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Thoroughly Modern Millie

Universal/Universal . R4 . COLOR . 146 mins . G . PAL


Thoroughly Modern Millie brings us the 1920s jazz age complete with page-boy haircuts, flat-chested flappers, the Charleston - and the terrifying evil of the white slave trade.

Millie is Julie Andrews, who comes to the big smoke, shears off the bottom of her dress to look thoroughly modern, binds her chest to get rid of her big boobs, hacks off her hair and sets about becoming the perfect girl-around-town.

At the Priscilla Home for Single Young Ladies, she teams up with Miss Dorothy (Mary Tyler Moore), who has arrived in town determined to break into the movies. But the Priscilla Home is not all it seems, nor is its sinister landlady Mrs Meers (Beatrice Lillie). And when romance entangles the girls, courtesy of dapper Trevor (John Gavin) and young Jimmy (James Fox), it becomes just too much for two young girls to easily cope with.

There are all the ingredients here for a fun musical. But this 1976 effort makes heavy weather of it all. The musical's lowest point comes with the appearance of Jimmy's friend Muzzy, a fun-loving widow. She is played at full throttle by professional screecher Carol Channing, screaming at full-throttle. It might have seemed mildly amusing at the time - now it's plain painful.

And this very slight musical clocks in at an excruciating 146 minutes. This is one time the four per cent running time speedup inherent in a PAL transfer is welcome. Sliced back to 90 minutes, this might have been an attractive, if rather silly, musical. As it is, it stands as excessive nonsense, a memorial to directorial and acting indulgence of the worst kind. Not even Kevin Costner could have been this indulgent.

It's not Julie Andrews' fault; it's not the fault of the charming Mary Tyler Moore in her first major motion picture role. It's the film itself. Thoroughly Modern Millie ain't modern any longer. This film has gone way past its use-by date.


The anamorphic transfer shows some age-related wear but is generally bright and sunny - it's a generally pleasing transfer, although some tonal values, especially flesh-tones, are subject to quite a degree of variability.


The two-channel soundtrack is the most thoroughly modern aspect of the film, with strongly defined stereo separation and with excellent clarity for both music and dialogue. The sound has a natural depth to it - surprising, given the shallowness of the movie!


There's a trailer which shows quite marked wear, and the scene selection menu is nicely animated. But as far as extras go, that's it.


I'd avoid this one unless you're a huge fan of Julie Andrews or Mary Tyler Moore, or unless you're finding it hard to sleep nights and want a remedy less punishing than prescription drugs.

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      And I quote...
    "Thoroughly Modern Millie ain't modern any longer. This film has gone way past its use-by date."
    - Anthony Clarke
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