Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Andrews Sister

Years ago, upon the inception of Poseidon's Underworld, I revealed my great love for The Sound of Music (1965), the very first movie that I can recall seeing in a theater during one of its re-releases and how it impacted my life then and afterwards. Since that, I've had tributes to Eleanor Parker (twice, even!) and Christopher Plummer, but not till now one for Dame Julie Andrews, a performer who has brought untold amounts of light to millions of viewers (not to mention listeners) of the stage and screen. She's had a remarkable life and career, with not only the Austrian Alps serving as her peaks and valleys, that we'll shine a light on today.

Little Julia Elizabeth Wells was born on October 1st, 1935 in Surrey, United Kingdom. Her father was a teacher specializing in wood and metalwork while her mother adored singing and performing. During the early days of WWII, the couple separated as her father worked towards the removal of children from areas targeted by the Blitz and her mother joined another man with whom she began entertaining British troops. Ironically, both men were called “Ted.” She and her first husband divorced and she married the second, Ted Andrews, in 1939.

Initially, Julia lived with her father and brother, but by the age of five, her burgeoning talent as a child singer caused him to send her to live with her mother and stepfather where their own connections to the entertainment world might help to further it. This worked, in fact, as The Andrews became more and more successful as an act and allowed them to send the little girl to an arts school for vocal training. The unhappy trade-off was having to fend off the occasional drunken advances of her stepfather when she was only a little girl.

By age ten, Julia, now Julie Andrews, was joining in her parents' act singing alone or with her stepfather as her mother accompanied on the piano. Before long, the little girl with the freakish four-octave range and pristinely clear diction was attracting major attention, calling for appearances at London's Hippodrome and even a Royal Command Performance at the London Palladium.

In 1950, her mother relayed the staggering news that Ted Wells, the man she had always believed to be her (by now estranged) father was, in fact, not so and that another man, a family friend (apparently a pretty close one!), was her biological father. Andrews never learned his identity.

After working in London's West End, Andrews traveled to America in 1954 just as she was turning nineteen to appear on Broadway in a production of The Boy Friend where she garnered terrific reviews. She then auditioned for two major productions, My Fair Lady and Rodgers & Hammerstein's Pipe Dream, with her pick of them both in the end.

She went with My Fair Lady, opposite Rex Harrison and, though the acting requirements of the role nearly did her in, with his extensive coaching during their “off” time, it became a triumph. She was nominated for a Tony Award, but lost to Judy Holliday in Bells Are Ringing.

Already having worked with Bing Crosby in a musical version of High Tor (1955) for TV after his enjoying her in The Boyfriend, she took part in another landmark television production in 1957. Rodgers & Hammerstein, having nearly used her in Pipe Dreams, utilized her services for their made-for-TV musical Cinderella.

The expensive, custom-made musical was overseen by the famed song-writing duo in nearly every detail and was broadcast in color (though only a back & white kinescope, made for west coast viewers, was preserved.) Andrews was Emmy-nominated for the live, wildly popular special, but lost to Polly Bergen in The Helen Morgan Story.
After appearing on a few U.S. variety shows and specials, Andrews returned home to England where she was eager to marry longtime friend and set designer Tony Walton, who'd worked with her prior to her sojourn to Broadway. Their 1959 fairy tale wedding caused quite a stir among the citizens of Surrey.

Soon, though, it was back to Broadway for another show by Lerner & Loewe, the creators of My Fair Lady. This time she played Queen Guinevere in Camelot, opposite Richard Burton as King Arthur and Robert Goulet as Sir Lancelot. She appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show in character with her costars to promote the piece. The smash success of the musical led to another Tony nomination, but this time lost to Elizabeth Seal in Irma la Douce.
Andrews had won one particular fan in funny lady Carol Burnett, who conceived a program for them called Julie and Carol at Carnegie Hall. Andrews had guest-starred twice on The Garry Moore Show, on which Burnett was then a regular, and a close friendship developed.
The 1962 special was a ratings winner and the two would pair up again later for others. (This exceedingly chummy pairing would lead to whispers of a possible Lesbian connection between the two, though they never let it stop them from pursuing further specials.)

