Lili on DVD
Julie Andrews stars as Lili Smith, or Schmidt depending upon which
side you supported in World War 1.
She’s a German spy and famous entertainer in this Blake Edwards
film that doesn’t ever really decide whether it wants to be
a war thriller, musical, romance or slapstick comedy. All of these
very diverse elements are there, and each is well done, but while
most of these elements can work together without fighting, the thriller
and slapstick comedy parts seem at odds.
Still, how’s this for pluses: Julie Andrews and some of the
best biplane dogfights we’ve ever seen on film. That would
be enough to get us watching this, and those aspects of the film
are first rate. Andrews, who is always fantastic, gets to stretch
her image a bit here. She's no goodie two shoes as she has been
so often stereotyped; she's skillfully playing both sides against
the middle, keeping the home fires burning while stoking those who
want to burn the Allied house down with plenty of kindling.
There's music, too, from the era and via new songs by Johnny Mercer
and Henry Mancini that are okay. But this isn't really a musical.
It's a spy drama. And a romance. And a slapstick comedy.
Sorry to keep going back to that. We enjoyed the movie quite a
bit, but that was in spite of the split personality that makes it
seem a tad weird.
Lili is given a big assignment, to squeeze dry American flyboy
Major Larrabee (Rock Hudson) and pass on the guts he spills to her
And, of course, here is where her espionage career starts heading
for the dumper. While she's letting Hudson woo her she starts falling
in love with him, causing the expected angst.
Meanwhile, the French authorities so often skewered by Blake Edwards
show up to tell Lili that they suspect Larrabee's divulging info
to some woman entertainer - yet these Clouseaus don't seem to note
any irony in the fact that while they're taking Lili into their
confidence they're too dense to even suspect her.
There ensues for these fellows some uncomfortable times trying
to keep Lili and Larrabee under surveillance, and they never really
do figure things out, though they manage to screw things up enough
to give jealous Lili a way to punish Larrabee and an innocent woman
while she skates.
Does she skate, or does she throw off the dark side of the force
to embrace good in time for the final credits to roll? You'll have
to watch for yourself.
Hudson just seems to be walking through this movie, and he's so
outclassed by Andrews we aren't sure he should be in this movie,
but 'twasn't our choice to make so what can you do?
The rest of the supporting cast is good, especially as noted the
unnamed flyboys who perform the stunt flying. They are great, as
are many of the aerial shots.
The DVD is presented in anamorphic widescreen, 16x9 TV compatible,
and the picture is excellent, very clean, sharp and bright with
rich colors. We did notice some edge enhancement, however.
Audio is a Dolby Digital 5.1 surround remix and for the most part
it's very good considering the age of the source material.
Extras include 19 "additional" scenes, some of which
may only be enhanced versions of scenes that are actually included
in the film. Best of these are the dogfights, which are repeated
from the movie.
There's also the trailer.
Darling Lili, from Paramount Home Entertainment
107 min. anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1), 16x9 TV compatible, Dolby
Starring Julie Andrews, Rock Hudson, Jeremy Kemp
Written by Blake Edwards and William Peter Blatty, produced and
directed by Blake Edwards
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