58 of 61 people found the following review helpful
on April 5, 2004
The ultimate showcase for an actress, Barbra Streisand's highly publicized film debut in FUNNY GIRL met every single expectation and then some. The film was the highest-grossing film of 1968, and it's very easy to see why. The film has many great qualities: It's expertly directed by three-time Academy Award winner William Wyler (the finale of the "Don't Rain On My Parade" number is just as astonishing as the chariot race in Wyler's BEN HUR), the storyline is extremely compelling, Omar Sharif is an incredibly suave and charismatic leading man, the supporting players are perfectly cast (particularly Kay Medford, Lee Allen, and Walter Pidgeon), and the song score (primarily by Jule Styne and Bob Merrill) is first-rate.
However, virtually everything that FUNNY GIRL has working for it would be worthless without Barbra Streisand's absolutely phenomenal performance. I honestly cannot think of enough good descriptive adjectives to do justice to her amazing performance in this film. She handles drama, comedy, music numbers, and tearjerking sentiment with equal aplomb, and she does it all better than any actress before or since. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences had no choice but to honor her with the Oscar for Best Actress (in an extremely rare tie with academy favorite Katherine Hepburn; only the second tie in Oscar history to date), it is a performance that is nothing less than perfect.
About the DVD: Columbia-Tristar has done an excellent job in bringing FUNNY GIRL to DVD. The restoration of the original source elements may have taken nearly three years to complete, but it was time well spent - the picture quality is gorgeous! Sure, there are a few nicks on the print, but the color, sharpness, and virtually everything else is nearly flawless. Quite possibly one of the best vintage transfers yet. The sound is also excellent, and while there are no new features included (only vintage featurettes - I expect we'll see a special edition re-issue in the future) the menu design is fantastic.
87 of 96 people found the following review helpful
on November 5, 2001
First off - the DVD: It's a letterbox transfer of pristine new print that has been digitally restored (sometimes frame by frame) back to its original condition. Funny Girl hasn't looked this good in thirty years - so if you've only seen it on VHS or TV, you're in for a visual treat. I saw the restored print on a huge screen this past fall, and believe me, this transfer does it justice. In addition they have included the pre-show and intermission music as well. The additional documentary material is nothing to write home about. But I think whoever did the DVD menu deserves kudos for styling it like the New Amsterdam theater marquee from the first shot of the movie, with highlights from the film playing in the background. Very appropriate and very clever.
Funny Girl is A.) the musical biography of comedienne-singer Fanny Brice, and B.) the Oscar-winning film debut of 26 year old Barbra Streisand. As theatrical history lesson it's pretty flawed - (Arnstein was Brice's *second* husband, for example). The Streisand - Brice connection is strong, however. Fanny, like Barbra, wore her Jewishness as a badge of honor - in contrast to most Jewish performers of the day, who tried to blend in as much as possible. As a matter of fact, the "You Are Woman, I Am Man" seduction scene plays like a Brice "Follies" sketch.
And as a star vehicle for Striesand, it's a winner. "I'm the Greatest Star" at the beginning of the picture is an electrifying jolt of raw, pure talent. At the end of them film when she falters on the opening words of "My Man", you'll remember what it feels like to watch your beloved walk out of your life.
William Wyer seems to be aware that he's launching a new star. The way he introduces Barbra - that long walk with her back to the camera in the leopard coat - ending with the first teasing glimpse of her face in the mirror - "Hello, gorgeous." It was a closeup that many film folk were sure would have audiences recoiling in horror. Certainly plain looking Barbra couldn't make it as a movie star. Well, it's not news anymore but it turns out that Barbra photographs beautifully. Even Barbra-hater Rex Reed had to admit at the time, "It took the combined efforts of God knows how many people to do it, but I'll be damned if they haven't made her beautiful!"
Omar Sharif plays opposite Barbra, and he holds up his end of the film nicely, no small feat when you consider that the script gives him little to do and the entire property has been tailored to Streisand's strengths. No one else registers, with the possible exception of Kay Medford as Fanny's mother. (Poor Anne Francis sued Columbia after the film was released, claiming Streisand had her cut out of the finished film. Most of you are sitting there thinking, "Anne, who?")
