1967 Movie Review: THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE, 1967

THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE, MOVIE POSTERTHOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE, 1967
Movie Reviews

Directed by George Roy Hill
Starring: Julie Andrews, James Fox, Mary Tyler Moore, Carol Channing, John Gavin, Jack Soo, Pat Morita
Review by Jayvibha Vaidya

SYNOPSIS:

Small-town girl Millie Dillmount arrives in New York City intent on finding a husband. But first she must become a modern city girl, befriend naïve Miss Dorothy, seduce her boss, stop a white slavery ring and decide between love and money when she meets smitten paper-clip salesman, Jimmy Smith.

WON an OSCAR – Best Music – Original Score.

 

REVIEW:

“I’m a modern!”

Opening with a suspenseful kidnapping which cuts to the wide-eyed Millie arriving in the big city, Thoroughly Modern Millie weaves together an evil plot to exploit young women with an amusing tale of a woman’s search for love and friendship. Spoofing the Roaring Twenties, Millie (Julie Andrews) transforms into a flapper or ‘modern’ in order to blend in and find herself a suitable husband. At the women’s hotel where she stays, Millie befriends Miss Dorothy (Mary Tyler Moore) as owner Mrs. Meers (Beatrice Lillie) sets her eye on Miss Dorothy for her next kidnapping victim.

See, Mrs. Meers is making some extra cash by selling young women with no family ties to the underground Chinese slavery business. In dark shadows lurk her two ‘oriental’ henchmen with their laundry basket of drugged bodies to smuggle into their lair. It’s a silly plot which turns Mrs. Meers into a caricature villainess, complete with poisonous apple and tranquilizer darts. But this plot is played for comedy and is thankfully balanced out with young Millie’s search for the perfect husband.

At a dance Millie meets Jimmy Smith (James Fox), a paper-clip salesman. After an energetic and well choreographed dance, she informs him that her intention is to find a handsome, single boss and become his stenographer. And eventually, his wife. Even after Jimmy proclaims his affections for her, she turns him down, intent on marrying her boss Mr. Graydon (John Gavin) who has no romantic feelings for her at all. Graydon only has eyes for Miss Dorothy who returns his affections but gets kidnapped before they can even have a first date. And to complicate it further, Millie sees Miss Dorothy running into Jimmy’s bedroom, causing her to believe they are having a torrid affair. Millie’s complications are eased when she meets eccentric Muzzy Van Hossmere (Carol Channing) who advises Millie to “Follow your heart, no raspberries!”

As all the players gather to save Miss Dorothy, a chase through Chinatown ends in an acrobatic showdown. The bad guys are defeated and Mrs. Meers sits drenched in a pool, her evil plan completely foiled. A twist at the end of the film reveal the secret identities of Millie’s friends as Muzzy clears away all confusion leaving two happy couples at the end of the film. Millie, despite becoming a modern finally finds love, exclaiming, “I don’t want to be your equal any more – I want to be a woman!” Well then! It appears that thoroughly modern Millie isn’t so modern after all.

Hilariously cutting to ‘20s-style title cards to represent Millie’s reactions to the city and people, the film contains many moments of humour expertly executed by Julie Andrews. Her looks at the camera display perfect comedic timing and a natural sweetness in her performance. She’s utterly adorable and her voice is exquisite, especially in “Trinkt le Chaim,” the Jewish wedding song. Mary Tyler Moore is sweet and naïve; especially charming in the scene when she calls snobby socialite Judith Tremaine a “bitch!” Andrews and Moore’s sensational tap number in a moving elevator is a real highlight, showcasing their chemistry and dancing skills.

The choreography and dance numbers are thoroughly entertaining, from the Tapioca Dance to the Jewish wedding. Carol Channing is wonderful in a bizarre and exhilarating acrobatic number. She’s fearless and steals scenes with her humour and personality. John Gavin as Mr. Graydon is in on the joke playing part playboy, part airhead, hilariously checking out of scenes due to a tranquilizer dart.

Winning an Oscar for original score, the film successfully maintains its comedic energy because of the music that runs through each of the scenes. The jaunty ‘Thoroughly Modern Millie’ tune plays repeatedly during the film, reminding Millie and the audience of her goals in the big city.

Although the last half of the film becomes cheesy and wraps up in a most bizarre fashion, Thoroughly Modern Millie is laugh-out-loud funny and entirely entertaining. The cast is delightful and the songs are fun, raised to a higher level by the talent of Julie Andrews. Finding love and friendship in New York City isn’t easy, but Millie gets a taste for what life is like for the ‘modern’ girl, taking the audience along on an exciting adventure.

THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE

Happy Birthday: Julie Andrews

julieandrews.jpgJulie Andrews

Born: October 1, 1935 in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, England, UK

Married to: Blake Edwards (12 November 1969 – 15 December 2010) (his death) (2 children)

[on being a gay icon] I don’t know. I’m sort of aware that I am. But I’m that odd mixture of, on the one hand, being a gay icon and, on the other hand, having grandmas and parents being grateful I’m around to be a babysitter for their kids. And I’ve never been able to figure out what makes a gay icon, because there are many different kinds. I don’t think I have the image that, say, Judy Garland has, or Bette Davis.

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Movie Review: TORN CURTAIN (1966) Directed by Alfred Hitchcock

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TORN CURTAIN MOVIE POSTER
TORN CURTAIN, 1966
Horror/Thriller Movie Review

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Starring Paul Newman, Julie Andrews, Lila Kedrova, Hansjörg Felmy, Tamara Toumanova, Ludwig Donath
Review by Steven Painter

SYNOPSIS:

An American scientist publicly defects to East Germany as part of a cloak and dagger mission to find the solution for a formula resin and then figuring out a plan to escape back to the West.

REVIEW:

Alfred Hitchcock never really worked with big stars, or at least he never worked with big stars he wasn’t familiar with. Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant were making their second movies with Hitchcock when they appeared together in Notorious (1946). Grace Kelly and James Stewart had appeared in one Hitchcock movie apiece before appearing together in Rear Window (1954). Grant and Kelly had two Hitchcock movies under their belts before making To Catch a Thief (1955). So things were different when Hitchcock cast Paul Newman and Julie Andrews in Torn Curtain (1966).

Many things are different about Torn Curtain. For one, the movie has aged severely since 1990. The phrase “torn curtain” obviously refers to the Iron Curtain, which was the largest symbol of the Cold War. It no longer has any significance now that the war is over. It is also different because the two major stars, Newman and Andrews, had long, distinguished careers, but this movie is rarely mentioned as being a part of it even though they appeared in a movie directed by the world’s most popular director at this point. Perhaps the reason why this movie is not mentioned is because it is not that great. It received lukewarm reactions from audiences and critics when released and has only gotten worse since the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Our story begins on a boat filled with nuclear physicists. One of them, Michael Armstrong, played by Newman, is actually a spy for the U.S. government. His assistant and fiancée, Sarah Sherman, played by Andrews, has no idea of his real work. So she is very surprised when she finds out her husband has decided to defect to East Germany.

He does his best to lose her, she does her best to follow him and the two end up in an East German airport. Michael is celebrated by the East Germans as he is a symbol of people in the west getting fed up with democracy and coming over to their side.

Michael confesses to Sarah the real reason why he has defected. This scene is interesting, not only for the information gained, but because it occurs in a large hotel room in which the only lighting Hitchcock used seemed to come from natural places i.e. windows and lamps. Typically movies use light sources from off-screen, but act as if they are coming from on-screen. In this movie Hitch tried to keep all the light used coming from natural sources. It works to various degrees, but is most pronounced in this scene.

Adventures ensue as Michael has the task of trying to learn a secret formula from the East German scientist Dr. Lindt.

Michael is forced to murder Gromek, a taxi driver who brings Michael to a farm in which he has been instructed by the U.S. government to make contact with. Gromek gets some ideas as to why Michael is really in East Germany and Michael must kill him. Unlike other Hitchcock murders, this one is not short and pretty. It is long and hard. It was an attempt at Hitchcock to capture more realism, since killing someone is not as easy as it typically looks in the movies.

Michael meets Dr. Lindt and is able to trick him into giving him the formula. From here the suspense is ratcheted up as Michael and Sarah make a daring escape back to the west. They are the ones who create a sort of tear in the Iron Curtain by acquiring the formula.

The suspense in their escape is well done, but it should have been as each situation the coupe finds themselves in seems to have been taken from another Hitchcock movie. There is a bus ride with interesting characters that echoes similar trips in The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956) and Saboteur (1942). The couple ends up in a theatre, surrounded by bad guys. This is similar to The 39 Steps (1935), The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934) and (1956) and Stage Freight (1950). Of course Michael and Sarah get out of each situation in a different way than in previous Hitchcock movies. In the theater they shout “fire!” and everyone promptly moves towards the exits. Even the final escape for the couple, from a Scandinavian ship, seemed like a rehash from the Marx Brothers’ A Night at the Opera (1935). Michael and Sarah end up in the icy water, forced to swim ashore to the free west instead of being removed from the ship while hiding in boxes like the Marx Brothers were.

Torn Curtain probably wasn’t a bad movie when it was released. It is long and does rehash some familiar territory for Hitchcock, but the formula was effective and created suspense. It does lag in some parts, but Newman and Andrews give good performances. For today’s audience though, the movie can be hard to watch as the premise behind it has no relevance in the world of today.

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