Thoroughly Modern Millie

Last updated

Thoroughly Modern Millie
Thoroughly Modern Millie.jpg
Original poster
Directed by George Roy Hill
Screenplay byRichard Morris
Based onChrysanthemum
by Robin Chancellor
Neville Phillips
Robb Stewart
Produced by Ross Hunter
Cinematography Russell Metty
Edited by Stuart Gilmore
Music by Elmer Bernstein
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date
  • March 21, 1967 (1967-03-21)
Running time
138 minutes (general release version)
153 minutes (roadshow version)
CountryUnited States
Budget$6 million
Box office$34,335,025 (US) [1]
$40 million (Worldwide) [2]
Audio recording of the full article: "Thoroughly Modern Millie".

Thoroughly Modern Millie is a 1967 American musical-romantic comedy film directed by George Roy Hill and starring Julie Andrews. The screenplay, by Richard Morris based on the 1956 British musical Chrysanthemum, [3] follows a naïve young woman who finds herself in a series of madcap adventures when she sets her sights on marrying her wealthy boss. The film also stars Mary Tyler Moore, James Fox, John Gavin, Carol Channing, and Beatrice Lillie.


The soundtrack interpolates new tunes by Jimmy Van Heusen and Sammy Cahn ("Thoroughly Modern Millie", "The Tapioca"), and Jay Thompson ("Jimmy") with standard songs from the 1910s and 1920s, including "Baby Face" and "Jazz Baby". For use of the latter, the producers had to acquire the rights from General Mills, which had used the melody with various lyrics to promote Wheaties for more than 40 years.

The film was nominated for seven Academy Awards and five Golden Globe Awards. It ranked eighth among high-grossing films of 1967. In 2000, it was adapted for a successful stage musical of the same name. A DVD was issued in 2003. [4]


In 1922 New York City, flapper Millie Dillmount is determined to find work as a stenographer to a wealthy businessman and then marry him – a "thoroughly modern" goal. Millie befriends the sweet yet naive Miss Dorothy Brown as the latter checks into the Priscilla Hotel. When house mother Mrs. Meers learns that Miss Dorothy is an orphan, she remarks, "Sad to be all alone in the world." Unbeknown to Millie, the woman is selling her tenants into sexual slavery, and those without family or close friends are her primary targets.

At a Friendship Dance in the Dining Hall, Millie meets the devil-may-care paper clip salesman Jimmy Smith, to whom she takes an instant liking. However, she carries on with her plan to work for and then marry a rich man, and when she gets a job at Sincere Trust, she sets her sights on the attractive but self-absorbed Trevor Graydon. Jimmy later takes her and Miss Dorothy on an outing to Long Island, where they meet eccentric widow Muzzy Van Hossmere. Jimmy tells the girls that his father was Muzzy's former gardener. Millie begins to fall for Jimmy, but she sees him summon Miss Dorothy from her room for a late night rendezvous, and assumes the worst.

Millie is even more determined to stick to her plan and marry Trevor. One morning, she goes to work dressed as a flapper and attempts to seduce him, but her effort fails. Eventually, Trevor sees Miss Dorothy and falls in love with her, and vice versa, leaving Millie heartbroken.

Meanwhile, Jimmy's attempts to talk to Millie are continually thwarted by no-nonsense head stenographer Miss Flannary. He eventually climbs up the side of the building and when he finally gets to talk to Millie, she tells him that she is quitting her job since Mr. Graydon is no longer available.

Mrs. Meers makes several attempts to kidnap Miss Dorothy and hand her over to her Chinese henchmen Bun Foo and Ching Ho, but Millie manages to interrupt her every time. When Mrs. Meers finally succeeds, Millie finds Trevor drowning his sorrows, and he tells her that Miss Dorothy stood him up and checked out of the hotel. Jimmy climbs into Miss Dorothy's room, lets Millie in, and they find all of Miss Dorothy's possessions still there. Millie realizes that Miss Dorothy is just one of several girls who have vanished without a word to anyone, except to Mrs. Meers. Together with Trevor Graydon, they try to piece the puzzle together. When Jimmy asks what all the missing girls had in common, Millie mentions that they were all orphans.

