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Darling Lili
Darling Lili poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Blake Edwards
Produced by Blake Edwards
Written by William Peter Blatty
Blake Edwards
Starring Julie Andrews
Rock Hudson
Gloria Paul
Music by Henry Mancini
Johnny Mercer (lyrics)
Cinematography Russell Harlan
Edited by Peter Zinner
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release dates
  • June 24, 1970 (1970-06-24)
Running time
136 minutes
107 min (director's cut)
190 min (original roadshow release)
Country United States
Language English
Budget $25,000,000 USD
Box office $3,250,000 (US/ Canada rentals)[1]

Darling Lili is a 1970 American musical film. The screenplay was written by William Peter Blatty and Blake Edwards, who also directed. It starred Julie Andrews, Rock Hudson, and Jeremy Kemp. It was the last full musical to have song lyrics written by Johnny Mercer.


Set during World War I, the film centers on Lili Smith (Julie Andrews), a popular British music hall performer who is regarded as a femme fatale. She is actually a German spy, and the uncle she dotes upon is really Colonel Kurt Von Ruger (Jeremy Kemp), a fellow spy and her contact with the German military.

In hopes of gaining valuable information, Lili begins using her feminine wiles on Major William Larrabee (Rock Hudson), a top American pilot. However, Lili soon falls in love with Larrabee and cannot find the courage to betray him. When Larrabee discovers Lili's secret, he refuses to turn her in.



In 1967 Blake Edwards signed a four picture deal with Paramount. The films he would make were Waterhole#3, Gunn, Mr Lucky and Darling Lili. Julie Andrews signed to play the lead in Darling Lili. Production was to start late 1967.[2][3] Executive producer Owen Krump began shooting second unit in 1967.[4]

Blake Edwards suffered continual interference from Paramount Pictures executives while making Darling Lili, and it was eventually edited by the studio largely without his input. The director later satirized the problems he faced in the film S.O.B. (1981), which was distributed by Paramount theatrically.

Edwards later claimed Darling Lili was budgeted at $11.5 million but ended up costing $16 million. He said half the cost was due to second unit filming in Ireland and he had pleaded with Paramount not to shoot in Europe due to the weather, but they insisted.[5]

Problems with the May 1968 protests in France led to much of the planned Parisian shooting to be done in Brussels.[6]

Slingsby Aircraft-built SE.5A scale replica during filming in Ireland in 1967

Darling Lili made use of Lynn Garrison’s aviation facility at Weston Aerodrome, Leixlip, Ireland. This collection of World War I replica fighter aircraft, facilities and support equipment was originally put together in support of 20th Century Fox’s 1966 film The Blue Max. The aerial fleet included a sole Caudron 277, two Fokker DR 1s, three Fokker D VIIs, two Se 5as and two Pfalz D IIIs (all full-scale replicas). In addition, the studio contracted with Slingsby Aircraft Ltd to build six 7/8th scale SE 5s (the "Mini SE 5").[7] The Paramount production utilized the assembled aircraft for thousands of flying hours and accumulated hundreds of hours of aerial footage. Pilots were drawn from the Irish Air Corps and civilian circles. Charles Boddington and Derek Piggott did many of the more spectacular stunts.[7]

The film's distribution was badly managed by Paramount executives and Darling Lili barely got a release in most of the United States. Despite setting box-office records at Radio City Music Hall, the film was a commercial failure. Budgeted at $25 million, Darling Lili grossed only $5 million in the US[8]

Director's Cut[edit]

In 1991, at the behest of Michael Schlesinger, then the head of Paramount's Repertory division, Edwards was invited to recut and remix Darling Lili back to his original intentions. This Director's Cut was 29" shorter than the original release and felt smoother and less bloated. A fully restored, new Dolby SR 35mm print premiered at the 1992 Cannes Film Festival during a retrospective of his films, and was attended by Mr. Edwards and Ms. Andrews; the U.S. Premiere was at the Directors Guild theatre in Los Angeles shortly thereafter, again with both in attendance. Then, after a brief domestic theatrical reissue, it was released to home video and television; this version was later released on Region 1 DVD. However, the original roadshow version, complete with overture and exit music, still survives and has aired on Turner Classic Movies as well as receiving commercial release on Region 2 DVD in Europe.


The original score for Darling Lili was composed by Henry Mancini. He and Johnny Mercer wrote the title tune, as well as "Whistling Away the Dark". Songs from the era were performed in the film, including "It's a Long Way to Tipperary", "Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit-Bag", "Keep the Home Fires Burning", and "Mademoiselle from Armentieres".

