January 28, 2012 8 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

When you think of Julie Andrews (or when I think of Julie Andrews), you think of her swirling on top of the Alps in The Sound of Music. When Robert Preston’s name is brought up, I think of him as Professor Harold Hill in The Music Man. When James Garner is mentioned, I think of The Great Escape. Still, these three actors teamed up for a role that changed their lives…for the better. Back in the early 80’s, at a time when musicals had long passed their prime of the 50’s and 60’s, this movie came out and was applauded by audiences and critics alike. Victor/Victoria houses some of the old Hollywood traditions that Tinsel town seems to love the best. Gender bending it’s called. Why do movies like Some Like it Hot (Ranked as the #1 funniest movie of all time by the American Film Institute), Tootsie (Ranked #2) and this (Ranked #76) play so well with such a wide variety of audiences? Personally, I’ve yet to figure it out. Still, the theme of the movie remains the same as the popular Broadway play and it might be even more enjoyable with its arrival on DVD.

The plot of the film can be best described as simple, though the more you think about it, the more complicated it gets. Best advice: don’t think too hard, just sit back and enjoy the film! We meet Victor/Victoria (Julie Andrews) as she is alone, hungry and is finding it very difficult to get a job singing. As she concocts a plan to get a free meal at a local restaurant, we see how clever she really is. She plans to eat until her heart is content and then release a cockroach to cause some panic and therefore get a free meal. It works…sort of. However, in the process, she meets Toddy aka Carol Todd (Robert Preston) and the two hatch a get rich quick scheme. Using her wonderful voice, they plan to disguise her (him) as a count who goes on stage pretending to be a man and a woman. Want that again? A woman pretending to be a man pretending to be a woman. In essence, that’s the plot of the film. It works fine, she is popular and raking in the cash with Toddy at her side. This is until King Marchand (James Garner) comes to town with his floozy girlfriend, Norma (Lesley-Ann Warren) and his bodyguard played by Alex Karras (best known as "Mongo" from Blazing Saddles).

Now this is where all Hell breaks loose. King is attracted to Victoria, not knowing that she is actually a he (and then not knowing that the "he" is actually a "she"). He refuses to believe that "she" is a "he" and soon the world thinks that the gangster from Chicago (King) is a homosexual. Now speaking of homosexuals, almost everyone in the entire movie is gay. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. The romance between Victoria and King grows, Norma gets jealous and is forced to leave and all the while we learn exactly who is gay and who is straight. I don’t want to give too much away and I know that this sounds like the world’s most confusing movie, but it’s really just a good movie that’s fun to watch. With the pseudo revival of the Hollywood musical in Moulin Rouge, we just might be fortunate enough to see some more good movies come out like this (no pun intended). In the meantime, though, watch this fine little gem and be more than entertained. It’s worth it.

Video: How does it look?

Warner has become known for their outstanding transfers, particularily on their older catalog titles. Movies like 2001: A Space Odyssey, Dirty Harry and North by Northwest are just a few of the older more popular titles that now shine when it comes to how they’re presented on DVD. Such is the case with Victor/Victoria. I was amazed at how good the 2.35:1 anamorphic image looked to me. I thought I was dreaming. While it’s not perfect, the movie is now 20 years old and you’d be hard-pressed to find any other movie of this age that looks this good. There are some problems with black levels sometimes, but not much; edge enhancement isn’t an issue and the level of detail in most scenes really makes it feel like you’re watching this for the first time. I’ve seen the VHS version, I’ve seen the Laser Disc version and this makes them all look like crap. A great picture for a great picture.

Audio: How does it sound?

Warner has also issued a brand new Dolby Digital 5.1 track that, for the most part, sounds pretty good. Though it does suffer a bit more from age (we can do a lot about the picture these days, but the audio is usually limited to when the movie was made), it still sounds fairly strong. I’d compare this to a really good Dolby Pro Logic track. Most of the action is limited to the front part of your home theater and even more so on the center channel. Lots of witty dialogue perpetrates through this little bugger, so pay close attention and you won’t be let down. While it won’t shake your room, rest assured that you’ll be more than happy with the way this sounds.

Supplements: What are the extras?

The real main supplement here is from real-life husband and wife team Julie Andrews and Blake Edwards. While Edwards’ commentary is a bit dry, Andrews livens it up a bit (there is only one commentary, they do it together). Little things about the production are brought up (cockroach anybody) and on the whole it seems like they had fun watching the film again and are both very proud of their work. A theatrical trailer and some cast bios are also included. If you’ve never seen this film, give it a try. It looks superb and while the sound won’t blow you away, you’ll find yourself laughing out loud more than once.

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