Less Would Have Been Moore
Having been New York for a few weeks Millie Dillmount (Julie Andrews - Torn Curtain) has reinvented herself replacing the long hair and long dress with a short bob and a short dress all in preparation for the next stage of her plan to get a job as a stenographer and marry her wealthy boss. It is shortly after reinventing herself that she meets Miss Dorothy (Mary Tyler Moore - Change of Habit), an old fashioned sort of girl who is staying in the same hotel as Millie. When Millie gets a job working for the handsome Trevor Graydon (John Gavin) it seems like she will get her man, the trouble is she has already met the charming Jimmy Smith (James Fox) who lives life with gay abandon.
Before watching "Thoroughly Modern Millie" I nosed through a few reviews and most sung the praises of this musical farce with many mentioning how much they loved it when they saw it back in 1967. Rather than making me think I was in for a treat I actually started to get reservations because I feared those reviews may have been written with rose tinted nostalgia and sadly I was right. The trouble with "Thoroughly Modern Millie" is that it never knows when enough is enough which is why at 138 minutes it is far too long. It's not that it doesn't work because it does; the comedy is fun, the musical numbers enjoyable and a daft crime story is amusing but every single element is drawn out often beyond the point that it worked to the put of becoming annoying.
Now the storylines to "Thoroughly Modern Millie" are simple as we have a playful first half all about Millie trying to live life as she planned which means getting a job and marrying a rich, handsome boss. Of course things can't be that simple and things get messy when it comes to her feelings for Jimmy Smith who lives life to the full and then the naive Miss Dorothy whilst a friend also complicating manners. And then there is the simple second half as they uncover that Mrs. Meers who runs the hotel is drugging single women to sell them into the slave trade. Yes that is utterly daft but gives us a nice slapstick ending as Millie and Jimmy try to save the day when Miss Dorothy goes missing.
But as already mentioned my problem with "Thoroughly Modern Millie" is that everything goes on far too long so not only are musical numbers a little too long but there are a few too many. It is the same with all the slapstick, from a comedy chase scene to a homage to Buster Keaton with Millie hanging from a flag pole, each scene goes on beyond the point of being entertaining. I could go on because it is the same when it comes to Mrs. Meers and her nefarious attempts to dope Miss Dorothy to bundle her away.
But the biggest problem for me when it comes to each element being too much is when it comes to Julie Andrews as Millie. Now I like Julie Andrews but she dominates the movie to the point that it could have been retitled "The Julie Andrews Musical". I don't knows whose fault that is but it does mean that Mary Tyler Moore, John Gavin and James Fox all end up as her supporting cast who often get their moment to shine stolen away from them. The only one who doesn't get her moment stolen from her is Carol Channing as Muzzy Van Hossmere as she delivers the most over the top but hilarious musical number.
What this all boils down to is that "Thoroughly Modern Millie" just didn't do it for me and it all came down to the fact that every part of the movie from musical numbers to jokes went on far too long. And the knock on effect of that is Julie Andrews ends up becoming annoying because far too often it is her scenes which go on too long.