Musical Monday: Thoroughly Modern Millie

Monday, July 30, 2007 by

Yes kids, it's Thoroughly Modern Millie! Because we just can't seem to get Julie Andrews out of our systems - and because it's one of Lorenzo's favorite films and he pouted and stamped his feet to get his way! Kidnapping! Sex slavery! Offensive racial stereotypes! And Carol Fucking Channing, bitches!

Hit it, Julie!

After her little Jazz makeover, Millie meets Miss Dorothy (Mary Tyler Moore, of course) outside the Priscilla Hotel for Girls. Miss Dorothy is virginal, sickly sweet, and dumb as a box of hat pins.

Inside, Millie introduces Miss Dorothy to the Priscilla's "house mother," Mrs. Meers, who is done up in full on chinkity-chinese drag for some reason.

After checking in Miss Dorothy, she goes to the back room and drugs a girl before locking her up in a laundry basket. Fun!

Then she asks her two outrageously offensive stereotypes (a nearly unrecognizable Pat Morita and Jack Soo, billed as - we kid you not - "Asian 1" and "Asian 2") to take her away, hissing at them in a jaw-dropping "ching chong" patois. Oh, how the audiences must have laughed at that in 1967.

How much alcohol do you think Morita and Soo had to drink in order to suppress their dignity and get through this film?

Meanwhile, Millie and Dorothy are tap-dancing their way up to the 12th floor.

Later, at a "social dance" (are there dances that aren't social?) Millie and Dorothy meet Jimmy, who is really pushy and nerdy. Lorenzo's had the hots for him for 25 years.

Jimmy leads the color-coordinated crowd in the Tapioca Dance, which he just made up and which, this being a musical and all, the entire crowd masters in seconds.

The local lesbians do not approve.

Proving how modern she now is, Millie agrees to have sex with Jimmy in his roadster, but informs him that she's interviewing for jobs as a stenographer and intends to marry her future boss. "Modern" = "slut," apparently.

The next day, she meets Trevor Graydon (the gorgeous John Gavin,) on a job interview.

She plays it cool and gets the job.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Meers is pulling a Snow White on Dorothy.

Luckily, Millie, freshly moist from her job interview, happens by and prevents Dorothy from eating the posioned apple, reminding her that they're going to a wedding later.

Next, the "Jewishy" wedding scene. We say "Jewishy" because everyone keeps mentioning that it's a Jewish wedding and, aside from the yarmulkes and the glass breaking, this is unlike any Jewish wedding we've ever seen. Julie confirms her shiksa status by trilling some song in yiddish and then the scene ends and we never see any of these characters ever again.

Plot is not exactly a primary consideration in this picture.

Next, we're in a plane with Millie, Jimmy and Dorothy for some reason.

Carol Channing makes her big entrance by flying by in another plane and screaming "RASPBERRIES!" for no good reason while managing to drink Champagne in an open cockpit.

Did we mention that the plot makes no sense? Well it doesn't.

Carol plays Muzzie Van Hosmere, a wealthy socialite who's invited Jimmy to a party at her estate. Julie wears an outfit left over from The Sound of Music.

Carol has some sort of spastic fit at the party but then we realized she's just singing.

That night, Julie dances through the halls of the mansion, overcome with the wealthiness of it all...

...when she stumbles on Miss Dorothy sneaking into Jimmy's room.

Even though she already told Jimmy she had her loins set on someone else, she pouts.

Later, she puts on a lot of eye makeup and attempts to seduce Trevor, but because she's Julie Andrews, and therefore about as sexy as, well ... a nun, she fails miserably.

After her embarrassing attempt she foolishly introduces her boss to Dorothy and is totally oblivious to the fact that they're both completely hot for each other.He asks Dorothy out to dinner and a show and for some reason, Millie excitedly agrees to go too.

Later, at the show, Carol gets launched out of a cannon.

No, really.

Then she performs an acrobatic routine with a bunch of Italian stereotypes.

No. Really.

The next day it FINALLY dawns on her that she has absolutely no chance with her boss because he's in love with Dorothy.

Fortunately, Jimmy is there to rescue her when she falls out a window and they rekindle their romance.



Miss Dorothy goes missing and our little menage a trois finally figures out that Mrs. Meers is drugging and kidnapping girls for a white slavery ring.

"White slavery." How charmingly anachronistic.

Anyway, do they go to the police with this information? Of course not, silly! This is a MUSICAL.

That means dressing in drag, of course.

Mrs. Meers, thinking Jimmy is just a girl with a hormonal problem, drugs him and has him carted off by her stereotypes.