Andrews went back home in order to have the baby she was carrying, a daughter to be called Emma. As luck would have it, she was offered what would ultimately be a life-changing role in a motion picture, but felt that she must turn it down due to her pregnancy! Fortunately, Walt Disney, who had attended Camelot and fallen for her charms, told her he would wait until she was ready before beginning production on Mary Poppins (1964)...
This was more than a balm to her as she had just been passed over as the lead in the film adaptation of My Fair Lady (1964) because Warner Brothers studio head Jack Warner doubted her marquee value. Instead, he cast box office name Audrey Hepburn in the role, leaving the songs to be dubbed in by Marni Nixon as Hepburn's voice was far too underdeveloped to handle the challenging score. While the film was a huge hit and Hepburn looked stunning in the Cecil Beaton costumes, there was a tinge of hollowness to it in knowing that the leading lady wasn't really singing.

The fanciful, effects-laden Mary Poppins was an elaborate production blending song, dance and even animation. Andrews was cast opposite Dick Van Dyke as a cockney chimney sweep (succeeding greatly in the dancing, but floundering with his accent.) Interestingly, Nixon provided singing voices in this one, too, specifically a trio of geese.
The “practically perfect” nanny with a gift for the magical that Andrews was portraying seemed to fall perfectly into her talent wheelhouse. She of course had the melodious voice for the battery of catchy Sherman Brothers songs, but she also had that “iron fist in a velvet glove” quality that the sometimes strict persona called for.

Armies of moviegoers, young and old, flocked to the cinema to see this colorful, well-appointed fantasy, causing it to earn back five times its cost on initial release and making it the most financially successful film of its year (and Walt Disney's greatest hit to that date.)

When the Oscar nominations came out, Andrews was nominated as Best Actress in her big screen debut while Audrey Hepburn was not granted one for her admirable work in My Fair Lady (though she did share Andrews' category of Best Motion Picture Actress – Musical/Comedy at the Golden Globes.) Andrews won both the Golden Globe and the Oscar and in her acceptance speech at the former, she memorably quipped, “And, finally, my thanks to a man who made a wonderful movie and who made all this possible in the first place, Mr. Jack Warner,” driving home the point that she was not 100% the syrupy, easily-pushed-over type of lady she often played.

(The crew on Poppins already knew that she wasn't exactly a mealy-mouthed churchmouse when a cable she was being suspended on snapped and dropped her to the floor, resulting in a few choice remarks including at least one F-bomb! Ha ha!) Her old stage costar Rex Harrison won for Lady, making for an ironic, but happy pairing backstage.

Mary Poppins also won Julie a BAFTA back home in England as Most Promising Newcomer to Leading Film Roles. She wisely followed up her Disney musical debut with a movie altogether different, The Americanization of Emily (1964.) Starring opposite James Garner, in this wartime story she played a woman who more or less exchanges romantic favors in exchange for various creature comforts that are of limited availability due to rationing. In the process, she and the generally ne'er do well Garner wind up falling in love. The movie has been cited by both stars as their personal favorite which, especially in Andrews' case, is really saying something! Sadly, in terms of her approaches to variety, her next movie was destined to solidify her image as a very good girl who sings her problems away.

As 20th Century Fox was planning to make a big screen musical, The Sound of Music, based on Mary Martin's stage hit by Rodgers & Hammerstein, Andrews was in the running for the lead role. Doris Day had deemed herself “too American” for the part of an Austrian novice nun who wins the heart of seven children for whom she serves as governess, ultimately landing their father, too, after a crisis of duty to the church. Grace Kelly's (retired by then, but occasionally toying with a return) and Shirley Jones' names were also bandied about, but both screenwriter and new director (following William Wyler's exit from the project) Robert Wise wanted Andrews.
Trouble was, at the time of pre-production Andrews was untried on the big-screen as Poppins was only in the midst of filming. However, after glimpsing some of the rushes of the unfinished musical, they were swiftly convinced of her ability and snatched her up. As neither she nor male lead Christopher Plummer were household names at that time, stalwart 1950s leading lady Eleanor Parker was cast as Andrews' elegant nemesis Baroness Schraeder.
The spare stage script was masterfully elaborated upon by Lehman while former editor Wise (whose direction of West Side Story, 1961, had garnered him an Oscar) ensured that the piece would look incredible and be free of many of the garish colors and cloying attributes that appeared on stage. A location filming stint in Salzburg, Austria lent the movie a dazzling verisimilitude, not to mention a healthy dose of gorgeous scenery. Andrews' opening spin as she burst into the title number became an instant piece of cinema inconography.
The studio was finding it increasingly difficult to proceed in the wake of the financial burden of 1963's extravagant and hopelessly over-budget Cleopatra and was guardedly hopeful that Music would successfully generate some much-needed income to their coffers. They needn't have worried. The film was an immediate smash success, running in movie theaters for years in its initial release and coming back again and again to rake in more dough. As Leonard Maltin remarked, the movie “...pleased more people than practically any other film in history.”

