Funny Girl (1968) – William Wyler

funnygirl

I was completely charmed by this one. That’s twice Streisand has wowed me when I thought she wouldn’t.

Clocking in at two and a half hours, this is the final musical recommendation to go with my screening of The Jazz Singer for the Great Movies – 100 Years of Film book.

Babs is Fanny Brice a wonderful comedienne in the 1920s who wants nothing more than to join Ziegfeld Follies. There are tons of great musical numbers, all lushly mounted, and Streisand belts them out in a likable and heartfelt way. She really lets herself into the role, playing wonderfully comic moments, against tougher more emotional ones.

Starting from the slums on the lower east side of New York, Fanny pursues her big dreams to be on stage, and catches the eye of not only Ziegfeld (Walter Pidgeon) but professional gambler, Nick Arnstein (Omar Sharif).

Franny and Nick have a hard time finding the right moment to connect with each other, but when they finally do, sparks fly, and they fall in love, so much so that Franny is willing to leave the stage from the show she loved, to pursue him.

But love may not be enough for the two of them to survive Arnstein’s gambling problem, as he seems to lose more and more money, but won’t truly seek help, or let Franny help him.

A rather dramatic story, but packed with amazing songs, great moments, and some fun numbers.

Funny-Girl

Streisand outshines every other cast member in the film. This is undeniably her movie, and she is really fantastic in it. Franny is charming, funny, likable, and so much fun to watch.

This also embraces the tradition of a musical in the theater being an event, there’s an overture, there’s an intermission… everything you would expect going to the theater is remade here, as happens with a large number of screen musicals.

There are a lot of fun moments, and the roller-skating number is great, and very funny. This film plays to all of Streisand’s strengths as a performer, and the film is never boring while she’s on-screen. Sharif, usually a strong actor, doesn’t even hold a candle to Streisand in this, she truly is amazing in this one. I’m obviously not the only one that thought that way because she won the Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role that year, an award she shared with Katharine Hepburn for her turn in The Lion In Winter.

I can’t believe how much I enjoyed this one, as I have never been a big fan, but I quite liked this one, and once again, as with the previous musicals reviewed here, I actually knew more songs that I thought I did.

The film is lushly produced, the sets though are obviously sets, and lack the realism that starts to find its way into later screen musicals, but that being said, the sets do look great.

The next bunch of titles up for review come from the Thrillers & Crime chapter… stay tuned.

Streisand Funny Girl 1968

 

 

 

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