First a Girl (1935) Poster

(1935)

User Reviews

Review this title
16 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
7/10
A hysterical classic musical which became "Victor/Victoria"
mark.waltz19 December 2000
This rarely seen British musical stars the now almost forgotten Queen of the British movie musical, Jessie Matthews. During the 1930's, Matthews was seen in about a dozen Busby Berkley like British musicals which are rarely seen in the U.S. today. "Evergreen" is probably the best known of these as it was released on video in the U.S. about 10 years ago and was the most critically acclaimed of her films at the time of its original release. "First a Girl" is a remake of a German film called "Victor und Victoria", and was later remade as the Julie Andrews screen and stage success. Matthews is totally charming as the young girl who is desperate to make it in show business, and finds success when she poses as a man posing as a woman in order to make it in show business. Matthew's real-life husband Sonnie Hale portrays the role later made famous in the movie by Robert Preston. Anna Lee ("General Hospital's" kind-hearted Lila Quartermain) plays a snobby British socialite whose fiancee (Griffin Jones) finds himself attracted to Victor/Victoria in spite of her supposed "male gender". There are a series of campy over-the-top musical numbers later spoofed by Blake Edwards in his smash hit remake. And of course at the end we see Hale taking over for Matthews in a production number like Preston's reprise of "The Shady Dame From Seville" in which everything goes hysterically wrong. There are enough differences between this and the Julie Andrews version to make them both unique. It is a shame Matthews is almost forgotten as she has a bright personality which makes her most likable and is a talented singer and dancer. There are also some risque moments which probably would not have made it past the American censors of 1936 when it was released in the U.S.
29 out of 31 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
A forgotten gem !
vharault24 January 2006
As I am French it is a little difficult for me to write in English (please forgive me !). However I would like to say that this movie is my favorite among the musicals from the 30's. Jessie Matthews, as good singer as dancer, is charming and "piquant". Her partner, Sonnie Hale, is absolutely hilarious, especially when singing the lovely melody "everything's in rhythm in my heart". Besides, the romance between Elizabeth (J. Matthews) and Robert - quite smart ! - (Griffith Jones) is much more glamorous than the one in VICTOR VICTORIA by Blake Edwards. No need to say I highly recommend FIRST A GIRL as it is, according to me, a genuine gem ! Unfortunately, there is no DVD of this movie in my country :-(
22 out of 23 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
An entertaining translation
jshoaf5 July 2004
Warning: Spoilers
One marked SPOILER below.

I watched First a Girl after seeing the 1933 German version, Viktor und Viktoria.. And of course I know the Julie Andrews version, Victor/Victoria. So it is fun to make comparisons. I was hoping that First a Girl would help me a bit with the German one (no subtitles!), but after the first section it goes off on a tidier and kinder version of the girl-posing-as-guy-falls-in-love-with-guy plot.

And a good thing, too! In both the other movies there is a long sequence in which the two 'men' go out together, and it is a wee bit sadistic, though in different ways, in each one. The charming thing about First a Girl is that Victoria's lover really likes her as a boy, and seems a bit distressed when he finally discovers the truth! The 'problem' of Mr. Victoria as a probably gay man is raised frankly and casually, and Jessie Matthews is delightful proving that 'he' is a real he-man by smoking a very large cigar and getting drunk. (In the German version it looks as though the prospective lover, who knows the truth, might be planning to take Viktoria to visit some prostitutes, though they are distracted by a brawl.)

I really liked Renate Müller in the German version, as the girl pretending to be a female impersonator. She was a marvelous actress and the most charming and vulnerable of the three heroines. Her 'manager' Viktor–the original Viktoria–Hermann Thimig, is really funny, an energetic actor who, like Bottom the Weaver, wants to play every part ever written–you can see how he got into drag, though he is a mighty homely woman. (Robert Preston in the later version was not saddled with this bit of the plot–he comes up with the idea of selling Victoria as a drag queen, but she is not taking over his own gig.)

