Funny Girl

It was a break from the rain, so I was a bit sad that I had to work.  On the way home, I stopped to get a hamburger.  I sat down in front of my television and decided to watch the Blu-ray of “Funny Girl.”  The movie revolved around Barbra Streisand and her performance as Fanny Brice.  Everyone else, including Omar Sharif as the love interest Nicky Arnstein, fades to the background.  This is the movie that Streisand is going to be remembered for.  She seems like a perfect fit for the role, and she is impressive with her singing.  Sidney Lumet was involved with the movie for a while, but it was William Wyler, famous for “The Best Years of Our Lives” and “Ben-Hur,” who eventually directed the film.  The movie is very enjoyable before Fanny’s fame, and it feels like it runs too long because we don’t care so much about stars when they start to have marital problems.  The roller skating number was fun, and it reminded me of something out a movie with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.  My favorite song is “Don’t Rain on My Parade.”  I liked those aerial shots, and I thought it was amusing to see the flowers wilting.  The bit with the tugboat made me think back to Billy Wilder’s “Sabrina.”  There is some gender role reversal from what we saw in older movies.  Omar Sharif certainly was not remembered for his singing in this film.  Frank Sinatra certainly could have handled that part, although I couldn’t imagine that he would have any kind of agreeable chemistry with Barbra.  He would have wanted a larger role.  Roger Ebert’s review said that this was a lopsided movie, with all of its good qualities involving Barbra, and all its weakness involving everything else.  Well, if you were to remove Barbra and insert Shirley MacLaine, you’d have a movie that is bloated and boring.  The story in some ways was like Judy Garland and James Mason in “A Star is Born.”  The movie looked better on Blu-ray than I remembered it on DVD.  At least that was the thought that I had as I watched Barbra on the stage on the roller skates.  It would have been great to see a bit more of Anne Francis, known for “Forbidden Planet” and episodes of The Twilight Zone and Columbo.  Walter Pidgeon was Florenz Ziegfeld, and I thought he was good in the role.  Some of his other movies were “How Green Was My Valley,” “Mrs. Miniver,” and “The Bad and the Beautiful.”  He also appeared in “Forbidden Planet.”  Kay Medford played Fanny’s mother, and I remember her as Gloria Neugast in a Partridge Family episode.  Mae Questel, the voice of Betty Boop, was also in the cast.  Watching “Funny Girl” again made me think of the decline of the movie musical.  This one was a success that was counter to the trend that was happening with other pictures like “Doctor Dolittle,” “Paint Your Wagon,” and “Goodbye Mr. Chips.”  I’m glad to see this movie all these years later, and I watch it with some sadness.  Barbra is the only one of the major cast members who is still alive, as Anne Francis died in 2011 and Omar Sharif died in 2015.  It’s a shame that Wyler didn’t end his directing career with “Funny Girl,” as he would go on to make the forgotten “The Liberation of L.B. Jones.”  Some of the people who died on October 27 include James M. Cain (1977), Xavier Cugat (1990), Jacques Demy (1990), and Lou Reed (2013).  Today is a birthday for Simon Le Bon (58) and John Cleese (77).  According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for October 27, the “Jesus Christ Superstar” album was released in 1970.  In 1975, Bruce Springsteen appeared on the magazine covers of Time and Newsweek.  In 1995, Gloria Estefan performed for Pope John Paul II.

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