"Victor Victoria" is a shiny jewel in the Blake Edward's canon. One of the most versatile directors (although he's truly best when he's doing comedy) of all time, this film proves once again why he's a director to depend on. It's warm, witty, sudsy, and likable. It has a heck of a weird plot, but Edwards somehow manages to make us fall in love with it. He has never been better than he has here-- neither has his wife, Julie Andrews, who gets a chance to shine once again in her later career.
Victoria (Andrews) is living in Paris as a singer; except for the fact that she's a failing singer that is starving and barely able to pay her rent. She has an excellent voice, but she doesn't have the cool façade of a torch singer.
Aging, homosexual performer, Toddy (Robert Preston) walks into the bar he sings at just as Victoria is auditioning, and in his eyes, a star is born. She doesn't get the job, but he decides to take her under his wing, let her live with him, and get back on her feet. It doesn't take long though, for Toddy to come up with a hell of an idea-- what if Victoria masquerade as a female impersonator at the nightclub he works at, considering it attracts the gay crowd? Victoria hates the gimmick, yet before long, it works, and she's known on the streets as Victor.
She becomes a huge hit, and from her first night, everyone is intrigued by her persona. Of all of the audience though, it's King Marchan (James Garner) that falls for Victor, although he doesn't realize at first that Victoria is a man (even though she's not). Marchan is ever homophobic, and it doesn't help that his near stupid girlfriend (Lesley Ann Warren) clings onto him with all of her might!
Edwards captures the warm, even bright atmosphere of some of his earlier films, such as the original "Pink Panther". Though "Victor Victoria" would be scandalous in the '60s, it's reminiscent of the glowing, classic style of a vintage classic. The streets of Paris are filled with snow, but seem romantic and lovely. The dingy apartment Victoria at first lives in is a dump, but we can feel a sense of hope within. It's this tone that Edwards sets that gives the film half of its charm.
There are many musical numbers, but they aren't there to give the impression that "Victor Victoria" is a musical-- it's rather a device to get the plot moving, and to make us laugh. They play almost as satirical bits considering they usually end with some form of comedy. Andrews knows they're meant to be silly, but her voice is simply fantastic; Brooks gets in a song of two and ends up making us laugh within seconds.
Andrews is a delight as usually, managing to use her rather over-the-top, theatrical voice to the best of means-- when she's not, she giving a killer comedic performance. Brooks gives a grand performance-- he does play a homosexual, but not stereotypically, and instead uses a somewhat dry tone when he delivers zingers, something unexpected and quite remarkable; Warren is a later-day Lina Lamont as she easily makes us believe that she's a dumb floozy-- and she's downright hilarious.
"Victor Victoria" is difficult to describe, because there are so many wonderful things happening at once. It's so delightful that, by the end, you're almost sad its over. Edwards didn't have that great of a late career, but this film is anything but a failure.