Jessie Matthews and Sonnie Hale play these roles in First a Girl, and the great difference is that they are wonderful dancers and decent singers, so the big production numbers that are an essential part of the plot really take off. In this version, Victor is not just Victoria's manager but her dance partner, and they do a lovely fake-Brazilian number that seems to have wandered in from Flying Down to Rio (1933). But even in the absurd 'bird in a gilded cage' number which is spoofed at the end, Matthews is a delightful performer. My favorite bit of dancing, though, is a little solo she does as a delivery girl at the beginning. It actually looks as if she were improvising, not in the polished Astaire manner, but with great rhythm and fun. SPOILER. And when Victor gets hired as a replacement Victoria at the end, Sonnie Hale is so talented (though of course he clowns around like anything) that you are willing to believe it.

The British version boils the German plot down so that instead of six people in love there are only four, and the two high-society types get more screen time. Anton Walbrook in the German movie has extraordinary charm and humor as the man in love with Viktoria, though he is not very romantic with him/her. Griffith Jones in the same role mostly just looks pleasantly muddled, but as I say the plot gives him a bit more room to get to know and like Victoria as a person. Anna Lee is delightful in the beefed-up role of the naughty Princess, nicknamed 'Lady Wiggle-waggle.'
17 out of 18 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
7/10
Matthews's Second Starring Film
timothymcclenaghan20 September 2005
This film is an English-language version of the Victor/Victoria female impersonator story, based on the original film done in Germany, and later re-created by Julie Andrews in 1982. Impersonation seems to be a recurring theme in some of Matthews's films.

Although Matthews was nicknamed "The Dancing Divinity", she does a bit more singing than dancing in this film, not surprising since she was reportedly a popular and prolific recording artist in England. In contrast to some of the dancing ladies of 1930s films, Matthews had a singing voice and didn't need dubbing.

Nevertheless, the dancing she does in this film admirably shows off her abilities. Although she was a proficient tap dancer, here she does not perform any rhythmic tap dances as she did in her other films. The tap dancing she does is more of a soft-shoe performed with co-star, Sonnie Hale, which turns into a nicely done ballroom-style dance, which is part of a large production number.

There is another big production number done with the typical chorus girls and a singer, in which Matthews does not participate. The other big production number features Matthews, again with chorus girls, in which she sings and then performs a freestyle type of dance.

The songs created for this film aren't particularly memorable, and none advanced to the category of "standard", although they are serviceable for the film. The composers may not have household names, but were certainly prolific in that day and you would recognize many of the other songs they have composed, some of which are standards.

It's interesting to see co-star Anna Lee in her early career, somewhat before her emigration to Hollywood, with her hair bleached to platinum blonde in the Jean Harlow style of the 1930s.

This film is interesting to watch, if you'd like to examine the work of Jessie Matthews, or if you just like musicals of the 1930s. This film can be obtained on VHS.
20 out of 23 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
outdated but enchanting
kastagne3 January 2005
this charming British musical, the first English version of ' victor victoria', can boast a swell cast,pungent lines and delightful musical routines. the story evolves around a showgirl pretending to be a boy and playing a girl on stage. Quite confusing, but that's where comes all the fun. Even if Jessie Matthews has star billing and the leading role, Sonnie Hale is outstanding and the credit for the enchantment is mainly all his. Their dance routines cannot compete with Fred and Ginger, but their facetiousness and buffoonery deserves our chortles. An old fashioned charm emanates from this movie, unfortunately not very well known.
20 out of 23 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Early version of Victor/Victoria
earlytalkie18 November 2011
Having heard of this film years ago, I finally saw it the other night. It is a delightful showcase for the largely forgotten charms of Jessie Mathews, the queen of British musicals. The film compares favorably with Hollywood product, with good production values, pleasant songs, Busby Berkeley-like dance routines, and a lively and funny script. The storyline, adapted from the 1933 "Vicktor und Vicktoria", is remarkably close to the 1980's "Victor/Victoria", which was made so memorable by Julie Andrews great performance. Jessie Matthews, whom I was not familiar with proves to be a delightful singer, dancer and actress, and proves that Hollywood did not have a monopoly on talented leading ladies. Sonnie Hale is hilarious in the role played in the later film by Robert Preston. Because of the censorship restrictions so prevalent in 1935, I doubt that this film had an extensive run in this country at the time of it's release. The gay elements prevalent in the later film, while not directly addressed, are certainly strongly implied here. Anna Lee gives good support as "the Princess." I enjoyed this film far more than I thought I would.
9 out of 11 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
7/10
Makes for a good comparison to Victor/Victoria
AlsExGal14 November 2009
This little British-made gem of a film was one of the last movies to be released exclusively on VHS format. Too bad it wasn't one of the first to be released on DVD. It is similar in storyline to Victor/Victoria, but it is different enough that you can watch both and enjoy the comparisons without feeling that you have just watched the same film twice.

