Darling Lili - Director's Cut
Length: 114 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1, Anamorphically enhanced
Audio: Dolby Digital English 2.0 Surround, Dolby Digital English 5.1
Closed Captioned and subtitled in English
Special Features: 19 Additional Scenes, Trailer
Suggested Retail Price: $14.99 USD
Paramount brings “The Director’s Cut” of Darling Lili to DVD on October 25. I’ll admit that I’m not overly familiar with this film, and all of its incarnations. However, this “Director’s Cut” is not an extended cut of the theatrical release. Instead, it is a moderate trim of the original, cutting its runtime significantly. For more information on the different versions of this film, I point you to an existing thread where membership of the Home Theater Forum more knowledgeable on this film than I am have been discussing it:
The film is a World War I era story featuring Julie Andrews as Lili Smith - a world-renowned singer entertaining the Allied troops. She also happens to be a German spy.
When she’s ordered to seduce Allied aviator, Major Larrabee (Rock Hudson) and retrieve vital information on Allied movements, Lili’s two worlds collide. She, instead, falls head over heels for the dashing officer.
While not a traditional musical with big production numbers, the film puts Andrews’ talent to good use in a number of “in character” moments singing and dancing on the stage and in other venues. The film features original songs by Johnny Mercer and Henry Mancini.
The film also features some great WWI dogfight recreations, which I especially enjoyed - and there is more in the deleted scenes.
I’ve only ever seen this trimmed “Director’s Cut” of the film, and I find it quite entertaining. It’s too bad, though, that the original cut is not available. I’d like to have seen it.
Originally released in 1970 with a running time of approximately 136 minutes, director Blake Edwards trimmed the film some two decades later to its current runtime of 114 minutes.
The film is complete with Overture and Exit music. The back of the case indicates a running time of 107 minutes, but the inclusion of the overture and exit music account for the difference between that and the actual running time of 114 minutes.
The print used for the transfer is not without flaws, but it is very nice, overall. Effects shots and stock shots tend to display more grain and debris - but the bulk of the film is in good shape.
The film is presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and it is anamorphically enhanced. The image is sharp, delivering good detail most of the time. Aside from some occasional very mild ringing, there are no obvious digital artifacts present.
Colors are nicely rendered and saturated. Contrast is excellent, with good detail in the shadows. Bright whites are clean and avoid clipping.
Video: Very Good.
There are two soundtracks to choose from, a Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround, and a 2.0 Surround - both in English. I have no information on the original recording format for the film, but to these ears, it sounds like the original mix was 2 channel stereo.
The stereo track has excellent frequency response and good channel separation. Dialog and lyrics are always crystal clear and well defined. In Pro-Logic mode, my amplifier pinned on-screen dialog firmly in the center channel. The music is lush and full-bodied.
The 5.1 track actually seems to lose a bit of definition, favoring a soundfield that is actually too open, wrapping too much sound into the surrounds and defocusing dialog a bit.
Go with the stereo track, it is very good. For those who insist on a 5.1 presentation... well, it’s there - and it’s okay. But I prefer the stereo track.
Audio: Very Good / Good.
There are 19 additional scenes available as a special feature, totaling almost 54 minutes. There is no indication of which scenes may have been cut from the theatrical edition of the film, but there is more footage here than seen in any version. Unfortunately, the additional footage is not reintegrated into the film. There is a “Play All” option.
The scenes include:
Arrival at German Headquarters
No Man’s Land
Madamoiselle from Armentieres Reprise
A Second Date
First Detective Sequence
Liggett and Duvalle at the Restaurant
Bill and Lili Discuss T.C.
Children’s Song / Inn Sequence
Kessler Arrives at Lili’s House
Bill Confronts Liggett & Duvalle / T.C. Argues with a General
Liggett and Duvalle Drive to Lili’s House
Train Attack / Armistice Montage
Also included is a trailer, featuring stills and music from the film.
Darling Lili is a decent spy / romance story set amidst a WWI backdrop, with great singing by Julie Andrews. How can you go wrong? It would have been nice to have seen the theatrical edition included on the DVD, but what is presented is apparently in accordance with the director’s wishes.
The transfer is nice, and the deleted scenes give you a taste for what may have ben in the theatrical edition - and more.