Release Date: 25-OCT-2005
Media Type: DVD
Even fans of the picture would have to admit that the weird storyline had something to do with it, too. Andrews plays a World War I singer in London and Paris who's actually a spy for the Germans (part of her cover is singing popular patriotic songs, such as "Pack Up Your Troubles" and "It's a Long Way to Tipperary"). Her new assignment is to get information from a famous pilot (Rock Hudson), but naturally she falls in love with him along the way. The movie's WWI aerial sequences (shot in Ireland) are a little like the film's approach: soaring, graceful, and disconnected from any carnage that might be happening in the trenches. However, if you can appreciate Edwards' slapstick prowess and commitment to the screwball-romance style of filmmaking, there's much to admire.
For one thing, Edwards photographs Julie Andrews with the loving devotion of a new husband. For another, his feeling for the widescreen frame as a big playground for lush color and busy action is well-served by the DVD release--this is a visually gorgeous movie. The new songs by Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer include the superb opening number--evocatively shot--called "Whistling in the Dark." The DVD is billed as a "Director's Cut," but is shorter than the original release, a result of Edwards himself reportedly retooling the picture after 1970 (the disc has a whopping hour's worth of additional scenes). Whichever way it's sliced, Darling Lili was always going to be a strangely mixed movie, with Pink Panther-style bits sitting next to Mata Hari skullduggery. Fans of Julie Andrews and the vanished elegance of visual storytelling will find much to savor nevertheless. --Robert Horton