Film / Darling Lili

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/darling_lili_342_7402.jpg
Did anyone order Gorgeous Period Dress?
A 1970 movie musical set during World War I, directed by Blake Edwards, with songs by Johnny Mercer and Henry Mancini (as well as some authentic World War I hits).

Lili Smith/Schmidt (Julie Andrews), half-English and half-German, entertains London and Paris on the music hall stage while using her celebrity status to gather information from her military admirers. Her latest assignment is Major William Larrabee (Rock Hudson), an American Ace Pilot with access to vital information about how airplanes are changing the war. A chance reference to "Operation Crepe Suzette" makes Lili think she's stumbled onto an important secret; but the lead goes nowhere, and she begins to suspect instead that Larrabee is seeing another woman behind her back. The idea bothers her more than it really should ....

The production was plagued by problems at every step and only recouped a fraction of its cost at the box office. It has been to some extent Vindicated by Cable, especially with the release of a director's cut on DVD in 2007. While the mixture of musical, romance, slapstick comedy, spy intrigue, and fighter plane action doesn't work for everyone, the film has some undeniable virtues: it is visually stunning, the aerial dogfights are spectacular, and it is a chance to see (and hear) Julie Andrews at her peak.


Darling Lili contains examples of:

  • Ace Pilot: Several, including Bill Larrabee and the Red Baron himself.
  • Bad Girl Song:
    • "Your Goodwill Ambassador", where Crepe Suzette establishes herself as a romantic rival to Lili.
    • The reprise of "I'll Give You Three Guesses" functions as one for Lili, who shows that the gloves are coming off with regards to her spying.
  • Bait-and-Switch Accusation: "We have reason to believe Major Larrabee is passing military secrets to a woman. You seem to be spending a lot of time with him lately, Miss Smith. Could you ... keep an eye on him and report anything suspicious?"
  • Battle Butler: Bedford, Lili's butler, always carries a gun and is also handy in a fistfight.
  • Becoming the Mask: Lili naturally falls in love with Major Larrabee.
  • Big Damn Heroes:
    • Duvalle and Ligette quite accidentally. They drive over to Lili's house as Kessler has Emma and Bedford tied up. Kessler tries to make a break for it undetected as Larrabee frees the other two - and Duvalle and Ligette crash into his car.
    • And of course Larrabee, TC and the Red Baron shooting up the train at the end.
  • Big Fancy House: Lili lives in a splendid fancy mansion.
  • Book Ends: The movie opens and closes with Lili singing "Whistling Away the Dark" at two different concerts.
  • Butt-Monkey: Duvalle and Liggett share this dubious honor, coming in for most of the slapstick.
  • Clueless Detective: Duvalle; see Bait-and-Switch Accusation. Liggett seems slightly more observant, if equally hapless.
  • Cool Plane: Loads of them. The aerial sequences were filmed in Ireland using World War I replica fighter aircraft, facilities, and support equipment originally put together for The Blue Max. Darling Lili utilized the assembled aircraft for thousands of flying hours and accumulated hundreds of hours of aerial footage over the course of two years. Pilots were drawn from the Irish Air Corps and civilian circles.
  • Cultured Badass: Kurt von Ruger.
  • Dark Reprise: Early in the film, Lili performs "I'll Give You Three Guesses" as a cheery, wholesome song-and-dance number. Later, after discovering her jealousy of Crepe Suzette, she changes it to a striptease.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Lili confesses to the police that she's the spy in order to prove that Bill didn't pass information to Suzette. This however puts a target on her back and she and the Colonel have to hurry to Switzerland. That's not to mention that confessing she was the spy implicates Bill anyway.
  • Falling in Love Montage: For Bill Larrabee, as Lili's just doing her job at that point.
  • Family-Friendly Stripper: Despite its two striptease scenes, the movie still received a G rating. Both Suzette and Lili disappear from the stage before their audiences can see anything.
  • Fanservice Extra: The can-can girls in the club, where Lili is first introduced to Bill. At one point they all drop into the splits on the floor.
  • Femme Fatale Spy: Lili, of course. She also suspects Suzette of being one. She isn't.
  • The Fool: Perpetually drunk pilot T.C.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: Stopping the video at the right time during the reprise of "I'll Give You Three Guesses" reveals that Lili was indeed Going Commando under the costume.
  • Gag Echo: Bill shows up at Lili's house with a picnic basket. She asks why they're doing it at three in the morning. He says "best time for it; no ants". The next day she repeats the same line when Von Ruger asks the same question.
