Cast & Crew
George Roy Hill
Mary Tyler Moore
In the 1920's, young Millie Dillmount comes to New York City to find herself a secretarial job with a handsome, rich, unmarried boss. After changing her image from that of a curly-haired old-fashioned girl to a modern flapper, she checks into a hotel for young ladies run by Mrs. Meers and befriends a pretty orphan, Miss Dorothy Brown. Seemingly very prim and proper, Mrs. Meers is actually a villainous white slaver who has her eye on Miss Dorothy. Though Millie does obtain a position with a handsome, eligible bachelor, Trevor Graydon, he remains indifferent to her, being in love with Miss Dorothy. Instead, Millie wins the undying devotion of Jimmy Smith, a paper clip salesman. One day Jimmy takes Millie and Miss Dorothy to a weekend party at the elegant Long Island home of Muzzy Van Hossmere, a high-living, fun-loving widow. Millie is horrified when she catches Jimmy sneaking Miss Dorothy into his room. Once back in the city, however, Millie is forced to forgive Jimmy when he scales the walls of her office building to see her. Then, Miss Dorothy suddenly vanishes. Millie and Jimmy realize the truth about Mrs. Meers when they smell opium in Miss Dorothy's room. In order to find the white slavers' hideout, Jimmy disguises himself as an orphaned young lady and registers at the hotel. The scheme backfires when the crafty Mrs. Meers manages to drug and kidnap both Jimmy and Trevor. Left to her own resources, Millie traces the white slavers to a firecracker factory in Chinatown that serves as a front for an opium den. After exploding all the factory's stock, she rescues Miss Dorothy and the other captive girls and also Jimmy and Trevor. They then all race to Muzzy's estate, with Mrs. Meers and her two henchmen in hot pursuit. After the white slavers are captured, the truth about Jimmy and Miss Dorothy is disclosed. They are brother and sister, the stepchildren of Muzzy, and fabulously wealthy. With Muzzy beaming her approval, Jimmy marries Millie and Trevor marries Miss Dorothy. Songs : "Thoroughly Modern Millie" (Millie), "The Tapioca" (Jimmy, Millie), "Jimmy" (Millie), "Baby Face" (Millie), "Poor Butterfly" (Millie), "Do It Again" (Muzzy), "Stumbling" (Millie, Miss Dorothy), "Jazz Baby" (Muzzy), "Rose of Washington Square" (Ann Dee), "Jewish Wedding Song" (Millie), "The Japanese Sandman" (Oriental #1, Oriental #2).
George Roy Hill
Mary Tyler Moore
Michael St. Clair
John Anderson Jr.
B. G. Desylva
Raymond B. Egan
John L. Golden
James F. Hanley
James Van Heusen
Waldon O. Watson
George C. Webb
Ernest B. Wehmeyer
Richard A. Whiting
Best Art Direction
Best Costume Design
Best Supporting Actress
Thoroughly Modern Millie
Director George Roy Hill was making his first musical, determined that the film not be seen as a comedy, but a farce. "I wanted it to be a soufflé. I knew it had to stay afloat by its own mindless nonsense." The plot was deliberately cliché; if the audience already knew the plot, they could be drawn into the idea of it all being an inside joke. To help create an atmosphere, Hill deliberately chose colors that were associated with the era. "I wanted to reproduce the three-color scheme of the thirties when they had the first color plates in the national magazines." For a soundtrack, he added songs from some of the best composers of that era, including George Gershwin and Zez Confrey, and contemporary composers Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen. The original score was written by Elmer Bernstein and arranged and conducted by Andre Previn. Bernstein won an Academy Award to his own astonishment. "I lost with To Kill a Mockingbird (1962), I lost with The Magnificent Seven (1960), you know, and then I finally won with of all things, Thoroughly Modern Millie. There were lots of songs in it but there was also a score, a dramatic score that was about an hour and ten minutes long."