Elizabeth (Jessie Matthews) is a British shop girl working in a fashion boutique that caters to the wealthy. She dreams of being a famous entertainer. One rainy day - while wearing the fancy clothes she is supposed to be delivering - she runs into Victor, aspiring Shakespearean actor and actual female impersonator who works the bawdy music halls of London. He is down to his last shilling when he gets a one-time engagement to work in one of these halls. Unfortunately, the rain has taken a toll on his voice and he is unable to take the job. Likewise, Elizabeth has ruined the clothes she was supposed to deliver and can't go back to her job. They forge an alliance for what is supposed to be a one-time thing - Elizabeth will go on as Victor and be a woman impersonating a man impersonating a woman so they both can collect the money they badly need. A high-class booking agent sees the act and offers the pair a chance to be the toast of Europe. A reluctant Elizabeth agrees since it does give her a chance at her dream.

The complications arise in France where a princess and her fiancé, which the princess treats more as a lapdog than a man, see her act. The fiancé arrives late to the performance and is at first attracted to Elizabeth, whom he believes is a woman performing as a woman. The princess enjoys telling him the joke is on him when she shows him the program that introduces Victoria - the great female impersonator.

The differences between this film and Victor/Victoria are that the princess sees her fiancé's attraction to "Bob" and yet wants to prove "Bob" to be a girl, opening up a pathway for a romance between the two, and also the princess starts a romance of sorts with Elizabeth's mentor, Victor. Thus the princess is not the jealous gun moll that Leslie Ann Warren plays in Victor/Victoria. Instead she is a Marie Antoinette-like character that seems to take nothing seriously. There are implausibilities in both films. In Victor/Victoria the film would lead you to believe that most of 1930's Paris is gay. In this film no trace of a gay lifestyle is ever mentioned. Instead Victor is supposed to be a straight man who lives in close quarters with the very attractive Elizabeth and apparently never has an impure thought or act. However, the rather unlikely pairing of Victor with the princess seems to be thrown in just so that the audience is assured of his straightness.