There are people out there, even fans of Andrews, who believe that Andrews won an Oscar as Maria in The Sound of Music (perhaps because of photos like this one in which she posed with the Oscar she was presenting that year?) – and she was nominated – but the winner that year was another Julie, Julie Christie in Darling (1965.) Imagine the suspense for these gals, though, as they had to not only wait for their category, but then hear, “...and the winner is, Julie...”!!

For her follow-up to The Sound of Music, Andrews once again attempted to switch gears and avoid typecasting, though this was a problem that would hound her throughout her movie career. As one of Hollywood's top box office attractions, she was paired with gorgeous superstar Paul Newman to work in what was to be Alfred Hitchcock's 50th movie, Torn Curtain (1966), a thriller about a man who pretends to defect to the Soviet Union in order to obtain a secret formula.

Andrews played his concerned girlfriend (shown in bed - gasp! - with him) who is unaware of his scheme and gets caught up in it all. Despite one memorable killing and some notable supporting actors (like Lila Kedrova, shown here), the movie was uninspired and a bit plodding. Because this was not top-notch Hitchcock, Torn Curtain is often considered something of a dud, but it was actually a hit, costing $3 million, but raking in $13 million, which was quite a sum in its day.

Andrews' next couple of films would coincide a bit more closely to her perceived public image of goodness and light. Hawaii (1966) was a gargantuan epic (though based upon only one segment of the five-part novel) about missionaries becoming insinuated on the island. Max Von Sydow was the stern, unwavering Bible-beater with Andrews as his long-suffering wife. Oddly, despite her top-billing and proven box office success, her role sort of receded into the background during a fair share of the film's run time. Still, the movie was a hit, earning back more than double its substantial cost.

More in line with her strengths was the colorful musical Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967), all about a young lady in the early-1920s who heads off to the big city and becomes a flapper, bobbing her hair and taking part in the “Jazz Age.” Costarring were James Fox, Mary Tyler Moore and handsome John Gavin.
Also on board was the irrepressible Carol Channing as a flashy widow and sometimes aviatrix . In what was something of a pattern of ladies in support of Andrews, Channing was nominated for an Oscar (losing to Estelle Parsons of Bonnie and Clyde.) Channing did win the Golden Globe, however. (Andrews was nominated as well in the musical/comedy category, but lost to Anne Bancroft of The Graduate.) Previous Andrews costars who scored Oscar noms included Peggy Wood in The Sound of Music (the award went to Shelley Winters for A Patch of Blue) and Jocelyne LaGarde in Hawaii (Sandy Dennis won for Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?) Lila Kedrova of Torn Curtain had, in fact, just won one for Zorba the Greek as well before their work together.

At this point, Miss Andrews was the #1 box office star in the world and had spun a web of musical magic blended with diligent drama. This, though, was about to change and that change came in an unexpected way since her next film was yet another musical, this time reuniting her with both her producer and director from The Sound of Music, Saul Chaplin and Robert Wise, respectively. The movie was called Star! and it told the story of musical theatre legend Gertrude Lawrence (a persona she'd been approached to portray before but had declined.)
The film was a staggering undertaking, with Andrews decked out in a record-setting 125 costumes (!) in all and with multiple production numbers, some of them involving elaborate décor. Though part of the story recalled Andrews' own start in English music halls, other parts were a considerable stretch of her abilities under the eye of choreographer Michael Kidd. In the number “Jenny,” for example, Andrews took part in a type of stylized movement and dance that had heretofore been untried by her. (Considering my personal aversion to clowns, it's really saying something that this is my favorite sequence in the movie and quitepossibly my favorite Andrews number in any of her films!)
Some of these numbers, however, along with a great deal of the script, bore little resemblance to the life and career of Lawrence. Also, various factors from the sudden lack of interest in musicals from the movie-going public to Andrews' fan base balking at the sight of their leading lady drinking, smoking, cursing and so on led to the expensive movie landing with a huge thud at the box office. The lengthy film was taken back and shorn of 20 minutes (and even retitled “Those Were Happy Times”) to no avail. The project was a bust.
Andrews and husband Walton had divorced in 1967 after eight years and in 1969 she surprised the world by marrying successful TV and film director Blake Edwards. Himself divorced in 1967 and the father of two, he'd made a crack about her sweetness that went “...she probably has violets between her legs!” The remark got back to her and she found it so amusing that she sent him a bouquet of violets. The two began dating and were married not long after.