  • Glamorous Wartime Singer: Lili is a well known singer and actress, who frequently performs for the troops. Crepe Suzette as well, though she's a burlesque type performer.
  • Gorgeous Period Dress: And how. Lili's wardrobe is truly amazing.
  • Green-Eyed Epiphany: Actually, von Ruger figures out that Lili's jealous before Lili does.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: During "Your Goodwill Ambassador" Lili's reaction to Suzette's dancing is one of pure anger and jealousy.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: Lili is a redhead who attracts legions of admiring soldiers.
  • Historical-Domain Character: Baron von Richthofen.
  • Honey Trap: Lili's assignment for Major Larrabee.
  • Hotter and Sexier: The reprise of "I'll Give You Three Guesses" is this to the first rendition.
  • Ignored Confession: Duvalle takes Lili's attempt to turn herself in as merely a Grand Romantic Gesture ... until Liggett points out that she's mentioning some very specific details.
  • Intimate Open Shirt: Bill's shirt is like this while Lili is trying to pry information about Suzette out of him.
  • Liquid Courage: In a scene deleted from the director's cut (it can be seen in the extras on the DVD), Bill and Lili discuss T.C.:
    Lili: Why does he drink?
    Bill: Because he's afraid to fly.
    Lili: Then why does he fly?
    Bill: Because he likes to drink.
  • Male Gaze:
    • "Your Goodwill Ambassador" has plenty of shots showing Suzette's body.
    • The reprise of "I'll Give You Three Guesses" has a shot where Lili wiggles her ass right in front of the camera.
  • The Musical Musical: The protagonist is a singer who performs in such acts.
  • Musical World Hypothesis: Firmly #3, diegetic. All the songs are either stage performances or sing-alongs.
  • Old-School Dogfight: Loads of them. You can't get any more old-school than biplanes. (See "Cool Plane" above).
  • The Oner: The opening musical number "Whistling Away The Dark" is three minutes long and one continuous take, first showing the crowd's POV of Lili on stage and then rotates to her facing the crowd.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Crepe Suzette. Gloria Paul is even credited as playing 'Crepe Suzette' in the end titles. Her last name Mardieu is however spoken by the detectives.
  • Precision F-Strike: Lili says "don't be an ass!" to the Colonel, thoroughly shocking those used to Julie Andrews's sweetheart persona.
  • Re-Cut: This film exists in three versions: the original roadshow version (190 minutes), which Edwards disowned; the general release version (136 minutes); and Edwards' personal director's cut (113 minutes).
  • Red Baron: Averted. The nickname is never used in the film; instead, he's called Baron von Richthofen or just "the Baron."
  • Red Herring: It turns out Crepe Suzette is neither a spy nor the other woman.
  • Run for the Border: After their cover is blown, Lili and von Ruger hop on a train to Switzerland.
  • Satellite Love Interest: Despite his status as an Ace Pilot, we know very little about Bill. He functions as someone for Lili to spy on, suspect of cheating and fall in love with.
  • Shaking Her Hair Loose: Lili pulls the pin out of her hair and shakes it free during her striptease.
  • Shower Scene: Starts as a Shower of Angst and turns into a Shower of Love.
  • Speech Impediment: Liggett has a stammer.
  • The Spymaster: Kurt von Ruger.
  • Spy Speak: Averted with Lili. She makes her reports to von Ruger in straightforward language. However, she does have a book of codes which she uses late in the movie to frame Crepe Suzette as a spy.
  • Those Two Guys: Liggett and Duvalle are always together.
  • Trapped Behind Enemy Lines: T.C. and Bill are shot down near a German air base. They steal the Red Baron's plane to get away.
  • Triumphant Reprise: At the beginning of the film, Lili leads the soldiers singing "It's A Long Way To Tipperary" to calm down the audience at her concert - frightened by an air raid. After peace has been declared and Lili reunites with Bill on stage, the song is sung again by the crowd.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: TC in a moment of drunken foolishness asks Bill about "Operation Crepe Suzette", kickstarting a good portion of the plot that ends with Lili blowing her cover and she and the Colonel having to run for the border.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: General Kessler is last seen when his car bumps into Duvalle and Liggett's as he tries to make his getaway. His fate after that is unknown.
  • Wrong Name Outburst: In an attempt to find out the meaning of "Operation Crepe Suzette," Lili accuses Bill of calling her "Suzette" in bed.
  • You Can Leave Your Hat On:
    • Crepe Suzette's routine consists of a striptease that ends with her being covered only by her hat.
    • Lili later performs a reprise of "I'll Give You Three Guesses" as a striptease.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Film/DarlingLili