Victor/Victoria is a 1982 British-American musical comedy film directed by Blake Edwards and starring Julie Andrews, James Garner, Robert Preston, Lesley Ann Warren, Alex Karras, and John Rhys-Davies. The film was produced by Tony Adams and scored by Henry Mancini, with lyrics by Leslie Bricusse. Released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, it was adapted in 1995 as a Broadway musical. The film was nominated for seven Academy Awards and won the Academy Award for Best Original Score. It is a remake of the 1933 German film Viktor und Viktoria.
Theatrical release poster by John Alvin
|Directed by||Blake Edwards|
|Produced by||Tony Adams|
|Screenplay by||Blake Edwards|
|Story by||Hans Hoemburg|
|Based on||Viktor und Viktoria |
by Reinhold Schünzel
Leslie Bricusse (Lyrics)
|Edited by||Ralph E. Winters|
|Distributed by||MGM/UA Entertainment Co. (United States)|
United International Pictures (International)
In 1934 Paris, Toddy, a performer at Chez Lui in Paris, sees Labisse, the club owner, auditioning a frail, impoverished soprano, Victoria Grant. After her failed audition, Victoria reluctantly returns to her apartment to find herself deciding whether or not to spend her rent money for food. That night, when Richard, a hustler whom Toddy pays for sex, comes to Chez Lui as part of a straight foursome, Toddy incites a brawl. Labisse fires Toddy and bans him from the club. Walking home, he spots Victoria in a restaurant. She invites him to join her. As neither of them can pay for the meal, she dumps a cockroach in her salad to avoid paying, but it escapes and mayhem ensues.
The duo run through the rain to Toddy's, and he invites her to stay when she finds that the rain has shrunk her cheap clothes. The next morning, Richard shows up to collect his things. Victoria, who is wearing his clothes, hides in Toddy's closet. When she thinks that Richard might harm Toddy, she assaults him and kicks him out. Seeing this, Toddy is struck with the inspiration of passing Victoria off as a man and presenting her to Andre Cassell, the most successful agent in Paris, as a female impersonator.
Cassell accepts her as Count Victor Grazinski, a gay Polish female impersonator and Toddy's new boyfriend. Cassell gets her a booking in a nightclub show and invites a collection of club owners to the opening. Among the guests is King Marchand, a shady owner of nightclubs in Chicago, and his ditzy moll Norma Cassidy and burly bodyguard Bernstein, a.k.a. Squash. Victoria is an immediate hit, and King is smitten, but he is shocked when she is "revealed" to be a man at the end of the act. King, however, is convinced that "Victor" is not a man.
After a quarrel with Norma, King sends her back to America. Determined to get the truth, King sneaks into Victoria and Toddy's suite and confirms his suspicion when he spies her getting into the bath. He invites Victoria, Toddy, and Cassell to Chez Lui. Another fight breaks out. Squash and Toddy are arrested, along with many of the club clientele, but King and Victoria escape. King kisses Victoria, pretending that he does not care about Victoria's gender, leading them to get together.
Squash returns to the suite and catches King in bed with Victoria. King tries to explain, but then Squash reveals he himself is gay. Meanwhile, Labisse hires a P.I., Charles Bovin, to investigate Victor. Victoria and King live together for a while, but keeping up her deception strains the relationship to the breaking point, and King ends it. Back in Chicago, Norma tells King's partner Sal Andretti that King is having an affair with a man.
At the same time that Victoria has decided to give up the persona of Victor in order to be with King, Sal arrives and demands that King transfer his share of the empire to Sal for a fraction of its worth. Squash tells Victoria what is happening, and she shows Norma that she is really a woman, saving King's stake. That night at the club, Cassell tells Toddy and Victoria that Labisse has lodged a complaint against him and "Victor" for perpetrating a fraud. The inspector tells Labisse that the performer is a man and Labisse is an idiot.
In the end, Victoria joins King in the club as her real self. The announcer says that Victor is going to perform, but instead of Victoria, Toddy masquerades as "Victor". After an intentionally disastrous, but hilarious performance, Toddy claims that this is his last performance.
