Funny Girl (1968)

Funny Girl (1968)

“Hello, gorgeous!”

Synopsis:
Broadway phenomenon Fanny Brice (Barbra Streisand) reflects back on her legendary rise to fame work for Flo Ziegfeld (Walter Pidgeon) while engaging in a troubled romance with her gambling husband (Omar Sharif).

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Anne Francis Films
  • Barbra Streisand Films
  • Biopics
  • Gambling
  • Marital Problems
  • Musicals
  • Omar Sharif Films
  • Romance
  • Singers
  • Strong Females
  • Walter Pidgeon Films
  • William Wyler Films

Review:
Barbra Streisand tied with Katharine Hepburn and earned an Academy Award in her cinematic debut as Fanny Brice, a role she had inhabited previously on Broadway. While she was purportedly a challenge to deal with on set, Streisand’s performance throughout is top-notch, and she clearly knew how to portray herself in the best light (literally).

Sharif (despite much controversy over being Egyptian during a tense time in world politics with this nation) is nicely cast as her handsome husband, who appreciates her talents while understandably wanting to make his own way in life.

Their scenes together are never uncomfortable, despite knowing the ultimate trajectory of their marriage. Pidgeon is appropriately old-school as Ziegfeld (thank goodness Fanny stands up to him in a pivotal early scene):

… and Oscar-nominated Kay Medford is fine if underused as Fanny’s Jewish Mama.

More egregious is the severely truncated presence of Anne Francis as Fanny’s friend Georgia James (seen below on the left) — though at 2.5+ hours long, the film does already feel lengthy enough.

Film fanatics will surely want to check out this beautifully produced musical (directed by William Wyler) for its historical relevance, and to see Streisand in the role that defined but never constrained her.

Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments:

  • Barbra Streisand as Fanny Brice
  • Fine musical numbers
  • Harry Stradling’s cinematography

Must See?
Yes, for Streisand’s breakthrough cinematic performance.

Categories

  • Noteworthy Performance(s)
  • Oscar Winner or Nominee

Links:

2 thoughts on “Funny Girl (1968)

  1. Rewatch (9/11/20). A once-must, at least, for Streisand’s performance. As posted in ‘Revival House of Camp & Cult’ (fb):

    “You think beautiful girls are going to stay in style forever?! I should say not! Any minute now they’re going to be out! Finished! Then it’ll be my turn!”

    ‘Funny Girl’: I’m wondering… Now that Michael Urie achieved acclaim in his one-man show ‘Buyer and Cellar’ (written by Jonathan Tolins)… does that automatically make *every* Barbra Streisand movie a cult item?

    It would stand to reason that it *could* – though that may depend on whether or not you saw Urie in the play (which he performed on YouTube early on in the pandemic, though it’s no longer available there). In it, Michael played Alex Moore – a (fictional) staff of ONE working in Streisand’s gift shopPE mall… in her basement… where there are no customers, except (occasionally) Barbra. Urie was hilarious – esp. *as* Barbra – even though ‘Alex’ had stated “I don’t *do* Barbra.” But because Urie was effective enough to slay me, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to watch any Streisand flick – ever again – without seeing / hearing him doing her.

    I’m not a major Streisand fan. But, like almost everyone else, I do think she has a GREAT voice. You’d have to be kind of insane to deny that. Still, her acting performances have never done all that much for me. ‘Funny Girl’ may be the one exception where she reels me in. Fanny Brice is one of those roles which – like Tim Curry as Frank N. Furter – can’t really be done by anyone else now. (I just watched a recent London revival of ‘FG’: alas, not only was the lead not that impressive a singer… but the stage version of the musical pales compared to the film. How can it not?: It doesn’t end with ‘My Man’!… and it also doesn’t have the ‘homage’ to ‘Swan Lake’.)

    And only the film has ├╝ber-perfectionist (as ‘Buyer and Cellar’ repeatedly points out) Barbra. There is a famous quote about the making of the film: Director William Wyler was asked by a friend whether Streisand had been hard to work with. He replied, “No, not too hard, considering it was the first movie she ever directed.”

  2. I had never heard of “Buyer and Cellar”, and just watched a few clips on YouTube. Now I want to see the whole thing!

    Watching that – combined with reading TCM’s article about how Streisand took over the set of “Funny Girl”, and then reading an overview of Neal Gabler’s 2016 biography of her – has given me new insights to ponder. What a character, and what a life.

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