The life of comedienne Fanny 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 ... 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 »
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 »
Two singers, best friends Lorelei Lee and Dorothy Shaw travel to Paris pursued by a private detective hired by Lorelei's fiancé's disapproving father to keep an eye on her, a rich, enamoured old man and many other doting admirers.
Delphine and Solange are two sisters living in Rochefort. Delphine is a dancing teacher and Solange composes and teaches the piano. Maxence is a poet and a painter. He is doing his military... See full summary »
1930s in New York. The famous singer Fanny Brice has divorced her first husband Nicky Arnstein. During the depression she has trouble finding work as an artist but meets Billy Rose, a newcomer who writes lyrics and owns his own nightclub. Written by
After the scene of Brice doing her radio show, there is a shot supposedly of the NBC building in Los Angeles. The building shown is actually the redressed Pan Pacific Auditorium which, while of the correct period, looks nothing like the actually NBC building. The Pan Pacific Auditorium was used in Xanadu (1980) as the nightclub opened at the end of the picture. See more »
Near the end of the movie, in a meeting between Brice and Rose, they discuss his divorce from Eleanor Holm. Rose and Holm divorced three years after Brice's death, so the discussion could not have taken place as portrayed in the film. See more »
[referring to having borrowed money from the mob to finance his show]
They're gonna build me into the West Side Highway.
That's the only good news I've heard tonight.
I'm not kidding.
Neither am I.
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I first saw "Funny Lady" in 1979, when it was in heavy rotation on Showtime. At the time I loved it. Not a surprise: I was 12, in the early stages of my Barbra Streisand obsession and it was the first one of her movies I had ever seen. When it appeared on TCM recently I decided to take another look now that more than 30 years have passed, my Streisand obsession has cooled and I've since seen "Funny Girl," as well as everything else in the Streisand filmography save "Little Fockers" (you have to draw the line somewhere). I still enjoyed it, but I saw it for what it was: a contractual obligation.
Streisand didn't want to make the movie reportedly only agreeing to it when threatened with a lawsuit and it shows in her performance, the star often appearing annoyed and impatient with the proceedings. But then, who could blame her? The story, loosely based on Fanny Brice's marriage to Billy Rose, isn't fully developed here, lazily told and clumsily directed by Herbert Ross, with montages filling in the cracks between a few dramatic moments and musical numbers. In fact, "Funny Lady" at times plays like one of those vapid vehicles Hollywood sticks singers in just to cash in on his/her popularity, like "Burlesque," to cite a recent (and much worse) example. James Caan, as Rose, is good but he and Streisand never quite click, as if the stars were filmed in separate sound stages and spliced together in the editing room. Roddy McDowell flits at the periphery in the thankless role of Fanny's gay friend/assistant; Omar Sharif reprises his role as Nicky Arnstein in what's little more than an extended cameo, his character now a money grubbing cad; and Ben Vereen is in one musical number and quickly dismissed (the rest of his role landed on the cutting room floor).
I was also struck by how thrown-together the movie looked, with sets and costumes looking like castoffs from "The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour" (the "Great Day" musical number in particular could just as easily have part of Cher's Vegas performances in the '70s). And how about that final scene, set more than a decade later, with Streisand in a horrible helmet of gray hair and Caan's hair and mustache sprayed white, yet neither star looking a day older than 35.
And yet Streisand can still enthrall. I loved her musical numbers, particularly her bitter rendition of "How Lucky Can You Get," the ballad "If I Love Again," and the "Don't Rain on My Parade"-wannabe, "Let's Hear it for Me." Barbra even has some good dramatic moments, particularly a somber scene where Fanny and Rose discuss their relationship after she's catches him in bed with the star of his aquatic revue, Eleanor Holm. "Funny Lady" is less a sequel to "Funny Girl" than a star vehicle. Luckily, Streisand has enough power to drive it, even though this star vehicle doesn't have much under the hood.
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