AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Victor/Victoria
Director: Blake Edwards (Dir)
Release Date:   19 Mar 1982
Premiere Information:   Los Angeles Filmex world premiere: 16 Mar 1982; Los Angeles, New York, and Toronto openings: 19 Mar 1982
Production Date:   2 Mar--22 Jun 1981 in London, England
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)  
    Lesley Ann Warren (Norma Cassady)  
    Alex Karras ("Squash" Bernstein)  
    John Rhys-Davies (Andre Cassell)  
    Graham Stark (Waiter)  
    Peter Arne (Monsieur Labisse)  
    Sherloque Tanney (Charles Bovin)  
    Michael Robbins (Hotel manager)  
    Norman Chancer (Sal Andratti)  
    David Gant (Restaurant manager)  
    Maria Charles (Madame President)  
    Malcolm Jamieson (Richard Di Nardo)  
  and: John Cassady (Juke)  
    Mike Tezcan (Clam)  
    Christopher Good (Stage manager)  
    Matyelock Gibbs (Cassell's receptionist [Miss Selma])  
    Jay Benedict (Guy Langois)  
    Olivier Pierre (Langois' companion)  
    Martin Rayner (Concierge)  
    George Silver (Fat man eating an eclair)  
    Joanna Dickens (Large lady in restaurant)  
    Terence Skelton (Deviant husband)  
    Ina Skriver (Simone Kallisto)  
    Stuart Turton (Boyfriend to actress)  
    Geoffrey Beevers (Police inspector)  
    Sam Williams (Chorus boy)  
    Simon Chandler (Chorus boy)  
    Neil Cunningham (Nightclub m. c.)  
    Vivienne Chandler (Chambermaid)  
    Bill Monks (Leclou)  
    Perry Davey (Balancing man)  
    Elizabeth Vaughan (Opera singer)  
    Paddy Ward (Photographer)  
  [and] Tim Stern (Desk clerk third rate hotel)  

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. 

Production Company: Peerford Limited  
  Arista Management A. G.  
  Blake Edwards Entertainment  
  Ladbroke Entertainments Limited  
Production Text: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Presents
Blake Edwards'
Made by Peerford Limited
In Association With Artista Management A. G.
From Blake Edwards Entertainment
Distribution Company: MGM/UA Entertainment Co.  
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)
Photography: Dick Bush (Dir of photog)
  Bob Kindred (Cam op)
  Ronald Anscombe (Focus puller)
  Algernon Sucharov (Clapper/Loader)
  George Beavis (Cam grip)
  Mike Heaviside (VTR op)
  David Appleby (Still photog)
  John May (Gaffer)
Art Direction: Rodger Maus (Prod des)
  Tim Hutchinson (Art dir)
  William Craig Smith (Art dir)
  Alan Tomkins (Asst art dir)
  Ted Ambrose (Asst art dir)
  Anthony Pratt (Sketch artist)
Film Editor: Ralph E. Winters (Ed)
  Alan Killick (Ed [English])
  Robert Pergament (Asst ed)
  Geoffrey Edwards (Asst ed)
  Ken Ross (Asst ed)
  David Beesley (Asst ed)
Set Decoration: Harry Cordwell (Set dec)
  Frank Graves (Scenic artist)
  Albert Blackshaw (Const mgr)
  David Lusby (Prod buyer)
  Barry Wilkinson (Prop master)
  Bernard Hearn (Stand-by props)
  Nick Rivers (Stand-by dressing)
Costumes: Patricia Norris (Cost des)
  Tiny Nicholls (Ward supv)
  Jackie Cummins (Ward mistress)
Music: Henry Mancini (Orig mus)
  Leslie Bricusse (Lyrics by)
  Henry Mancini (Mus)
  Bob Hathaway (Mus ed)
  Howard Blake (Prod orch)
Sound: Roy Charman (Sd mixer)
  John Salter (Boom op)
  George Rice (Sd eng)
  Mayflower Films Ltd. (Sd eff des by)
  Teddy Mason (Sd ed)
  Rusty Coppleman (Sd ed)
  Gordon K. McCallum (Chief dubbing mixer)
  Graham V. Hartstone (Dubbing mixer)
  Nicolas Le Messurier (Dubbing mixer)
Special Effects: Intralink Film Graphic Design (Main title montage)
  Martin Gutteridge (Spec eff supv)
Dance: Paddy Stone (Choreog)
  Maggie Goodwin (Asst choreog)
Make Up: John Isaacs of Michaeljohn (Miss Andrews' hair by)
  Harry Frampton (Makeup artist)
  Paul Engelen (Makeup artist)
  Peter Frampton (Makeup artist)
  Bobbie Smith (Chief hairdresser)
  Colin Jamison (Hairdresser)
  Joyce James (Hairdresser)
  Simon Wigs (Wigs)
Production Misc: Mary Selway (Casting)
  Denis Johnson, Jr. (Prod supv)
  Lindsey Jones (Dir of pub)
  Geoff Freeman (Pub)
  Kay Fenton (Continuity)
  Bernard Spence (Prod accountant)
  Joyce Turner (Prod asst)
  Lesley Keane (Asst to Mr. Adams)
  Francine Taylor (Asst to Mr. Edwards)
  Kirsten Wing (Pub asst)
Stand In: Joe Dunne (Stunt coord)
  Nosher Powell (Stuntman)
  Peter Brace (Stuntman)
  Eddie Stacey (Stuntman)
  Dorothy Ford (Stuntman)
  Rocky Taylor (Stuntman)
  Martin Grace (Stuntman)
  Mark McBride (Stuntman)
  George Cooper (Stuntman)
  Peter Diamond (Stuntman)
  Greg Powell (Stuntman)
  Dinny Powell (Stuntman)
  Doug Robinson (Stuntman)
Color Personnel: Technicolor® (Processed by)
MPAA Rating: PG
Country: Great Britain and United States
Language: English