There are several very good Busby Berkeley-like musical numbers in the film as well as some very good and catchy tunes to go along with them.
6 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
Jessie's Turn as Victor and Victoria!
JLRMovieReviews1 June 2015
Jessie Matthews is a song-and-dance girl who loses her job and befriends an actor, Victor, played by Sonnie Hale, who dreams of being a serious stage actor, doing Shakespeare, being Hamlet and all that good stuff, but in the meantime has to make ends meet by being a female impersonator. When he's down to his last dollar and gets his latest call, he has a cold and no voice. The only possible solution is for her to keep his appointment. As fate would have it, Mr. Whozzit is in the audience and says he'll sign him, her, him – because he's so good at impersonating a woman. Also, in the audience is a princess, played by Anna Lee, of "General Hospital" and "The Sound of Music" fame, and her fiancé, played by Griffith Jones. But he came in late and thought she was a girl, until the end of the number, when her/his wig came off. Shocked by his attraction to another man, he means to know if he is a he or she is a she or what. Obviously, the precursor to Blake Edwards' smash hit, Victor/Victoria, starring his wife, Julie Andrews, this film is just as enticing, charming, and lively. I was afraid this was going to be one of the those forgettable 1930s movie musicals with stagy and tedious musical numbers, but this was out-of-this-world great. It's my favorite "new film" now. Having seen and loved Victor/Victoria beforehand, which is why I got this to begin with, helps. But neither one takes away from the other. There are slight variations on how it's discovered and a few details. But this outing is filled with flirtatious and sexy fun. Discover the stars Jessie Matthews and Sonnie Hale, who were married in real life and enjoy her being "First a Girl" and then a guy!
3 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
"I've been father, mother, sister and brother to that girl..."
Igenlode Wordsmith5 January 2009
This may not be among the greatest of the Jessie Matthews musicals -- dance and music are not always seamlessly integrated into the action -- but I remembered it fondly from the National Film Theatre's season of her work last year and was delighted to discover on recent re-viewing that it retained its charm on repeat performance.

Husband Sonnie Hale teams with Jessie Matthews to great effect, as Victor, the frustrated Shakespearian reduced to working the music halls as a female impersonator, bonds with 'Bill', the would-be song and dance girl who finds herself launched on an inadvertent male career after helping him out with his "Mr Victoria" act one night. As international success unexpectedly beckons, Victor persuades his reluctant new acquaintance to continue the masquerade with the promise that he will shield her constantly from exposure and will never let her down. And part of the charm of this film, as it skirts its way merrily along the censor's line without ever quite transgressing, is that they never do let each other down.

In a move that wrong-foots audience expectations, the odd couple duly fall inconveniently in love -- but not with each other. Predictable bickering and frustrations ensue, feet are put in it and bricks are dropped, and Victor's protective vigilance is sorely tested, but the two share the affectionate reliance of a true 'buddy movie' throughout, and it is this unquestioning trust that helps provide the film's warm-hearted appeal.

Despite its provocative subject matter, which resulted in severe cuts for American release (the constant focus on stratagems to conceal the heroine's true sex only serves to accentuate the issue of what is *not* being shown...), "First a Girl" has an oddly innocent generosity about it. It's one of those happy comedies that seems to take a genuinely sunny view of human nature, with disaster always foiled and characters revealing unexpected better selves. Nothing remotely titillating is ever actually disclosed, of course -- Victor's gallantly-turned back is our security for that -- but as in most cross-dressing cinema, one does have to tacitly presume a considerable degree of blindness on the part of the entire male cast if they can really confuse the girl in man's clothes for a boy, Eton crop or no Eton crop...

Jessie Matthews is, as ever, vivacious, talented and charismatic. As her co-star, Sonnie Hale comes near to stealing the show, with his open, likable persona and his cheerful willingness to be the butt of visual humour on screen, coupled with flashes of sincerity that make us care about the character as more than just a comic foil. Griffith Jones gives a fine performance yet again in the somewhat thankless role of handsome but secondary male lead (see also "Escape Me Never", "The Rake's Progress", "The Wicked Lady").

The dance numbers betray the somewhat cramped facilities available (the big production number at the end had to be filmed outdoors against a black night sky because there simply wasn't a sound stage big enough at the studio) and can feel somewhat gratuitously inserted -- I felt that the restaurant floor-show routine, in which Jessie Matthews doesn't even feature, outlasted its welcome in particular -- but the tunes stayed in my head for several days, and Miss Matthews performs with skill and an infectious gaiety that brings an unheralded smile to the viewer. "Evergreen" remains probably the best vehicle I've seen for her superb singing and dancing talents, coupling the comic potential of another masquerade scenario with more integrated musical performances and greater dramatic depth, but "First A Girl" still has great appeal.
8 out of 11 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
7/10
Viktor Victorious
writers_reign4 March 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I caught this at a screening forming part of a mini retrospective of Jessie Matthews' thirties movies. There were roughly one hundred and twenty people present and I'd guess the majority were in their forties and fifties with about a half dozen girl couples in their twenties. The film was released in 1935 so even if you saw it as a ten year old you'd be eighty two today and if you speculate that at least one or more of the girl couples were lesbian attracted by the cross-dressing theme that still leaves a reasonable multi-generational audience.