Their first collaboration, though, was to be still another major flop, one that she couldn't afford so soon after Star! The movie Darling Lili, a musical about a female German spy during WWI who winds up falling for her assigned target (Rock Hudson) began filming in 1968, but wasn't released until 1970. It went over it's already considerable budget by close to 50% and wound up making back only a fraction of that.

The highly-troubled production emerged as a bloated, rather uninvolving 190-minutes, which was soon trimmed to 136 minutes. (A far later director's cut by Edwards clocked in at a brisk 107!) While some viewers insist the opposite, most audiences felt that Andrews and Hudson had no chemistry at all together and tales began to spin from the set (some stemming from annoyed members of the press who were feeling the effects of a beleaguered Andrews' reticence to submit to the same interview questions.) These involved everything from friction between the costars to Edwards humiliating Hudson by demonstrating how to kiss Andrews to accounts of Edwards and Hudson hitting San Francisco leather bars and even a sexual threesome among them! All denied by the participants.

It should be said that even though Star! and Darling Lili had the one-two effect of slamming the lid on Andrews' movie career for a time, both were dismal financial failures, she was still regarded as a considerable talent. She won Golden Globes as World Film Favorite in 1967 and '68 and was nominated for her acting in both Star! and Darling Lili (losing to Barbra Streisand in Funny Girl and Carrie Snodgrass in Diary of a Mad Housewife.) it would, however, be four years until she appeared in another feature film and there would be no singing in that one.

She was hardly idle, though. In 1971 there was Julie and Carol at Lincoln Center, followed by The Julie Andrews Hour, her own TV variety show which ran from 1973 to 1974. The series won seven Emmys and paired her with a wide variety of talents of the day (even bringing the real Maria Von Trapp on to share a yodel or two!) Unfortunately, the show never received a decent time slot, nor substantial ratings, despite high quality and a generous budget. Only one season was produced, though Andrews would continue to appear in sporadic specials.
When she did return to movies, it was in The Tamarind Seed (1974), directed by her husband and costarring Omar Sharif. The romantic espionage drama was a success, doubling its budget in box office returns, and since between them she and Edwards were receiving 15% of the gross, it proved personally profitable. John Barry provided some terrific music for the film.
Once more, she was trying to expand her image and range, lolling in bed with Sharif and playing a “straight” part with a few thrills along the way. Still, a very staid quality remained, not helped by some mannish and unflattering Emma Porteous costumes on her. (Nancy "Miss Jane Hathaway" Kulp would have KILLED for them, though, I imagine!) Indicative of how the advertising promised more than what was delivered is seen below. The poster art shows the lovers walking in skimpy swimwear, but the reality of the scene was a far cry from that! (She did, however, wear a bikini in a scene with her lying and sitting down while Sharif did everything possible to obscure the clingy swimsuit he'd been assigned, allowing only a nanosecond glimpse of it,)
Even with the relative success of Tamarind, Andrews would not be seen in a movie again until 1979 when she costarred in 10, a downright sensation. The comedy, directed by Edwards, involved a composer (Dudley Moore) involved with a musical star (Andrews) who begins fantasizing about a stunning newlywed he has encountered (Bo Derek.) Comic misadventures ensue as Moore obsesses over the cornrow-wearing beauty who is a 10 out of 10.

Even though this was a tremendous hit and a cultural phenomenon, it wasn't free of controversy. Moore only played the lead because George Segal left the movie in a rage after location shooting in Mexico. He came back to Hollywood to find that Edwards was inserting a musical sequence in the film featuring Andrews and felt that he was being used to reignite her faltering career as a movie musical star. In any case, the success of the film seemed to center more on Moore and Derek than Andrews (who did let some curse words fly in yet another attempt to shake her rather gooey image.)

