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Length:2h 13mins
Cast:Blake Edwards, Julie Andrews, James Garner, Robert Preston

Writer-director Blake Edwards, who reaches for high notes and often falls painfully flat, achieved perfect pitch in this comedy musical matching Julie Andrews (his wife) with a brilliant cast of supporting players, including Robert Preston and James Garner. Andrews portrays Victoria Grant, a talented soprano struggling to find work in Depression-era Paris whose encounter with nightclub singer Carroll Todd (Preston) during a failed audition leads to a new lease on life. The life she leases (actually, one conjured from whole cloth by "Toddy"), is that of Count Victor Grezhinski, a female impersonator. As a woman impersonating a man impersonating a woman, Andrews dazzles pretty much from start to finish, displaying both her comedic charm and vocal virtuosity, as Count Victor becomes the toast of the town. The great complication at the plot's center is introduced when Garner, portraying a macho American gangster named King Marchan, finds himself curiously and uncomfortably smitten with the Count. Twisting the plot into a fine, farcical mess are Lesley Anne Warren (as Marchan's moll, a talented singer-dancer and relatively dim bulb) and Alex Karras (as Marchan's closeted bodyguard). Edwards, who successfully reworked the material for Broadway in 1996, lets this gender-bending bouillabaisse bubble along at a crisp pace, building to a deeply satisfying climax. Released in conjunction with the film's 20th anniversary, the DVD affords feature-length commentary from Edwards and Andrews and has been remastered in Dolby Digital 5.1, all the better to appreciate Henry Mancini's delightful score. Mancini's work (with Leslie Bricusse) earned an Academy Award, the film's sole win among its seven nominations, including nods for Andrews, Warren, Preston, sets, costumes, and adapted screenplay (for Edwards). Greg Fagan

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