Next stop: Chinatown sex slavery warehouse! Oh, how we wish they had staged a number in here!

Anyway, Millie follows them to the warehouse and for some reason, stops to eye up the local whores. She lights a cigarette to impress them and because the whore warehouse is also a fireworks factory, you can guess what ensues!

Explosions! Pandemonium! Millie escapes with Dorothy and Jimmy and they drive off to Muzzie's estate. Again, for no discernible reason.

At the estate, they dispense with Mrs. Meers and her traveling stereotypes by jumping on trampolines.


After the excitement dies down, they all tell Millie that they've been lying to her. Dorothy and Jimmy are siblings and Muzzie is their stepmother. They're RICH! You know what that means, kittens...

Triple wedding! Roll credits!

Christ almighty, this thing didn't make a lick of sense.


Bill said...

"The local lesbians do not approve." HA!

I was completely flummoxed by this movie as a child. I could never make any sense of it. You're "No. Really," comments were perfect. Was the writer on acid?

The Broadway stage version that was launched around 2002 actually made a lot more sense (how hard would that be) and was kind of fun.

Anonymous said...

I love this movie and I have always loved this movie, except for the offensive racial stereotyping, but, damn it, Carol Channing is just a hoot.

And I am so with Lorenzo on this one. Jimmy is gorgeous. Both the male leads is this film are hot in that stable, suit wearing, masculine kind of way. And Jimmy does have nice eyes.

Bill said...

I met Channing outside a theatre in NY about 10 years ago. It was a bizarre experience. She's charming and funny and exactly like you'd expect. She just doesn't seem human - more like a cartoon character come to life.

Bill Lee (Captain von Trapp's singing voice from last week) sings for Trevor (John Gavin) Graydon in TMM. Gavin proved that you can survive starring in an insane musical and move on with your life. He became ambassador to Mexico under Reagan. He's married to former Broadway actress Constance Towers who did time as Maria in "The Sound of Music."

Jimmy Bryant (who sang for Richard Beymer's Tony in West Side Story) sings for Jimmy (James Fox) in this one.

Dova1965 said...

I actually saw the stage version on Broadway 3 times and really enjoyed it. Campy, silly, and far more coherent than the film.
And Sutton Foster was amazing. And I fell in love with Marc Kudisch after seeing him as Trevor. Google him... yum!

Jules said...

Carol Channing - the best thing about this movie. Did she not look fabulous in that raspberries screenshot??

Yomanda. said...

OMG! The 60s were just so weird. It had to be the acid.

Meghan said...

Julie Andrews, Mary Tyler Moore, and Carol Channing?!

Why haven't I ever seen this?

Lady Prisspott said...

Sounds like the thing to so is SEE this on acid.

aimee said...

No, REALLY? My lord... I've never seen this movie. Here I thought Mickey Rooney in "Breakfast at Tiffany's" was the ultimate unseemly Asian stereotype. Good lord. AND white slavery???


Anonymous said...


I don't remember ever seeing this movie all the way through. I always confuse it w/ that movie w/ MTM & Elvis & that other movie w/ JA & James Garner w/ nuns or something (Bill, help!).
Yet another musical by way of acid trip.

Emma P.

frogboots said...

i find myself baffled by their costumes. if this is supposed to be the 20s, then why don't the women have better clothes? Julie Andrews looks like she put a turtleneck on under every dress they gave her.

some of the hats are good, though.

Carol Channing is a Human Event I will NEVER understand.

Embeedubya said...

This movie was a big flop and is often sited as one of the reasons for the death of the movie musical (Striesand's "Hello Dolly" being another). You can certainly see why. Both stars were hugely popular at the time, but no one could rise above this foolishness.

Anonymous said...

satge? I also adore being tipeing impaired...

Anonymous said...

I am curious - how did they make the satge version w/ Sutton Foster more coherent (don't get out of flyover country enough to see live theatre, I'm afraid.)

Oooohhhh - if you two are on a Julie Andrews kick - care to do Vic/Vic next? I just adore Robert Preston.


Anonymous said...

I love this movie- It's good fluffy fun, although for me it's hard to see Julie Andrews playing all kinds of silly - I always think of her as Mary Poppins or Maria.
Good on Broadway though, for actually making something more substantial then the source material for once.

Bill said...

Emma P.

The MTM/Elvis movie is "A Change of Habit" where she left the convent for Elvis.

The Julie Andrews/Jame Garner movie is "The Americanization of Emily" where she does a great striptease. It's a WWII spy kind of thing.

Bill said...