In my case I was there to see what all the fuss was about and despite being old enough to know better - after all I've seen enough really dire British films of the period, witness Climbing High, Night Train To Munich, etc - I thought I'd give it a chance, never having actually seen Jessie Matthews in a musical and especially not when teamed with then-husband Sonny Hale. I have to say it was relatively painless and if nothing else it shows that not all British films were as bad as Climbing High (also starring Matthews in a virtually non-singing/dancing role) and some of them could make a half-decent fist of 'production' numbers. True, the plot IS a little shaky - for example Martita Hunt sends Matthews to deliver some clothes to a Princess who has made it clear that they must be in her hands inside the hour; the stage-struck Matthews 'borrows' the clothes to attend an audition and is not only hopelessly late but, after being doused with water from a passing cab whilst wearing the clothes, abandons all attempts to deliver them. Cut to a worried Martita Hunt asking a colleague to check the hospitals lest Matthews has met with an accident. That's the last we see or hear of Hunt, who, presumably never does discover what became of Matthews and/or the clothes - but this was the Depression when audiences weren't too critical so long as they were given a few laughs and a song and dance or two and Victor Savile delivers those in spades. Though there were plans mooted to co-star Matthews with Fred Astaire this never happened and it may have been just hype - she did appear briefly in a Broadway-bound show written by Vernon Duke and called The Lady Comes Across but that's as close as she came to non-domestic fame - I doubt if even her most fervent fan saw her as a threat to Ginger but in her own modest way she gave good value as a singer-dancer as she illustrates here. The score is surprisingly tuneful and at least one number, Ev'rything's In Rhythm With My Heart, had a fairly long shelf-life. Hale proved to be an adequate comedian and if Griffith Jones was a tad wooden probably no one noticed at the time. In sum: I'm pleased I finally got a chance to see what all the fuss was about.
5 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
I liked this one a lot more than the later American remake or the German original.
MartinHafer15 July 2014
I had no idea when I turned on this film that the story is actually "Victor/Victoria"--and American film from the 1980s. I also had no idea that in spite of this, "First a Girl" is actually a remake as well! It seems that two years earlier, Germany made "Viktor und Viktoria"--and so I decided to watch all three to determine which I thought best.

Well, if any of the Brits who made this one are still alive and kicking, they might be happy that I thought "First a Girl" was the best of them. Or, they might wonder why I am compulsive enough to watch all three! Why did I prefer it? Well, the musical aspects of the films are best in "First a Girl". While in "Viktor und Viktoria" the dialog is often sung, in the British version there are the most amazingly outrageous and funny big musical numbers. In some ways, they look like Busby Berkeley style dance numbers--but a bit smaller and the songs were hilarious. In fact, most of the songs in "First a Girl" are very funny---and among the best I've ever heard in a film (especially the song about the silkworm).

As far as the plot goes, both early films skirt the issue because even in Europe, homosexuality was something the studios generally avoided. In both versions, the one character SHOULD be gay--and they made his straight in order not to offend. However, by 1935, the US had just adopted the rigid production code--which outlawed many things--including any sort of references to being gay or even the implication--so it's not surprising it took many more decades until the Americans took a stab at it.