Jimmy disguises himself as a woman named Mary James seeking accommodations at the Priscilla Hotel, and "casually" mentions to Mrs. Meers that she is an orphan. Mrs. Meers spots Trevor sitting in his car in front of the hotel, becomes suspicious, and shoots him with a tranquilizer dart. Mary James is subsequently captured by Mrs. Meers and her henchmen, and Millie follows them to Chinatown, where the unconscious Jimmy has been hidden in a room in a fireworks factory where Miss Dorothy is sleeping. Trying to look casual, Millie smokes a cigarette outside the building, and when she begins to choke on it, she tosses it into a window, setting off the fireworks. As a series of explosions tear through the building, Millie dashes into the factory and finds several white girls tied up, about to be sent off to Beijing. She unties a couple of them, who then free the other girls, and then bumps into Miss Dorothy. They carry Jimmy out of the building and head for Long Island and Muzzy.

Mrs. Meers, Bun Foo, and Ching Ho follow Millie and the gang, but under Muzzy's leadership, everyone manages to subdue the nefarious trio. Millie then discovers that Jimmy and Miss Dorothy are actually millionaire siblings and that Muzzy is their stepmother who sent them out into the world to find partners who would love them for who they were and not for their money. Millie marries Jimmy, Miss Dorothy marries Trevor, and Muzzy marries one of her instructors.


Jimmy Bryant provided the singing voice of Jimmy Smith/James Van Hossmere

Production notes


Hunter wanted to make a film of The Boy Friend , which had been a hit on stage with Julie Andrews. Film rights cost too much - $400,000 - so Hunter decided to do "his own". He managed to get Andrews to agree to star. [5]


The film opens on "Thursday, June 2, 1922," although, in actuality, June 2, 1922 fell on a Friday.


Although Pat Morita and Jack Soo each play Chinese henchmen, both were of Japanese descent; Morita was born in California, and Soo was born on a ship in the Pacific Ocean headed to the U.S. While he received no screen credit, Jimmy Bryant provided the singing voice for James Fox in this film. [6]


Elmer Bernstein composed the incidental score, for which he won his only Academy Award. The songs were arranged and conducted by André Previn.



The film earned $8.5 million in rentals in North America during 1967. [8] At this time, Julie Andrews was the number one box office star in motion pictures. Thoroughly Modern Millie was her last film of the 1960s to make money. Her next two films, Star! (1968) and Darling Lili (1970), were colossal financial disasters. Andrews did not star in another hit film until 1974 when she co-starred with Omar Sharif in The Tamarind Seed .

Critical response

The film opened to good reviews and good box office. Bosley Crowther of The New York Times called the film "a thoroughly delightful movie," "a kidding satire, in a rollicking song-and-dance vein," "a joyously syncopated frolic," and "a romantic-melodramatic fable that makes clichés sparkle like jewels." He added, "Miss Andrews is absolutely darling – deliciously spirited and dry ... Having had previous experience at this sort of Jazz-age hyperbole in the British musical, The Boy Friend ... she knows how to hit the right expressions of maidenly surprise and dismay, the right taps in a flow of nimble dances, and the right notes in a flood of icky songs." He concluded "A few faults? Yes. There is an insertion of a Jewish wedding scene ... which is phony and gratuitous. There's a melodramatic mishmash towards the end, which has Mr. Fox dressing up like a girl and acting kittenish. That is tasteless and humorless. And the whole thing's too long. If they'll just cut out some of those needless things, all the faults will be corrected and it'll be a joy all the way." [9]

Variety observed "The first half of Thoroughly Modern Millie (sic) is quite successful in striking and maintaining a gay spirit and pace. There are many recognizable and beguiling satirical recalls of the flapper age and some quite funny bits. Liberties taken with reality, not to mention period, in the first half are redeemed by wit and characterization. But the sudden thrusting of the hero ... into a skyscraper-climbing, flagpole-hanging acrobat, a la Harold Lloyd, has little of Lloyd but the myth. This sequence is forced all the way." [10]