Hill ran into problems with his producer, Ross Hunter. Andrew Horton wrote in his book, The Films of George Roy Hill, "Both men are strong-willed, and each had his own view of what the film should be. If Hill wanted a light but delightful soufflé, Hunter wanted a hundred pound wedding cake with all the trimmings. Hunter has specialized in slick commercial entertainment [...] He is, as Brendan Gill stated, 'the misguided champion of cinematic overkill.' Gill clarifies his remark by saying that for Hunter, 'twice as large is twice a good, twice as loud is twice as convincing, twice as long is twice as funny'. Hill could not have disagreed with Ross' philosophy more." Eventually Hill was removed from the film during post-production and Hunter added an intermission in the middle of the two hour and eighteen minute film, which Hill lamented, was "like taking a soufflé out of the oven half way through and asking 'how's it doing?" Hunter went so far as to change Hill's original arrangement of Elmer Bernstein's score, causing Bernstein to later comment, "I had a wonderful kind of Paul Whiteman sound with no highs and no lows, like the old radio sound. It was a very tinny sound of the period that I worked hard to get; and Ross Hunter rescored it with Andre Previn and a thousand strings!"
Thoroughly Modern Millie made its premiere on March 21, 1967 at the Criterion Theatre in New York, with the West Coast premiere on April 13th with an all-star guest list including Lucille Ball, Maureen O'Hara, Carol Burnett, and Rosalind Russell, who were driven to the theater in vintage cars. Bosley Crowther of The New York Times loved the film, calling it, "a thoroughly modern burlesque of the manners and styles of flaming youth in the jazzy nineteen-twenties, of movie melodramas in the silent days, and moral attitudes that fit more closely in the era of high-button shoes. Accurate or not in its selections from the period it picks to spoof, it is a thoroughly delightful movie. So who's to care if it's sometimes off a few decades? [...] Miss Andrews is absolutely darling deliciously spirited and dry as she picks up the fashions of the period, the low-waisted dresses and the cloche hats, learns the latest dance steps (the Tapioca, which is very late, indeed) and sets out to catch her pipe-smoking, Arrow-collar-ad-faced boss. [...] But I really think it is Miss Channing who comes closest to taking the cake as the tangle-haired, headlight-eyed Muzzy, darling of the fast Long Island set, who can be blasted out of a circus cannon into a tumbling act at the Hippodrome as beamingly as she can belt out I'm a Jazz Baby at a midnight affair for several hundred guests at her Westbury mansion and top it off with a tap dance on a xylophone!"
Despite Hill's anger over Hunter's changes to the film, Thoroughly Modern Millie turned out to be the most successful film Universal Studios made up to that time. In addition to Bernstein's win for Best Music, Best Original Film Score, it was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Carol Channing for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design for famed designer Jean Louis, Best Original Song for Jimmy Van Heusen and Sammy Cahn (Thoroughly Modern Millie), Best Song, and Best Music, Scoring, Adaptation or Treatment for Andre Previn.
Thoroughly Modern Millie was adapted into a play on Broadway in 2002, with Sutton Foster in the lead, winning six Tony Awards, including Best Musical.
Producer: Ross Hunter
Director: George Roy Hill
Screenplay: Richard Morris
Cinematography: Russell Metty
Art Direction: Alexander Golitzen, George C. Webb
Music: Elmer Bernstein
Film Editing: Stuart Gilmore
Cast: Julie Andrews (Millie Dillmount), James Fox (Jimmy Smith), Mary Tyler Moore (Miss Dorothy Brown), Carol Channing (Muzzy), John Gavin (Trevor Graydon), Philip Ahn (Tea), Anthony Dexter (Juarez), Cavada Humphrey (Miss Flannery), Michael St. Clair (Baron Richter), Lisabeth Hush (Judith Tremaine), Beatrice Lillie (Mrs. Meers).
by Lorraine LoBianco
Arntz, James, and Wilson, Thomas S. Julie Andrews
Bernstein, Elmer interview, MGM Archival Project
Crowther, Bosley "Screen: 'Thoroughly Modern Millie': Pleasant Spoof of 20's Opens at Criterion" The New York Times 23 Mar 1967 Horton, Andrew The Films of George Roy Hill
Thoroughly Modern Millie
Pat Morita (1932-2005)
He was born Noriyuki Morita on June 28, 1932 in Isleton, California. The son of migrant fruit pickers, he contracted spinal tuberculosis when he was two and spent the next nine years in a sanitarium run by Catholic priests near Sacramento. He was renamed Pat, and after several spinal surgical procedures and learning how to walk, the 11-year-old Morita was sent to an internment camp at Gila River, Arizona, joining his family and thousands of other Japanese-Americans who were shamefully imprisoned by the U.S. government after Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor.
