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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Mata Hari Meets Maria von Trapp

Darling Lili (1970) on IMDb

Plot Overview

Vive la FrancePopular WWI entertainer Lili Smith neé Schmidt (Julie Andrews) boosts public morale in war-weary London before repairing to her French château complete with butler Bedford (Bernard Kay) and maid Emma (Doreen Keogh.) This petite spy nest receives Lili's German “Swiss uncle” Col. Kurt Von Ruger (Jeremy Kemp) fresh off the U–boat who updates her assign­ments. Besides her cover enter­tain­ment gigs she is to seduce military intelligence (“Watch, listen, report”) from ladies man Major William Larrabee (Rock Hudson) flight commander of the American Eagle squadrons.

These two seducers rendezvous at a country inn for an honest tryst, ineptly shadowed by French Army Intelligence Maj. Duvalle (Jacques Marin) & Lt. Liggett (André Maranne.) Secrets are about to get overexposed.


Cupid's dartThe not unexpected romance that blossoms between the two of them is so convo­luted as to be prepos­terous were it not for the movie world preparing us for it. Think along the lines of, (Prov. 30:18-19) “There be three things which are too wonder­ful for me, yea, four which I know not: The way of an eagle in the air; the way of a serpent upon a rock; the way of a ship in the midst of the sea; and the way of a man with a maid.” The observer cannot track an eagle drifting on the air currents, a slithering serpent on a rock, or a ship tossing on the sea, much less “the way of a man with a maid.”

The air show in this movie consists of dog fights among agile bi-planes, which are acrobatic to the point of recklessness.

men's dance lineThe serpentine motion of a bold, raucous cancan line would be hard to outdo. There's a new move at every turn.

The water scene not to be outdone is of Maj. Duvalle & Lt. Liggett climbing on the steeply-pitched roof of the inn in a thunder­storm. Their safety rope can't prevent them from falling into the drink. They remind one of Inspector Clouseau in the “Pink Panther” series.

Although the writers let out all the stops in the romance story, it seems right at home in this movie.

Production Values

” (1970) was directed by Blake Edwards who co-wrote the story with William Peter Blatty. It stars Julie Andrews, Rock Hudson, and Jeremy Kemp. Andrews is great through and through although a little over sweet for a dangerous spy, but then this is only WWI not II. Her voice was utterly captivating. Hudson is a more believable seducer in the deleted scenes than in what was left of him. Lance Percival was funny as a besotted (“soûl”) pilot. Jacques Martin and André Maranne were excellent as fumbling French flat­foots. The entire cast shone in this film.

It was rated G (PG Canada.) Most of the sexual innuendo is in the deleted scenes. It was filmed in Brussels, Brussels-Capital, Belgium. The aerial scenes were filmed in Ireland courtesy of the Irish Air Corps who did an excellent flying job. This film comes in three versions: the original road show version (190 minutes,) which Edwards disowned, the general release version (136 minutes) and Edwards's personal director's cut (113 minutes). The first batch of the (19) deleted scenes seemed to enhance the story and were probably cut to shorten the product. The music was period rousing.

Review Conclusion w/a Christian's Recommendation

If you really enjoy musicals, take in some of the deleted scenes before watching this one a second time. It starts with a great deal of vigor but sloshes along on the mushy side for the rest of it, punctuated by shocking reveals. Part of its appeal is that it evinces a bygone era of the epic musical. If that's your style, don't miss this one.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Edge of your seat action-packed. Suitability for children: Suitable for all ages. Special effects: Absolutely amazing special effects. Video Occasion: Fit For a Friday Evening. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Overall movie rating: Five stars out of five.