8 May 2004 | gregorybnyc
Put it out on DVD, fer Chrissakes!
Blake Edwards and Julie Andrews' timing couldn't have been worse when this
film was released in 1970. Musicals were dead as a doornail, and only
Streisand was given the benefit of the doubt. Julie Andrews, a monstrously
talented, uniquely beautiful singing actress was finding that she was out of step with Hollywood who wanted grittier stories with nudity and violence. Thirty- some years later, we find this is a terrifically entertaining piece of film-making, which brings out all of Blake Edwards trade-mark gifts and lapses.
First of all, it's way too long. Secondly, the screenplay doesn't give you a real clue whether we're talking about a musical comedy or a war drama with Lily
confusing you about her secret life as a spy. Okay, deal with it. The movie is a wonderful brew of entertainment, nostalgia, sweet sentiment, and first-rate
Like Doris Day a decade before her, Julie Andrews has one of the great screen figures. She's simply beautiful with her oddly spaced eyes and her slightly
comic nose. But those limbs are gorgeous, her skin is also a thing of wonder. Nobody does frosty British authority better than Julie, and her crystaline voice is a warm, pliant instrument with the clearest diction you'll ever encounter. She sings in a very modern way, but with plenty of old-fashioned vocal refinements such as portamento and legato. She's always been a game comedienne, and
she is a huge screen presence. She's first-rate here and would seldom be
allowed to shine as superbly again (Victor/Victoria aside).
Rock Hudson is clearly her equal. Still handsome, dashing, and convincing as Lily's American flying ace lover, Hudson exudes charisma and comic panache.
Again, he would never quite come up to this level in films again, and we would only be able to glimpse his excellent light comic skills on TV in the well-done mystery series, McMillan and Wife.
I love Mancini's score, and the supporting cast is everything you could wish for, especially Jeremy Kemp's lovable spy aid to Lily. Edward's displays his gift for wonderfully comic set pieces. It's a bit forced at times, but these are first-rate craftsmen working at the top of their game.
Why it has never appeared on VHS, laserdisc or DVD thus far is beyond me. I
know the failure of the movie at the box office soured Edwards and perhaps he is locked into a battle of wills with Universal determined to teach them a lesson by withholding his permission. Wishful thinking on my part perhaps, but it is odd that its never been been available in a home entertainment format. TV
showings don't help either because they have cut it to smithereens to fit various formats. The first time I saw it, I was totally confused. A few years later, I had warmed to it considerably and I think it was due to a more coherent cut.