His family was released after the war, and Morita graduated from high school in Fairfield, California in 1950. He worked in his family's Chinese restaurant in Sacramento until his father was killed in a hit-and-run accident. He eventually found work as a data processor for the Department of Motor Vehicles and then Aerojet General Corporation before he decided to try his hand at stand-up comedy.
He relocated to San Francisco in 1962, where at first, there was some hesitation from clubs to book a Japanese-American comic, but Morita's enthusiasm soon warmed them over, and he was becoming something of a regional hit in all the Bay Area. His breakthrough came in 1964 when he was booked on ABC's The Hollywood Palace. The image of a small, unassuming Asian with the broad mannerisms and delivery of a modern American was something new in its day. He was a hit, and soon found more bookings on the show. And after he earned the nickname "the hip nip," he quickly began headlining clubs in Las Vegas and Los Angeles.
Morita's stage and television success eventually led him to films. He made his movie debut as "Oriental #2," the henchman to Beatrice Lilly in the Julie Andrew's musical Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967). Although his role, complete with thick coke-bottle glasses and gaping overbite, was a little hard to watch, it was the best he could do at the time. Subsequent parts, as in Don Knott's dreadful The Shakiest Gun in the West (1968); and Bob Hope's lamentable final film Cancel My Reservations (1972); were simply variations of the same stereotype.
However, television was far kinder to Morita. After some popular guest appearances in the early '70s on Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, and The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, Morita landed some semi-regular work. First, as the wisecracking, cigar chomping Captain Sam Pack on M.A.S.H. and as Ah Chew, the deadpan neighbor of Fred and Lamont Sanford in Sanford & Son. His success in these roles led to his first regular gig, as Arnold Takahashi in Happy Days. His stint as the owner of the soda shop where Ritchie Cunningham and the Fonz hung out for endless hours may have been short lived (just two seasons 1974-76), but it was Morita's first successful stab at pop immortality.
He left Happy Days to star in his own show, the critically savaged culture clash sitcom Mr. T and Tina that was canceled after just five episodes. Despite that setback, Morita rebounded that same year with his first dramatic performance, and a fine one at that, when he portrayed a Japanese-American internment camp survivor in the moving made for television drama Farewell to Manzanar (1976). After a few more guest appearances on hit shows (Magnum P.I., The Love Boat etc.), Morita found the goldmine and added new life to his career when he took the role of Miyagi in The Karate Kid (1984). Playing opposite Ralph Macchio, the young man who becomes his martial arts pupil, Morita was both touching and wise, and the warm bond he created with Macchio during the course of the film really proved that he had some serious acting chops. The flick was the surprise box-office hit of 1984, and Morita's career, if briefly, opened up to new possibilities.
He scored two parts in television specials that were notable in that his race was never referenced: first as the horse in Alice in Wonderland (1985); and as the toymaster in Babes in Toyland (1986). He also landed a detective show (with of course, comic undertones) that ran for two seasons Ohara (1987-89); nailed some funny lines in Honeymoon in Vegas (1992); was the sole saving grace of Gus Van Zandt's Even Cowgirls Get the Blues (1993); and starred in all of the sequels to The Karate Kid: The Karate Kid, Part II (1986), The Karate Kid, Part III (1989), and The Next Karate Kid (1994). Granted, it is arguable that Morita's career never truly blossomed out of the "wise old Asian man" caricature. But give the man his due, when it came to infusing such parts with sly wit and sheer charm, nobody did it better. Morita is survived by his wife, Evelyn; daughters, Erin, Aly and Tia; his brother, Harry, and two grandchildren.
by Michael T. Toole
Pat Morita (1932-2005)
Elmer Bernstein (1922-2004)
Elmer Bernstein, who was not related to Leonard Bernstein, was born on August 4, 1922, in New York City. He displayed a talent in music at a very young age, and was given a scholarship to study piano at Juilliard when he was only 12. He entered New York University in 1939, where he majored in music education. After graduating in 1942, he joined the Army Air Corps, where he remained throughout World War II, mostly working on scores for propaganda films. It was around this time he became interested in film scoring when he went to see William Dieterle's The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941), a film whose score was composed by Bernard Herrmann, a man Bernstein idolized as the ideal film composer.
