she wasn’t the slightest bit convincing as a man, but she was so adorable and perky that the film worked. It was done like Love Me Tonight: much of the dialogue was sung.

Eve, if that tape is that rare, you might consider archiving it by digitizing it? Hate to think of it deteriorating.

A friend of mine taped it off German television and sent it to me—it’s not so much “rare” as “impossible to come by in the U.S.”

Excise those scenes entirely (and replace them with a single short scene of the “Cockroach!” waiter and the club owner colluding to expose Victor) and then the movie would be nearly perfect. After replacing James Garner with someone who’s younger and actually attractive.[/QUOTE]

Dude, hate to give you a cold shower here, but many women don’t like pretty boys…and Jim Garner’s ruggedly masculin face is very attractive to people who look for some actual character in a person, not just a pretty face. He looks like someone who has been there, done that and has no need to prove anything. He can sit there and hold a conversation without trying to get every woman into bed.

SVF, good choice of a musical! That was a fun evening’s entertainment.
IIRC, Blake Edwards had originally cast Tom Selleck as Marchand, but he was committed to another movie. (Sorry, no cite).
I remember discussing with friends the lack of power to the scene with the “I don’t care if you are a man!” kiss. The theory put forth at the time was that, if the gender issue had not been resolved prior to the kiss, the scene would have taken all the attention away from the balance of the film. Blake Edwards essentially took the easy way out to keep controversy from surrounding the film. Seems pretty silly in this day and age!

I still don’t get the police inspector and the “greatest disguise in the world” bit. Did he enter the dressing room, see a naked Robert Preston, and not know he wasn’t “Victor” ? That strains credibility a bit too far for me, especially since the theatre would have been full of posters of Victor, and Robert Preston sure don’t look like Julie Andrews, wang notwithstanding.