Classic Movie Reviews

Victor Victoria Review

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( Jun 1918 -- Mar 1987 )  

Robert Preston (when he made his first movie the studio required him to drop his family name) was born in Newton, Massachusetts. After attending Abraham Lincoln High School in Los Angeles, he studied acting at the Pasadena Playhouse. In 1940 he married actress Catherine Craig, to whom he remained married until his death from lung cancer at age 68. During World War II he served as an intelligence officer with the Ninth Air Force in Europe. He appeared in 15 Broadway productions and 52 movies (one as a voice-over) but is best remembered as con man Harold Hill in Meredith Wilson's The Music Man , first on Broadway and then on the screen. Jack Warner wanted Frank Sinatra to play the part in the movie but Wilson insisted on Preston reprising his Tony Award-winning stage role. Fortunately for movie audiences, Wilson prevailed. Preston's impressive list of film credits include: This Gun for Hire, Wake Island, The Macomber Affair, Blood on the Moon, The Dark at the Top of the Stairs, How the West Was Won and Mame. He was nominated for the Best Actor Oscar for Victor Victoria. His last film was The Last Starfighter (another con man role).


    Based on a 1933 German film, Victor Victoria involves fake homosexuality, real homosexuality, transvestism and confused sexual identity, plus a lot of good music and laughs. A gay nightclub performer in 1930s Paris, nicknamed "Toddy," (Robert Preston) encounters an out-of-work and desperately hungry singer, Victoria Grant (Julie Andrews, wife of Blake Edwards) trying to scam a free meal at a restaurant and the two of them have to make a run for it, to Toddy's apartment. He lets her stay the night because she's been evicted from her room, assuring her she need not fear for her honor. Toddy comes up with the idea of disguising Ms Grant as a man and presenting her as a male female impersonator, Victor Victoria, in a nightclub act. She's an instant hit and things are going well until a Chicago mobster (James Garner) catches her act and is smitten, and then disgusted when he's told it's really a man. 
    To salvage his confidence in his own masculinity, Garner decides she must really be a woman, otherwise he could not have been attracted. He sets out to find out for sure and from that point things get complicated and amusing, with help from an excellent supporting cast that includes Lesley Ann Warren, Alex Karras and John Rhys-Davies. Henry Mancini won an Oscar for the music score, one of seven nominations.

1983, Directed by Blake Edwards

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