Darling Lili (1970) C+
Julie Andrews tried to change her squeaky clean screen image with this elaborately mounted, but preposterously plotted World War I musical, but to no avail; the film was a n artistic and commercial flop.
Andrews plays Lili Smith, a popular British music hall singer who is regarded as a femme fatale; occasionally, there’s striptease into her act.
However, Lili has a secret: she’s actually a German spy, and the uncle she introduces is really Von Ruger (Jeremy Kemp), a fellow espionage agent and her contact for the Huns.
In hopes of gaining valuable information, Lili begins using her charm on Major. William Larrabee (Rock Hudson, miscast), a top American pilot.
However, Lili, in love with Larrabee, is unable to betray him. For his part, Larrabee discovers Lili’s secret, but he refuses to turn her in.
“Darling Lili” was a huge box-office disappointment, grossing a mere $5 million on a budget that rose to $25 million due to a variety of production mishaps.
The plotting of this improbable Mata Hari-like tale is preposterous, though some of the music and song are decent, and it’s always a pleasure to observe Andrews’ professionalism.
Director Blake Edwards (Andrews’ husband), after the poor reception, trimmed the 136-minute film to 114 minutes, downplaying its comedic elements
Song: Whistling Away the Dark, music by Henry Mancini, lyrics by Johnny Mercer.
Original Score: Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer
Costume Design: Donald Brooks and Jack Bear.
Oscar Awards: None
The Song Oscar went to “For All We Know,”from “Lovers and Other Strangers.”
The Beatles won the Score Oscar for “Let It Be.”
Vittorio Nino Novarese won the Costume Design Oscar for “Cromwell.”
Running time: 130 Minutes.
Directed by Blake Edwards.
Screenplay: William Peter Blatty, Blake Edwards.
Released: June 18, 1970.
DVD: October 25, 2005
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