Darling Lili Blake Edwards

One of the last of the bloated, "twilight of old Hollywood" musicals, this ran famously over-budget and flopped abjectly at the 1970 box office. But though it was clearly a museum piece in the funky, filthy early '70s, it's still light and streamlined enough to cause reasonable amounts of pleasure. Julie Andrews plays the roll of Lili Smith, a renowned British singer who doubles as a German spy; her cover proves quite useful, as WWI is in full swing and the Kaiser needs all the help he can get. The wrinkle happens when she tries to romance information from flyer Major Larrabee (Rock Hudson) and inconveniently falls in love, setting in motion events that may threaten everybody's security. In one sense, the film is a ridiculous male fantasy of conquering a dominant woman and turning her to your own side. But overlook the cheesy sexual politics and you'll find something fluid and easy to watch. Andrews gives her temptress real credibility (which raised eyebrows with the The Sound of Music faithful), for once Hudson seems to make sense as something other than a powerful jawbone and the whole thing seems harmonious in ways that Blake Edwards would never achieve again. This may be because he re-cut the film from 136 minutes for its run on cable, but whatever the reason the whole thing looks quite sumptuous and doesn't have a single dull patch. You couldn't call it a masterpiece (Leslie Halliwell was on the money when he called it "a good coffee table film"), but as lavish entertainment it fills the bill. Includes 19 deleted scenes that presumably show what was lost in the re-edit. (Paramount)