She next costarred in Little Miss Marker (1980), a third remake of a 1934 Shirley Temple movie opposite Walter Matthau and Tony Curtis, which certainly did nothing to counteract her reputation as a sweetheart who is fond of little children. The pleasant, gently amusing movie slid into obscurity rather swiftly.
In 1981, Andrews made her biggest play yet to shed herself of the screen image she'd battled ever since portraying Mary Poppins and Maria Von Trapp. Under Edwards' direction, she costarred in the ensemble comedy S.O.B., a sometimes scathing take on Hollywood backstabbing and phoniness, based on some of Edwards' own experiences and slights over the course of his career.
Andrews' role (quite a stretch!) was that of a movie musical star who is desperate to rid herself of her squeaky clean image. In the course of the plot line, the musical she is currently starring in is reworked into softcore pornography, its script and style dramatically altered, culminating in a moment that has Andrews tearing open her top to flash her bare breasts to the world! (Johnny Carson, at the time of S.O.B.'s release, thanked Andrews and quipped that she showed us “...that the hills were still alive.”)
Having startled the world with her brief (and reasonably tasteful) nude scene, Andrews next proceeded to one of her last great hits. 1982's Victor/Victoria (with Edwards again at the helm) was a musical depicting the unusual, Depression-era scenario of a woman who pretends to be a man who dresses as a woman for entertainment purposes. In other words, a female impersonator who in actual fact is female to begin with!
The glitzy, frolicsome, gender-bending story reunited Andrews with James Garner, costar of her favorite movie The Americanization of Emily, and also placed her alongside Lesley Ann Warren, who had inherited Andrews' Cinderella role in a 1965 color remake of the earlier TV special. The lauded production netted Andrews another Golden Globe as well as her last Oscar nomination (which understandably went to Meryl Streep for Sophie's Choice.)

Andrews would continue to work in movies and, increasingly, on TV, either in Edwards' movies or others, though with far less frequency than she had previously. In 1983, she played Burt Reynolds' therapist in The Man Who Loved Women.
In 1986, she reappeared in two movies, the comedy That's Life!, opposite Jack Lemmon and the multiple sclerosis drama Duet for One, which re-teamed her with her Hawaii leading man Max Von Sydow (in a part initially slated for Faye Dunaway!) The Golden Globes, which had long appreciated her talents and bestowed her with nominations, had her up for awards in both categories, musical/comedy and drama, though she lost to Sissy Spacek in Crimes of the Heart and Marlee Matlin in Children of a Lesser God.
Then she was off the radar again for a time until the 1991 TV-movie Our Sons, with Ann-Margret, playing a businesswoman with a gay son (Hugh Grant) whose partner is dying of AIDS, but whose own mother won't even come to see him. This was followed by an attempt at a sitcom, developed by her husband. Julie only lasted for seven episodes in 1992. A low-budget, poorly distributed movie with Marcello Mastroianni called A Fine Romance was done that same year.

Her efforts were next poured into a stage version of Victor/Victoria. The costly, elaborate production featured songs by Henry Mancini, a longtime Edwards collaborator, though he passed away before the orchestrations were entirely finished. Robert Preston, who'd costarred in the movie, was initially intended to take part as well during early attempts to create it, but ultimately declined (and, in fact, died well before its 1995 premiere.) The musical was doing so-so business when the Tonys were announced, with Andrews the sole nominee in any category. In a now-famous moment, she came out at curtain and publicly declined the nomination, citing the hard work of her fellow unrecognized collaborators. This caused a wave of interest in the show and ticket sales picked up! (By the time this show toured the hinterlands and I saw it, Toni Tennille and Dennis Cole were starring!)

Anyone who felt any sort of resentment towards her for her stand, however, was about to be dealt sweet revenge. The daily stress and strain of the demanding musical was giving Andrews some throat discomfort and difficulty. She underwent surgery for “benign nodules” (with Raquel Welch stepping into the lead role) and when the procedure was over, she was left with virtually no singing voice whatsoever and a raspy speaking one!

It was later discovered that there were no nodules in the first place and that it was muscular striation, along with vocal chord tissue, that was removed, permanently destroying one of the stage and screen's most notable and beloved voices. A (reported) $30 million settlement did little to allay Andrews' personal devastation at this news and she had to undergo extensive psychological therapy to come to grips with the loss. She also underwent four additional operations, which helped her speaking voice, but her once four-octave singing voice has remained a highly limited alto.