- Julie Andrews as Victoria Grant/Count Victor Grazinski
- James Garner as King Marchand
- Robert Preston as Carroll "Toddy" Todd
- Lesley Ann Warren as Norma Cassidy
- Alex Karras as 'Squash' Bernstein
- John Rhys-Davies as Andre Cassell
- Graham Stark as the Waiter
- Peter Arne as Labisse
- Malcolm Jamieson as Richard Di Nardo
- Sherloque Tanney as Charles Bovin
- Ina Skriver as Simone Kallisto
- Michael Robbins as Manager of Victoria's hotel
- Maria Charles as Madame President
- Glen Murphy as Boxer
- Geoffrey Beevers as Police Inspector
- Norman Alden as Man in Hotel with Shoes (uncredited)
- Jay Benedict as Guy Longois
The vocal numbers in the film are presented as nightclub acts, with choreography by Paddy Stone. However, the lyrics or situations of some of the songs are calculated to relate to the unfolding drama. Thus, the two staged numbers "Le Jazz Hot" and "The Shady Dame from Seville" help to present Victoria as a female impersonator. The latter number is later reinterpreted by Toddy for diversionary purposes in the plot, and the cozy relationship of Toddy and Victoria is promoted by the song "You and Me", which is sung before the audience at the nightclub.
- "Gay Paree" – Toddy (music composed by Henry Mancini)
- "Le Jazz Hot!" – Victoria (music composed by Henry Mancini)
- "The Shady Dame from Seville" – Victoria (music composed by Henry Mancini)
- "You and Me" – Toddy, Victoria (music composed by Henry Mancini)
- "Chicago, Illinois" – Norma (music composed by Henry Mancini)
- "Crazy World" – Victoria (music composed by Henry Mancini)
- "Finale/Shady Dame from Seville (Reprise)" – Toddy (music composed by Henry Mancini)
Occasionally, Victoria and Toddy sing "Home on the Range" when they are in the hotel.
The film's screenplay was adapted by Blake Edwards (Andrews' husband) and Hans Hoemburg from the 1933 German film Viktor und Viktoria by Reinhold Schünzel. According to Edwards, the screenplay took only one month to write. There was also a 1935 remake named First a Girl, made in the United Kingdom and directed by Victor Saville, about a woman who stands in for a female impersonator and becomes a hit. Julie Andrews watched the 1933 version to prepare for her role. The film had been planned as early as 1978 with Julie Andrews to star alongside Peter Sellers, but Sellers died in 1980 while Andrews and Blake Edwards were filming S.O.B. (1981), so Robert Preston had to be cast in the role of Toddy that originally was envisaged for Sellers.
The costume worn by Julie Andrews in the number "The Shady Dame from Seville" is in fact the same costume worn by Robert Preston at the end of the film. It was made to fit Preston, and then, using a series of hooks and eyes at the back, it was drawn in tight to fit Andrews' shapely figure. Additional black silk ruffles were also added to the bottom of the garment, to hide the differences in height. The fabric is a black and brown crepe, with fine gold threads woven into it, that when lit appears to have an almost wet look about it.
Victor/Victoria received a 97% 'fresh' rating on review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes from 29 reviews, with the consensus "Driven by a fantastic lead turn from Julie Andrews, Blake Edwards' musical gender-bender is sharp, funny and all-round entertaining."
Awards and honours
Victor/Victoria won the Academy Award for Best Original Song Score and its Adaptation or Adaptation Score. It was also nominated for:
- Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Robert Preston)
- Best Actress in a Leading Role (Julie Andrews)
- Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Lesley Ann Warren)
- Best Art Direction-Set Decoration (Rodger Maus, Tim Hutchinson, William Craig Smith, Harry Cordwell)
- Best Costume Design
- Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium
Julie Andrews won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Comedy or Musical. Other nominations included:
- Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical
- Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical
- Best Actress in a Supporting Role – Motion Picture
- Best Original Score – Motion Picture (Henry Mancini)
Victor/Victoria also won the French César Award for best foreign movie in 1983.
- BRITISH PRODUCTION 1981 Moses, Antoinette. Sight and Sound; London Vol. 51, Iss. 4, (Fall 1982): 258.
- "Victor/Victoria". Allmovie. Retrieved 2 January 2009.
- Stirling, Richard (2008). Julie Andrews: An Intimate Biography. Macmillan. pp. 272. ISBN 0-312-38025-9.
- Victor/Victoria at Rotten Tomatoes
- "NY Times: Victor/Victoria". NY Times. Retrieved 2009-01-01.
- fr:8e cérémonie des César
- "AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs" (PDF). American Film Institute. 2002. Retrieved 21 August 2016.
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- Victor/Victoria on IMDb
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- Victor/Victoria at the American Film Institute Catalog
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- Victor/Victoria at Rotten Tomatoes
- James Garner Interview on the Charlie Rose Show
- James Garner interview at Archive of American Television