Awards and honors[edit]

Despite being a financial failure, Darling Lili did garner important awards and nominations and was a modest success with critics.

Academy Awards[edit]

The song "Whistling Away the Dark", music by Henry Mancini, lyrics by Johnny Mercer, was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song. It was performed by Julie Andrews at the beginning of the film, pre-credits, and reprised at the end.

Darling Lili was also nominated for the Academy Award for Best Costume Design (Jack Bear and Donald Brooks) and the Academy Award for Best Original Score.

Golden Globe Awards[edit]

Julie Andrews received a nomination for Best Actress, Musical or Comedy, while "Darling Lili" won for Best Original Song. The film was also nominated for Best Picture, Musical or Comedy.



  1. ^ "Big Rental Films of 1970". Variety, January 6, 1971, p. 11.
  2. ^ Weiler, A.H. "Big deal for 'Little Me': More about movie matters." The New York Times, April 17, 1966, p. 127.
  3. ^ "Julie Andrews will star in World War I spy farce." The New York Times, March 9, 1967, p. 44.
  4. ^ Martin, Betty. "Evans on 'Planet of Apes'." Los Angeles Times, May 4, 1967, p. e13.
  5. ^ Champlin, Charles. "Critic at large: Tide turns for Blake Edwards." Los Angeles Times, April 18, 1975, p. 26a.
  6. ^ Wojcik 2011, p. 158.
  7. ^ a b Bodington 2009 p. 32.
  8. ^ "Box office/Business for 'Darling Lili (1970)." IMDb . Retrieved: February 3, 2015.


  • Boddington, Matthew. "Shooting Lili: Flying for the Silver Screen." Aeroplane, Volume 37, No. 8, August 2009.
  • Wojcik, Pamela Robertson, ed. New Constellations: Movie Stars of the 1960s (Star Decades: American Culture/American Cinema). Piscataway Township, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 2011. ISBN 978-0-81355-172-2.

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darling_Lili — Please support Wikipedia.
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149 news items

Woman's Day

Woman's Day
Wed, 04 Mar 2015 19:33:45 -0800

The two were married in the garden of Julie's home in Beverly Hills on November 12, 1969, shortly after making their first film Darling Lili together - which Blake directed and Julie starred in. They would go on to partner on many more creative ...

Wall Street Journal

Wall Street Journal
Fri, 27 Feb 2015 12:38:57 -0800

and “Darling Lili.” Only “Oliver!” and “Funny Girl,” Barbra Streisand 's movie debut, satisfied audiences and financiers alike. As for “The Sound of Music,” it remains (in real terms) the third highest grossing film of all time, behind only “Gone With ...
Thu, 02 Oct 2014 16:07:31 -0700

BURBANK, CALIF. - October 6, 2014 - KCETLink, in collaboration with The Johnny Mercer Foundation, is pleased to feature a special screening of the 1970s musical, Darling Lili, during the KCET Fall Cinema Series on Tuesday, Oct. 7 at 7 p.m.. The Fall ...

The Weekly Standard

The Weekly Standard
Thu, 03 Apr 2014 17:09:35 -0700

If this absorbing, but imperfect, history of the waxing and waning of large-scale film musicals teaches us nothing else, it is that critical tastes from the 1960s bear a striking resemblance to those of today: The edgy is nearly always esteemed over ...

BBC News

BBC News
Fri, 09 Jan 2015 06:43:27 -0800

Actor Lance Percival, who found fame in classic satire show That Was The Week That Was, has died at the age of 81. Among his notable film roles were Carry On Cruising, Postman's Knock and Darling Lili. On TV, he appeared in the late '70s series ...
Chicago Tribune
Wed, 03 Dec 2014 10:20:04 -0800

"Two for the Road," "Gunn," "The Party," "Me, Natalie," "Darling Lili," "Visions of Eight," "Oklahoma Crude," "The Return of the Pink Panther" and "Who Is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe?" Jimmy Giuffre: "New York Concerts" (Elemental Music; $19.98).

The Independent

The Independent
Sun, 11 Jan 2015 10:44:14 -0800

His first straight role was in the German play The Representative by Rolf Hochhuth; in 1970 he appeared in film musicals Darling Lili and There's a Girl in My Soup, and later there came straight parts in television series including Target (1978) and ...
Music Business Worldwide
Tue, 27 Jan 2015 00:37:30 -0800

“Charade”, “Victor/Victoria”, “10”, “Darling Lili”, “Arabesque” and “The Glass Menagerie.” He also wrote for a number of television films including “The Thorn Birds” and “The Shadow Box”, as well as television themes including “Peter Gunn”, “Mr. Lucky ...

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