In 1982, Writer/Director Blake Edwards was at the top of his game, coming off "10" and the very successful Peter Sellers/Pink Panther films. He saved his biggest box office hit of the eighties for VICTOR VICTORIA, a hilarious music filled comedy with an all-star cast at the height of their game.
Julie Andrews stars as Victoria, an out of work Soprano in 1930's Paris. Down to her last penny, she meets Cabaret entertainer Toddy, played by the brilliant Richard Preston (The Music Man) in one of his best film roles.
Toddy hatches the idea of having Victoria pretend to be Victor, the world's greatest female impersonator. When their act is a hit, Victoria complicates her own life by falling in love with Chicago gangster King Marchand (James Garner). Garner sees her perform and finds himself incredibly attracted and then incredibly confused when Victoria pulls off her wig at the end of the act, revealing herself to be a man.
Garner is hilarious, deciding to prove that Victor is really a woman. Alex Karras (Blazing Saddles) is great as King's bodyguard, Squash. Lesley Ann Warren nearly steals the whole movie as King's floozy girlfriend Norma, who can't figure out what day it is, let alone who's who and what's what.
Henry Mancini provides plenty of great songs for the club performers, making this a very unusual combination comedy/musical that was clearly ahead of its time in 1982.
Edwards has always had a gift for physical comedy in his films, from "The Wild Party" through the Pink Panther films and there are plenty of great laughs here.
A long sequence with nearly every character sneaking in and out of each others hotel rooms in one long, continuous shot is classic Edwards, as is nearly every scene featuring Graham Stark as a pretentious French waiter who always manages to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Julie Andrews and Robert Preston are both terrific musical performers and actors and every scene they're in shines. Edwards didn't make a better film in the 1980's than Victor/Victoria.
Like it's main characters, there's a lot more going on here than you might suspect. To see how far ahead of the times it was now, more than 30 years later, is a tribute to Edwards and his cast.
Funny, clever and perfectly executed, Victor/Victoria gets an A.