Directed by: William Wyler
Company:Columbia Pictures Corporation / Rastar Pictures
Runtime: 151 minutes
This is Barbra Streisand’s debut film. This is where Barbra Streisand got her first and only Best Actress award. This is the movie that introduced Barbra Streisand to the whole world as a movie actress. This is the movie that featured one of Barbra Streisand’s signature songs – People. This is Barbra Streisand’s movie. But look, is this really a movie that can stand alone?
The movie is about Fanny Brice, a childish grown-up who works in a vaudeville, causing a lot of troubles, and in the end, cheers. There, he meets the supposedly suave Mr. Arnstein. Then she goes crazy for him. Andhe disappears. And appears. Now, she is a successful Ziegfeld girl. Now, he convinces her to go with him in his life as a gambler. She leaves the spotlight and fame that she experiences in the Ziegfeld life and goes with him.
Unfortunately, as everything is supposed to go into perfect happiness, he gets involved in some scam or whatsoever, getting himself into prison for eighteen months. She continues her life as a Ziegfeld girl.
First of all, I believe it’s really a star vehicle. Some and I myself consider it a classic. But it’s really the classic star vehicle. You’ll understand me when you watch it.
Basically, loving the film is impossible if you don’t love Streisand. She’s the soul and the ONLY living thing in it. She movies with grace throughout the film. And this is her film debut. And this is a gorgeous film debut!
She registers her character from the start to the end with such newness that perfectly. Especially with her younger years, she plays it so well. And the fact that she can handle comedy, drama, and everything in between with such professionalism is the highlights of her performance.
Some scenes however, end to be either overdramataic or no drama at all and you can feel she’s stuck by doing things to remedy the sufferings of the character from the film’s major flaws. Also, some scenes are plain. I know that she is a character of a very funny nature, but when it comes to drama, the limitations are still there. Still, I think it’s one of the most deserved Oscar wins due to the fact that she created such flawed and natural character with such ease.
Unfortunately, this is a one-woman show. The rest are entirely forgettable.
Omar Sharif is supposed to be charming and suave, but he’s so dull that I can feel that he’s not trying to do anything great. And that’s a big problem for me. Why is Fanny supposed to fall for a gorgeous guy, as she said, if what I’m seeing is a man of dullness? Sorry, wrong acting choice.
Kay Medford got a nomination. Why? I mean a very big why???? Her role is very underwritten, she is so brief compared to her movie, and she never graces the screen with anything. I don’t know if her voice in this is real or not but it surely is distracting. Maybe her delivery of the line “Love him a little less, help him a little more” is quite good, mixing love and warning to Fanny, but other than that? Nothing. Purely forgettable.
The other cast members are forgettable to the extreme. I think I could have lived even i just seeing Babs act it all. Maybe the other characters are just voices. Maybe I’m overstating, but the others are totally no use.
Well, the technical parts are all done well.
Cinematography is okay, sometimes remarkable, especially in the end. That final shot of her standing and the only light is from above, therefore making just the outline of her face and upper body is masterful. Editing was not that good. It’s quite lousy. Sound is okay.
Costume design is grand, art direction is captivating, especially in the Ziegfeld scenes. And I don’t know if it was the make up or something else. But the whole movie, from the younger years to the adulthood are so well-made. Maybe it’s really because of Streisand’s capability, but I know make-up did something. The music is remarkable. Nothing to say more about that.
The screenplay is a mixed bag. The screenplay is GREAT because it gave so much opportunities for Barbra to really shine in her movie. The screenplay is BAD because he just made it into Babs’ show. Again, this has an ensemble cast, but Barbra is the only one doing things for the film to work.
Now, the direction is bigger bag of mixed things, mostly negative.
It’s to be praised for all of what it has done in the first part. It was a very smooth flowing journey in the first part. But the second part really hurts. It’s so slow that I can’t blame Barbra worshippers to stay away from this film. It’s the part where Barbra is really needed to lighten the whole thing, but it simply dragged. In the second part, I can say that Barbra was not the star but the pacing. And I can feel that William Wyler never really wanted to end the story. He wants it to just go on and on and on.
It might fascinate a few, but it’s frustrating. I know it is an old-fashioned musical biopic, but at least, give me a reasonable pacing!
So even if the film itself is grand, it lacks in direction.
The second part really hurts. The film is a one-woman show, it worked but not to the fullest. In know it could have been better, but the filmmakers chose not to.
For this, the movie gets:
What are your thoughts, dear reader?