This movie is funny, engaging, and wonderful, and it has already garnered much acclaim since it first came out in 1982, including the Academy Awards for Best Original Song Score and its Adaptation and various other nominations (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victor_Victoria). Being a relatively old film, I only saw this movie for the first time recently. For those who haven't seen it yet, the gist of the plot is the social masquerade perpetrated by Victoria Grant (played by Julie Andrews), a female artist down on her luck, upon the urging and with the assistance of her gay friend, Carroll "Toddy" Todd (played by Robert Preston), who hit upon the idea after witnessing Victoria deliver a resounding right hook to his former lover, while she was dressed in the man's borrowed clothes. If she could not exactly pass for a man, she was able enough to pass for a gay man who pretends to be a woman on stage, and thence after took the Paris stage by storm as the charmingly androgynous Count Victor Grazinski, a fake Polish count and touted as one of the best female impersonators in the world.
The complications sarted almost immediately, after Victor/Victoria's stage debut, when one of the members of the audience, King Marchand (played by James Garner) felt undoubtedly attracted to him/her, and was later astounded to learn that he/she was, seemingly, a man. Victoria returned the attraction, but the complication of playing at being a man made it a rather tricky attraction to respond to for both of them. The twists and turns of this rather complex situation made for a droll and disarming film.
My Favorite Parts in the Film
What with all the raving reviews, I thought I might take the more personal approach and identify the parts of the film which I personally liked. First off would have to be the genius of Julie Andrews' indomitable voice, whose versatility and smoothness was set off perfectly by her deliberate femininity. I initially thought that it was a welcome change to see her in a hairstyle longer than the well-known cut she sported in A Sound of Music, but what with playing a man, her hair didn't last that long, and she was soon again trotting around in a short masculine hairdo.
She was captivating in her performance of Le Jazze Hot. Her costume, the dance number, her refined movements (the tons of shoulder did work) and that wonderful voice was mesmerizing. Add to that the passions flying around in the little theater - the open-mouthed smiling admiration of Toddy and Victoria's agent Andre Cassell, the beginning attractions of King Marchand, and the devilish jealousy of his lover Norma Cassidy (Lesley Ann Warren), and what was created was a full and restless brew waiting to boil and spill over.
I also liked the beginning parts when the friendship between Victoria and Toddy was first formed. Born in the intended swindling of a restaurant (by the addition of a cockroach to the salad when it came time to play), it was given the perfect nursemaid by the wit of the moping waiter who thumped plates and cutlery all over the restaurant (Maybe the way you're eating your jaws are getting tough; It is a moron who gives advice to a horse's ass!). The two new friends escaped from the restaurant and the rain to dry off in Toddy's apartment where Toddy caught a cold and Victoria's dress shrank to half its size from the rain (What am I going to do? Sell matches). And trust later on developed (You're welcome to the sofa, but you have my word of honor this (the bed) is much more comfortable and infinitely safer). In short, they helped each other in a time of need, which made it of the enviable friendship kind, when you have already seen the other at their worst.
And finally, the grand finale and the perfect performance to bid adieu to the viewers, was when Toddy donned the Spanish costume to substitute for what should have been Count Victor's final performance, and performed as the shady dame from Seville. The audience wouldn't stop laughing, the dancers wouldn't stop grinning, and I couldn't stop smiling. It was a coup of a performance, and one that is better seen than described. And while I may have said something about how the heel of one of his shoes seems to have disappeared in the middle of the performance (I thought I saw it lying forlornly at the back of the stage), I would instead give verbal admiration to his versatility, especially in comparison to his performance of Gay Paree early on in the film, It is enough that the audience gave him a well-deserved standing ovation.