Streisand working hard to enliven a somewhat uneasy musical showcase...
This one-hour television special from Barbra Streisand and the CBS network is incredibly busy--but not always lively. Part one (built around the almost-endearing concept of utilizing one song, "I Got Rhythm", in different musical formats) has La Streisand changing costumes, hairstyles and personas to become different tantalizing women from around the globe. Barbra enchants viewers with unabashed seductiveness, but the visual and musical design doesn't lift off, and one may get restless with the fanciful conceit. Eventually, we get to the good stuff: Streisand's duet with Ray Charles on "Cryin' Time" is a highlight, and the star is in sensational voice on the emotionally-charged but difficult "I Never Has Seen Snow". Still, her chit-chat between songs lacks flair, and the attempts at humor (with a temperamental computer and also a set full of noisy household appliances) are uneasy. The closer, "The Sweetest Sounds", has a beautiful, cooing chorus, and Streisand lets her hair down (literally) on the uptempo "Sweet Inspiration" (which maybe could have stood a bit more polish). Barbra allows the camera to come in close--very, very close--to her celebrated profile, yet her imperiousness is still sometimes hard to crack.
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