James Stewart stars as a railroad man hired to secretly carry a payroll despite his suspected connections to outlaws
Julie Andrews takes going in drag to new levels in Blake Edwards' hugely entertaining musical
A star vehicle for his wife Julie Andrews, Blake Edwards' Victor/Victoria takes its gender-bending premise to preposterous levels, but results in a sparkling and hugely enjoyable musical comedy.
Adapted from a 1933 film by the German director/writer Reinhold Schunzel (who also wrote the original Some Like It Hot), it tells the story of struggling singer Victoria Grant (Andrews) who, together with unemployed singer Toddy (Robert Preston), hatches one of the most original plans to gain employment - she is to pose as singer Victor Grezhinski; a Polish Count famous for his female impersonations.
Surprisingly it works, and Victor is the toast of the Paris nightlife, with audiences unaware that he is really a woman playing a man playing a woman (think about it). That is until a confused and amorous Chicago club owner King Marchand (James Garner) enters the scene, posing the biggest threat to Victoria's secret identity.
Made during a period when film musicals weren't considered to be top box office draw, it was Edwards' reputation at MGM that got Victor/Victoria the green light. Considering too that an overtly homosexual character such as Toddy was unusual even for this time, it's to his eternal credit that he got the film made.
And we should be grateful he did. Its sparkling script explores and expounds upon sexual identity without becoming crass or didactic, mixing slapstick comedy with romance and many opportunities for Andrews to showcase her singing and dancing talents.
With strong performances all round, especially Robert Preston's camp but not caricatured turn as Buddy, and some rich lighting from cinematographer Dick Bush, it's a real pleasure to watch.
Victor/Victoria is a highly entertaining musical posing as an exploration of sexual politics posing as a highly entertaining musicalâ¦ Whatever, it's really very good.
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