All in all, one of the better Sixties Broadway musical adaptations. (Note: Funny Girl was nominated for Best Picture in 1968. It lost to another Columbia Pictures musical - Oliver! If you liked Funny Girl, check out Oliver! - it's a better movie, even though it has no star names over the title. More 1968 Oscar trivia - Barbra won for Best Actress in a tie with Kathrine Hepburn of "Lion in Winter". In Oscar balloting there can only be a tie when there are the exact same number of votes. Why do I mention this? Well, it just so happens that because of her "special stature" in the industry, Barbra Streisand was admitted as a voting member of the Academy that year - with the release of just her first film. I wonder who she voted for???? If she hadn't been given special treatment, maybe Kate Hepburn's name would had been the only one announced that night!)
39 of 41 people found the following review helpful
on August 24, 1999
Wow. One usually becomes a Streisand fan after seeing this movie. I certainly did. Streisand's movie debut begs the question: "Is a nose with deviation such a crime against the nation?" (sung by Fanny Brice's mother in the film). Barbra is Fanny is Barbra. When Streisand as Fanny tells Omar Shariff as Nick that he made her feel "beautiful", who can not love this woman?
The new DVD includes a restored version of the film and an incredibly clear soundtrack. Unless you saw the limited theatrical release this summer, then you have probably never seen FUNNY GIRL in its widescreen presentation. For years I had watched a faded pan-and-scan VHS version. Barbra's hilarious business of straightening her dress in the "You Are Woman" scene is completely cut out in pan-and-scan! Director William Wyler shot the film with a lot of widescreen compositions that the pan-and-scan versions always butchered. Thank you, Columbia, for this restored, widescreen DVD!
I remember watching THAT'S ENTERTAINMENT and seeing highlight clips from famous musicals. They showed "Don't Rain On My Parade" from FUNNY GIRL ...Barbra on the tug boat holding that note ("Paa-aa-raaaaaad-de") as the camera revealed the Statue of Liberty. I was thrilled. The DVD contains a theatrical short that shows behind the scenes footage of how they shot the entire "Parade" number -- really incredible footage!
The movie's second act, a bit slow, gives Streisand the chance to show her acting chops!
"My Man" at the movie's end features a "live" Streisand vocal as she cries on stage then triumphantly finishes. That scene won Barbra the Oscar. It is truly incredible.
I am disappointed that the DVD did not include more of the scenes I've always heard about but never seen. The AFI tribute (on ABC earlier this year) remains the only place you can see scenes from the Swan Ballet number that were cut. Also, I wish there was a Streisand commentary. Can you imagine the reflections about making this film that she could share?
People who see FUNNY GIRL are the luckiest people in the world.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on October 30, 2001
We has the good fortune to see the newly restored version of FUNNY GIRL on the big screen last month. There were 6 of us in our group (3 men & 3 women) and we all loved every minute of it. The colors in the new print are fabulous, the soundtrack is enhanced, & Barbra is even better than you expect her to be. So here's my question: why was there so little hype for the theatrical re-release of this wonderful film?!?!?
I sent this question to the Internet Movie Database & I was told that FUNNY GIRL was "not a groundbreaking movie or even an important one."
Well, now, let's just look @ this a little closer. Watching it again for the first time in 30 years, one thing that amazed me was how deliberately Wyler had framed Streisand's famous nose. In many scenes, her face is shown in profile against a dark background, so that "the bump" is very pronounced. This actually occurs when she's singing PEOPLE, her big "romantic number."
We are used to hearing that De Niro & Pacino changed the standard of on-screen beauty & made "ethnic" stars acceptable, but it should now be clear that the bulldozer that broke this barrier was Streisand. There she is, surrounded by gorgeous chorus girls, but no one can have any question about who "the star" is.
