Darling Lili (1970)

Darling Lili (1970)

“Try to look reasonably happy. After all, it isn’t every day that a German spy is awarded the French Legion of Honor.”

During World War I, when a German spy (Julie Andrews) posing as a dance hall singer falls for an allied pilot (Rock Hudson), she puts herself and others at risk.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Blake Edwards Films
  • Historical Drama
  • Julie Andrews Films
  • Musicals
  • Niall MacGinnis Films
  • Rock Hudson Films
  • Romance
  • Singers
  • Spies
  • World War I

Julie Andrews gamely tries her best in this colorful period-piece smash-up (directed by Blake Edwards) of a Mata Hari-like German spy/singer who allows her objectivity to be foiled by her romantic attraction to Hudson’s studly fighter pilot, and is followed by bumbling inspectors who appear to belong in a Pink Panther flick. In his scathing but telling review, DVD Savant notes that the “problem is a fundamentally inconsistent character in a dumb story, and a Hollywood system that thought it could make a foolproof attraction just by throwing millions into a picture with Julie Andrews on the marquee.” The best elements of this costly bomb are the colorful cinematography (though be forewarned, as Savant notes, that “Many scenes are long-lens coverage of people walking along rivers or luxuriating in beds, until the camera racks focus to reveal a giant flower in the foreground.”) and period sets.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Fine period detail
  • Effective cinematography

Must See?
No; you can skip this one unless you’re a Julie Andrews completist.


One thought on “Darling Lili (1970)

  1. First – and last – viewing. Skip it.

    Apart from its various other (and largely already noted) flaws, this thing is needlessly long. A ‘period piece’ would be one thing but, with this anachronistic flick, Edwards seems to have entered the ’70s kicking and screaming. Seems he would have been more comfortable staying 20 or 30 years behind. But modern audiences had other ideas; fresher ones.

    It’s truly amazing the film was given its obvious high budget. It does look extremely well-produced. But its merits are few and tiny. There’s some nice aerial photography… a lively can-can sequence… and, after that, I suppose I’m hard-pressed.

    It certainly is a “smash-up”. As if not trusting (and with good reason) the love story that is the main storyline, Edwards finds every opportunity he can to throw in old-school visual humor: none of it works.

    Andrews has one sequence which she probably really enjoyed performing: when, in a fit of jealousy, she changes her usually modest stage routine and surprises her audience with a faux-strip number (with generous bumps and grinds).

    Overall… it’s simply a bad movie.

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