After making a number of classic films such as Breakfast at Tiffany’s and The Pink Panther series, one of director Blake Edwards last big hits was the multi-Oscar nominated Victor/Victoria. The gender-bending musical comedy is based on the 1933 German film Viktor und Viktoria, and it stars the director’s wife and world-renowned star Julie Andrews in the titular roles. While the two had collaborated frequently in previous films, Victor/Victoria gave Andrews the perfect showcase for her incredible voice. The match was so perfect that Edwards even adapted the movie into a hit Broadway production in 1995 where Andrews reprised her role. The movie has amazing musical numbers throughout, but Edwards does not forget to bring his trademark comedic prowess to craft something truly joyous and special.
Julie Andrews stars as Victoria Grant, an impoverished woman in 1930s Paris with a knockout voice that would do nearly anything just to get a meatball. Victoria is at the end of her rope as she auditions for a gig at Chez Lui, but her classically trained nature does not blend with the Parisian lifestyle that is booming at the time. Although her audition is unsuccessful, it impresses an aging gay performer at the club nicknamed Toddy (Robert Preston, The Music Man), who later stumbles across her at a restaurant where the two strike up a friendship. After a heated encounter with an ex, Toddy is inspired to makeover Victoria as “Count Victor Grazhinsky,” his Polish boyfriend and protégé that will soon star in the most lauded drag show that Paris has ever seen.
After successfully passing as Victor for the top agent in Paris, Victoria and Toddy soon secure a steady gig at a very successful nightclub where she dazzles from the opening night. The first big number at the club is “Le Jazz Hot,” a really bouncy, fun number to which Andrews brings a ferocity that brings the house down. The combination of the fiery performance from Victor(ia) and the glitzy, Oscar nominated costume catches the eye of King Marchand (James Garner, The Americanization of Emily), a handsome Chicago-based club owner with supposed ties to the mob. Marchand is shocked when the object of his desire is revealed to be a “man,” so much so that he refuses to believe it, which sets the course for the remainder of the movie.
Andrews and Garner have a very playful dynamic that brings a great amount of humor and heart to the movie. While there are a few issues with the gender swapping and homosexuality that raise a few eyebrows when viewed through modern lenses, the movie is surprisingly progressive and never punches down on these groups. The intention is filled with love and acceptance, and, for a movie made in the 80s portraying the 30s, it succeeds. The production design on this picture is intricately put together to bring a lavishness to these numbers that makes you aware you are watching something special, a labor of love. With an undeniably talented supporting cast and infectious musical numbers, Victor/Victoria is the perfect combination of comedy and musical that keeps you glued to the screen throughout.
Warner Archive brings Victor/Victoria to Blu-Ray with a dazzling 1080p transfer sourced from a 2K scan of the interpositive. Cinematographer Dick Bush shot the film very warmly with bright colors that match the excitement the music and performances are bringing to the screen. The transfer really makes these colors pop on screen while maintaining a beautiful clarity to the presentation. Edwards is a director that does not waste any space on screen, and it is a joy to be able to see what he intended so clearly. The black levels are solid throughout and the film grain is handled expertly.
The film is presented here with a dynamite lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track. The musical numbers really come alive and utilize the surround speakers to great effect. The vocal clarity of both the singing and the dialogue is perfect throughout, mixing well with both the live instrumentation and the score. Speaking of the score, the legendary Henry Mancini (The Pink Panther) provides the delightful score to this film that won him his fourth and final Oscar in the category. This is an excellent sounding disc that perfectly represents how the film was meant to sound. This disc also includes optional English (SDH) subtitles.
- Commentary with Writer/Director Blake Edwards & Actress Julie Andrews: Husband and wife team Edwards and Andrews have a really fun and in-depth discussion about the making of the film. This one is well worth listening to!
- DVD Easter Egg: A 30-second clip of Blake Edwards discussing Julie’s performance in the movie
- Trailer: A zany, fast paced trailer that does not give too much of the film away and does a good job of conveying the feel of the movie.
Victor/Victoria is both a hilarious comedy and a exhilarating musical rolled into one with standout performances from Julie Andrews, James Garner and Robert Preston. Blake Edwards once again proves why he was lauded as one of the great directors of comedy, while at the same time breaking new ground by tackling ornate musical numbers. The movie is filled with heart and humor that leaves viewers with a smile on their face. Warner Archive has provided a outstanding technical presentation with nice extras, making this disc essential for your collection. Highly Recommended
Victor/Victoria can be purchased directly through Warner Archive or various other online retailers.
Note: Images presented in this review are not reflective of the image quality of the Blu-Ray.
Dillon is most comfortable sitting around in a theatre all day watching both big budget and independent movies.