Set in 1930s Paris, Blake Edwards' Victor Victoria is a delightful romp of a film, a warm and friendly sex comedy that shows off Blake Edwards' talents as a comedic filmmaker while vibrantly commenting on the social stigmas centered around homosexuality and societies preconceived gender roles. The basic narrative revolves around Victoria Grant, a trained soprano singer, who is having a hard time finding a job in Paris. She goes from audition to audition, barely making enough money to provide herself food and shelter. One fateful night she encounters Carole 'Toddy" Todd, a gay cabaret singer, who himself has recently been fired from his singing gig at a club named Chez Lui. In an effort to help them both out, Todd concocts an outlandish plan: With Todd acting as her manager, Victoria will pretend to be a man in order to get a job as a female impersonator. While deceptive, the plan works in spades, finding Victoria, who now goes by Victor, quickly becoming the toast of Paris and its elite class of theater goers. Things become complicated when King Marchand, a handsome, stereotypical macho man falls in love with the Victoria he sees on stage, only to be shocked when he learns that Victoria is in fact "a man". This sets off a highly entertaining falling deck of cards, which finds King attempting to reconcile his feelings for "Victoria", Victoria falling in love with King, and King's business associates, aka the mafia, not being particularly tolerant towards what they believe is King's newfound homosexuality. While I'm far from an expert of Blake Edwards, only having seen a handful of his work, what has become quite apparent of the filmmaker is his effortless tact for comedy, with Victor Victoria being no exception to that rule. A film that manages to feel warm, friendly, and light-hearted, Victor Victoria effortlessly touches on important social issues related to the perceptions of masculinity, femininity, and homosexuality, while never losing its breezy, carefree tone. From dry wit, to slapstick comedy, Blake Edwards' Victor Victoria is a film that perfectly balances its tones, capturing the warmth of romance, the coldness of despair, and the absurdity of societies preconceptions about the relationship between strength and weakness as it relates to the masculine and feminine forms. At its core, Victor Victoria is a film that trumpets egalitarian principles, poking fun at the absurdity of viewing gender as anything but equal simply becomes of their surface-level differences. James Garner is perfectly cast as the masculine, appropriately named King Marchand, a man who simply can't get over his initial attraction to Victoria, confronted with the concern and fear that he is attracted to a man. He is a character who personifies the perceived weakness of homosexuality, a man who even after learning that Victoria is indeed a woman becomes concerned of other's perceptions of him, not "wanting to be seen as a fag". One of my favorite comedic sequences of the film takes place after King Marchand and Victoria have fallen for each other, with Blake Edwards juxtaposing the two characters at two very different events, a boxing match and the opera. This sequence on the surface may seem like just another effective comedic gag, but one could argue it defines egalitarian principles, showing Victoria struggling to enjoy the boxing match, mortified by the violence, while simultaneously capturing King Marchand's boredom at the opera. Each character very much represents the masculine and feminine constructs in this sequence yet they each love each other, being separate but equal forces that each can thrive off of each other differences. The choreography, visual gags, sharp wit, and comedic timing are all on point in Blake Edwards' Victor Victoria, and combined with a talented cast of Julie Andrews, Robert Preston, and James Garner, the film doesn't disappoint, being both a whimsical romantic comedy and pointed commentary on gender roles in society
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