The Friendship of Victoria Grant and Carroll Todd.

Friendships in the movies have been varied. You have the perfect best friends, like in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, or the not-so-perfect ones, like in Old Acquaintance -- you even have the friendships that are liable to get you killed, such as The Sting, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and Harper (I don't know what Paul Newman did, but apparently he pissed some people off. Is it jealousy over the blue eyes?). For me, the gold standard is Victor/Victoria, Blake Edwards's wonderful 1982 comedy, starring three of my favorite people: Julie Andrews, Robert Preston, and James Garner. It's almost too good to be true.

Victor/Victoria is a film that relishes playing with gender and sexuality. Set in 1930's Paris, Victoria (Andrews) is a singer who can't find a job anywhere. Her latest audition attracts the attention of Carroll Todd (Preston), a gay, middle-aged man who soon gets fired from his nightclub job. Victoria and Toddy soon become the best of friends, and while lamenting about their lack of income, Toddy hits upon the idea of having Victoria impersonate as a gay man who is a female impersonator. "A woman pretending to be a man pretending to be a woman?" she asks incredulously. "It’s so preposterous, no one would ever believe it," Toddy exclaims. Victoria, or Victor Grazinski, is a huge hit, but complications ensue when Chicago nightclub owner King Marchand (Garner) sees the act. He can't believe that "Victor" is a man, especially a man that he finds attractive. For those of you who haven't seen the film yet, I'll just leave the summary there.

Victoria is a great character, a woman who starts the film as a poverty-stricken soprano ready to swap her virtue for a meatball and ends it as a successful entertainer while never losing sight of who she is. Julie Andrews plays her perfectly, but we kind of knew that would be the case, didn't we? She gets to perform a few wonderful numbers in this film, as well as her short audition in the beginning of the movie, all of which showcases her gorgeous talent. On her own, Victoria is someone you'd want to be friends with, but with Toddy, friendship goals are born.

Toddy is one of my favorite cinematic characters ever. Robert Preston is incredible -- wickedly funny, immensely charming, and deliciously seductive to all genders. This film was my introduction to Preston and I've been in love with him ever since. He will always be the ultimate Harold Hill, but he'll forever be Toddy to me. Preston was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for Victor/Victoria and he definitely deserved it. Throughout the film, he gets the best lines. For example:

“There’s nothing more inconvenient than an old queen with a head cold.”

Victoria: "King Marchand is an arrogant, opinionated, chauvinistic pain in the ass. ... I think I could fall in love with him.”
Toddy: “I think I could, too.”

His ex-boss: "If you ever come back, I will have you thrown out!"
Toddy: "Don't make it sound like such a threat. Being thrown out of a place like this is significantly better than being thrown out of a leper colony."

Every time I see Toddy and Victoria hanging out together, I wish I was there with them. After running through a rainstorm, they swap stories as they drink brandy and soak their feet. When Victoria's star rises, they check into a ritzy hotel and marvel at their new surroundings. Later, they drink champagne in bed and sing "Home on the Range" to the annoyance of the people above them. They have so many sweetly simple moments together. Toddy coaches her in being "Victor." She punches his greedy ex-lover in the face when he calls Toddy a "pathetic old queer." They support one another through everything, and it's clearly the healthiest, most loving relationship in the whole film.

Although the development of a romance between King and Victoria takes precedence, it's the bond between her and Toddy that permeates the movie. There are no obstacles to overcome, no arguments to be had, no feelings to mature -- they adore one another the instant they meet and nothing could separate them. At times, their tastes in men are questionable, but when it comes to friends, Victoria and Toddy couldn't have made a better choice.

As if you couldn't love them enough, they also sing this adorable song together. If anything cements a friendship, it's a charming musical number.

With love,
Michaela

__________________

This is my contribution to the You Gotta Have Friends Blogathon, an event that celebrates the many fascinating friendships in film. You can read the other entries here.

Comments

  1. Michaela, thanks so much for contributing this article to the blogathon. I agree, this is a very special film friendship. Toddy is so much more than Victoria's gay "sounding board." Great choice!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! To me, Toddy and Victoria's friendship is the heart of the film. I love James Garner, but his character isn't the best choice for a romantic partner, especially for someone as smart and feisty as Victoria. Still, it's a great movie.

      Thanks again for hosting!

      Delete
  2. You are so right. I love Robert Preston too, especially after seeing him in this and S.O.B. He's hysterical in both. I like that he appeared in these colorful roles late in his career.

    I have a crush on Harold Hill too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I haven't seen S.O.B. yet, but it's certainly on my list of things to watch. Marian the librarian sure is a lucky woman! Thanks for reading, Simoa!

      Delete

Post a Comment

You might've missed these popular posts...

Loving and Fighting Furiously: Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz

Rock Hudson in Pillow Talk (1959) and Lover Come Back (1961)

The One Lovely Blog Award.

Top Ten: Fred Astaire's Partners

Announcing the Doris Day Blogathon!

The Loss of Gene Wilder.

Announcing the Vincente Minnelli Blogathon!

10 days until the Vincente Minnelli blogathon!

The Czech Méliès: Karel Zeman

John Wayne and Lucy Ricardo.