Wait! I'm wrong. I think Julie does the striptease in "Darling Lili" with Rock Hudson.

Anonymous said...

"Kidnapping! Sex slavery! Offensive racial stereotypes! And Carol Fucking Channing, bitches!"

Oh, I thought you meant that's what Lorenzo did to get his way.

(LOOOOVE Bill's comments btw)

thombeau said...


I've never seen the entire film, now I must and that's that!

Thanks, T.Lo, too funny!

(Didn't the latest Broadway version have the fabulous Harriet Harris---"Bebe" from "Frasier"---as Mrs. Meers? I think she won a Tony for it! Or perhaps I'm confused...Easy enough after reading this review!)

Bill said...

Thom - Harriet Harris was Mrs. Meers on Broadway. And her Dragon Woman Drag made Bea Lillie's look understated. Harris won a much deserved Featured Actress Tony and stopped the show singing "Muquin" (which was a Chinese language translation of "My Mammy") with her two henchman.

Anonymous said...

This makes almost as little sense as a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta. Yay for musicals returning to their roots!

another Laura said...

You know, this has always been a favorite musical movie of mine.

I have to disagree on the stage musical - in trying to have it "make more sense" it totally bored me. Nothing against Sutton Foster.

Beatrice Lillie was hilarious in this - and what a career she had!

These British acting careers can be so interesting. In this one, we have James Fox, who has put in some really outstanding turns in character roles, as Jimmy the silly ingenue.

Another actor who also did some interesting character work was the late Jeremy Brett, who, since you are all musical fans, you may recall as Freddy in the film of "My Fair Lady" and ended up being a terrific Sherlock Holmes on the Beeb in the 80s.

Carol Channing is a phenomenon that I haven't ever understood. The original "lollipop" - twig with ginormous head - she seems to simply have been a force of nature rather than a talent.

Okay, I really have to get back to work.

GothamTomato said...

Wow, this is exactly what it's like to go down to Canal Street to buy a fake Fendi bag.

That's why you should stick to the real thing.

--Gotham Tomato

Anonymous said...

What's the actual plot? I've never seen it, and your write-up is hysterical, but it's a little hard to tell what's actually going on and quite frankly it's the type of thing I'd have to drive 50 miles out of town to rent in case anybody saw me.


Jessica said...

This made me so happy! I love this movie despite the fact that it makes no sense and is about seven hours long. I showed it to my Asian friend, and he loved using the pseudo Chinese ("Miss Dorothy, Poo hee!") However, I strongly disagree about Julie's sexiness, or lack thereof. Rent Darling Lili and check out her "Three Guesses" number- hott!

Anonymous said...

Oh my! What a bizarre movie.

Great work as usual

Anonymous said...

The boys have completely and accurately summorized the plot. No, really. They have. I am totally not kidding.
I agree with those who like the movie better than the new stage version. I love musicals but the stage version (saw a good touring company--and I live in the nether regions of flyover country)wasn't as much fun as the film. The film was more of a satire and wildly over the top--the play was just too tame in comparison.

Bill said...

But there was some killer tapping in the stage version and quite a few more songs than the movie.

The whole "Forget About the Boy" number with the secretaries typing to the music, dancing in their seats with the typewriter carts and breaking into mad tapping sold me on the stage show.

And as Dova 1965 said, Marc Kudisch (the stage Trevor Graydon) really has it going on. I just went down to DC last month to see him play Darryl van Horne (the devil -Jack Nicholson on film) in the stage musical "Witches of Eastwick." He's a burly, sexy, baritone. I'd take him over pretty boy John Gavin anyday.

theodora said...

"The Tapioca Dance" - by white people, for white people!

Gorgeous Things said...

What? Who the hell does Carol Channing marry???

Now I have to rent this. I've never seen it before, and I'll be sitting there chuckling all through it thinking about your "No Really!" comments!

Anonymous said...

Plot-schmot... this thing is just stupid enough to be fun, fun, fun.

This is one of my favorites from childhood as well, so L has good taste (which we all knew anyways!).

Marty the Wizard

Bill said...

Jessica - is "three Guesses" the number with Julie on the swing in the yellow dress with the big hat that she uses to cover herself when she's removing her corset? I remember seeing that as a little kid and thinking that would be a great job: Showgirl/Stripper/Spy. It's definitely a hot musical number. Wish we could get to YouTube from work. I bet it's out there.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

I am curious - how did they make the satge version w/ Sutton Foster more coherent (don't get out of flyover country enough to see live theatre, I'm afraid.)

Oooohhhh - if you two are on a Julie Andrews kick - care to do Vic/Vic next? I just adore Robert Preston.


