Darling Lili (1970)

G | 136 mins | Comedy | 24 June 1970

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HISTORY

The film was originally titled Darling Lili, or Where Were You the Night You Said You Shot Down Baron Von Richthofen? The title change to Darling Lili was reported in a 28 Mar 1968 DV item, which stated that producer-writer-director Blake Edwards had shortened it out of fear that the longer title might make it “sound like a spoof.” The film was announced in the 17 Apr 1966 NYT as an upcoming project for Edwards, who planned to co-write the script with William Peter Blatty. It was set as the fourth of a four-picture deal between Edwards and Paramount Pictures, after Waterhole #3 and Gunn (1967, see entries), and a project titled Mr. Lucky. The 31 Aug 1966 DV stated that Edwards’s then girl friend, actress Julie Andrews, would likely be cast as “Lili Smith.” (Edwards and Andrews were married after the film was shot but before it was released, on 13 Nov 1969, according to the following day’s NYT.)
       Although the 31 Aug 1966 DV indicated that Edwards was having creative differences with Paramount and would probably take the film elsewhere, Darling Lili remained at the studio. Many months before principal photography was set to begin, second-unit filming in Europe was scheduled to commence on 8 May 1967, as stated in the 3 May 1967 DV. Executive producer Owen Crump and aerial sequence director Anthony Squire were said to be launching the second-unit action, while Edwards was not expected to start filming the first unit until Jan 1968. Aerial shooting locations included England ... More Less

