…In relentless pursuit of all performances nominated and won!
1964’s Best Actress (for Mary Poppins) Julie Andrews truly goes all out and has a grand old time being directed by husband Blake Edwards in the 1982 musical treat, Victor/Victoria. Believe it or not, I had never seen this film, and was excited to see it air on Turner Classic Movies recently in a tribute to Edwards, who passed away last month. The film stands as a testament to this dynamic and amazingly talented marital duo.
Andrews stars as Victoria Grant, a down-on-her-luck cabaret singer in 1930s Paris who resorts to disguising herself as a man impersonating a woman to snag a successful singing gig. She becomes somewhat of an overnight sensation in the Paris club circuit, largely due to a new friendship with a fellow performer, Toddy (Robert Preston, who plays deliciously camp and gay in his role and secured a Supporting nomination himself) and an eventual budding romance – despite the disguise – with a handsome gangster (James Garner) who initially finds himself uneasy at being attracted to ‘Victor’. When he finds out ‘Victor’ is really ‘Victoria’, of course the romance ensues… and Victoria is faced with the dilemma of sacrificing her success as a performer for a shot at true love. Look for a hilarious turn by Lesley Ann Warren, who whines and screeches her way brilliantly through her scenes as Garner’s moll/girlfriend (also earning an Oscar nod for Supporting).
While Victor/Victoria is certainly a delightful romp to watch, it didn’t leave its mark with me as strongly as I had anticipated. The music was disjointed and forgetful, even though sung to perfection – per usual – by Andrews. Indeed, about 3/4 of the way through the movie, I found myself amazed that this was adapted to a stage version; I just couldn’t see that potential. Look for a hilarious scene in which a nightclub riot breaks out and an annoying old woman is tossed onto a grand piano – that part alone had me giggling quite a bit, in addition to Lesley Ann Warren’s over-the-top but convincing performance. Also quite funny is a bit early in the film with Robert Preston and Julie Andrews trying to get a free meal in a fancy restaurant by turning loose an errant cockroach in their food. Julie Andrews otherwise feels rather vanilla here, and I prefer her earlier films and previously nominated performances. It’s no great surprise that Meryl Streep took home the Oscar this year for her searing performance in the tragic Sophie’s Choice.
(Incidentally, for a glimpse of Andrews with her 1964 Oscar – sans her head! – look above at my blog banner!)