The Music Woman/Man/Woman
It's very easy to miss the point of "Victor Victoria" as you can get wrapped up in the whole sexual side of it with Julie Andrews playing a woman pretending to be a man pretending to be a female impersonator. You can get side tracked by the various sexual issues from homosexuality to equality when in truth "Victor Victoria" was Blake Edwards delivering a movie to showcase the talents of his wife and help her escape the stereotype of being mummsy. Now in fairness those elements of equality and homosexuality are a part of the story but the focus is on fun, a comedy musical with Julie Andrews at the centre of as she sings, dances and looks both beautiful and sexy whether dressed as a man or woman. But it works because whilst a vehicle for Andrews it is incredibly good fun, delivering old style musical fun with the freedom from being a movie made in the 80s.
Victoria Grant (Julie Andrews - Torn Curtain) is finding it difficult to make it as a singer in 1930's Paris as no one is interested in her despite her classical skills as a singer. In fact things are so bad that she has no money to pay for food let alone to pay the bill for her cockroach infested room. But an encounter with recently unemployed performer Carole "Toddy" Todd (Robert Preston - How the West Was Won) changes all that as he comes up with a cunning plan. Victoria is to be pretend to be his gay lover Count Victor Grazinski who in turn is a female impersonator and together they manage to convince everyone that Victoria is Victor who performs as Victoria, except trouble arrives when nightclub owner King Marchand (James Garner - Support Your Local Gunfighter) falls for Victoria the stage act making him feel conflicted when he discovers she is a he.
For me one of the greatest things about "Victor Victoria" is that it is a comedy musical which stylistically looks like something from the 1960s. It has great musical numbers, some simple but enjoyable dance scenes and a brilliant comedy routine which sees Toddy and Victor amuse audiences. But because this is a comedy musical made in the 80s, a time when the genre had pretty much died, it also has freedom and the whole sexual innuendo side of it as Toddy is homosexual and full of camp innuendo makes it more sparky. It's not just that because unlike some musicals of the 60s it is not bloated by irrelevant song and dance routines with every single one having a purpose, it is in many ways like a breath of fresh air.
But as I've already mentioned there is the sexual side of the movie or at least a comedy surrounding homosexuality, equality and a woman pretending to be a man pretending to be a woman. It is easy to become sidelined by this side of the movie as you look for what it is saying about these various subjects, which it does say certain things when in truth the whole fun of it is what it's all about. Let's be honest "Victor Victoria" should not be looked at as a move of depth it never once plays it seriously and you should just enjoy the whole humour of King Marchand feeling conflicted over his feelings for Victor whilst you have the fun friendship of Victoria and Toddy.
Now for me what "Victor Victoria" really is is a vehicle for Julie Andrews, the third of which her husband Blake Edwards made allowing her to break away from the image that the public had got of her thanks to "The Sound of Music" and "Mary Poppins". Now the irony is that whilst this allows Andrews to have fun with an amusing, very different character the fact that "Victor Victoria" is such a fun movie she comes out of it as still being a fun, beautiful and caring character, maybe sexier than in her most famous roles but still a very kind person even if she does throw a few punches. That's not a complaint because Julia Andrews is brilliant as Victor and Victoria delivering comedy whilst also some terrific musical numbers but she is not alone and often Robert Preston steals many a scene as the camp Toddy and James Garner adds some fun as the conflicted Marchand.
What this all boils down to is that whilst "Victor Victoria" may seem to be all about cross dressing, equality and homosexuality in truth it is just a fun old fashioned comedy musical made better by the freedom of the 80s. And as a star vehicle for Julia Andrews it is brilliant with Andrews and Preston delivering a brilliant double act through out.