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Film: Thoroughly Modern Millie

"Good-bye, good goody girl
I'm changing and how
So beat the drums 'cause here comes
Thoroughly Modern Millie now!"
— The title number

A 1967 musical comedy directed by George Roy Hill, Thoroughly Modern Millie later became a stage musical in 2002. Notably, the film version, which starred Julie Andrews as the titular Millie, was the source of composer Elmer Bernstein's only Academy Award.

A "thoroughly modern girl" from Kansas, Millie Dillmount aspires to be the stenographer, and then the wife, of a wealthy man. After remaking her image, she meets Miss Dorothy Brown at the Priscilla Hotel, which is headed by a Mrs. Meers. She takes a liking to salesman Jimmy, but true to her ambition, she sets her sights on rich Trevor Graydon. Things get complicated for all when it's revealed that the hotel is a front for a white slavery ring, and that Miss Dorothy is their latest target.

The film thrives on Meta Humor, most notably the "break" halfway through in which literally nothing happens for a few minutes. It's an odd combination of 1920's comedy and 1960's sensibilities, swerving between parody and straight-up comedy.


This Work Contains Examples Of:

  • A-Cup Angst: Inverted, with the fashion of a small chest being a bother to the slightly buxom Millie.
  • All Musicals Are Adaptations: The film averts this trope.
  • Alto Villainess: Mrs. Meers, in the stage show.
  • Aside Glance: Millie does this a lot, and addresses the audience via silent movie dialog cards.
  • Beta Couple: Dorothy and Trevor. Subverted in the stage version where it looks like they'll hook up but Dorothy hooks up with one of Those Two Guys instead
  • Book Ends: The musical ends with a hopeful-looking girl who walks onto center stage carrying a suitcase, much like Millie did at the start.
  • The Casanova: Jimmy in the stage show.
  • Disguised in Drag: Jimmy does this in the movie.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Trevor does this after he is "stood up". By slipping it in his coffee.
  • The Flapper
  • Gold Digger: The main premise of the story.
  • "I Am" Song: In addition to the title number, the Screen-to-Stage Adaptation adds "Not for the Life of Me".
  • Incest Is Relative: Subverted. Millie seems to think that Jimmy is cheating on her with Miss Dorothy. She's wrong, of course, but it's made rather disturbing after The Reveal shows them to be siblings.
  • Innocent Innuendo
    Trevor: Bolt the door, take off your things and lets have a test!
    Millie: Excuse me?
    Trevor: Take a letter!
  • Insistent Terminology: Miss Dorothy. In the movie, it gets to the point where other people start correcting it for her.
  • "I Want" Song: this is Zig-Zagged in the stage version, with the song "How the Other Half Lives." Millie wants to be rich, and Miss Dorothy wants to be poor. See also "Gimme Gimme," another stage version song.
  • Knockout Gas: Played with when the antagonist is pumping a white sleeping gas into the room of someone she plans to kidnap and sell into slavery, the problem is that she is in the room with the gas. As the gas gets thicker in the room she starts to yawn, slows down, and finally just falls over onto the bed; the gas has dissipated by the time she is found, still asleep.
    • She tries again later while wearing a gas mask, with more success this time.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Done a lot in the movies, in the form of silent movie dialogue cards. Usually about how well rich people can wear beads.
  • Leitmotif: The same few bars of music crop up each time Mrs. Meers tries something "evil" in the musical.
    • In the movie, a heroic fanfare is heard every time Trevor Graydon is shown parked outside the Priscilla Hotel while Millie and Jimmy are investigating Miss Dorothy's disappearance ... despite the fact that he's been shot with a tranquilizer dart and is completely unconscious.
  • Lost Aesop: In the end, Millie falls for the seemingly-broke Jimmy, agreeing that marriage out of love is more important than seeking a wealthy suitor for money. The Reveal then crushes this moral by revealing that Jimmy is related to Dorothy and Muzzy, and is extremely wealthy himself.
    • The moral being lost actually precedes the finale when Muzzy tells her story of the "green glass" her lover gave her, and how she accepted him and the glass out of love...and then reveals that they were actually emeralds, and her lover was also secretly wealthy.
      • The Aesop is at least partially retrieved by Muzzy's summing-up statement: "Even though I really do prefer emeralds, we could have made it on green glass."
  • Motor Mouth:
    Ruth: [Rapid fire] Well, hello! You're new. You an actress? I'm an actress, but we couldn't be more different, so well never be up for the same part, which is a good thing, don'cha think? Ruth Devereaux-my stage name, anyway.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Julie Andrews plays Millie, who is from Kansas. Andrews herself uses her normal British speaking voice throughout the film.
  • Not With Them For The Money: After Millie has Character Development.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: In the stage version, it turns out that Bun Foo can speak English a lot better than he lets on. So when Mrs. Meers mocks his apparent inability to understand her and gloats about how she'll never save his mother from Hong Kong, he's more than happy later to testify to the crimes she committed.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Done intentionally. Mrs. Meers does this when she gets frustrated.
  • Opium Den: A front for the white slavery ring.
  • Pair the Spares: Parodied in the stage show, when Trevor is seemingly the only one left without a love interest...and laments the loss of Millie, who was a fantastic secretary. Bun Foo reveals that he's a great typist, and the two go off together.
  • Patter Song: The Speed test.
  • Percussive Maintenance: The elevator works only when you tap dance on it; in fact, the first time, it Mickey Moused right into the title number.
  • Plucky Girl: Millie, especially in the stage version. In case you couldn't tell from the opening number, she drives it home in the "Not for the Life of Me" tag by turning the Dark Reprise into Triumphant Reprise.
  • Really Gets Around: Muzzy and her international stable of handsome "teachers."
  • Relative Error: A major plot point.
  • Rich Bitch: Judith Tremaine.
  • The Roaring Twenties: With the lyrics in the title song giving the year as 1922.
  • Secretly Wealthy: It's the Twist Ending.
  • Significant Anagram: "Zazu Rosy Schmevmen" in the musical.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss
  • Sleeping with the Boss: This is the standard way to land a husband it seems(give or take actual sex): you meet a successful man by becoming his secretary, then he falls in love with you and you get married.
  • Slumming It: Miss Dorothy
  • Smoking Is Glamorous: In the film, Millie sees some Chinese prostitutes doing this, and fails to mimic them properly. This leads to her accidentally blowing up the Chinese Opium Den and saving the day.
  • Socialite: Muzzy van Hossmere.
  • Southern Belle: Miss Dorothy, depending on how she is played.
  • The Stinger: At the end of the stage show, Bun Foo and Ching Ho's mother returns to them.
  • Those Two Guys: Bun Foo and Ching Ho. In a subversion Ching Ho ends up affecting the plot pretty heavily on his own.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Millie and Dorothy.
  • Tranquillizer Dart: The darts work instantly, though the earlier Knockout Gas was not played as straight.
  • Underdressed for the Occasion: Millie in her plaid day dress at Muzzy's evening party.
  • Wardrobe Wound: Judith Tremaine, when Millie gets soy sauce on her dress at Muzzy's party.
  • Wealthy Ever After
  • Weddings for Everyone: Dorothy and Trevor, along with Jimmy and Millie.
  • Work Off the Debt: Jimmy purposefully neglects to pay for dinner to wash dishes with Millie. This is rather moot when it's revealed that Jimmy is absurdly rich.
  • Yellow Peril

SunsetThe Roaring TwentiesThe Untouchables
The Projected ManFilms of the 1960sTo Sir With Love

alternative title(s): Thoroughly Modern Millie
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