Movie Review - Victor/Victoria

Victoria Grant (Julie Andrews) is an out-of-work Soprano in 1930s Paris . Toddy (Robert Preston) is an aging, poor, homosexual entertainer who has been sacked from his job. The two form an alliance of sympathy one fine night of trying to cheat a restaurant into feeding them for free. In high spirits Toddy comes up with the idea of dressing up Victoria as a gay member of the Polish royalty, Count Victor Grazinski. Count Grazinki’s unique talent will be an ability to sing like a woman and play the lead female in the famous Paris musicals. Count Grazinki turns into a wild success and Victoria is all set for a career as a woman pretending to be a man impersonating a woman. However, matters get complicated when Chicago club owner King Marchand (James Garner) falls in love with Victoria . Victoria loves him too but asks him to accept her complete with her public face as a man. Marchand is forced to pretend he is gay. Marchand’s bodyguard, Bernstein (Alex Karras), delighted by this revelation, comes out of the closet himself.

However, not all is well. The Mob which backs Marchand’s club wants him to sell out cheap since they don’t want ‘faggots’ running the club. Victoria realizes that the world thinking she is a man is complicating her relationship with Marchand. How do they resolve it?

The movie keeps the tone lighthearted with a corny storyline, Wodehousian style crowd fights, some sparkling wit and fabulous dance numbers. This is probably just the right tone to gently touch upon the aspects of being a woman and being gay. In a seeming casual manner it states some obvious truths. Victoria does not give up on the rest of her life (a la Bollywood heroines) the minute she falls in love with Marchand. She frankly admits that she likes him but in the same breath says her career is as important. This does put Marchand in the bizarre position of having to pretend he is gay. However, it highlights nicely the point that women are entitled to their own identify.

Marchand after one evening of dancing check to cheek with Victor amidst other cooing male couples is quite upset. He stops at a third rate pub, gets into a fight with the ruffians there and spends a happy evening affirming his masculinity by swigging beers with all his black eyed opponents. When Bernstein confesses to being gay, Marchand is shocked that someone so ‘All American’ can be gay.

Originally adapted from a German movie, the English version won various prizes for its cast and crew. However, having no access to cable, I don’t know if it is one of those movies that has made it to the list of reruns. It certainly should.


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