Victor Victoria is a 1982 musical comedy film released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer that involves transvestism and sexual identity as central themes. It stars Julie Andrews, James Garner, Robert Preston, Lesley Ann Warren, Alex Karras, and John Rhys-Davies. The film was produced by Tony Adams, directed by Blake Edwards, and scored by Henry Mancini, with lyrics by Leslie Bricusse. It was later adapted in 1995 as a Broadway musical. The film was nominated for seven Academy Awards and won the Academy Award for Original Music Score. It is a remake of Viktor und Viktoria, a German film of 1933.
In 1930s Paris, Victoria Grant (Julie Andrews), a struggling soprano, is unable to find work. She bombs an audition at Chez Lui, a tawdry night club where Carroll "Toddy" Todd (Robert Preston) also works. Later, we see her pass out from hunger in front of her hotel manager after offering to sleep with him "for a meatball". The same evening Toddy starts a fight at Chez Lui after finding out that his boyfriend was dating a woman and is subsequently fired. Later that night, Victoria runs into Toddy at a Paris restaurant where she is scheming to plant a cockroach in her food in order to get her meal for free. While trying to foil the waiter (Graham Stark), the plan goes awry after the cockroach goes missing from her purse and ends up crawing up woman's leg, starting a riot in the restaurant which Victoria and Toddy use to escape. They spend the night at his apartment discussing how they got into their situations.
The next day, Victoria dresses in Toddy's ex-boyfriend's clothes (as hers were ruined by the previous night's rain) to return to her hotel to pick up her things. However, Toddy's ex boyfriend shows up to pick up his clothes and when he insults Toddy, Victoria breaks his nose and tells him in a deep and angry voice to get out and not to come back. After seeing Victoria act like a man, Toddy hits upon a plan to help both her and himself: Victoria will pretend to be a man pretending to be a woman, and get a job as a female impersonator in a nightclub. In order to enhance the ruse, Toddy will pretend to be her gay lover.
Soon Victoria's new persona, "Count Victor Grazinski", becomes the toast of Paris. As money and fame start to turn her (and Toddy's) lives around, an additional complication arises. King Marchand (James Garner), a gangster and nightclub-owner from Chicago, finds himself at first attracted to Victoria and repelled by "Victor" during "Victor's" debut, which enrages Marchand's whiny-voiced, peroxide-blonde spitfire girlfriend/Moll Norma (Lesley Ann Warren)- Until the end of the show when "Victoria" shows she is "Victor". Later that night at the hotel, he and Norma get into a fight and he ends up sending her home to Chicago where she crys in great detail to King's boss about how King Marchand left her for a man. Eventually, this encourages King's burly bodyguard, "Squash" Bernstein (Alex Karras), to come out of the closet,.
Marchand starts to investigate Victor, sure that a man like himself could never fall for another man but in the end declares that he does not care if Victoria is a man; this statement is rather undercut by his having previously spied on her naked in the bath. Now Victoria must come to terms with what she really wants out of life: to be true to herself by giving up her career and fame in Paris to be with the man who loves her and whom she loves, or to continue with her duplicitous profession and risk losing Marchand.
In a subplot of the film, the owner of the Chez Lui club also is trying to investigate Victor, since he suspects that "he"(Victor) is the soprano whom he rejected from his club and wanted to get revenge on Victor for having his club closed down after another riot caused by Victor by exposing Victor as a fraud.The vocal numbers in the film are presented as nightclub acts. However, the lyrics or situations of some of the songs are calculated to relate to the unfolding drama. Thus, the two staged numbers Le Jazz Hot and The Shady Dame from Seville help to present Victoria as a female impersonator. The latter number is later reinterpreted by Toddy for diversionary purposes in the plot, and the cozy relationship of Toddy and Victoria is promoted by the song You and Me, which is sung before the audience at the nightclub.