The film was originally titled Darling Lili, or Where Were You the Night You Said You Shot Down Baron Von Richthofen? The title change to Darling Lili was reported in a 28 Mar 1968 DV item, which stated that producer-writer-director Blake Edwards had shortened it out of fear that the longer title might make it “sound like a spoof.” The film was announced in the 17 Apr 1966 NYT as an upcoming project for Edwards, who planned to co-write the script with William Peter Blatty. It was set as the fourth of a four-picture deal between Edwards and Paramount Pictures, after Waterhole #3 and Gunn (1967, see entries), and a project titled Mr. Lucky. The 31 Aug 1966 DV stated that Edwards’s then girl friend, actress Julie Andrews, would likely be cast as “Lili Smith.” (Edwards and Andrews were married after the film was shot but before it was released, on 13 Nov 1969, according to the following day’s NYT.)
       Although the 31 Aug 1966 DV indicated that Edwards was having creative differences with Paramount and would probably take the film elsewhere, Darling Lili remained at the studio. Many months before principal photography was set to begin, second-unit filming in Europe was scheduled to commence on 8 May 1967, as stated in the 3 May 1967 DV. Executive producer Owen Crump and aerial sequence director Anthony Squire were said to be launching the second-unit action, while Edwards was not expected to start filming the first unit until Jan 1968. Aerial shooting locations included England and Ireland, the 4 May 1967 LAT noted. A year after the pre-production unit was first announced, the 1 May 1968 Var stated it had recently wrapped filming after completing “aerial footage in Ireland and lensing of a WWI submarine in Yugoslavia.”
       Lee Marvin was considered to play a leading male role, as reported in the 5 Sep 1967 DV. Later that month, the 27 Sep 1967 Var announced the casting of Rock Hudson.
       A production chart in the 12 Apr 1968 DV cited the beginning of principal photography as 18 Mar 1968, and an article in the 17 May 1968 LAT indicated that filming had commenced on the Paramount studio lot in Hollywood, CA. The 8 May 1968 Var reported a production move that month to Ardmore Studios in Bray, County Wicklow, Ireland. Six weeks of filming in Ireland were scheduled, and ten weeks of filming in Paris, France, were set to follow. In Dublin, Ireland, Trinity College was to be converted into a German high command headquarters, and two old music halls were slated to be restored to their WWI-era appearance. The same treatment was to be given to three such dance halls in Paris, as noted in the 17 May 1968 LAT. Other planned Parisian locations included the Louvre Museum, Maxim’s restaurant, the Bois du Boulogne park, and a Seine River tourist boat, while some shooting was expected to take place at Boulogne Studios.
       On 17 Jun 1968, DV noted that Tom and Frank Waldman had been enlisted to write additional material for the script. The following month, a 25 Jul 1968 LAT news brief stated that filming had moved to Brussels, Belgium, where Belgian communists were picketing the film based on union allegations that Paramount was “infringing on Belgian labor and social laws.” Belgian Parliament member Herve Brouhon reportedly “assailed” the studio in a trade union journal for “not respecting overtime pay, working hours and shift premium laws.” Filmmakers returned to Paris in Aug 1968, and scheduled one more week of filming in Ireland for early Sep 1968, before a return to Hollywood for another six weeks of interior shooting, the 30 Aug 1968 DV noted. Three months later, a 27 Nov 1968 Var brief called the production “seemingly endless” but noted that principal photography was scheduled to finally end on 13 Dec 1968. Four days of re-shoots were expected to take place in Ireland in Apr 1969. However, the 11 Feb 1969 LAT claimed that Rock Hudson refused to return to Ireland for the re-shoots, at least one day of which was ultimately shot in Thousand Oaks, CA, in mid-Apr 1969, according to the 18 Apr 1969 DV.
       With a final production cost of over $18 million, Darling Lili was described in a 17 Sep 1969 Var item as one of the most expensive pictures ever made, in addition to Paint Your Wagon (1969, see entry), another recent Paramount film. Julie Andrews was reportedly paid “$1.1 million against 10 per cent of the gross,” the 6 Jan 1969 NYT noted. While post-production was underway, the 23 Jun 1969 DV noted that Paramount had promised “a substantial portion” of profits from Darling Lili (in addition to a payment of $12 million) in exchange for $20 million worth of securities from the ailing Commonwealth United Corporation. The 28 Nov 1969 LAT later specified that the studio had sold off half the profits to Commonwealth United as part of the deal. However, a dispute arose between the two companies, and the 10 Dec 1969 LAT claimed that Commonwealth had recently agreed to “give up all but a limited net profit participation” in the film.
       Heavy editing was required for the film to obtain a G-rating from the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), according to a 24 Sep 1969 Var announcement. Meanwhile, creative differences between Edwards and Paramount executive Bob Evans led to further cutting, and the 27 Mar 1970 DV stated that the picture was finally ready for release, following successful preview screenings in Los Angeles, CA, New York City, and Atlanta, GA. Although the 9 Mar 1967 DV had previously reported the picture would be a “roadshow” release with reserved-seat ticketing, the 3 Jun 1970 Var noted that the only roadshow presentation would take place at the Cinerama Dome Theatre in Hollywood, where Darling Lili had its world premiere on 24 Jun 1970.
       Despite mixed critical reception, the lavishly produced picture received a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song—Motion Picture (“Whistling Away The Dark”) and Golden Globe nominations for Best Motion Picture—Musical or Comedy, and Actress in a Leading Role—Musical or Comedy (Julie Andrews). Academy Award nominations were received for Costume Design, Music (Original Song Score), and Music (Song—Original for the Picture) for “Whistling Away The Dark.”
       After more than seven months in release, the 6 Jan 1971 Var listed the cumulative box-office rentals as $3.25 million, making the big-budget Darling Lili only the thirty-seventh highest-grossing film of 1970.
       RCA Records acquired soundtrack rights, as announced in the 30 Jan 1969 DV, and Signet obtained paperback rights for a novelization written by Henry Clement, according to the 13 May 1970 Var.
       Various items published in DV between Apr and Dec 1968 listed the following as cast members: Fay McKenzie; Albert D’Arno; Jean Del Valle; Mademoiselle Laurence Dassy; Bruce Stowell; Jim Richards; Dan Siretta; Dick Monahan; Rolfe Sedan; Lilyan Chauvin; James Lanphier; Walter Friedel; and Danny Klega. The 9 Jun 1969 DV also noted that Maxwell Hamilton would serve as publicity coordinator. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
20 Jul 1966
p. 6.
Daily Variety
31 Aug 1966
p. 2.
Daily Variety
9 Mar 1967
p. 1, 10.
Daily Variety
3 May 1967
p. 2.
Daily Variety
28 Jun 1967
p. 2.
Daily Variety
5 Sep 1967
p. 2.
Daily Variety
28 Mar 1968
p. 2.
Daily Variety
9 Apr 1968
p. 10.
Daily Variety
12 Apr 1968
p. 10.
Daily Variety
24 Apr 1968
p. 2.
Daily Variety
8 May 1968
p. 4.
Daily Variety
17 Jun 1968
p. 3.
Daily Variety
30 Aug 1968
p. 15.
Daily Variety
25 Sep 1968
p. 4.
Daily Variety
6 Nov 1968
p. 4.
Daily Variety
7 Nov 1968
p. 4.
Daily Variety
25 Nov 1968
p. 8.
Daily Variety
2 Dec 1968
p. 4.
Daily Variety
9 Dec 1968
p. 4.
Daily Variety
29 Jan 1969
p. 2.
Daily Variety
30 Jan 1969
p. 8.
Daily Variety
18 Apr 1969
p. 2.
Daily Variety
9 Jun 1969
p. 6.
Daily Variety
23 Jun 1969
p. 1.
Daily Variety
11 Jul 1969
p. 4.
Daily Variety
27 Mar 1970
p. 2.
Daily Variety
23 Jun 1970
p. 3, 6.
Los Angeles Times
4 May 1967
Section E, p. 13.
Los Angeles Times
17 May 1968
Section D, p. 1, 18.
Los Angeles Times
25 Jul 1968
Section E, p. 24.
Los Angeles Times
2 Sep 1968
Section F, p. 19.
Los Angeles Times
11 Feb 1969
Section D, p. 13.
Los Angeles Times
10 Dec 1969
Section F, p. 9, 11.
Los Angeles Times
8 May 1970
Section G, p. 29.
Los Angeles Times
23 Jun 1970
Section E, p. 11.
Los Angeles Times
24 Jun 1970
Section F, p. 1, 13.
New York Times
17 Apr 1966
p. 9, 15.
New York Times
9 Mar 1967.
---
New York Times
6 Jan 1969.
---
New York Times
14 Nov 1969.
---
New York Times
28 Nov 1969.
---
New York Times
24 Jul 1970.
---
Variety
27 Sep 1967
p. 22.
Variety
1 May 1968
p. 30.
Variety
8 May 1968
p. 96.
Variety
27 Nov 1968
p. 24.
Variety
15 Jan 1969
p. 30.
Variety
17 Sep 1969
p. 17.
Variety
24 Sep 1969
p. 5.
Variety
10 Dec 1969
p. 4.
Variety
13 May 1970
p. 22.
Variety
3 Jun 1970
p. 7.
Variety
6 Jan 1971
p. 11.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Blake Edwards Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
2nd unit dir
Dir aerial seq
Asst dir
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
2nd unit photog
Aerial seq photog
Cam op
Cam asst
ART DIRECTOR
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
COSTUMES
Cost des
Cost for Miss Andrews
Jewelry for Miss Andrews
MUSIC
Choral supv
SOUND
Prod rec
Supv, stereo re-rec
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog eff
Spec photog eff
Spec photog eff
Spec eff
DANCE
Mus numbers staged by
MAKEUP
Makeup for Mr. Hudson
Makeup for Miss Andrews
Makeup
Hairstyles
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Unit prod mgr
Unit prod mgr
Unit prod mgr
Unit prod mgr
Scr supv
Mus adv
Dialogue coach
Assistant choreography
Vocal coach
SOURCES
SONGS
"Whistling Away the Dark," "The Girl in No Man's Land," "Smile Away Each Rainy Day," "I'll Give You Three Guesses" and "Your Good-Will Ambassador," music by Henry Mancini, lyrics by Johnny Mercer
"La Marseillaise," music and lyrics by Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle, French lyrics translated by Danielle Mauroy and Michel Legrand.
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Darling Lili, or Where Were You the Night You Said You Shot Down Baron Von Richthofen?
Release Date:
24 June 1970
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles premiere and opening: 24 Jun 1970; New York opening: 23 Jul 1970
Production Date:
18 Mar--mid Dec 1968; re-shoots in April 1969
Copyright Claimant:
Geoffrey Productions, Inc.
Copyright Date:
31 December 1969
Copyright Number:
LP38095
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Technicolor
Widescreen/ratio
Panavision
Duration(in mins):
136
MPAA Rating:
G
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
21750
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

