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||IMDB Rating: 7.5/10 from AL votes
||Release: 27 February 1969 (Netherlands) /
||Genre: Biography, Comedy, Drama
||Director: Isobel Lennart,
||Stars: Anne Francis, Barbra Streisand, Bettina Brenna, Frank Faylen, Gerald Mohr, Gertrude Flynn, John Harmon, Kay Medford, Lee Allen, Mae Questel, Mittie Lawrence, Omar Sharif, Penny Santon, Thordis Brandt, Walter Pidgeon
||Synopsis: 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 eventual divorce from Nick Arnstein. Written by Randy Goldberg <[email protected]>
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There are not enough superlatives in the world to bestow on Barbra Streisand
for her rags-to-riches portrayal of 20s Ziegfeld Follies star Fanny Brice.
To say she gives the single most triumphant musical performance ever
showcased on the silver screen could be close. I am constantly bowled over
with each viewing at how the 26-year-old Brooklyn novice ever pulled off
this incredible stunt. Cinderella playing Cinderella. Even the finicky
Hollywood powers-that-be, who NEVER use untried screen talent for such a
weighty role (Julie Andrews and "My Fair Lady" come to mind), knew that
nobody but Barbra could inhabit this part. She won the Oscar, naturally,
and it was befitting that the newcomer should share this honor with perhaps
the greatest screen legend ever, Katharine Hepburn.
Barbra's Fanny Brice first conquered Broadway where she lost the Tony award
to another irrepressible talent, Carol Channing, for "Hello Dolly!" She got
her revenge of sorts years later when she won the coveted screen role of
Dolly due strictly to her auspicious debut in "Funny Girl." Transferred to
celluloid, the movie loosens its bustles quite a bit and grants more
breathing room for Barbra to expand her natural comic and dramatic talents
both keenly and intimately amid the elaborate sets and costumes.
The timing of this film couldn't have been better for Streisand. The late
60s ushered in a new legion of stars. The rash of talent coming to the
forefront purposely lacked the super-model good looks and
incredibly-sculpted physiques of their predecessors. Audiences now clamored
for realism...human imperfection. What less attractive guys like Dustin
Hoffman and Al Pacino did for the men, Barbra did for the distaff side. She
dragged out her own Cinderella version, making a virtue of her odd looks and
gawky gait while laying out her two big trump cards -- she was a supreme
song stylist and a gifted, self-deprecating cut-up.
Hardly ever off screen, Streisand totally immerses herself in the role of
chorus clown-turned-Ziegfeld headliner, weaving a spell around each and
every song she touches. From the stubbornly optimistic "I'm the Greatest
Star" to the profoundly touching "My Man", the actress matures Brice into
the glowing swan of her own dreams, while exposing a deep, personal
vulnerability she never recaptured (or allowed) again on screen -- to her
Despite heavy critical lambasting, I still say exotically handsome Omar
Sharif was indeed the consummate choice to play wanderlust husband and card
shark Nicky Arnstein. Polished, prideful and totally in his element as the
global-gambling playboy, one can believe the ungainly Fanny (or Streisand,
for that matter) placing this glossy god on a pedestal. It may not appear
to be much of a stretch (in real life, Sharif was a world-class bridge
player), but he owns the part as much as delightful Kay Medford does as
Brice's droll Jewish mama. Everyone else, however, is pretty expendable.
It's been said that Anne Francis blamed Streisand for her supposedly top
featured role being butchered. If it's true, she has an open-and-shut case.
Francis was left with a nothing part.
Highly fictionalized and weak as biography, Streisand champions above the
sometimes grandiose material from the moment she utters her first classic
words: "Hello, gorgeous!" And so she is.
Tags for Funny Girl Full Movie
, Barbra Streisand
, Bettina Brenna
, Frank Faylen
, Gerald Mohr
, Gertrude Flynn
, John Harmon
, Kay Medford
, Lee Allen
, Mae Questel
, Mittie Lawrence
, Omar Sharif
, Penny Santon
, Thordis Brandt
, Walter Pidgeon
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