In the British version, Victor specializes in playing women's roles and singing as a woman. This sort of act would have gone over well in gay clubs, but here the guy is mainstream. However, he's going to a job interview and he's lost his voice! And, when he meets a woman who is very talented but cannot find a job, he trains her to cover for him--and pretend to be a man pretending to be a woman! It's all very confusing but the confusion grows exponentially when a Elizabeth and her male friend find two new friends--and the two new friends (including a princess) are dying to know if Elizabeth is really a guy. It's a cute little film--with lots of great dialog, a cute plot and great music. As for the German film, it's worth seeing but is significantly less entertaining or polished.
5 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
7/10
The best of it is funny and for its time a bit daring. Fun, funny, stiff, and improbable. Yes.
secondtake15 July 2013
First a Girl (1935)

Musicals in the 1930s were stiff mash-ups of song and dance numbers until the geometric fantasies of Busby Berkeley and then the narrative Fred Astaire movies, both in beginning in 1933 and 1934. This is a weird 1935 British affair that's well-enough filmed to remind you of Berkeley but is tepid by comparison. And as for plot, it takes awhile to get to that, following some decent and sometimes almost surreal dance/fashion scenes.

This is, in short, the original movie version of "Victor/Victoria." Once you get into the story, which will still be interrupted by old-fashioned feeling dance numbers, you'll get the cross-dressing stuff. All in fun. The leading woman (who does the switching, just as Julie Andrews did in the famous remake) is Jessie Matthews, who is a sort of Ginger Rogers type with a doll face. It's the doll face, highly feminine, that removes some of the credibility of the story--she does look slightly like a boy, when dressed as a man, but it doesn't quite carry. And of course, the point is to fool at least the other characters. The leading man Victor, played by Sonnie Hale, is also a problem, at least for audiences today, because he lacks charm, or sincerity, or pathos, or whatever might carry him through along with Matthews. He is meant to be the set-up for what "Victoria" has to do. But he's usually too dull for his own good, or he tries too hard. Matthews, at least, is purely charming and delightful. By the final number, however, when the tables are turned once again, Victor comes into his own. You might see it coming, but then it's divine.

It gives nothing away to say that the changing identities ruse is eventually suspected and the tension then begins. It's all done with a bit of stiffness, and filmed with uniform bright intensity, which makes it all a bit superficial, but is still enjoyable.
5 out of 9 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
Britain's Victor Victoria
MikeMagi21 July 2014
Filmed in 1935, "First a Girl" was Britain's entry in the Victor/Victoria sweepstakes which Blake Edwards would win years later. In this version, it's Jessie Matthews who plays a girl disguised as a boy disguised as a girl who lands a music hall gig and confuses everyone in sight. A spunky, doe-eyed gamin with a winning personality, she's ably assisted by her then-husband Sonnie Hale as a Shakesepearian ham reduced to doing a drag act. Along the way, she sings, dances, gets comically drunk and glides through several Busby Brekleyesque song-and-dance numbers. "First a Girl" doesn't have the style or wit that Edwards brought to "Victor Victoria." But it's far more than a museum piece and well worth watching in its own right.
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
7/10
Jessie shines in sparkling remake of "Viktor Un Viktoria"
kidboots17 May 2009
Warning: Spoilers
"Viktor Un Viktoria" (1933) was a joyous musical made in Germany the year Hitler came to power. For those who have seen it, it is a delightful film with a lot of the dialogue sung in rhyming couplets. Renate Muller was adorable as "Viktoria" and Anton Walbrook was her romantic leading man. The English remake, "First a Girl" was inferior but Jessie Matthews was a sparkling bonus. The name was taken from an old saying "first a girl, second a boy, always a joy" and it also had a shrewd publicity angle as Jessie and her husband Sonnie Hale had just adopted a baby girl.