Charles Champlin of the Los Angeles Times wrote that the film was "at its best a fresh-as-paint, cute-as-bees-knees, just swell enchantment" with Andrews "altogether superb," though he found the dance numbers "strangely uninspired" and that the second half suffered from "a slapstick but singularly uncomical chase." [11]

Leo Sullivan of The Washington Post wrote "Highly insignificant and deliberately old-fashioned, the film veers and comments in a broadly stylized way ... All [Ross Hunter] may have produced is a commercial movie but enhancing the entire film is his own personal enthusiasm. He seems to be saying this is the way it was and yipes, wasn't it delightful. It was and is." [12]

The Monthly Film Bulletin wrote "An exploitative film in the sense that it exploits its stars' previous successes as much as their actual talents or the merits of its own script, it nonetheless manages, like the best camp, to make a merit of its defects and to turn the comic-caption corn of its dialogue into a positive attribute." [13]

Roger Ebert gave the film a perfect four stars in his original review, a decision he later admitted in hindsight he was "no longer certain about." [14]

TV Guide rated the film three out of four stars and commented "Although it ultimately runs out of steam, this charming spoof of the 1920s is still one of the 1960s' better musicals ... Andrews is a comic delight, Moore is charming, and Channing steals scene after scene in this enjoyable feature." [15] The film was one of four nostalgia-based movies that George Roy Hill made. After Thoroughly Modern Millie, he made Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Great Waldo Pepper, and the Oscar-winning hit The Sting.

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a 90% approval rating, based on reviews from 10 critics. [16]


Academy Awards [17] Best Supporting Actress Carol Channing Nominated
Best Art Direction Alexander Golitzen, George C. Webb and Howard Bristol Nominated
Best Costume Design Jean Louis Nominated
Best Original Score Elmer Bernstein Won
Best Original Song Score or Adaptation Score André Previn and Joseph GershensonNominated
Best Original Song "Thoroughly Modern Millie" – Jimmy Van Heusen and Sammy Cahn Nominated
Best Sound Ronald Pierce, William Russell and Waldon O. Watson (for Universal City Studio Sound Department)Nominated
Golden Globe Awards Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy Nominated
Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy Julie Andrews Nominated
Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture Carol ChanningWon
Best Original Score – Motion Picture Elmer BernsteinNominated
Best Original Song – Motion Picture "Thoroughly Modern Millie" – Jimmy Van Heusen and Sammy CahnNominated
Laurel Awards Top ComedyWon
Top Female Comedy PerformanceJulie AndrewsWon
Top Female Supporting PerformanceCarol ChanningNominated
Writers Guild of America Awards Best Written American Musical Richard MorrisWon

Also, the film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:

See also

Related Research Articles

<i>Naughty Marietta</i> (film) 1935 American operetta film

Naughty Marietta is a 1935 American musical romance film based on the 1910 operetta of the same name by Victor Herbert. Jeanette MacDonald stars as a princess who flees an arranged marriage. She sails for New Orleans and is rescued from pirates by Captain Richard Warrington.

Three Coins in the Fountain is a 1954 American romantic comedy-drama film directed by Jean Negulesco and starring Clifton Webb, Dorothy McGuire, Jean Peters, Louis Jourdan, and Maggie McNamara, and featuring Rossano Brazzi. Based on the 1952 novel Coins in the Fountain by John H. Secondari and written by John Patrick, the film is about three American women working in Rome who dream of finding romance in the Eternal City. Originally titled: We Believe in Love.

Carol Channing American actress

Carol Elaine Channing was an American actress, singer, dancer, and comedienne, known for starring in Broadway and film musicals. Her characters usually had a fervent expressiveness and an easily identifiable voice, whether singing or for comedic effect.

