Filmmaker Blake Edwards’ career is filled with popular hits, like the Pink Panther movies and Breakfast at Tiffany’s. His career stretched from the mid 1950s to the early 1990s and managed to have a hit in nearly every decade he worked. While his films more often connected with audiences than critics, Victor/Victoria (1982)stands out as his biggest achievement. It’s the ultimate definition of a Blake Edwards movie, with his mix of hilarious set-pieces and drama, with a touch of musical magic to make it a classic. Amazingly, the film earned Edwards his only competitive Oscar nomination for his adapted screenplay.
The film finds Julie Andrews as Victoria, a singer struggling to make it in 1930s Paris. She befriends Carroll Todd (Robert Preston), a gay nightlub singer, and the two hatch a plan. If she can’t make it as a woman, maybe she can make it as woman playing a man pretending to be a woman. King Marchand (James Garner) arrives in Paris and sees Victoria perform and is entranced by the performance of “Le Jazz Hot.” At the end though, Victoria reveals that she’s really a man. King is disturbed to find out that he was smitten with a performer who turned out to be a man, so he tries to find out exactly what Victoria’s gender is. King’s moll, Norma Cassidy (Leslie Ann Warren) sees that King is falling for Victor and brings his mob connections to Paris to make trouble for him.
Victor/Victoria is filled to the brim with the kind of slapstick moments that make Edwards’ films unique. The cockroach in the restaurant and hotel break-in sequences are moments that only Edwards could have perfected. In the hands of another director, these moments might have felt like distractions from the plot or some attempt to only draw out the movie. For Edwards though, they are moments to show off and are easily tied into the story.
As for the musical sequences, they are also effortlessly tied into the movie. Even though they are performed on stage, they often reflect the moment in the plot. Henry Mancini had a unique understanding of how important his music was to Edwards’ films and it’s hard to see how Victor/Victoria would work without his score. Mancini and lyricist Leslie Bricusse shared the Oscar for Best Original Song Score. It was the only win for the film, which is terrible to know. Robert Preston should have walked away with the Best Supporting Actor Oscar, but it instead went to Louis Gossett Jr. of An Officer And A Gentleman.
Victor/Victoria is not a colorful film, but cinematographer Dick Bush still crafted a unique look that imagines what the film might have looked like if it was made in color in the early 1930s. It’s a soft look, which Warner Archive perfectly brought to high definition here. Say what you will about the studio not producing new bonus features for these Warner Archive Blu-rays, but they are not skimping out when it comes to transfers. As for the features themselves, the Blu-ray includes a trio:
- Commentary: The commentary that appeared on the 2002 DVD is here. In it, Julie Andrews and Blake Edwards talk about the making of the film in a much more technical way than one might expect from a commentary with only those who worked on the film. They discuss how the project – which is based on a 1933 German film – ended up in Edwards’ hands and the production. It’s an entertaining track that fans of the film have to listen to.
- DVD Easter Egg: This is a 36-second piece in which Edwards talks about Andrews. There’s no sign of where this is from, but if there was more to this interview, it would have been nice to see it.
Victor/Victoria features one of Andrews’ greatest performances and a supporting cast that Hollywood could never put together again. The chemistry between Andrews and James Garner picks up right where they left off nearly 20 years before in The Americanization of Emily. The fact that the film earned seven Oscar nominations without a Best Picture nod is another piece of evidence to prove that awards don’t matter. The film remains timeless and relevant to this day as an exploration of gender politics.
Thanks to Warner Archive for providing this Blu-ray to review!