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The life of comedienne Fannie Brice, from her early days in the Jewish slums of the Lower East Side, to the height of her career with the Ziegfeld Follies, including her marriage to and eventual divorce from her first husband, Nick Arnstein. Written by
Randy Goldberg <email@example.com>
I've seen this film many times,and I've always thought it was one of Barbra Streisand's best films because it allowed her to use her strengths as a comedian, singer, and dramatic actor. It's clear that her presence dominates the movie; however, there are some excellent supporting players, including Kay Medford as Fanny Brice's mother Rose and Walter Pigeon as Florenz Ziegfeld, two very fine character actors. Rose is particularly likable because, unlike her daughter Fanny, she sees things as they are and not the way they should be. This applies to her comment about Nick Arnstein, the handsome gambler that Fanny marries, despite the fact that Rose perceives him to be a "sponge."
Fanny, as shown in this film, is also very likable not only because of her humor but for her generosity and thoughtfulness. Her ambition, of course, is to conquer the stage and she does so fairly quickly after making a great mess of a roller skate number at the local dance hall. Before long, Fanny is auditioning for Ziegfeld, the famous impressario and she wins him over with her talent and charm. Nick Arnstein, a man about town, always seems to be around Fanny when she triumphs on the stage and this time is no different. He buys her a beautiful bouquet of roses with a note, "Dear Star, I told you so." Very soon, Fanny and Nick become involved in a relationship which is often on and off until Fanny literally proposes to him. What follows is a heartbreaking story of a young woman whose desire to be loved for herself alone and her passion for a happy domestic life is thwarted by fate and some wrong choices.
After a montage of the first year of their marriage together, problems start affecting the Arnstein marriage. It is true that they are wealthy people; however, their problems aren't minor. Nick begins to lose heavily at the gaming table and everything he tries ends in failure. Fanny, on the other hand, continues to be successful on the stage and Nick starts to resent her. Suddenly, all of his gentlemanly charm and good manners disappear as if by magic; he's rude to Fanny, making her upset over things that a truly married couple would find a way to resolve. Indeed, he starts ignoring her deliberately and places his interests and needs above hers. After a while, the marriage collapses not because of Fanny's career but the way in which Nick looks at their relationship (we discover this near the end of the film.) He also conceals his financial problems from her, shutting Fanny out of his life as though she didn't exist.
All of this culminates in Nick's unfortunate involvement in a shady bond scheme which sends him to prison for two years. I would say that these problems are rather huge. I don't want to give more away because I feel others should have the opportunity to see the film and judge for themselves. But I have to say that the ending of the movie, is, in my opinion, one of the most heartfelt, dignified, and classiest moments ever put on film. And Barbra Streisand makes the most of it, touching us not only with her excellent performance of the song "My Man" but also by the way her Fanny carries herself, taking responsibility for her choice and showing that she will go on with her life, despite what's happened to her.
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