One final comment: FUNNY GIRL was originally released in 1968, in other words about 5 years before the first publication of MS Magazine & the dawn of the Women's Movement. But here's this woman asserting herself & taking control. Framing her on that tugboat, & sending her plowing right in front of the Statue of Liberty is the most aggressive declaration of reaching out for the American Dream that I know of -- in what other country could a woman even dream of such a thing?
With all due respect, I suggest folks take another look @ this film before thinking they can consign it to the dustbin of history. I can't wait to add the DVD to my permanent collection!!!
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
"I'd rather be blue thinking of you
I'd rather be blue over you
Than be happy with somebody else..."
I've always thought Barbra to be one of the most beautiful women in the world and in this movie she also radiates a stunning internal fire that I am sure still takes men's breath away. She is not only comical, cute and courageous; she displays so many qualities men love all while playing a somewhat innocent role next to the more worldly wise Nick Arnstein. The comedic elements are laugh out loud funny and the romantic scenes dramatic and heart elating or tear inducing.
Together they are polar opposites drawn to each other by their differences all while recognizing the similarities in their life purpose goals. While Fanny Brice falls into luck, Nick Arnstein (Omar Sharif) meets her when he is at his zenith. His love for her almost seems to make his wildly adventurous life seem less attractive and as he commits himself to his marriage, he starts to lose his Poker face. As he makes his money playing Poker, Fanny continues on her rise to the stars. Her stardom soon starts to make Nick feel insignificant and no matter what she tries to accomplish, all her plans for his success are thwarted by his pride.
Part of the movie was filmed at the Jersey Central Railway Station and in the special features they show a very small portion of the filming. However, the theatre settings, country homes and train station bring rare beauty and details that only serve to enhance the romance.
The vulnerability while singing "I'd Rather be Blue" is a rare scene with Streisand on lime green roller skates and purple stockings in front of dusty red curtains framing a scene of an Italian garden complete with cypress trees. And who could not love her in the Bride Scenes, which are spectacular in all their sparkling beauty and classy choreographed style. She is most beautiful in her sparkly blue outfit laughing on the red couch in front of ruby wallpapered walls as Omar sings: "You are woman, I am man, let's kiss." What decorating, what a dress! What a look on her face after being kissed. Barbra must have a thousand different facial expressions in this movie and they are all priceless.
The Special Features include:
Barbra in Movieland
This is Streisand
I didn't think I could love a movie more than My Fair Lady or Doctor Zhivago or Gone with the Wind, but Funny Girl is romantic, musical and the costumes and settings are spectacular. Trains, true love and Barbra's gorgeous voice makes Funny Girl a dream. As a romantic comedy this is a true classic for any collector. This movie truly stole my heart as it is one of the rare moments in time where women were allowed to be vulnerable and strong within a classic portrayal of the ideal romance. Such longing...
Traditional ideas about beauty have always been overrated. In reality, the people we want to be around have a great personality and a sense of humor. As one of my boyfriends from my teenage years once told me: "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder." To me, Barbra is stunning and brings out all the elements of feminine beauty and mystique most actors today can't touch.
Just when you think the movie is going to end, there is an intermission. Thankfully! Like many of my favorite movies, I didn't want this one to end. When it does end, you may feel compelled to watch it again and again. I'm almost happy I waited over 35 years to see this movie (Well, it was made the year after I was born and "People who Love People" is part of the soundtrack of my life. Finally I understand the movie connection.) and the DVD transfer is beyond perfect.
In "True Love," I fear we would all rather be blue than happy with somebody else. Isn't life funny that way? ;) No matter your political opinion, this is a movie you can escape into with complete abandon. In the end, the way the game of love works may be the most intriguing part of analyzing Funny Girl.
~The Rebecca Review
Hopeless Romantic, don't try to save me!
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on October 30, 2001
Hello, gorgeous. Funny Girl is the ultimate Streisand film. Barbra's Oscar winning film debut as the Ziegfeld star Fannie Brice has never been in better form. After a frame-by-frame image restoration and digitally remastered audio, this popular musical packs all the glitter of its 1968 premiere.