Filmed on location on the Riviera, Jessie Matthews plays Elizabeth, a worker at Serafinas, an exclusive dress shop. The film begins with a fashion show for the guest of honour, Princess (Anna Lee). Elizabeth does an impromptu "apache" dance to "I Can Wiggle My Ears" and when her shoe flies off and lands at the Princess's feet she is demoted to messenger girl. While delivering a beautiful dress, Elizabeth, who has always wanted to be a showgirl, sees a chorus girl call up. In the now undelivered clothes, she catches the attention of Victor (Sonnie Hale) (after being ejected from the singing auditions). He is doing it tough in his chosen field - Shakespearian recitations!!! but has landed a job as "Victoria" - he is a female impersonator. Elizabeth and he meet at a cafe (the background music is from the original German film) and when Victor develops a cold he persuades her to go on in his place. There is a very funny scene in the dressing room in which Elizabeth refuses to undress unless all the men are out of the room!!! She finally goes on and sings "It's Written All Over Your Face" - geese wander onto the stage, Elizabeth slips and falls over when a water bucket overturns - she is a riot and a huge success. A theatrical manager sees her and puts her in the big time. Victor then becomes her protector.

"Half and Half of This Will Be a Rainbow", is a great chance to see Jessie Matthews and Sonnie Hale dance together. Before their marriage they had starred together in West End musicals. Victor is immediately taken with the Princess and Elizabeth is left with a sullen Robert (Griffith Jones). I agree that "I Can Wiggle My Ears" seems overlong, it is given a very "busy" Busby Berkeley type production - unfortunately without Jessie!!! The princess begins to suspect that "he" is a "she" when she finds a girl's comb that "he" has dropped!!!

Victor and Victoria holiday in Nice - she sings the beautiful "Just Say the Word and I'm Yours" while sunbathing and when Robert rescues Elizabeth from drowning he realises that she is indeed a woman. The finale is spectacular. Set in a bird cage with Jessie perched atop a swing in a "barely there" costume of spangles and feathers - there is then a quick change as she sings and dances to "Everything's in Rhythm With My Heart" in a beautiful feathery creation that would make Ginger Rogers jealous. After her dance she retires to a feathered bed suspended with chains.

Everything turns out alright - Elizabeth gets her man and Victor finally gets to do a turn as "Victoria" and is a howling success. Not one of Jessie's best but still highly recommended.
2 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
6/10
The second-best filmed version of this story
rgcustomer13 May 2013
Warning: Spoilers
I wanted to like this film more than I did. I had seen three other versions: Viktor und Viktoria (1933) which I thought was boring, Victor Victoria (1982) which I think is the best version but could be better, and Victor/Victoria (1995) which is the filmed stage musical that I thought was miscast.

And I did like this one a lot. Much of the story made more sense to me. Things just felt natural. And the musical dance numbers were actually good, and had purpose (mostly). Although this is not my favourite version, I do think fans of the other ones should see it. Not nearly enough people are seeing it, and there are some amazing scenes.

Two things ruined it for me.

First, you have to believe that Victoria looks like a man. I could suspend disbelief in the '82 film, but the other two productions I simply could not buy that anyone thought Victoria was a man. And in this film, not only is the chest not flat, but you actually get to see her breasts when she bows (not completely, of course, but plenty). She's just a woman with a haircut. I was hoping that the bald guy picked up on that, because he seemed to (removing his hat when she removed her wig). But they didn't take that idea anywhere.

Second, when Victor takes over the act at the end, suddenly he's a buffoon? This is his act. It doesn't make any sense that he wouldn't know how to perform it. I was expecting a great and believable performance, but it just fell flat. Maybe this is a result of the Hays Code.

I want someone to remake any of these films, using one androgynous countertenor (Victor/Toddy/Viktor) (body like Jaye Davidson or Andrej Pejic) and one androgynous contralto (Elizabeth/Victoria/Susanne) (body like Casey Legler) singer-actor-dancer. I don't believe they don't exist. Someone find them and make the film right.
1 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
Jessie and gaumont British at their zenith
malcolmgsw29 August 2017
This film was made when the film career of Jessie Matthews and the production standards of gaumont British were at their peak.Gaumont even had a distribution company in America.It was with musicals like these that they could actually challenge Hollywood.Sadly this was all to come crashing down in 1938. Gaumont went broke and Jessie's career went with it The birdcage finale was filmed in an empty field in northolt at night
0 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews


Recently Viewed