This Quiz Call film is an answer to the question ‘Musicals‘ which is legitimate because it is indeed a well-known musical, even if it’s not exactly Mamma Mia!.
Victoria (Julie Andrews) is a singer who’s struggling to find work in Paris, but when she encounters Toddy (Robert Preston) the two hatch a plan to pass her off as a drag queen to improve her chances.
This is a light-touch musical with the dialogue based story occasionally pausing for musical interludes as Victoria performs in the bar. Not as groundbreaking as Cabaret but smarter than The Birdcage, it manages to be moderately impressive in place, including well staged musical numbers.
Julie Andrews is decent, and her beautifully clear singing voice is always a pleasure to hear, but manly she is not, and her dialogue sounds like it may have been de-coarsened for her, referring to her gazongas as her bosom and eyeing up an attractive man with the line “I wouldn’t mind having an affair with him”. This suggests a nervousness about the material which is odd for a film about someone pretending to be a drag queen.
Victoria and Toddy have a likable platonic relationship and all the characters are reasonably developed, although Victoria’s budding relationship with a mob banker reads a little strangely. But in spite of its general competence, there’s something missing. And it’s not just the mildly ridiculous assertion that it’s easier to find success as a drag performer than as a woman. It’s not as witty as it needs to be, with an over-reliance on mediocre slapstick, so at well over two hours it ends up being something of a drag.