A matchmaker named Dolly Levi takes a trip to Yonkers, New York to see the "well-known unmarried half-a-millionaire," Horace Vandergelder. While there, she convinces him, his two stock ... See full summary »
Rose and Gregory, both Columbia University professors meet when Rose's sister answers Gregory's "personals" ad. Several times burned, the handsome-but-boring Gregory believes that sex has ... See full summary »
Can a bickering odd couple in Manhattan become friends and maybe more? Owlish Felix is an unpublished writer who vents his frustration by reporting to the super that the woman in a ... See full summary »
Daisy Gamble, an unusual woman who hears phones before they ring, and does wonders with her flowers, wants to quit smoking to please her fiancé, Warren. She goes to a doctor of hypnosis to ... See full summary »
A young wife and mother, bored with day-to-day life in New York City and neglected by her husband, slips into increasingly outrageous fantasies: her mother breaking into the apartment, an ... See full summary »
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
Once upon a time I worshiped Barbra Streisand. There, I said it. That's over. For that matter, so is my love affair with Streisand. What happened to the heat and abandon she had in her first few albums, the ones with the fantastic versions of Harold Arlen ballads? Listening to her on the Broadway cast album of "Funny Girl" only makes us painfully aware of how much we lost when she decided to "act" the songs for us in the movie.
The night it opened in Cincinnati I sat with my best buddy vibrating with excitement (I can even tell you the color of the curtain that hung over the screen). By the end of the night I was actually depressed. Where were my favorite songs from the show? I was really looking forward to seeing her sing"Cornet Man" and it made me sick to see they replaced that great tune with something lame called "The Roller Skate Rag" that went "Thud!" (You're supposed to find it hysterically funny that Fanny messed up a line of third-rate singers and dancers by falling all over them because she couldn't skate.)
Because the star, herself, and the producers were sure no one wanted to see anyone but Barbra Streisand (and they had a point . . . sort of), they cut everyone else's numbers until the movie of "Funny Girl" was pretty much another Streisand TV special. After I saw the movie I wanted to do some cutting of my own, especially on the embarrassing "Swan Lake" number that replaced the satirical "Private Schwartz from Rockaway." I also wanted to cut everything but about 15 minutes of the second half of the film.
The Ziegfeld Follies numbers look like bad 1960's television, there is no chemistry in the love scenes between the wooden Omar Sharif and Streisand, Kay Medford is wasted, and whatever kept Fanny Brice growing as a legendary comedienne is dropped after the pleasantly silly "His Love Makes Me Beautiful." We get a quick flash of her in Baby Snooks drag when she takes on the reporters but that's all. (And, anyway, Fanny Brice didn't take up the Baby Snooks routine until years later.)
Instead of the rueful tune "Who Are You Now?" we got another mediocre replacement song, the "title" song "Funny Girl," which takes the focus of Fanny's heartbreak away from what she might be doing to her husband (out of love, albeit) and puts it on what all the suffering is doing to her. I suppose this should have told us in what direction Barbara Streisand was going like a runaway train.
Oh, there's no denying there are parts of the movie that show her off at her best, and that best can be very fine. Over forty years have gone by and she never again touched the bravado and power of her final number "My Man," even if that business about it being done in one take with her singing perfectly while crying is pure bull. For one thing, it is physiologically impossible. They took her vocal of "My Man" from off the "My Name is Barbra" album and dubbed it in with a new orchestral arrangement. The effect is great so it doesn't really matter except for the Star's dishonesty in perpetuating that story.
And when Streisand stops jumping all over the place and stands still to sing the last stanza of "I'm the Greatest Star" she's amazing, even if the post dubbing is terribly obvious.
I'm a sport, though. When "Funny Girl" was restored ten years ago I let a couple of friends talk me into seeing it again. I forgot it would mean nearly three hours of my life, but, as I said, I'm a sport. But, thirty-six years later, "Funny Girl" redux only made me painfully aware that I was right the first time.
22 of 40 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?