Directed by: Blake Edwards | 132 minutes | music, comedy, romance | Actors: Julie Andrews, James Garner, Robert Preston, Lesley Ann Warren, Alex Karras, John Rhys-Davies, Graham Stark, Peter Arne, Herb Tanney, Michael Robbins, Norman Chancer, David Gant, Maria Charles, Malcolm Jamieson, John Cassady
The fact that Victoria Grant has such a good voice that she can sing a broken glass does not help her get a job at the nightclub “Chez laz”. Disillusioned, but above all very hungry after an unwanted four-day Lent, she drops off to her hotel. The owner is waiting for her there. He demands that she pay her overdue rent in kind, if necessary. A rescue angel in the form of a cockroach rescues her from this plight. The cockroach will even help her eat a double meal in a restaurant without spending a penny. The singer, entertainer Toddy (Robert Preston) had witnessed her unsuccessful audition in “Chez laz” and is wondering how she’s going to afford all that food. Victoria generously invites him to especially eat a meal “at her expense”. But her plan to smuggle the cockroach into the salad at the end fails, and Victoria and Toddy are forced to flee the restaurant in a hurry. Victoria’s only good clothes have become worthless in the rain, and Toddy has just been left that morning by his much younger friend. Both could use some comfort from a friend.
The next morning when Victoria, in men’s clothes, sells a fool who has hurt Toddy so much, Toddy comes up with an ingenious plan. Victoria has to go through life as a man and the world will be at her feet. And so it happens. As the mysterious Polish Count Grazinski, she acts as a woman and then emerges as a man. The gangster King Marchand is present at that first performance and falls hopelessly in love with her. Unfortunately for this very masculine man, the object of his love turns out not to be a beautiful woman, but a man.
It is of course known that Julie Andrews has one of the most beautiful singing voices on the stage and the silver screen. That she can act too. But she is very special in this film. In a decor of cardboard with fake snow, she walks so despondently and cold and hungry on the street that you automatically shiver with her, your heart breaking with pity. Her singing and dancing is also of a very special class here, as is her ability to move and entertain in one go. It’s a shame that her nomination for an Oscar has not been cashed in. The same goes for the other, very strong roles, such as Lesley Ann Warren who plays the über-bimbo Norma with wonderfully flamboyance. She talks raunchy, looks like it, is extremely vulgar and uses her body towards men as if it were candy. Unforgettable is the scene in which she initially reacts enthusiastically to Victoria’s performance, just like the rest of the room, but as Marchand becomes more and more clearly enamored with Victoria, Norma’s looks become more sour and vicious. She is very relieved that Victoria turns out to be Victor, but especially triumphant that her place on Marchand’s side is unthreatened.
“Victor Victoria” can be watched over and over again with confidence, the film remains funny, moving and very, very entertaining. The choreographies and vocals are beautiful, the complications sometimes wonderfully bland and idiotic. The result is a nice mix of musical, comedy and, as icing on the cake, the valid question of what exactly it means to be straight or homosexual.