Wise: Oh, hi, Werth.
Werth: Why so glum? You weren't nominated for a Golden Globe?
Wise: No, it's not that. I always get a little blue this time of year. I took down the Christmas tree, all the holiday lights are disappearing, and the only things I have to look forward to until spring are whiskers on kittens and snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes.
Wise: I got a giant TV for Christmas; what else am I going to do with it? I've climbed every mountain, taken a parrot-headed umbrella out for a spin, and gone cross-dressing with James Garner. But one of my most enjoyable trips was a return to the Roaring Twenties of Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967).
Werth: Time travel with Julie Andrews. Sign me up!
Werth: Don't forget the elevator that only works if you tapdance in it.
Wise: Oh, the whole film's a mess with crazy plot twists, ironic asides, mistaken identities, masquerades, unfortunate racial stereotypes, a
white slavery ring, and Carol Channing as an oversexed society widow who dances on bi-plane wings, has a stable of lovers and belts a grab-bag of novelty tunes.
Werth: Nothing says entertainment like Carol Channing being shot out of a cannon .
Wise: Director George Roy Hill (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and The World According to Garp) keeps things moving cheerfully along, and screenwriter Richard Morris (The Unsinkable Molly Brown) sweetens his witty scenes with some great Tin Pan Alley confections, but attempting to make sense of the entire movie is nearly impossible.
Audiences didn't seem to care about the lack of coherence when it premiered, and the film had an extended theatrical run that culminated in seven Oscar nominations. I'm not sure it deserves recognition from the Academy, but Millie is certainly full of delights.
Werth: Well, Julie Andrews must have really enjoyed her trip back to the Jazz Age because a year later in 1968 she starred as 20's British actress Gertrude Lawrence in the musical bio-pic, Star!
Wise: I can see the hate mail being delivered by angry airborne nannies now.
Unfortunately no matter how much love was banked for Andrews from her previous work, Star! was a critical and financial disaster that paled next to the competition. Andrews tried valiantly to be fresh-faced and plucky as the scene-stealing, temperamental ham Lawrence, but she was hobbled by forgettable tunes (with the exceptions of "Someone to Watch Over Me" and the theme tune) and a clumsy script conceit that had Andrews as Lawrence watching a movie about her life—alternating between faux newsreel footage and flashbacks.
they are actually worth viewing. "Parisian Pierrot" has Andrews dressed as a harlequin; in "Limehouse Blues" she's an Asian callgirl stuck in the seedy part of old Chinatown; and for "The Saga of Jenny," Andrews croons in a staged circus wearing a glittery pantsuit. So on the whole, the film is worth watching—if nothing else to see how Star! earned its stripes as a classic Hollywood misfire.
Wise: I'm feeling a lot better after taking these two little detours in Julie's career—as long as we eventually get back to her playing magical nannies and lovestruck nuns.
Werth: Have one more spoonful of sugar with this little Julie web tidbit. Tune in for more supercalifragilistic cinema on next week's Film Gab.