Eve Golden’s YouTube Theater: Meine damen und herren, Viktor und Viktoria!

 

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Renate Müller in Viktor und Viktoria.


I have never been a big Blake Edwards fan. The one time I encountered him he was very unpleasant, and even before that I’d never cared for most of his films—I feel his idea of “sophisticated” was less “Ritz-Carlton” and more “Ritz Brothers.” So his Victor/Victoria failed to impress me. For one thing, Mrs. Edwards—Julie Andrews—was 25 years too old for the part, and would have been miscast in it even when she was young. (I am going to be stoned to death for this, but you know who I think would have made a fabulous Victor/Victoria in 1982? Madonna! Go ahead, come at me with your stones.)

 

Then I saw the original, Viktor und Viktoria, starring the adorable, ill-fated Renate Müller, and made in 1933 Germany—the last moment when such a naughty, sexually adventurous film could be made there (it was also filmed in England with Jessie Matthews as First a Girl in 1935, and again in Germany in 1957, with Johanna von Koczian). The original Viktor und Viktoria reminds me of Rouben Mamoulian’s Love Me Tonight, with dialogue and music flowing into each other, and a lighthearted sexual freedom that ended with the Hays Code (and much worse unpleasantness in Germany).

Here I offer you Susanne (Renate Müller) in her first nervous, stumbling appearance as Viktor, singing about her castle in Spain, while the real Viktor (Herman Thiming, camp as a row of tents) frantically coaches her:

And one of my favorite numbers (helpfully subtitled in French, thanks a lot), Renate and Herman’s “An Einem Tag im Frühling” (“Today I Feel So Happy”):

See if you can find the film—there’s an English-subtitled copy available on DVD. And if you can read German, look for Uwe Klöckner-Draga’s 2006 biography of Renate Müller, which I really hope someday gets an English-language release.

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About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in Eve Golden, Film, Hollywood and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Eve Golden’s YouTube Theater: Meine damen und herren, Viktor und Viktoria!

  1. luluandcal says:

    You finally crossed the line!
    How could you say anything derogative about our heroine of the movies and of life? Julie Andrews
    Okay okay, we could never see Blake Andrews, but Julie? Julie was a “class act” from a theatrical family and goes back to the late 1950’s. She still remains a paragon of virtue in a Hollywood that has deteriorated to nothingness. We grew up in this town and meeting Julie, in person still brings the recollection of goosebumps to mind. Blake, yes you can throw him out, may he RIP with the other most recent Blake, but as we loose our Hollywood stars, we hope Julie Andrews lives on forever!

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  2. luluandcal says:

    Apologies: After reading your post again, we agree that Julie Andrews was miscast in Victor Victoria. And yes, perhaps, Madonna or Liza Minelli might have been a better choice. Go back and re-visit the 1950’s version of Moulin Rouge. Zsa Zsa did a pretty good job. Met Liza in NYC when she was in her early 20’s, she never had the class of a Julie Andrews.

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    • Eve says:

      Yes, I do adore Julie Andrews–but not in that movie and at that age (and the NERVE of them giving My Fair Lady to Audrey Hepburn!).

      Poor Renate reminds me a bit of Nancy Carroll or early-’30s Ginger Rogers or Claudette Colbert. But out the window went she–they’ll never know if she fell, jumped or was pushed.

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  3. B.J.Merholz says:

    I have heard from others that Blake Edwards was a jerk, but nobody, including Blake, ever claimed he was the new Lubitsch. C’mon! The director of the Clouseau romps and The Party? Edwards was a modern day master of classic pratfall comedy. The best bit in Victor/Victoria is when the detective falls from a broken bar stool. Funnee!

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  4. Howard Decker says:

    I saw the “Ritz Brothers and Kathy” (at least I think that was her name) at the Mayfair Music Hall in Santa Monica years ago. She was a tall, attractive showgirl-type and was a dancer and contortionist. In a bikini. It was a great show. Did I mention there were three or four guys in the show, too?

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  5. mandymarie20 says:

    I have no idea about Blake Edwards personally, but I know I don’t like his films. I do enjoy his Radio work. I’m not a fan of Peter Sellers (I personally find him insufferable), so that takes out what seems like half of Edwards films. I adore Julie Andrews, but don’t think Victor/Victoria was her best film even though it is incredibly lauded. I didn’t think she was too old for it, I just think she is too elegant for it. She’s too classy to be the scrappy miss.

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