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Early twentieth century New York. Fanny Brice knows that she is a talented comedienne and singer. She also knows that she is not the beauty typical of the stage performers of the day, she with skinny legs and a crooked nose among other physical issues. So she knows she has to use whatever other means to get her break in show business, that break so that she can at least display her talents. With the help of Eddie Ryan who would become her friend, Fanny is able to get a part in a novelty act in a vaudeville show, the renown from which eventually comes to the attention of famed impresario Florenz Ziegfeld Jr.. Fanny does become one of the Ziegfeld Follies most popular acts, despite she almost getting fired after her first performance by defying Flo's artistic vision for her closing number. Beyond stage success, Fanny also wants a happy personal life, most specifically with the suave Nicky Arnstein, a gambler in every respect of the word. Fanny loves him and loves that he loves her ... Written by
"When a person's a stranger...they should act a little strange."
Tour-de-force for Barbra Streisand, reprising her Broadway triumph and taking over the screen as 1930s Ziegfeld singer/comedienne Fanny Brice. Streisand's incredible self-assurance and clowning poise was enough to win her the Best Actress Oscar AND tick off most of Hollywood (few in the business were prepared for someone like Streisand in 1968, except maybe those familiar with her TV work, but the results here show she didn't care what anyone thought of her). The sets look phony, the script is contrived, and Omar Sharif is somewhat miscast as husband Nick Arnstein (Sharif is wonderful in the early stages, but his wet, red eyes and mincing baby-talk grow incredibly weary); however most of the song numbers are fabulous, and Barbra is at her best when delivering a high-powered number. She's tough and unyielding even while doing a comedic bit, but during an emotional song she lets her guard drop a little (not enough to become truly vulnerable, just enough to let us share her pain). The film doesn't exhaust one the way some musical extravaganzas can; the camera-work is uneven and some sequences are overlit, but it has lots of spirit and dazzle. Most importantly, it's a film that remembers it is about a woman and a man, and never allows the show-biz glitter to suffocate the characters. *** from ****
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