Ray Stark, son-in-law to the legendary Brice, first began working on a screen biography of his famous mother-in-law in 1948, but Brice herself rejected several scripts. Nearly a decade later, he commissioned a new screenplay from Isobel Lennart. When studios didn't bite, Lennart adapted her script for Broadway, with Jule Styne and Bob Merrill getting the nod to write the songs. Stark tapped a young Barbra Streisand, already a Broadway sensation in "I can get it for you wholesale" to play the Brice. The rest is entertainment history.
This DVD presentation is spectacular in quality, but its "Special Features" pale in comparison to those of "The Way We Were." The documentaries "Barbra in Movieland" and "This is Streisand" are almost camp in their approach and scope, and I long for a present-day interview (better yet, audio commentary) with la Streisand that would have put the making of this film in better context. I'm hoping her future films, especially her directorial efforts, include a director commentary and background footage. (Barbra, can you hear me?)
That said, Funny Girl is still the centerpiece any Streisand fan's collection. A must have.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on June 15, 1999
Prior to watching "Funny Girl," I had no idea of who either Barbra or Fanny were. I felt the sentiment and meaning behind the movie (a sweet girl can't get all the breaks--it's either her own professional success on stage or a gambling husband) and am now both a Streisand and a Brice fan. This film is recommended to those either unsure of who the great Fanny Brice was or to those unaware of Barbra's unlimited talents. In reality, it's for all "people, people who need people." Shariff's performance was great as well, as was Kay Medford's, who played Fanny's mother Rose. Ziegfeld will make you laugh and remind you of your grandpa and Barbra will make you giggle and tear up because she is so innocent and yet has such defiance and strength, at least in the beginning. "I'd Rather Be Blue Over You," "My Man," "Don't Rain on My Parade," "People," and "I'm the Greatest Star" are some of the catchy musical numbers in the film. If you don't cry the first time you watch it, rewind it and figure out what you have missed. You'll find that Barbra truly does have "36 expressions," if not a couple more. Watch closely and you'll see them all. The characterizations she uses are amazingly timeless. She'll "light up like a light" in this biographical film. Enjoy.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on January 5, 2000
Barbara's first movie is not only a hit, but a classic as well. She and Omar Sharif do a sensational job on this wonderful romantic comedy. You'll love it and will want to watch it over and over again!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
It's no coincidence that when Barbra performed live, she looked back upon her repertoire of music and chose things like "People" and "Don't Rain on My Parade" to sing. The score to the Broadway show and this movie is one of the best musical scores ever, no doubt made better by Streisand's incomparable voice. The movie itself is beautifully filmed, and while some of the editing leaves a bit to be desired, it tells the story of the comedic legend Fanny Brice. Brice, whose career Streisand's seemed to have an uncanny likeness, was one of the Ziegfeld legends, and it's fitting that a legend in the making was chosen to play her on the stage and the big screen. Streisand turns in one of her best performances in all of her movies, and her ability to relate to her character is readily apparent in both her acting and her vocal interpretations of the many wonderful songs. While the VHS edition of the movie has been on my shelf for many years, I saw a preview of the DVD and it's simply awesome. Definitely one for the collection, whether you're a Streisand fan or not.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on January 2, 2004
What a tour de force!!! Barbra's first movie is AMAZING!!!
I think Babs was born to play Fanny Brice. What a wonderful and
beautiful portrayal of a young woman struggling to try to "fit"
onstage and then "makes it big" Of course Barbra's singing is
just too perfect and her acting is amazing. I think it is her
best movie. Her comedic timing in this movie is so natural that
she should have done standup. Her comedy movies of the 70's
definately showcase her comedic gifts. One sad note, of course,
is Barbra's character "Fanny" just loves Nicky Awnstein too much.
He knows he isn't good for her and lets her go. He really broke
her heart. So, if you want a movie with vintage style from the 20's, Fabulous Singing, Dancing, Wonderful Costumes, and a great
story, then please watch this movie. It is #1 on my list.