Andrews turned to the writing of children's books with her daughter Emma Walton, which turned out to be a very successful enterprise. She also continued to act with success, including a 2001 television version of On Golden Pond with her Music costar Christopher Plummer and franchises like The Princess Diaries, Eloise at the Plaza and sequels to Shrek (one of several bits of voice-only work she has done recently), all happily reinforcing the regal, ladylike qualities that she once felt the need to try to shake.
Accolades kept mounting such as a Kennedy Center Honor in 2001 and a Screen Actors Guild Lifetime Achieve-ment Award in 2007. Edwards died in 2010 of pneumonia at age eighty-eight. (They had adopted two Vietnamese girls in the mid-1970s, making her a mother and stepmother to five children in all.)
At this most recent Oscar ceremony, Lady Gaga paid tribute to the 50th anniversary of The Sound of Music with an alternately brilliant, bizarre, impressive, weird, unforgettable medley and received a rousing standing ovation. However, in a surprise twist, Andrews then took the stage which sent the already on their feet crowd into a tizzy of thunderous applause.
Vanity Fair ran a wonderful interview with Andrews and Plummer to mark the anniversary as well, even reuniting all the actors who played the Von Trapp children for yet one more reunion photo shoot. Remarkably, each one is still alive and doing well in his or her life.
Andrews' career has been a combination of the highest highs and the lowest lows, but even if she didn't fully realize her wish of becoming a highly versatile screen persona, she can hardly complain about the incredible wave of love that has been showered upon her for her portrayal of two of the cinema's most memorable and adored characterizations, Mary Poppins and Maria Von Trapp. Legions of fans hold those movies, and her, dear to their hearts. Now seventy-nine, she is able to appear only when she wishes and revel in the adoration that she has earned over her almost lifetime-long career of entertaining.


Michael O'Sullivan said...

I have always been ambivalent about Julie. I adore her as Millie Dillmount, and the first half of Victor/Victoria but thats about it. A favourite review of Sound of Music begins: "The picture runs for 172 minutes, and the first minute is rather good ...". It always feels totally saccharine to me, as Pauline Kael said in her famous review, "wasn't there one Von Trapp kid who did not want to sing their hearts out for father's guests, or who threw up before going on stage" - and what family of children from teen to tiny tot all dress alike and play together all the time" ....
I feel for Julie though, all anyone wants to know now is about SOM or Mary Poppins. Great to have two such enormous hits in one's resume, but its like nothing else she did is of any interest, which is why her later films flopped so much, as audiences only wanted her as Maria or Mary. Even Millie was not that much of a hit initially.
She comes across as a game, lovely lady and we like her a lot, but she is one star whose image has not changed over the decades.
Having said all that I am looking forward to seeing her one with Mastroianni, and catch All Our Sons again where Ann-Margret is terrific as ever.

Knuckles Girlyskirt said...

I proudly call the "The Sound of Music" a guilty pleasure of mine...although, how can anything so wholesome be considered guilt-inducing?

I believe it was the second movie I saw as a young child that left an impact on me ("The Wizard of Oz" was the first. Geez! Are we that predictable?)

Since then, Julie can really do no wrong in my book. As for Christopher Plummer, he can blow his whistle at me any day!

Thanks for the in-depth look into Julie's career.

Gingerguy said...

She always makes me so happy! I read her (really honest) book but still learned a lot here. Love this posting. I am going to the TCM film festival this month in LA and SOM is the opening movie. Julie is doing red carpet and I hope an onstage interview, so your timing with this is thrilling. I recently bought SOB and she is pretty funny in it. I think Gaga and Julie together may have been the gayest moment of my life (next to Liza showing Lana Turner movie clips at a concert). Sad about the voice, at least we have her recorded concert version of "The King and I" and a million other things that are sweet and great.

Michael O'Sullivan said...

I second that about her and Lady Gaga, best Oscars moment ever ?
I watch Thoroughly Modern Millie at least once a year and a friend and I know all the lines and repeat them to each other ...... add in Bea and Carol and Mary and John Gavin and James Fox in drag - gayest movie ever?

Dave in Alamitos Beach said...

I listened to the audiobook of her autobiography which ends with her flying out to Hollywood for the screen test (or maybe filming) of Mary Poppins. I eagerly await Volume 2!

While I listened to her early life story, I downloaded all of the songs from every one of her albums that I could stand. I really don't need to hear SOM again since I watch it so often, and who needs Burlinton Bertie From Bow and all that?

I've got about 20 songs that are not her major hits and her voice is very lovely. I just wish she had recorded more music during that time, but I know she was very busy.

