Anyone who loves the great Julie Andrews will have a great time at the movies this weekend when three of her films play on home screens. Take a look at what Julie and other stars offer on broadcast and cable television.
Andrews was the star of the screen when she made this musical biography of stage star Gertrude Lawrence in 1968, some three years after The Sound of Music became the most successful musical ever made. But Star! – also directed by Robert Wise – was Andrews’ first bust at the box office. Maybe the movie was too much like the popular Funny Girl that opened at the same time or perhaps audiences did not want to see their favorite nanny play a driven, ego-centric performer. What they missed was a beautifully crafted film that offers some of Andrews’ best screen work. Take a look.
Friday, March 20, 10:30 p.m., Turner Classic Movies (TCM)
Darling Lili (1970)
After the disappointing response to Star! Paramount hoped a more conventional Andrews musical would restore her box office prominence. But that’s not what Blake Edwards had in mind when he wrote and directed this tale about a military spy during World War I. Instead he saw the film as the ideal opportunity for Julie to shed her “goody goody” image. But the film was a box office dud and Andrews only made three other films in the next 10 years. Looking back, Darling Lili deserved a better fate. This warm and witty film – despite its inflated production –shows off Andrews at her most engaging.
Friday, March 20, 8 p.m., Turner Classic Movies (TCM)
The Princess Diaries (2001)
After making a comeback to the screen – and securing another Oscar nomination as a woman who pretends to be a man pretending to be a woman in Victor/Victoria in 1982 – Andrews connected with a new audience when she made this surprise box office hit about the special relationship between a grandmother and her granddaughter. As the regal queen of a mythical country – who helps the young lady adjust to the opportunities and responsibilities of a royal life – Julie is magnificent as a woman who, long ago, said goodbye to the little things that a queen doesn’t have time to worry about.
Saturday, March 21, 2:30 p.m., CMT
Dick Tracy (1990)
By the time Warren Beatty turned this classic comic strip into a movie, the movie musical was an endangered species in Hollywood. That didn’t stop Beatty from asking Broadway’s Stephen Sondheim – who had written background music for Beatty’s Oscar-winning Reds – to create a collection of songs to support the fun of this ultra stylized look at one man’s way to take care of organized crime. Adding the rich Sondheim score elevates the film from a visually wonderful gem to a warm and touching tale of how lost souls find each other. And Sondheim won an Oscar to go with his eight Tony Awards, a record for a Broadway composer.
Saturday, March 21, 8 p.m., Flix
The Princess and the Frog (2009)
The movie musical got a second wind in the 1990s when the Disney studios reinvented its commitment to animation with Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin. By the time this delightful look at the life of a waitress in New Orleans came out almost 20 years later, the hand-drawn animated musical felt like a relic in comparison to the slick new offerings created by computers. But this one offers all the right elements, and makes lots of good moves, in its fun telling of a woman who chooses to live her own life and sing her own songs.
Saturday, March 21, 5 p.m.; Sunday March 22, 3 p.m.; ABC Family
Critics’ Choice (1963)
Comedy greats Bob Hope and Lucille Ball scored a hit in 1961 as friends who ponder starting a love affair in the touching The Facts of Life. That film’s success led to them to team a second time in this mild movie adaptation of Ira Levin’s Broadway comedy. As an ego-driving theater critic, Hope brings his patented humor to the screen while Ball is touching and vulnerable as his wife hurt by his outbursts. While the result is uneven, and Hope tries too hard, Ball’s sincerity is so naturally engaging that we wish she had done more serious work on screen.
Sunday, March 22, 6:15 p.m., TCM
Irma La Douce (1963)
The legendary Shirley MacLaine won her third Oscar nomination for playing a “hooker with the heart of gold” in this comedy from Billy Wilder. While she re-teams with Jack Lemmon – her co-star in The Apartment – the second films bears little resemblance to the first. This adaptation of the Broadway musical skips all the songs to focus on the on-again, off-again romance between a French policeman and his favorite prostitute. Lemmon is a gem in a role that enables him to play to his broad range while MacLaine is delightful and touching as a woman who truly wants a different life but has no idea how to get started.
Sunday, March 22, 8 p.m., TCM
Sharing movies can be as easy as turning on the television or going online. And, when you watch as a family, take the time to chat about what you’re seeing. That makes it even more fun.