Victor / Victoria (1982)

“You two-timing son-of-a-bitch — he’s a woman!”

Synopsis:
A destitute singer (Julie Andrews) in 1930s Paris befriends a gay man (Robert Preston) who convinces her to pose as a female impersonator. “Victor” (Andrews) quickly finds success, as well as admiration from a gangster (James Garner) who has trouble reconciling his attraction to a “man”.

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Review:
Husband-and-wife team Blake Edwards and Julie Andrews reached an artistic plateau in this culmination of their cinematic interest in mistaken identities, gender-bending, and the performing life. Andrews plays a likable, plucky heroine we can’t help rooting for; thankfully, sufficient time is provided for us to get to know her and sympathize with her plight. Preston is delightful as her supportive new roommate, and convincing as a gay man; his final dance performance (completed in a single take) is a hoot. The humor — including plenty of Edwards’ signature slapstick — is broad but suitable, and mostly works, with a highlight including the extended “cockroach in my salad” restaurant sequence. A minor quibble is that we’re shown a few too many shots of Garner looking at Andrews with skepticism before learning the truth about her gender (we get it, already); but their subsequent complicated romance plays out authentically, as Garner must continue to confront his own homophobia while Andrews stands up for her professional needs.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Julie Andrews as Victor(ia) (nominated by Peary as one of the Best Actresses of the Year in his Alternate Oscars)
  • Robert Preston as Toddy
  • Fine period sets and costumes
  • Luminous cinematography
  • Henry Mancini’s score

Must See?
Yes, for Andrews’ performance and as an overall enjoyable show. Listed as a Cult Movie in the back of Peary’s book.

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One Response to “Victor / Victoria (1982)”

  1. Agreed – a once-must, for Andrews’ performance and as an example of what director Edwards could accomplish with a comedy when he put his (better) mind to it. (I’m not a fan of the bulk of his ‘comedic’ work.)

    I saw this around the time it was released – then once again, years later. (I also saw a recording of the stage version, with Andrews re-creating her role.) Though I didn’t think it was perfect, I didn’t think it particularly had to be. ~especially since it had agreeable things to ‘say’ about sexual (and gay) politics.

    I enjoyed Andrews – as well as Garner, Preston, Lesley Ann Warren (though her spunky role is under-written) and Alex Karras… and Mancini’s score.

    It didn’t end up being a personal favorite – but it’s very gay-friendly, and that’s a fine thing for a film to be!

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