Thoroughly Modern Millie 1967
Julie Andrews was the toast of Hollywood in the 1960s and her success in Mary Poppins (1964) and The Sound of Music (1966) made her the most popular and highest paid actress of the day. Universal Studios and producer Ross Hunter sought to capitalize on her popularity and so decided to adapt the British musical “Chrysanthemum” (1956) for her next musical. Richard Morris was hired to write the screenplay and George Roy Hill tasked with directing the film. Hill brought in a fine ensemble to support Julie Andrews (Millie Dillmount), which included Mary Tyler Moore (Dorothy Brown), James Fox (Jimmy Smith), John Gavin (Trevor Graydon), Carol Channing (Muzzy van Hossmere) and Beatrice Lillie (Mrs. Meers).
Our story is set in New York City during the roaring twenties. Millie Dillmount, a flapper, is determined to secure work as a stenographer for a wealthy executive, and then charm and marry him. She befriends orphan Dorothy Brown who joins her living at the Priscilla Hotel for Single Young Ladies, run by the nefarious Mrs. Meers, who sells young women into white slavery with a local Chinese gang. Millie, in New York for three months, has shed her small town roots and has adopted a new modern sensibility, complete with bobbed hair and dresses with hemlines above the knee. Well she and Dorothy undergo a number of adventures including Mrs. Meer selling Dorothy into white slavery by a Chinese mob. They never the less succeed in overcoming all obstacles as Millie manages to rescue her. Reunited, they eventually pair up with beaus Jimmy, a paper clip salesman and Trevor a company executive for the Sincere Trust Insurance Company. Unbeknownst to the two girls is that both men are the stepsons of Muzzy a millionaire who dispatched the boys to make it on their own without her assistance. In the end, all things are made right and Millie marries Jimmy and Dorothy marries Trevor, thus securing the best and happiest of endings. The film opened to good reviews and an excellent box office, which only added to Andrew’s luster. It secured seven Academy Awards including Best Supporting Actress, Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design, Best Sound, Best Adapted Score, Best Original Score and Best Song, winning one for Best Score.
Elmer Bernstein was hired to provide the incidental underscore and Andre Previn was tasked with arranging and conducting the numerous source songs. Bernstein understood that he needed to capture the free flying and unabashed spirit of the roaring twenties. He therefore infused his soundscape with the musical sensibilities of the 1920s. For the songs, which were essential to the musical, Bernstein sought new tunes from Jimmy Van Heusen and Sammy Cahn, “Tapioca” and “Jimmy”. Source songs from the 1920s were also interpolated, including “Baby Face”, “Jazz Baby”, “Poor Butterfly”, “Rose of Washington Square”, “Do It Again”, and the Jewish wedding song “Trinkt le Chaim”. Absolutely essential to the musical’s success was to showcase Andrew’s voice, as well as Channing’s. Both Bernstein and Previn received Academy Award nominations for their work, with Bernstein securing a well deserved win.
Mr. Previn wrote or arranged the music for dozens of movies and received four Academy Awards, and was nominated for three Oscars in one year alone — 1961, for the scores for “Elmer Gantry” and “Bells Are Ringing” and the song “Faraway Part of Town” from the comedy “Pepe.”
Audiences knew him as well as a jazz pianist who appeared with Ella Fitzgerald, among others, and as a composer who turned out musicals, orchestral works, chamber music, operas and concertos, including several for his fifth wife, the violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter. He was also the music director or principal conductor of a half-dozen orchestras.
Critics described Mr. Previn as a “wunderkind in a turtleneck” and the “Mickey Mouse maestro” when he was in his 20s and 30s. He was often compared to Leonard Bernstein, a similarly versatile conductor, composer and pianist. Time magazine’s headline when Mr. Previn became the principal conductor of the London Symphony in 1968 was “Almost Like Bernstein.” Newsweek summarized his appointment as music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 1985 as “Bernstein West.”
- Prelude: Thoroughly Modern Millie (written by Jimmy Van Heusen and Sammy Cahn, performed by Julie Andrews) (2:42)
- Overture – Baby Face/Do It Again/Poor Butterfly/Stumbling/Japanese Sandman (3:34)
- Jimmy (performed by Julie Andrews) (3:05)
- Tapioca (written by Jimmy Van Heusen and Sammy Cahn) (2:57)
- Jazz Baby (written by M. K. Jerome, performed by Carol Channing) (2:41)
- Jewish Wedding Song (Trinkt Le Chaim) (traditional, performed by Julie Andrews)(3:43)
- Intermission Medley: Thoroughly Modern Millie/Jimmy/Jewish Wedding Song (Trinkt Le Chaim/Baby Face (performed by Julie Andrews) (3:40)
- Poor Butterfly (written by John Golden and Raymond Hubbel, performed by Julie Andrews) (3:32)
- Rose of Washington Square (written by James F. Hanley and Ballard MacDonald, performed by Ann Dee) (1:15)
- Baby Face (written by Harry Akst and Benny Davis, performed by Julie Andrews) (2:43)
- Do It Again! (written by Buddy DeSilva and George Gershwin, performed by Carol Channing) (2:01)
- Reprise: Thoroughly Modern Millie (written by Jimmy Van Heusen and Sammy Cahn, performed by Julie Andrews) (0:58)
- Exit Music – Jazz Baby/Jimmy/Thoroughly Modern Millie (2:36)