We’ve got one last go-round for the Musicals: With A Song And A Dance In My Heart blogathon (while still doubling for new releases on disc this year), and we’re taking the opportunity to go with the 1967 musical Thoroughly Modern Millie starring Julie Andrews, James Fox, Mary Tyler Moore and Carol Channing!
Coming Up Shorts! with… School’s Out (1930)
(available on Blu-ray as part of The Little Rascals: The ClassicFlix Restorations, Volume 2 (1930-1931) from ClassicFlix)
(Length: 20 minutes, 51 seconds)
When a man (Creighton Hale) shows up to meet Miss Crabtree (June Marlowe), the Gang try to dissuade him from marrying her (not knowing that he is actually her brother). Another very fun and cute one with Miss Crabtree, and Jackie (Jackie Cooper) expressing his crush on her. Of course, the biggest bit of humor is the kid’s oral test “answers” that they got from Bonedust (Clifton Young), who “got them from a book.” Overall, still very fun, and still full of warmth. Easily one I look forward to revisiting again and again!
And Now For The Main Feature…
It’s 1922. Millie Dillmount (Julie Andrews) has just finished putting herself through Belle Weatherill’s Girl School for Business, and is ready to seek out a job as a stenographer. However, it’s not so much the job that she is seeking, as she is planning to marry her boss (whoever he may be). So, Millie decides to ditch her old-fashioned look, and “modernizes” herself to become a flapper girl. She is staying at the Priscilla Hotel for Single Young Ladies, which is run by Mrs. Meers (Beatrice Lillie). There, Millie meets Miss Dorothy Brown (Mary Tyler Moore), an orphan who is hoping to become an actress. At a Friendship dance hosted by Mrs. Meers, Millie meets Jimmy Smith (James Fox), a paperclip salesman. He quickly falls for her, and while she has some affection for him, Millie still tells him of her ambitions to marry her boss (when she gets a job). After trying several places, she finds out that there’s a job opening at the Sincere Trust Insurance Company. She finds her new boss, the single Trevor Graydon (John Gavin), to be a very handsome man, and sticks with the job. However, Trevor doesn’t really notice her (except essentially as one of the guys, since he keeps calling her “John”). Jimmy is still trying to gain her affections, though, and takes both Millie and Miss Dorothy to a party hosted at the mansion of the wealthy Muzzy Van Hossmere (Carol Channing). While listening to Muzzy’s life story, Millie starts to consider the possibility of ignoring her plans to marry her boss, and instead marry Jimmy. However, that night, Millie sees Jimmy inviting Miss Dorothy into his room, and feels heartbroken. Once she returns to the city, she decides to go with her original plan even more. She tries to get Trevor’s attention, but fails. She finds it in her heart to forgive Miss Dorothy, but soon finds her dreams completely shattered when Miss Dorothy and Trevor meet and fall for each other. Meanwhile, Jimmy keeps trying to reach out to her, but she keeps turning him away. Faced with no other way to see her, Jimmy climbs the Sincere Trust Insurance Company building, and Millie finds it in her heart to forgive him. Trouble arises, though, when Miss Dorothy disappears. Millie realizes that Mrs. Meers must have been part of a white slavery ring in the area, and, with the help of Jimmy and Trevor, they try to find out where Miss Dorothy has been taken. But will they succeed, or will Mrs. Meers get rid of them, too?
In 1954, Julie Andrews made her Broadway debut in the musical The Boy Friend. The producers of My Fair Lady saw her performance in that show, prompting them to cast her in My Fair Lady, continuing her rise to superstardom. Later, when she broke into the movies and became a big star at the box office in the mid-1960s, producer Ross Hunter wanted to bring The Boy Friend to the big screen. However, the film rights proved too expensive, and he decided to do his own take on the idea, basing it on the 1956 British musical Chrysanthemum. Meanwhile, Mary Tyler Moore was coming off the successful TV series The Dick Van Dyke Show, and signed with Universal Pictures. Their intention was to essentially mold her in the vein of Doris Day in light comedies. However, Julie Andrews’ casting in Thoroughly Modern Millie changed everything, including turning the film into a musical and shifting more of the focus to Andrews’ character. The film’s director, George Roy Hill, and producer Ross Hunter clashed a lot over what they wanted to do with the movie (eventually resulting in the director being removed from the film on post-production). Still, the movie proved to be a big hit with audiences as Universal’s most successful movie up to that time (and won an Oscar for Best Score), with a stage version eventually coming around in 2002.
I’ve had the chance to see this movie a few times over the years, but I will readily admit that I didn’t initially care for the film after the first time that I saw it. To be fair to the movie itself, I was a bit younger (I want to say in my teens, but it’s been long enough that I’m not completely sure) and a bit more prudish at the time (so some of the opening scene with the references to Julie’s chest and how her beads hang didn’t exactly go over well with me at that time). Over time, I’ve loosened up a little, and found myself more able to enjoy some of that type of humor, which has made it easier to enjoy this movie (I’m still a little prudish, though only in the idea that while I may enjoy that type of humor, I generally don’t make use of it myself). Still, in between that, and one fairly obvious sexual moment in a car (although nothing is actually shown) plus some cursing here and there certainly make this film a little less than kid-friendly.
