Julie Andrews plays Millie Dillmount, a young woman who comes to New York in 1922, with the sole intention of getting a job and marrying her (rich) boss. However, when she meets happy-go-lucky Jimmy Smith (James Fox), she has to decide where her priorities lie. And then there’s the issue of the women at Millie’s hotel being captured and forced into slavery.
While I had some doubts about the tastefulness of using sex slavery as a comedic plot point, I must admit that I very much enjoyed this film. There are a couple of scenes showing some of the girls who have been sold into slavery, and they did cause a bit of a jolt, as it is so unexpected in a frothy musical comedy.
The film is intentionally farcical, and did cause me to dissolve into giggles on occasion. In a nod to earlier silent films, Andrews often breaks the fourth wall by looking directly into the camera at the viewer, and her thoughts are then shown on screen in the form of title cards. There are also some very funny musical interludes (such as the ‘Haaaaaallelujah!’ when Millie first lays eyes on her handsome boss Trevor Graydon). As it set in the 1920s, the costumes are as lovely as you might imagine, and Andrews herself is just adorable. Equally endearing is Mary Tyler Moore as Millie’s friend Miss Dorothy, and James Fox and John Gavin provided excellent support as Jimmy and Trevor respectively. Carol Channing pops up as a rich widow who befriends Millie, and certainly makes her mark with a hilarious song and dance routine! It is only because the cast as a whole is so strong, that Beatrice Lillie did not steal the entire film as the evil Mrs Meers, manageress of the hotel, and the main villain behind the slavery business.
This kind of film isn’t for everyone and I can imagine that some people might find it an irritant, but I really enjoyed it. As long as you can abandon all sense of logic and realism (and the film is really not meant to be realistic), I would say that this is a treat for fans of musicals. Needless to say, Julie Andrews is in excellent voice. Recommended.
Year of release: 1962
Director: George Roy Hill
Producer: Ross Hunter
Writers: Richard Morris
Main cast: Julie Andrews, Mary Tyler Moore, James Fox, John Gavin, Beatrice Lillie, Carol Channing