Jimmy Van Heusen Musical artist

James Van Heusen was an American composer. He wrote songs for films, television and theater, and won an Emmy and four Academy Awards for Best Original Song.

<i>The Harvey Girls</i> 1946 film by Robert Alton, George Sidney

The Harvey Girls is a 1946 Technicolor American musical film produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer based on the 1942 novel of the same name by Samuel Hopkins Adams, about Fred Harvey's famous Harvey House waitresses. Directed by George Sidney, the film stars Judy Garland and features John Hodiak, Ray Bolger, and Angela Lansbury, as well as Preston Foster, Virginia O'Brien, Kenny Baker, Marjorie Main and Chill Wills. Future star Cyd Charisse appears in her first speaking role on film.

Angela Christian is an American actress and singer.

Pamela Isaacs is an American singer and actress.

Jean Louis

Jean Louis was a French-born, Hollywood costume designer and an Academy Award winner for Best Costume Design.

<i>Thoroughly Modern Millie</i> (musical) 2002 musical with music by Jeanine Tesori

Thoroughly Modern Millie is a musical with music by Jeanine Tesori, lyrics by Dick Scanlan, and a book by Richard Morris and Scanlan. It is based on the 1967 film of the same name, which itself was based on the British musical Chrysanthemum, which opened in London in 1956. Thoroughly Modern Millie tells the story of a small-town girl, Millie Dillmount, who comes to New York City to marry for money instead of love – a thoroughly modern aim in 1922, when women were just entering the workforce. Millie soon begins to take delight in the flapper lifestyle, but problems arise when she checks into a hotel owned by the leader of a white slavery ring in China. The style of the musical is comic pastiche. Like the film on which it is based, it interpolates new tunes with some previously written songs.

<i>Gentlemen Prefer Blondes</i> (musical) 1949 musical

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is a musical with a book by Joseph Fields and Anita Loos, lyrics by Leo Robin, and music by Jule Styne, based on the best-selling 1925 novel of the same name by Loos. The story involves an American woman's voyage to Paris to perform in a nightclub.

<i>Dixie</i> (film) 1943 film by A. Edward Sutherland

Dixie is a 1943 American biographical film of songwriter Daniel Decatur Emmett directed by A. Edward Sutherland and starring Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour. Filming in Technicolor, Dixie was only a moderate success and received mixed reviews. Contrary to rumor, it has not been withdrawn from circulation due to racial issues but is simply one of hundreds of vintage Paramount Pictures from the 1930s and 1940s now owned by Universal and not actively marketed. The movie was broadcast several times in the late 1980s on American Movie Classics channel. The movie produced one of Crosby's most popular songs, "Sunday, Monday, or Always".

<i>Higher and Higher</i> (film) 1944 film by Tim Whelan

Higher and Higher is a 1944 musical film starring Michèle Morgan, Jack Haley, and Frank Sinatra, loosely based on a 1940 Broadway musical written by Gladys Hurlbut and Joshua Logan. The film version, written by Jay Dratler and Ralph Spence with additional dialogue by William Bowers and Howard Harris, diverges significantly from its source.

<i>Millie</i> (film) 1931 film

Millie (1931) is a pre-Code drama film directed by John Francis Dillon from a screenplay by Charles Kenyon and Ralph Morgan, based on a novel of the same name by Donald Henderson Clarke. The film was an independent production by Charles R. Rogers, distributed by RKO Radio Pictures, after their acquisition of Pathé Exchange. It stars Helen Twelvetrees in one of her best roles, with a supporting cast that includes Lilyan Tashman, James Hall, Joan Blondell, John Halliday and Anita Louise.

<i>The Mating of Millie</i> 1948 film by Henry Levin

The Mating of Millie is a 1948 American romantic comedy film directed by Henry Levin and starring Glenn Ford and Evelyn Keyes.