My family used to listen to My Fair Lady, Camelot, and SOM while we cleaned house on Saturday morning. I can sing every one of those songs. :-)

And, true confession time, when The Sound of Music was rereleased in 1972 (I think) I went to see it about four times in a row one Saturday, and then promptly went back the next Saturday to see it a couple more times. I consider it to be a great musical transfer despite what Pauline Kael and other people think.

A said...

I loved "The Americanization of Emily". She was great and James Garner was at his best looking ever.

Knuckles Girlyskirt said...

Follow Up:

So, I pulled out my SOM soundtrack out and now I can't get "Lonely Goatherd" out of my head.

...Men in the midst of a table-d'hôte-herd...

...One little girl in a pale pink coat-herd

...Soon her mama with a gleaming gloat-herd...

Anonymous said...

The Sound of Music has two scenes that I love: the D-Re-Mi is a rousing number, perfectly photographed and edited, and when she leaves the Von Trapp mansion just before the Intermission.
I love Mary Poppins. My favorite scene is almost at the end, when she looks out the window as the family goes to the park to Fly a Kite; Julie Andrews' range of emotions at that moment is unforgettable.
S.O.B. and Victor/Victoria are among the best movies she made. I, too, want my Jazz Hot.
Thanks for this post on Julie Andrews. As always, I learned a lot.
Best wishes.

joel65913 said...

Lovely tribute to a true legend. It's a tragedy about her voice but, as with Linda Ronstadt whose voice has been robbed through illness, she's left behind such a great legacy we can be happy that she shared it so abundantly when she possessed it.

Like most I love Mary Poppins, Sound of Music, Emily and Millie and even her lesser vehicles from her major period, Star! and Darling Lili have their pleasures.

I recently read a fascinating book called "Roadshow!" about the phenomenon of that practice and how it was kicked into overdrive by the success of Music and killed by the resounding flop of Lili and the many films in between and talks a great deal about Julie therein.

It seems that after the failure of Lili that either she or directors lost touch with what made her stand out on screen, excepting Victor/Victoria where Robert Preston and Lesley Ann Warren still eclipse her somewhat, she never seems to pop off the screen in her later films. Still she's a regal presence whenever she turns up and she's always a welcome sight.

One small note: The TV film she did with Ann-Margret is called Our Sons not All My Sons.

Poseidon3 said...

I'm happy to see some appreciation (in varying degrees!) for Miss Julie and this post. It was a LONG, involved one and nearly wore me out, so I'm glad some of you liked it!

Michael, for those of us who drank the "Sound of Music" Kool-Aid as kids and allowed it to permeate us, I doubt we'll ever understand those snotty criticisms that some reviewers put forth. As spunky as Andrews is as Maria, refusing to be put down by the initially almost-sinister Captain, I can't get why people insist that she's so saccharine. On the contrary, she shows considerable determination. As for the kids... I do believe in real life, none of the kids bowed out and they all took part in the singing, so why would one in the movie do such a thing? Whatever... (I do wonder, on another note, if we Americans tend to be a little more taken, even awed, by her with her crisp, regal bearing than some Britons are since they see and hear many others like her at home all the time?)

Knuckles, if you haven't taken a gander at my Christopher Plummer tribute, please do so because there are some shirtless photos sprinkled in. He was so handsome...

Gingerguy, again I am astounded by your ability to be EVERYWHERE! That is amazing that you will be at the TCM festival. That has to be unforgettable...

Dave, I love that you went to see SOM in a marathon like that! As I said in my earlier post, the time I went (at like age 5) I made my mother stay through until Sixteen Going on Seventeen. I was gobsmacked my that sequence as a child with all the chiffon twirling (God help me...) I never heard her Camelot stuff until many, many years later and, of course, I love it. I meant to put something in the post, but didn't, about a parody someone did of her in Forbidden Broadway which focuses on her style of "sliding" notes in her songs. It's to the tune of "I Could've Danced All Night" but is called, "I Couldn't Hit the Note..."!!

A, I still need to see Emily! It has always escaped me or me it. I'll have to make it a point next time it comes around.

Armando, Do Re Mi is infectious, especially as it builds to the end, isn't it? What a great idea to have all the Salzburg locations dotted in throughout. I am feeling to need to revisit some of Julie's movies now, like "Mary Poppins" and "SOB," both of which I haven't seen in eons.

