Thoroughly Modern Millie
d. George Roy Hill / USA / 1967 / 138 mins
Viewed on: BBC Four (UK)
I have mixed feelings about this one. I think it’s a little too long, a bit silly and I still maintain that – despite being set in the 1920s – some of the fashion and a lot of the choreography seems very 1960s. But how can you not like it? Julie Andrews enters the frame as a dowdy Mary Poppins-type and, after a quick costume change, steps into a thoroughly modern world of ‘bob’ cuts, cloche hats and the Charleston. It also has evil ‘orientals’ (led by the distinctly un-oriental comedienne Beatrice Lillie), and a cast of characters that include the inimitable Carol Channing, as well as Mary Tyler Moore, the Pope from Mister Lonely, Marion Crane’s boyfriend from Psycho, Kung Fu‘s Master Kan and the late Mr. Miyagi.
I also found it interesting that most of the musical numbers operate within the internal emotion of individual characters. Unlike traditional musicals, where songs are often addressed directly toward other characters, the songs here only illustrate the internal thoughts or feelings of a character and are often delivered in a direct address to the camera. Plus, when she’s not singing them, Millie uses silent film style intertitles to convey these emotions. Good-O!
Anyway, apart from anything else, it has a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. What more do you want?