Archive for October 24, 2019

Splurch

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , on October 24, 2019 by dcairns

VICTOR VICTORIA starts great — for a mainstream film to open with two male lovers in bed seems pretty bold for the era — and what IS the era? Early thirties, despite Robert Preston’s bulging walnut of hair, 1981 according to year of production, and that part of the Blake Edwards consciousness which is forever circa 1960, just as rock ‘n’ roll was about to supplant jazz and prevent him from ever being “with it.”

But he’s not without it, either. A very elegant visual gag early on showcases his skill in an almost Lubitschian manner.

Julie Andrews as Victoria is poor, cold and hungry. She passes a restaurant window. Returns to star, haunted by the sight of a fat man eating a bun. We can ever closer, Leone-like ECUs driving the point home. A very fine Edwards critical study by Sam Wasson is actually called Splurch in the Kisser, and this sequence seems to embody that principle.

Orgasmic close shots of Julie Andrews. She can never seem as interested in her co-stars as she is in this bun. In fact, of course, she’s gazing at her reflection in the Panavision lens.

A shift in perspective seems to show that Julie/Victoria has departed. But then random passers-by start reacting to something out of shot, below the window frame.

Julie/Victoria is helped to her feet by the concerned onlookers.

THAT’S the Lubitschian touch — the indirectness. Somehow Edwards knew that it would be funnier to discover the swoon after it had happened. Because if it occurred before our eyes, it would be merely the logical climax of the sequence, however skilfully Andrews performed the collapse. By tricking us into thinking something else has happened, he gives us the element of surprise essential to comedy.

No, I don’t know why surprise is essential to comedy, but it does seem to be. My main theory is that the brain produces laughter as the result of some kind of does-not-compute short-circuiting of logic, and so I guess the surprise is necessary to prevent the brain from putting up some kind of analytical defense.

Maybe Edwards could explain it better but he’s dead so there’s just me.

VICTOR VICTORIA stars Mary Poppins; Jim Rockford; Harold Hill; Miss Scarlet; Mongo; Treebeard; Professor Auguste Balls; and Nosher.