Viktor und Viktoria

Sanjay Hukku is a Ph.D. student in film studies at UC Berkeley.

Mr. Viktoria (Renate Müller) straddles a bar stool as awkwardly as she swaps genders in this nimble operetta, but she still manages to fool most of the people most of the time. Reinhold Schünzel's film of a woman pretending to be a man pretending to be a woman was the top German box-office hit of 1933, the same year the Weimar Republic ended and Hitler began his ascension to power. And though Viktor und Viktoria would inspire several later films-most notably Blake Edwards's faithful remake-the original is remarkable in its devotion to the cadences of speech and music. Especially charming, though, is the almost wordless sequence of brutal male initiation rites that Susanne/Viktor's love interest subjects her to: tall drinks, loose women, bar brawls, and a synchronized shave by a couple of effete barbers. This print has no subtitles, but a complete English synopsis will be provided.

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