Music:
Songs:
Source Text: Based on the German film Viktor und Viktoria conceived by Hans Hoemburg, written and directed by Reinhold Schünzel (Ufa, 1933).
Authors: Hans Hoemburg
  Rheinhöld Schuenzel

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Ladbroke Entertainments, Ltd. 9/4/1982 dd/mm/yyyy PA145014

PCA NO: 26374
Physical Properties: Sd: Dolby Stereo™ in selected theaters
  col:
  Prints: Prints in Metrocolor®
  Lenses: Filmed in Panavision®

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

Note: End credits include the following acknowledgment: “The producers wish to thank Mr. Cyril Howard and his staff at Pinewood Studios for their cooperation in making this motion picture,” and note that the film was made “At Pinewood Studios, Iver, Bucks, England.”
       Although not listed onscreen, characters sing lyrics to the Daniel E. Kelley and Dr. Brester M. Higley song, “Home On The Range.”
       According to a 21 Jul 1983 WSJ article, production executive Allan Buckhantz acquired rights to the 1933 German film, Viktor und Viktoria, in 1971. As stated by the 10 Apr 1982 Screen International, the German production had also been used as the basis for the 1935 British film, First a Girl, starring Jessie Matthews.
       In 1977, talent agent Martin Baum introduced Buckhantz to filmmaker Blake Edwards, who negotiated a deal for the remake rights, and amassed initial development costs of $140,000. Lorimar Productions agreed to finance the film, and Edwards began writing the script in 1979. The rights were then transferred to Edwards in exchange for Buckhantz being compensated $175,000 and five percent of eventual profits. He also received an additional $175,000 to be credited as an executive producer. In Mar 1980, however, Baum informed Buckhantz that the picture would not get made unless he gave up his executive producer title. His company, Buckhantz-NMC Company, Incorporated, is credited onscreen as “associate producer,” and preproduction began in Oct 1980.
       On 30 Dec 1980, DV reported that the project had moved to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM). The 23 Jul 1980 DV stated that Peter Sellers was offered the male lead, but the actor suffered a heart attack and died the following day, on 24 Jul 1980, before production got underway. The 30 Dec 1980 HR noted that preproduction continued in London, England, with musical rehearsals scheduled to begin in early Feb 1981. The 5 Mar 1981 DV reported that composer Henry Mancini and lyricist Leslie Bricusse had completed pre-recording on five musical numbers with Andrews and Robert Preston. A 4 Jul 1982 LAHExam story claimed Edwards offered Preston the role of “Carroll ‘Toddy’ Todd” a few months after working with him and Andrews on S.O.B. (1981, see entry), and the actor reportedly welcomed the departure from his recent “heavy” work in film and on Broadway.
       A 26 Aug 1981 MGM memorandum stated that principal photography began 2 Mar 1981 and completed 22 Jun 1981. The 1 Jul 1981 Var indicated that shooting concluded two days ahead of schedule. A 21 Apr 1981 HR article stated that exterior filming was originally planned in Paris, France, followed by interiors in Munich, Germany. However, budgetary constraints caused filmmakers to relocate to Pinewood Studios in London. According to production notes, the entirety of shooting took place within fifteen sound stages, where multiple interior and exterior sets were built, including a 110-foot wide Parisian street, which accommodated fifteen period vehicles and three-story buildings, and required the assistance of half of Pinewood’s staff to build. The 15 Apr 1981 DV reported that Lesley Ann Warren and Alex Karras were expected to begin work that week.
       Victor/Victoria marked the sixth consecutive feature film collaboration of Edwards and producer Tony Adams. Production notes stated that the crew consisted of at least twenty members from Edwards’ various Pink Panther series, and twenty from S.O.B. In the 19 Aug 1984 LAT, the director’s son, assistant editor Geoffrey Edwards, denied allegations of nepotism and claimed that he was brought to work on the film as a staff member of editor Ralph E. Winters.