OMG, PLEASE!!!!!!???
I promise not to ask for anything else!
For at least a week.
Or tomorrow.

Emma P.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Bill darling, for clearing up the confusion re: Darling Emily, A Change of Lilli and The Americanization of Habit.
You're a veritable fountain of knowledge!

Emma P.

Dova1965 said...

And thanks to Bill for his support of the stage show. "Forget About the Boy" had me, too.

Glad to hear you enjoyed "Eastwick." Kudisch has had some nice write-ups.

I must applaud you for using the word "flummoxed." Bill, will you be my bf?

Allen said...

Oh My God. Remind me never to rent that movie ... EVER.

Yomanda said...

I remember being a little girl, and catching the opening credits of this movie on t.v. It scarred me for life because all I took away from it was how horrible it was that women were expected to smoosh down their boobs so that their beads would fall in a nice way. Horrifying! And I remember thinking, even as a little girl, "That is messed up!"

asbeautyfaded said...

I loved this musical! I always sing the Tapioca song. People never know what I am singing about. Sad days for them, they missed a great trip.

Bill said...

Thanks for the offer, Dova1965. I'm once again flummoxed!

To paraphrase Jimmy in TMM, "My, what lovely elbows you have, Dova!"

twc said...

I vaguely remember seeing the movie a long long time ago, and Netflixed it after seeing Sutton Foster do her thang as Millie on Broadway.

The Broadway show was amazing -- the movie totally sucked in comparison. I thought it was horribly boring and tremendously stupid.

I loved "Speed Test" and "Forget About The Boy" on Broadway also. Gratuitous tap-dancing! Senseless bursting into song! I LOVE THAT STUFF.

Brandenburg3rd said...

Hmm. Not into recreational drugs, but I'll try multiple wine coolers before renting this. Can't hurt, might help. I'm just glad I read your "review" first. I know I'll be saying "No. Really," as I watch!

For a non-musical that definitely needs pharmecological enhancement, try "Angel, Angel, Down We Go." I saw it only because it had Roddy McDowall somewhere in that mess; I spent the entire tape with my jaw hanging open, thinking, "WTF? WTF?" Absolutely. No. Sense.

I echo the "please, please" for Victor/Victoria. The black beaded outfit Julie wears for the "Hot Jazz" number alone was worth the price of the DVD. And V/V was a surefire moodlifter for my mother who would laugh to a sideache over Robert Preston doing "Shady Dame" ("You bitches!") at the end.

Mike said...


REALLY! It is one of my favorites too! Channing was soooo CHANNING.. She reminded of my favorite Aunt who was always drunk..

MDKNIGHT said...

IIRC Roger Ebert once said that TMM was the first movie he got paid to review. He said that in retrospect it was probably not the tour de force he said it was at the time but he was just so giddy at having a paying gig that it SEEMED good to him.

As per plot yeah this one is tough going but it did appeal to me as a small child because of the silly touches like that the mechanism of the elevator was messed up by chorus girls practicing in it and therefore, to make it go up or down, you HAD to dance in it. Leads to Julie angrily doing a tap number just to get the damned thing to go faster.

Suzanne said...

If anyone was on acid it was Julie Andrews for not letting anyone talk her out of that ridiculous hairdo back then. Was there some hair person seriously saying "No, hon, it looked FABULOUS on you in Sound of Music I PROMISE! Don't change it for this movie!!".


Incidentally add me to the list of people who became a slave to Sutton Foster after seeing her do this on B'way. For me it was the second coming of Carol Burnett...but no one said it was coherent.

"White slavery." How charmingly anachronistic.

You guys kill me.
No. Really!!

PS- All I want for Christmas (that give you 6 more months boys!!) Is for Musical Monday to cover "Dirty Dancing." I know its kind of the wrong type and era of musical but ....come would KILL IT!! Can you see it?? Put baby in the corner!!

Gorgeous Things said...

Can I beg a movie? As long as we're on a Julie jag, can we please have Mary Poppins next week? Please??? Sooty chimney sweeps singing "Steppin' Time"! Dancing Penguins! Glynis Johns! That movie would make a perfect third episode to the JA trilogy!

Sid said...

Must comment...I saw this movie in the movie theatre when it came out when I was EIGHT years old (with my crazy for musical grandmother) and I LOVED it. My biggest disappointment was when I "grew up" and wanted my daughters to see it. Luckily, I saw it again and understood more of it! (They're a little too young to be corrupted as I was). My grandmother was always warning me (as I got older) about white slavery and I think this is where she got the idea! It's just too fab and ridiculous to pass up - altho seems a little long nowadays (with my memory of the gayboys comments that will help)!