Joel... GAWD. I cannot believe the typo on that TV-Movie. You know what it is? We have a moving company here called All My Sons (!) and I got that in my head for a moment! It's fixed now, thank you. It never dawned on me until I wrote this that both TV Cinderella's were in "VV" together. I love stuff like that. And it's nice that each got an Oscar nom out of it. I'm sure that Roadshow book is fascinating. That whole era of massive musical flops is very fascinating!

angelman66 said...

Poseidon, great and epic blog-biography of one of our true living legends...beautifully and exhaustively written and as usual, you've illustrated with wonderful, many never-before-seen-by-me photos!

I am a HUGE Julie Andrews fan...she is so versatile and talented. I was privileged to see her during her very short run on Broadway in Victor/Victoria...and she was fantastic!

In my DVD collection, I cout Sound of Music, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Mary Poppins and Victor/Victoria among my very favorite films.

Yes, her nude scene in SOB is tasteful, although I am always startled by the bousnciness and perkiness of her breasts as she tears off her bodice. They really BOINK and then fall into place...ever notice that?

Andrews is the subject of a LOT of "Lavender Myth" - the close friendship with Burnett; her openly gay first husband Tony Walton; rumors about Blake Edwards...a lot of gay references in all their later films together...makes you wonder, hm?
I love your blog and eagerly await your next topic!!

Michael O'Sullivan said...

Just to add that its not Julie I thought saccaharine in Sound of Music, she is indeed very spunky (the real Maria was it seems a bit of a battleaxe) but the show itself. Its fascinating looking at that era of the big roadshow movies now. There is a lot to enjoy in Star! too though they present Gertrude Lawrence as an absolute bitch, and of course who knew who Gertie was back then - that young crowd like myself didn't. But Julie certainly gave it her all. I like Victor/Victoria up to about "Le Jazz Hot", particularly that restaurant scene with the coackroach! and Julie is wonderful with Robert Preston.

Dave in Alamitos Beach said...

I just have to chime in that for me, there are two things that undercut the saccharine of SOM. Well, three I guess. The first is Eleanor Parker. She plays the role so beautifully that I'm stunned she wasn't nominated for an Oscar. A bit of vinegar, and she certainly takes the Pauline Kael opinion - Boarding school!

The second is Christopher Plummer. That cruel mouth of his only sort of turns into a smile after he falls in love with Maria. There is still a lot of fierce in him, even after they all start singing.

And third, and most importantly, Nazis! The movie actually has a very strong third act which most musicals, and certainly most movie musicals, never pull off. Suddenly the drama and stakes are intensified.

rico said...

I really didn't know much about Andrews so this was a fun and informative read!

I've always thought Emma Thompson looked a bit like Julie Andrews and that was reinforced when I saw the picture you posted of Julie's headshot for her variety show!

I'm going to have to throw a few of Andrews' better vehicles on my Netflix queue...I've only seen "SOM," "10" and "Victor/Victoria."

Thanks for the great post, Rick

Poseidon3 said...

Angelman, thanks for your endorsement and approval! ;-) I'm glad this one made you happy. I felt like I had to include at least SOME of the rumor-mongoring where she, Blake and others are concerned and, yes, they do have a lot of gay content and gender concerns in their movies, especially for the time they were made. Not sure how much or how little I truly believe, but when there's smoke...! I seem to recall Carol Burnett once saying that the key to a good marriage with her husband was (not separate bedrooms, but ) separate HOMES! Nearby or adjacent, but not "one." That raised a big rainbow flag for me (and she wasn't kidding around.) But anyway...

Yes, Michael, I barely knew now who Gertrude Lawrence was (to me, before looking her up, she was always the originator of Anna in The King and I who sort of got close to the notes of her songs!) And I don't think they really "got" her in Star!, nor revealed who she truly was. Surprising, since Lehman was typically a very strong writer.

Dave, I agree with every scintilla of what you pointed out. I WORSHIP Eleanor as The Baroness and think there is so much going on in her performance. She wastes not one frame and gives the role dimension that was nonexistent beforehand. Yes, it gets a little corny with the nuns messing up the Nazis vehicles (though that always got a huge laugh), but the soldiers are nonetheless intimidating. Ben Wright still creeps me out, even when I see him in kindly roles! And Franz the butler, too.

Rico, I can see some of Julie in Emma now that you mention it. Interesting that she played the author of Mary Poppins in that movie not long ago. They both have somewhat narrow faces with a very slight catch in one eye.

Thanks again, all, for your interest and time!