During the Great War, Lili Smith, a popular singer with London audiences, acts as a German agent. Her assignment, relayed by superior Kurt von Ruger, is to develop a friendship with American officer Major William Larrabee. While in France to receive the Legion of Honor award for patriotism, Lili meets the flier. Impressed by her compassion for the wounded and infatuated by her charm, Larrabee courts her, employing gypsy violinists to serenade her. As a result, Lili easily elicits military information from him. Discovering the security leak and suspecting the American, French intelligence officers enlist Lili's aid in unmasking the spy. Informed by von Ruger that Larrabee is involved in Operation Crêpe Suzette, Lili discovers that Suzette is Larrabee's stripper mistress and denounces her rival as the German agent. While on a rescue mission the flier is downed. Commandeering the plane of German ace von Richthofen, however, he escapes to England. When Larrabee is arrested for espionage, Lili comes to his aid, proclaiming her identity and outraging her German superiors. Fearing for Lili's life, Larrabee once again takes command of von Richthofen's plane and saves her train from a German air attack. From the sky the flier throws his scarf as a symbol of their love. After the armistice Lili resumes her singing career. During a performance Larrabee steps from the stage wing and embraces her. ... +


During the Great War, Lili Smith, a popular singer with London audiences, acts as a German agent. Her assignment, relayed by superior Kurt von Ruger, is to develop a friendship with American officer Major William Larrabee. While in France to receive the Legion of Honor award for patriotism, Lili meets the flier. Impressed by her compassion for the wounded and infatuated by her charm, Larrabee courts her, employing gypsy violinists to serenade her. As a result, Lili easily elicits military information from him. Discovering the security leak and suspecting the American, French intelligence officers enlist Lili's aid in unmasking the spy. Informed by von Ruger that Larrabee is involved in Operation Crêpe Suzette, Lili discovers that Suzette is Larrabee's stripper mistress and denounces her rival as the German agent. While on a rescue mission the flier is downed. Commandeering the plane of German ace von Richthofen, however, he escapes to England. When Larrabee is arrested for espionage, Lili comes to his aid, proclaiming her identity and outraging her German superiors. Fearing for Lili's life, Larrabee once again takes command of von Richthofen's plane and saves her train from a German air attack. From the sky the flier throws his scarf as a symbol of their love. After the armistice Lili resumes her singing career. During a performance Larrabee steps from the stage wing and embraces her. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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