Monday, January 3, 2011

Rock Hudson & Julie Andrews in Darling Lili 1970

I thought it might be fun to contrast yesterday's post with another, very different film also from 1970. In Darling Lili Julie Andrews plays a very unlikely German spy during WWI. She's the darling of Great Britain - a musical hall performer named Lili Smith (nee Schmidt) who has a squeaky clean image. Her controllers are concerned about an Allied squadron that is wreaking havoc on their air craft and give Lili orders to seduce the squadron leader and pump him for information. The squadron leader is, of course, Rock Hudson and they, inevitably fall in love, which compromises Lili's position. The film, directed by Blake Edwards is as much a big budget, glamorous Hollywood production as Alex in Wonderland isn't. The sets, costumes, cinematography and art direction play a huge part in creating the mood of the nineteen-teens as seen through the lens of the late 1960's and the areal segments are spectacular, which is in stark contrast to the catch-as-catch-can settings and photography of Alex in Wonderland. It's a perfect example of the tension that existed between the establishment and the new, rebellious film makers that were starting to make over Hollywood. Aside from all that, the film is charming, especially the original music by Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer.

This film was a big budget release in 1970 and though it failed to capture the public's imagination and wasn't a financial success, it was a critical success and found its way into several Oscar and Golden Globe nominations. It's rarely on TV, but it is available on DVD and can be watched in its entirety  on YouTube thanks to DrageReborn's upload.

Obscurity factor: 4 (Available on DVD, can be watched on YouTube, rarely screened on TV)


  1. This is the "infamous" project that the Studio (MGM?) took away from Edwards because it was so far over budget and going nowhere due to rewrites, bright ideas and other changes. The studio cut it to their needs (get it out on screen and dump it). Edwards and Andrews were desperate to over come the speedbump in Andrews' career called STAR and let the movie get away from them. Edwards' cut (it exists in even more obscurity) is a bit darker and a little less "Mary Poppins as a German Spy" and more "Mata Hari as a Stage Star." 10+ years later, this movie was the genesis of another Blake Edwards obscurity - S.O.B.

    Love the Blog! It's Great Fun.

    Kisses to Brini!

    Donald Bruce

  2. Great, succinct history of this film. Thanks for the background! I'd love to see the director's cut. The working partnership that Andrews and Edwards had is fascinating to follow.

  3. I've got the DVD and watch this movie from time to time. I DO love the music in this movie.

  4. I do too... it's delightful music.