Regardless, we’re here at least partly for the film’s musical aspects! The film made use of some new music for the film, while also incorporating music of the era as part of the score. While I think most of the musical numbers are fun, two in particular really stand out. The title tune (heard over the opening credits) is easily the most memorable song, and one I find myself listening to over and over again! While the song itself isn’t quite as catchy, I find the dancing to “The Tapioca” to be just as entertaining (and it certainly makes me want to get up and dance)! But, fun as they are, it’s hard not to bring up one of the most fun aspects of this musical: that elevator! Seriously, I thoroughly (okay, pun intended) like the idea of an elevator that just about requires its occupants to dance for it to work (now if only somebody could invent one for a reasonable price, I’d love to have one in my home, even if it is for one floor)! On the musical side of things, the only complaint I have is that, aside from her dance with Julie Andrews on the elevator, Mary Tyler Moore is very much in the background for the musical numbers that she is in. We know from her time on The Dick Van Dyke Show that she could sing and dance, so the fact that she otherwise only has a few seconds in the “Tapioca” and the Jewish wedding scenes (both times when her character nervously tries to get into it before becoming part of the chorus) just doesn’t make any sense.
Still, the musical moments are hardly the only parts of this movie that are worthwhile, as the humor is also part of the appeal! Now, I know that some think the white slavery stuff might be a bit much, but, for me, it provides some of the most hilarious moments in the movie (mostly the failed attempts to kidnap Mary Tyler Moore’s Miss Dorothy). Also, without it, the scene at the theatre with Carol Channing’s Muzzy doing acrobatics with the troupe becomes pointless as well (and *spoiler alert* the final “showdown” between the slavers and Millie and her friends is too much fun to be removed). I will also admit to liking how much they made the film feel like it’s from the twenties, including the scene of James Fox’s Jimmy climbing the Sincere Trust building (no doubt a reference to Harold Lloyd’s Safety Last!). Of course, that also brings up one of this movie’s problems: double-exposures for some scenes. Now, while it’s there for the scene with Carol Channing’s Muzzy being shot out of a cannon, I can understand its usage there (since I can’t really see any of the actors being shot out of a cannon). It’s the building climb that doesn’t work as well for me, especially since it’s such an obvious reference to Safety Last!, and Harold Lloyd didn’t do anything with double-exposures (or at least made it look better). Of course, I said before in my review of Hello, Dolly! that I would have struggled with Carol Channing in the title role for that film’s entirety. Here, in spite of this film’s similar length, I don’t have that issue (but then again, she’s not exactly the film’s lead and therefore isn’t around for as much). She is at least some fun here (although her slight segment playing some instruments at the end of “Jazz Baby” isn’t as fun, especially not her dancing on the xylophone, which I think was done MUCH better by Donald O’Connor nearly a decade earlier in Call Me Madam). Another problem I have with this movie is the Jewish wedding scene, which seems to have very little to do with the rest of the story (but I can’t deny that it is still otherwise entertaining). Regardless of any of my complaints, this is still a very fun musical to see every now and then! Good music, good humor and a fun cast equals good comfort cinema in my book, so I have no problem whatsoever with enthusiastically recommending this one!
This movie is available on Blu-ray from Kino Lorber Studio Classics. This release makes use of a 4K restoration undertaken by Universal themselves. The picture quality is quite good. This transfer really brings out the details and the film’s color very well! The Blu-ray contains the roadshow version of the film, complete with overture, entr’acte and exit music. I don’t have the tech to be able to determine this myself, but from what I’ve heard, the main flaw of this release is that the audio during the overture, entr’acte and exit music is in mono instead of stereo (even though it’s been stereo in other incarnations, including Universal’s previous DVD release). The audio for the rest of the movie is otherwise correct. Sadly, it sounds like this will be the way that the Blu-ray remains (according to Kino’s Insider on a few forums), so it’s up to everybody as to what they are willing to tolerate. Personally, I’m happy with the release. I wish the audio was fully correct, but without the technology where it’s more noticeable, this disc fulfills my two main criteria where audio is concerned: 1) I can understand all the actors clearly and hear all the various sound effects, and 2) there are English subtitles in case I can’t hear or understand everything. So, in spite of its slightly incorrect audio, I am certainly willing to recommend this release!
And with that, I finish off all my posts for the Musicals: With A Song And A Dance In My Heart blogathon for the month of September! As far as my “Star/Genre Of The Month” blogathons are concerned, I’m taking a break for the month of October. But, I should be back with one more for the month of November (and the announcement/signup for that will be posted in a little over a week)!
Film Length: 2 hours, 32 minutes
My Rating: 8/10
List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections
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