Ogunquit Playhouse United States historic place

The Ogunquit Playhouse is a regional theater at 10 Main Street in Ogunquit, Maine. The Ogunquit Playhouse is one of the last remaining summer theatres from the Straw Hat Circuit, also referred to as Summer Stock, still producing live musical theatre. The theatre is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 2015, the listing was raised to National Level of Significance "in consideration of the significant contributions made by its founder Walter J. Hartwig and the Playhouse to Performing Arts Education throughout the nation."

<i>The Lucky Stiff</i> 1949 film by Lewis R. Foster

The Lucky Stiff is a 1949 American comedy crime film directed by Lewis R. Foster, starring Dorothy Lamour, Brian Donlevy, and Claire Trevor. The film is based on the 1945 novel of the same name by Craig Rice.

Diana Kaarina is a Canadian voice and stage actress based in Vancouver, British Columbia.

<i>Other Mens Wives</i> 1919 film by Victor Schertzinger

Other Men's Wives is a lost 1919 American silent drama film directed by Victor Schertzinger and written by C. Gardner Sullivan. The film stars Dorothy Dalton, Forrest Stanley, Holmes Herbert, Dell Boone, Elsa Lorimer, and Hal Clements. The film was released on June 15, 1919, by Paramount Pictures.

<i>Jimmy and Sally</i> 1933 film

Jimmy and Sally is a 1933 American comedy-drama film directed by James Tinling and written by Paul Schofield and Marguerite Roberts with additional dialogue by William Conselman. Starring James Dunn, Claire Trevor, Harvey Stephens, Lya Lys, and Jed Prouty, the story concerns a self-centered publicist who relies on his secretary's creativity but takes her affection for him for granted. After a series of publicity blunders and being fired several times, he humbly acknowledges that he is the one responsible for letting their relationship collapse. Though she has accepted a marriage proposal from another publicist in his absence, the girl still loves him, and ultimately chooses him.

Anne L. Nathan is an American actress and singer.


  1. "Thoroughly Modern Millie, Box Office Information". The Numbers. Retrieved March 8, 2012.
  2. Harris, M. Pictures at a revolution: five movies and the birth of the new Hollywood (Chapter 21). The Penguin Press, New York City; 2008. ISBN   978-1-101-20285-2. Retrieved March 29, 2011.
  4. Suzi Roberts (March 21, 1967). "Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967)". IMDb.
  5. THREE CHEERS FOR ROSS HUNTER Norma Lee Browning. Chicago Tribune 28 Apr 1968: g40.
  6. "Jimmy Bryant". Alabama Music Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on December 7, 2008. Retrieved April 11, 2008. Citing Carlton, Bob (July 12, 2002). "State native was 'ghost singer' in 'West Side Story'". Birmingham News .
  7. "Trinkt le Chaim (The Jewish Wedding Song)".
  8. "Big Rental Films of 1967", Variety, January 3, 1968 p 25. Please note these figures refer to rentals accruing to the distributors.
  9. Crowther, Bosley. "Screen: 'Thoroughly Modern Millie':Pleasant Spoof of 20's Opens at Criterion" The New York Times, March 23, 1967
  10. "Thoroughly Modern Millie". Variety.
  11. Champlin, Charles (April 17, 1967). "'Millie' Mirrors Hectic Pace of Roaring 20s". Los Angeles Times . Part IV, p. 1.
  12. Sullivan, Leo (August 25, 1967). "'Millie' Has Charm And Stars Galore". The Washington Post . B5.
  13. "Thoroughly Modern Millie". The Monthly Film Bulletin . 34 (406): 172. November 1967.
  14. Ebert, Roger (April 2, 1972). "Five years of criticism". . Retrieved April 17, 2019.
  15. "Thoroughly Modern Millie".
  16. "Thoroughly Modern Millie". Rotten Tomatoes .
  17. "The 40th Academy Awards (1968) Nominees and Winners". Retrieved August 25, 2011.
  18. "AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved August 13, 2016.
  19. "AFI's Greatest Movie Musicals Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved August 13, 2016.
Listen to this article (13 minutes)
This audio file was created from a revision of this article dated 8 August 2019 (2019-08-08), and does not reflect subsequent edits.