Bernstein, who originally intended to be a concert pianist and gave several performances in New York after being discharged from military service, decided to relocate to Hollywood in 1950. He did his first score for the football film Saturday's Hero (1950), and then proved his worth with his trenchant, moody music for the Joan Crawford vehicle Sudden Fear (1952). Rumors of his "communist" leanings came to surface at this time, and, feeling the effects of the blacklist, he found himself scoring such cheesy fare as Robot Monster; Cat Women of the Moon (both 1953); and Miss Robin Caruso (1954).
Despite his politics, Otto Preminger hired him to do the music for The Man With the Golden Arm, (1955) in which Frank Sinatra played a heroin-addicted jazz musician. Fittingly, Bernstein used some memorable jazz motifs for the film and his fine scoring put him back on the map. It prompted the attention of Cecil B. De Mille, who had Bernstein replace the ailing Victor Young on The Ten Commandments (1956). His thundering, heavily orchestrated score perfectly suite the bombastic epic, and he promptly earned his first Oscar® nod for music.
After The Ten Commandments (1956), Bernstein continued to distinguish himself in a row of fine films: The Rainmaker (1956), Sweet Smell of Success (1957), Some Came Running (1958), The Magnificent Seven (a most memorable galloping march, 1960); To Kill a Mockingbird (unique in its use of single piano notes and haunting use of a flute, 1962); Hud (1963); earned a deserved Academy Award for the delightful, "flapper" music for the Julie Andrews period comedy Thoroughly Modern Mille (1967), and True Grit (1969).
His career faltered by the '80s though, as he did some routine Bill Murray comedies: Meatballs (1980) and Stripes (1981). But then director John Landis had Bernstein write the sumptuous score for his comedy Trading Places (1983), and Bernstein soon found himself back in the game. He then graced the silver screen for a few more years composing some terrific pieces for such popular commercial hits as My Left Foot (1989), A River Runs Through It (1992) and The Age of Innocence (1993). Far From Heaven, his final feature film score, received an Oscar® nomination for Best Score in 2002. He is survived by his wife, Eve; sons Peter and Gregory; daughters Emilie and Elizabeth; and five grandchildren.
by Michael T. Toole
Elmer Bernstein (1922-2004)
TCM Remembers George Roy Hill, 1922-2002
Born on December 20, 1922, to a well-to-do Minneapolis newspaper family, Hill would hang out at the local airfield as a child and watch the barnstorming pilots, fascinated by their theatrics. His intense interest would eventually drive him to earn his pilot's license by age 16. But his love for the performing arts was inspired by a different calling - the stage, where he appeared in student productions at his prep school in Hopkins, Minnesota. After graduating, he majored in music at Yale. A baritone, he became a member of the university Glee Club but he soon discovered that singing wasn't his forte. He found acting more suitable and joined the Dramatic Society, becoming its president and appearing in campus musicals. Ten days after graduating with a bachelor's degree in music in 1943, Hill joined the Navy. After flight school, he transferred to the Marines and piloted transport planes in the South Pacific during World War II.
Following the war, he worked briefly as a cub reporter on a family newspaper in Texas, then used the GI Bill to attend Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, where he earned a bachelor's degree in literature in 1949 and did a stint with the Abbey theatre. Back in the United States, he received good reviews in an off-Broadway play, Strindberg's The Creditors with Beatrice Arthur, and toured with Margaret Webster's Shakespearean company - a celebrated theatrical company for its time. The Korean War interrupted his career, when Hill was recalled to Marine duty, serving 18 months at a training center in North Carolina, and later emerging as a major. The time spent away from the theater was beneficial to Hill, and he decided to move away from acting toward writing. His scripts soon found their way to television and Hill quickly rose from assistant director to director on several of the most acclaimed live dramas of the '50s including The Helen Morgan Story, the original TV production of Judgment at Nuremberg. He also earned two Emmy Awards for writing and directing a Titanic story, A Night to Remember.
