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Funny Girl

by Louise Adams
Wednesday May 8, 2013
Funny Girl

Barbra Streisand IS Fanny Brice; first in the 1968's beloved musical film "Funny Girl," and in every other part of her life too: a somewhat homely, working-class New Yawk girl with a magnificent set of lungs who becomes an overnight theatrical sensation.

Streisand first conquered the stage version - also with music by Jule Styne, lyrics by Bob Merrill, and book by Isobel Lennart - then commanded the film, her first motion picture, for which she won the Best Actress Oscar. Co-star Omar Sharif as her gambling husband Nick Arnstein also received an Oscar nomination.

Let us genuflect and say "Hello, Gorgeous."

This 45th (45th!) anniversary re-release has had a vibrant 4K digital restoration, so Irene Sharaff's gorgeous 1930s period costumes for Babs and the Ziegfeld girls positively glow. But the Blu-ray has a quaint feel too, from the dark-screen overture, intermission and entr'acte, to the special extras. The disc has two 1968 featurettes, complete with Moviefone-type narration: the "This is Streisand" trailer, and "Barbra in Movieland," a poignant behind-the-scenes look featuring the real-life elderly caretaker of the train station where "Don't Rain on My Parade" begins.

And what a song that is. The show-stopping sequence cost a quarter million dollars to make, and is worth every penny from train to taxi to tugboat. Sure, ping-ponging between coloratura soprano and Brooklyn borscht shtick gets a little repetitive; and nobody eats lobster in Baltimore, a blue-crab town; and Streisand's fingernails look less like buddah and more like claws; and she probably invented the word Diva and its accompanying attitude, but the broad can belt. So let us genuflect and say "Hello, Gorgeous."

"Funny Girl"

Louise Adams is a Chicago freelance writer at www.treefalls.com (and a nom de guerre).


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