Sunday, November 23, 2014

Family Movie Night: Funny Girl

Title: Funny Girl
Director: William Wyler
Original Release: 1968
Choice: Mine
My Overall Rating: 4 stars out of 5
via Wikipedia
In 1968, all you really needed to have a hit movie was Barbra Streisand's voice and Omar Sharif's face.  Funny Girl was, in fact, Streisand's debut film though she was a giant in the music industry.  She'd already released ten studio albums, all of them certified Gold or Platinum.  She'd also won four Grammys.  The dazzlingly handsome Sharif, meanwhile, was an international superstar thanks to his performances in Lawrence of Arabia and Doctor Zhivago.



That's not to say Funny Girl doesn't have other things going for it - quite the contrary.  It's the sort of movie that reminds us the medium could dazzle with set and costumes in an era well before CGI.  The acting is good - particularly Streisand, who won an Oscar - the music is fun and the story compelling.  The film was adapted from the stage musical of the same name, the original tale based loosely on the true-life story of entertainer Fanny Brice (Streisand) and her marriage with gambler Nicky Arnstein (Sharif).  Fanny, bursting with talent but painfully insecure, falls hard for the charming but unreliable Nicky - a love affair doomed from the beginning.  (Side note: in the film, Nicky plays Poker.  In real life, Sharif is an avid Bridge player.)

If "The Way We Were" isn't the prolific Streisand's signature song, "People" undoubtedly is.  It was written first for the musical and Streisand's single release in 1964 had been a huge hit.  Lyrics were added for the film performance.


*****

My Rating System:

5 = The best of the best.  These are the films by which I judge other films.
4 = High quality films which I feel could hold up well in repeated viewings.
3 = The vast majority of films.  They're fine.  Once was enough.
2 = I wasn't even sure I wanted to finish it.  It's not a 1 because I'm not prepared to say it's a terrible film - just not my cup of tea.
1 = A terrible film.  An insult to the art form.

18 comments:

  1. I haven't seen this - but I totally should!

    What did your daughter think of it?

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    1. She enjoyed it. We spread it over two days and she was eager for the second half.

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  2. Streisand always struck me as someone who desperately wished she'd been born in a previous era, and all the fascination in her career as the start of our modern culture's obsession with how much "better" everything was "back then." I'm not sure she ever found a project that represented that idea so much as tried to pretend she did. An instant nostalgia act.

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    1. It's hard to argue with success, though, my friend. She's by no means my favorite singer but worldwide record sales are well into nine figures.

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  3. She was amazing. I remember watching and enjoying this film years ago.

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  4. I saw that when I was a kid, but I don't remember it.

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  5. Those were good times in the movie industry Squid.

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    1. They were, indeed - especially for movie musicals.

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  6. It is funny that Barbra Streisand was HUGE in her time, but generations following that were a little perplexed. I mean...she was certainly unique, but I never could quite figure out why I was supposed to see her as a "legend." I suppose she's a fairly good actress? She always seems to be pretty much playing the same character...and her singing...? I still remember Oprah FREAKING OUT because Barbra had all of these demands to appear on the show--including everything had to be white? The microphone wasn't, so Barbra's people painted it white. Oprah talked about that for years. Two divas collide...

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    1. She's not my favorite but there's no denying she has presence, be it on stage, in a recording or on screen.

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  7. I haven't seen Funny Girl in years, but I loved it. Barbra's singing and acting are exquisite. An unusual even occurred when she won the Academy Award. It was a tie. Kate Hepburn also won.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. And I've never seen The Lion in Winter.

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    2. I'm sorry: I meant "an unusual event."

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    3. Ha! I should have known you'd come back to fix that one, Janie!

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  8. I love Streisand's movies, but somehow missed this one. I prefer her comedic roles, although I did enjoy Prince of Tides.

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