In 1957, Hill moved to Broadway, where he directed the Pulitzer Prize-winning Look Homeward, Angel. After directing Tennessee Williams' Period of Adjustment, Hill kicked off his film career by directing the 1962 film version, which gave Jane Fonda her first major role. He followed that up with the film adaptation of Lillian Hellman's classic play, Toys in the Attic (1963), but it would be his third film that would earn Hill critical acclaim, the marvelous Peter Sellers' comedy The World of Henry Orient (1964). The story concerning two teenage girls who stalk a concert pianist (Sellers) around New York City, established Hill's brisk style and his flair for bittersweet comedy. His next two films, both starring Julie Andrews, were James Michener's epic Hawaii (1966), and the big-budget musical Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967). Although his craftsmanship was always impeccable, both films failed to elevate him to the front ranks of Hollywood directors.
That all changed with Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Few associated with the film could have predicted that this light-hearted western would be the box-office smash it became when it was released, but audiences fell in love with this charming and innovative film. Instead of playing Butch (Newman) and Sundance (Redford) as vicious outlaws, Hill and screenwriter William Goldman made them easy-going, sympathetic drifters for whom robbing banks was just a game. As the director, Hill kept the balance between the film's comedy and drama pitch perfect, emphasizing the straightforward storytelling which was free from any heavy-handed editorializing. Also, by giving the characters a modern feel with contemporary dialogue and using an upbeat, pop-oriented Burt Bacharach score, Hill breathed fresh life into the Western genre. The film deservedly received Oscar nominations for Best Picture and Best Director; and earned Oscars for Conrad Hall's cinematography, Burt Bacharach's original score, the Bacharach/Hal David composition "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head", as well as Goldman's original screenplay.
Newman and Redford would be reunited again with Hill for his next big hit The Sting, as con men who ensnare a brutal gangster (Robert Shaw) in an intricate scheme. A highly stylized piece of work, Hill crafted the film in the style of the old Saturday Evening Post graphics, complete with chapter headings; imitated the flat camera style that was employed for those classic Warner Bros. gangster movies and resurrected the ragtime piano of Scott Joplin for the score (as interpreted by Marvin Hamlisch). For his exceptional work, Hill won the Academy Award for Best Director and the film also bagged Oscars for Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay (David S. Ward), Best Score (Hamlisch), Best Editing (William Reynolds), Best Costume Design (Edith Head) and Best Art Direction (Henry Bumstead and James Payne).
Hill would work with Redford and Newman again, albeit individually, later in the decade. The Great Waldo Pepper (1975), the story of a barnstorming pilot, was culled from some evocative childhood memories, yet despite the star power of Redford, it was not a success. Nor was the Paul Newman vehicle Slap Shot (1977), a raucous look at the lives of minor league ice hockey players. The off-color language and bawdy locker-room antics perplexed audiences and critics at the time, although it's now considered to be one of the best (and funniest) of all sports films.
Although he would never again scale the critical and commercial success of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid or The Sting, Hill would enjoy later acclaim with the sweet natured A Little Romance (1979), starring Laurence Olivier and a 13-year-old Diane Lane; his ambitious adaptation of John Irving's episodic The World According to Garp (1982); and his final film, the slight, but pleasant Chevy Chase comedy Funny Farm (1988). Soon after that, Hill retired from Hollywood to teach at his old Alma Mater Yale. Hill is survived by his former wife, Louisa Horton, as well as two sons, George Roy Hill III of Roslyn, N.Y., and John Andrew Steele Hill of Ardsley, N.Y; two daughters, Frances Breckinridge Phipps of Dumont, N.J., and Owens Hill of Los Angeles; and 12 grandchildren.
by Michael T. Toole
TCM Remembers George Roy Hill, 1922-2002
Delish! Terrif!- Millie
You're a modern!- Miss Dorothy
Oh, Muzzy... I'm so confused!- Millie
Jimmy told me your plans to marry your boss. Love has nothing to do with it?- Muzzy
Yes, Ma'am. I'm a modern.- Millie
You're a boob!- Muzzy
Myself, I prefer to sleep in the all-together.- Muzzy
Bolt the door. Take off your things. Let's have a sample.- Trevor Greydon
This was the last movie Beatrice Lillie ever made. She'd always had difficulty memorizing lines, here it was much worse. She required numerous takes to complete scenes, to the point where 'Julie Andrews' would stand off camera and repeat them to her so she could get through a scene.
Blown up to 70mm for some roadshow presentations. Harlan temporarily replaced Metty as photographer during production.
1967 Writers Guild of America Award for Best Written American Musical of the Year.
Released in United States Spring April 1967
Released in United States Spring April 1967