AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Victor/Victoria
Director: Blake Edwards (Dir)
Release Date:   19 Mar 1982
Duration (in mins):  133
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Cast: Julie Andrews  (Victoria Grant/Count Victor Grazinski)
  James Garner  (King Marchan)
  Robert Preston  (Carroll "Toddy" Todd)
 

Summary: During the winter of 1934, in Paris, France, a young socialite named Richard Di Nardo awakens and callously demands to borrow money from his elder male lover, nightclub performer Carroll “Toddy” Todd. After Richard leaves, Toddy enters Chez Lui, the nightclub where he works, and watches struggling singer Victoria Grant audition for the unimpressed Monsieur Labisse. Once again rejected for her operatic voice, Victoria trudges through the snowy streets, swooning with hunger. Upon returning to her dingy hotel, she evades the proprietor’s demand for her rent and faints on the floor, but fearfully revives at the sight of a cockroach in the room. During a performance at Chez Lui that evening, Toddy starts a fight with a group of snobbish patrons, and is fired. As he leaves, he spots Victoria devouring a multi-course meal in a lower-class restaurant. He compliments her singing voice, and she invites him to join her for dinner, revealing that she has captured the cockroach from her hotel and plans to skip the bill by hiding it in her food. Suspicious, the manager insists Victoria pay for Toddy’s “bug-less” meal, but the other diners panic, allowing her and Toddy to escape. After Toddy catches a cold in the rain, Victoria accompanies him to his apartment and tells him about her past as an opera soprano in Bath, England, with her former husband, Sam. As she prepares to leave, she finds that her dress and coat have shrunk, and Toddy insists she stay the night. The next morning, Victoria dresses in Richard’s suit. Inspired by her androgynous appearance, Toddy cuts her hair and brings her to Paris’s most respected agent, Andre Cassell, presenting her as his lover, Polish female impersonator, “Count Victor Grazinski.” Sneaking past the agent’s uptight receptionist, Toddy has “Victor” sing for Cassell, who immediately signs him to open a show at one the city’s most exclusive clubs. For the opening night performance, “Victor” is introduced as a female stage performer named “Victoria,” and successfully fools the audience into believing “he” is a woman. When he removes his wig, the reveal confuses King Marchan, a successful nightclub owner from Chicago, Illinois, who found himself attracted to “Victoria.” Despite gushing praise from his date, Norma Cassady, King remains skeptical about the singer’s true sex. As “Victor” criticizes his preoccupation with gender stereotypes, Victoria finds him attractive, but insufferably arrogant. Outside, Norma is surprised to learn that Toddy is homosexual, and laughs at the possibility of having a sexual encounter with a woman. Toddy surprises Victoria by checking into an extravagant hotel, coincidentally located across the street from King and Norma’s room. Momentarily aroused by the sight of “Victor” through the window, King is unable to make love with Norma. Fed up with her incessant talking, King stuffs a bar of soap in her mouth and orders his bodyguard, “Squash” Bernstein, to send her back to Chicago. Following another performance, King sneaks into the bathroom closet of “Victor’s” hotel room and watches as Victoria undresses for a bath. Satisfied that she is actually a woman, he crawls out of the hotel room unnoticed. Meanwhile, in Chicago, Norma resumes her act as a lascivious nightclub singer and tells King’s corrupt gangster business partner, Sal Andratti, the reason for her break-up with King. In Paris, King invites “Victor,” Andre, and Toddy to dinner to discuss a deal for “Victor” to perform at his American nightclub. As Toddy and Andre excuse themselves from the table, King questions “Victor” about his supposed relationship with Toddy and invites the group to accompany him to Chez Lui later that evening. Once there, “Victor” is instantly recognized and ushered onstage to sing with Toddy. However, the club’s patrons cause another commotion, and King escapes with “Victor” moments before the police arrive. Proclaiming he does not care if he is a man, King kisses “Victor,” prompting the imposter to admit, “I’m not a man,” as she returns the embrace. Later, Squash barges in on King and Victoria making love, and, mistakenly believing his boss is gay, happily confesses his own homosexuality. Although King urges Victoria to end her charade, she admits that pretending to be a man has “emancipated” her with opportunities she could never have as a woman. Because she refuses to give up performing as “Victor,” King remains concerned that people will think he is a homosexual. Victoria is disappointed, and they decide not to pursue their relationship. Shortly after, however, Squash begins an affair with Toddy, and King gets a black eye from fighting one of the instigators of the club disaster, prompting him to ask Victoria if they can try living together. Meanwhile, Chez Lui’s Monsieur Labisse, wallowing in his now-empty venue, hires private investigator Charles Bovin to uncover “Victor’s” true identity. Still disguised, Victoria continues her relationship with King, each of them struggling to appreciate activities the other enjoys. One night, at her request, they go dancing at a gay club, but King’s overwhelming discomfort forces them to leave. Sending Victoria home, King visits a grungy bar and attempts to assert his masculinity by starting a fistfight with the working-class patrons. Eventually, however, they make amends and he leads them in a drunken chorus of “Home On The Range.” As the lovesick Victoria’s increasing unhappiness about being separated from King begins to affect her work as “Victor,” she decides to reveal her true identity after the show the following night. Moments later, Squash announces that King’s relationship with the thought-to-be man has gotten him in trouble with the homophobic Sal, who has arrived with Norma to sever their business connection. Barging into their meeting, “Victor” pushes Norma into a bedroom and undresses, exposing her femininity and salvaging King’s reputation with the gangster. Before “Victor’s” final show, Labisse arrives with a police inspector to threaten Andre, Toddy, and Victoria with fraud. However, they leave “Victor’s” dressing room thoroughly assured that the partially nude performer they saw was, in fact, a man. A few moments later, Victoria, donning a feminine dress and hairstyle, joins King at his table in the audience. The final performance begins, revealing that Toddy has assumed “Victor’s” “Victoria” stage persona, clumsily parading around the theater to the crowd’s uproarious laughter and applause. 

Distribution Company: MGM/UA Entertainment Co.
Production Company: Peerford Limited
Arista Management A. G.
Blake Edwards Entertainment
Ladbroke Entertainments Limited
Director: Blake Edwards (Dir)
  Richard Hoult (1st asst dir)
  Peter Kohn (2d asst dir)
  Paul Tivers (2d asst dir)
Producer: Blake Edwards (Prod)
  Tony Adams (Prod)
  Gerald T. Nutting (Assoc prod)
  Buckhantz-NMC Company, Incorporated (Assoc prod)
Writer: Blake Edwards (Scr)

Subject Major: Female impersonation
  Male impersonation
  Nightclub owners
  Nightclub entertainers
  Romance
 
Subject Minor: Bodyguards
  Chicago (IL)
  Deception
  Fistfights
  Gangsters
  Homophobia
  Homosexuality
  Opera singers
  Paris (France)
  Poverty
  Private detectives
  Sex role
  Starvation
  Transvestites
  Waiters

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
 
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