Victor/Victoria on DVD
Julie Andrews stars with Robert Preston and James Garner in this sex
farce set in Paris in the 1930's.
She's Victoria Grant, a talented but down on her luck singer who, much
like Dustin Hoffman's character in Tootsie, finds herself sneakily swapping her
sex in order to get work.
Robert Preston is Toddy, a drag queen entertainer who dreams up the scam
to turn Victoria into Count Victor, Europe's finest drag queen entertainer.
Well, she's a hit of course, and her "unnatural act" comes to the attention
of American impresario King Marchand (Garner), who doesn't believe she's
really a man but who isn't sure enough to say for sure. Much to his masculine
chagrin, he finds himself attracted to Victor/Victoria (a feeling which
is mutual) and sets out to see whether or not he'll still be able to wear
the pants in the family if they get together.
The farce unfolds fairly predictably, but that doesn't mean it isn't
funny. Writer/director Blake Edwards (who is also Andrews' real life husband)
crafts an entertaining film that (though it's hard to believe the lovely
Miss Andrews could really pass for a man) is an at times funny and at
other times charming musical tale of sexual mores that's also a paean
for the acceptance of homosexuality (though it doesn't beat you over the
head excessively with its politics).
Andrews is, as is typical of her, wonderful as Victoria; this is a more
mature woman than Mary Poppins or Maria from The
Sound of Music, but she's still sexy and feminine - with a singing
voice that could stop a clock (or, more appropriately for this film, shatter
glass). Preston, as the old pouf who mentors her through the scam, is
also typically charming. Garner turns in an excellent performance as the
macho man who becomes unsure of his machismo. Lesley Ann Warren, though
her part isn't very big, manages to chew enough scenery to worm her way
into our hearts, and Alex Karras turns in a good, against type, performance
as Garner's bodyguard.
The music, by Henry Mancini with lyrics by Leslie Bricusse, includes
some terrific show numbers that are very well staged and shot.
Fortunately, the DVD does the film justice. It's presented in anamorphic
widescreen (16x9 TV compatible) and the picture quality is excellent.
Warner Brothers says it's a new transfer, and it shows; the image is sharp
and crisp and the colors are rich and well-saturated. This is particularly
welcome since the production - especially in the staged musical numbers
- is full of rich, vibrant costumes and sets and they come across very
well in the home theater in this DVD version.
Audio is Dolby Digital 5.1 surround and, though there's definitely a
dearth of surround information, the sound quality itself is very good.
Think of it mostly as a "three channel stereo" film with excellent separation
across the front and the odd bit of business (for instance, thunderclaps)
emanating from the rear speakers. The original soundtrack was recorded
analog rather than today's more common digital methods and that means
the dynamic range isn't what many of today's films offer, but it's still
more than acceptable over all.
Extras include a fascinating running commentary featuring writer/director
Edwards and star Andrews (who sounds a tad hoarse here) and they offer
plenty of interesting insights into the production (including Andrews'
deep-seated hatred for cockroaches).
You also get some filmographies of cast and crew, a list of the awards
for which the film was nominated, and the theatrical trailer.
Victor/Victoria, from Warner Home Video
133 min. anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1), 16x9 TV compatible, Dolby Digital
Starring Julie Andrews, James Garner, Robert Preston
Produced by Blake Edwards and Tony Adams
Written and directed by Blake Edwards
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