Michele said...

I've never seen the movie but the stage version was fabulous. "Not for the Life of Me" "Forget about the Boy" "Jimmy" and "What Do I Need with Love?" were my favourites. However I agree with the wtf rating. White slavery? Secret adopted children? Carol Channing? Who does she marry anyway?

Anonymous said...

asbeautyfaded said...
I loved this musical! I always sing the Tapioca song. People never know what I am singing about. Sad days for them, they missed a great trip.

Me, too! Sadly I only know part of the dance. I love this movie. Best line, "So sad to be all alone in the world". Loved every ridiculous minute of it. But to my great disappointment I don't know other ppl who have seen it. Thank you for enlightening ppl about this film.


Linda Merrill said...

Dear T&L, the elegant Ms. Place AND I have tagged you! You can visit either of our blogs for your instructions. We'd love to know more!!

Kaitlyn said...

I just bought this at Target the other day (it was on sale). I haven't watched it in a long time, but that's what I'm going to do after work. I loved the tapdance elevator and the crazy white slavery subplot and everything.

Oh and Carol Channing marries some random young guy. As I recall, she pokes her head out from their kiss and says something along the lines of "isn't he delish" as she turns his chin to face the audience.

GothamTomato said...

"Gorgeous Things said...
Can I beg a movie? As long as we're on a Julie jag, can we please have Mary Poppins next week? Please???"

I second that emotion!


snaillady2 said...

and because it's one of Lorenzo's favorite films and he pouted and stamped his feet to get his way! Kidnapping! Sex slavery! Offensive racial stereotypes! And Carol Fucking Channing, bitches!

How bad am I that I thought that Tom was talking about Lorenzo's tactics to get this movie reviewed right up until the
"offensive racial stereotypes" tag.

madam ovary said...

You left out the strange little scene at the beginning where Julie Andrews binds her breasts so that her very long beads will hang straight. What a quietly disturbing musical this one turns out to be.

M-Dub said...

I haven't seen this movie, but now I might have to! As for Julie not being sexy...has anyone seen S.O.B.? She was quite topless in that!

Jennifer said...

For those who love broadway -

similiar to, only Broadway, only no pictures or trailers (pout).

As for requests I third or fourth the Victor/Victoria!

"There's nothing more inconvenient than an old queen with a head cold."

Anonymous said...

When I was a kid about 11 or 12, my best friend's brother Tom, 14 or so, was remaking the entire film of TMM on super 8, or whatever they had back then. He ADORED Julie Andrews. His sister played Millie, I played Dorothy. His grandmother sewed our outfits and his mother drove us all over town for the various scenes. I remember filming the opening where Dorothy doesn't have enough money to pay the cab, and wants to write a check for 20 cents or whatever it was. We played it in front of an abandoned car in a field, and then there'd be cutaways to "Millie" standing on the sidewalk downtown. I don't know how far we got, but I remember shooting several scenes, including Muzzie's big party, so it wasn't just an afternoon's entertainment, it was a serious endeavor.

It only took me 20 years to realize that Tom was probably GAY!!! I wonder if he's in Hollywood now?

Bia said...

Anonymous said...

When I was a kid about 11 or 12, my best friend's brother Tom, 14 or so, was remaking the entire film of TMM on super 8, or whatever they had back then. He ADORED Julie Andrews. His sister played Millie, I played Dorothy...

What a FANTASTIC story. Thank you SO MUCH for sharing it with us.

shiver72876 said...

I have never seen this movie but now I must watch it because it seems RIDICULOUS!!!!

Anonymous said...

Ooooh I hope you're still on your Julie Andrews kick long enough to get you to pick up "Victor/Victoria" for review!!

God this musical looks like CRACK XD

Pumpkin Man said...

I L-O-V-E Thoroughly Modern Millie!!! I even use to listen to the soundtrack at work!!! They are all so great in it! Excellent pick!!

Mindy said...

Okay I just wanna say that my Mother took me to see this movie at the theater-I was 7 yrs old. It didn't make a bit of sense then, but I attributed this to the fact that I was 7. Now I know better. Thanks TLo!

Whitney said...

I happen to *love* Julie Andrews and I adored her role in TMM. Maybe it doesn't make any sense to you because you haven't a lick of common sense.

p jane said...

OH I love this movie! It's goofy and senseless and offensive but somehow it's magical. My mum had the soundtrack on REEL-TO-REEL (along with Oliver! and Mary Poppins) so I think I may have been brainwashed as a baby.

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