       Shortly after the 26 Sep 1981 Var reported that dialogue looping, dubbing, and scoring was underway at a Pinewood’s post-production facility, a 1 Oct 1981 HR brief indicated that the picture had entered the final stages of editing.
       On 10 Nov 1981, DV stated that the film was scheduled to be screened at a three-day retrospective of Edwards’ career during the Judith Crist Tarrytown Film Weekend in Tarrytown, NY, beginning 27 Nov 1981. A 10 Feb 1982 Var brief reported that the world premiere would take place 16 Mar 1982 as the opening night screening at Filmex in Los Angeles, CA. According to the 9 Mar 1982 HR, Victor/Victoria’s limited world premiere engagement began 19 Mar 1982, in New York City, Los Angeles, and Toronto, Canada. The 24 Mar 1982 LAT reported respectable opening weekend box-office earnings of $2.2 million in those cities, and a 12 Apr 1982 MGM press release reported that the two-week domestic box-office gross totaled $5,571,802 from 611 theaters. The 24 Mar 1982 DV named the picture as the 26 Mar 1982 opening gala premiere for the USA Film Festival in Dallas, TX. On 10 Nov 1982, MGM announced that Victor/Victoria would return for re-release in sixty New York City theaters beginning 24 Nov 1982.
       The film earned an Academy Award for Best Music, and an additional six nominations: Actor in a Supporting Role—Robert Preston, Actress in a Leading Role—Julie Andrews, Actress in a Supporting Role—Lesley Ann Warren, Art Direction, Costume Design, and Writing. Victor/Victoria is #76 on AFI’s list of the 100 Funniest American Movies of All Time.
       Despite its critical acclaim, however, the 21 Jul 1983 WSJ reported that the film was still $22 million short of recouping production costs, upsetting Allan Buckhantz, who agreed to his earlier five percent profit participation deal believing in the project’s potential for success. Buckhantz claimed that over $2 million of the budget was due to the “improperly inflated” expense of “questionable items” unrelated to production, and on 18 May 1984, LAT reported that Edwards denied MGM/United Artists’ 16 Apr 1983 allegations of “fraudulent overspending” on Victor/Victoria, Trail of the Pink Panther (1982, see entry), and Curse of the Pink Panther (1983, see entry), in response to the studio’s $340 million lawsuit against him. The outcome of the suit could not be determined as of the writing of this Note.
       Not long after the film’s return engagement and awards contention, the 22 Dec 1982 HR announced that Broadway producer Bob Wells and composer Cy Coleman were closing negotiations with Edwards and UA for the rights to develop Victor/Victoria as a stage musical. It was not until 1995, however, when the 16 Feb HR confirmed the show’s upcoming 18 Oct 1995 premiere, with Andrews set to reprise her role. The show ultimately opened 25 Oct 1995 at the Marquis Theatre and closed 27 Jul 1997.  

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Daily Variety   23 Jul 1980.   
Daily Variety   30 Dec 1980.   
Daily Variety   5 Mar 1981.   
Daily Variety   27 Mar 1981.   
Daily Variety   15 Apr 1981.   
Daily Variety   10 Nov 1981.   
Daily Variety   24 Feb 1982.   
Daily Variety   24 Mar 1982.   
Hollywood Reporter   30 Dec 1980   p. 1, 16.
Hollywood Reporter   21 Apr 1981   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   1 Oct 1981.   
Hollywood Reporter   9 Mar 1982.   
Hollywood Reporter   15 Mar 1982   p. 32.
Hollywood Reporter   22 Dec 1982.   
Hollywood Reporter   16 Feb 1995.   
LAHExam   4 Jul 1982.   
Los Angeles Times   17 Jul 1981.   
Los Angeles Times   14 Mar 1982   p. 29.
Los Angeles Times   24 Mar 1982.   
Los Angeles Times   18 May 1984.   Section VI, p. 1, 8.
Los Angeles Times   19 Aug 1984.   
New York Times   19 Mar 1982   p. 8.
Screen International   13--20 Jun 1981.   
Screen International   10 Apr 1982.   
Variety   1 Jul 1981.   
Variety   26 Sep 1981.   
Variety   10 Feb 1982.   
Variety   17 Mar 1982   p. 24.
WSJ   21 Jul 1983.   

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