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USA 1968
Directed by
William Wyler
155 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2.5 stars

Funny Girl

For a musical, particularly one about a real life singer, Funny Girl is surprisingly light on songs. In her first screen appearance, Barbra Streisand gives an Oscar-winning performance (she tied with Katharine Hepburn for The Lion in Winter), reprising her Broadway triumph as the real life singer/comedienne, Fanny Brice, a New York East Side Jewish girl who became one of the stars of the Ziegfeld Follies in 1930s. We get Brice's earthy signature tune, "Second-Hand Rose", and there’s the classic Streisand renditions of the Bob Merrill-Jule Styne songs, "People" and "Don’t Rain On My Parade" but the focus is much more on the story.

Under the direction of veteran director William Wyler, who was brought in to replace Sidney Lumet after the latter quit, the film looks and is played like an old-fashioned glossy Hollywood musical biopic – a conventionally rosy-hued story of the joys and sorrows (the latter provided by Omar Sharif as Brice's husband Nick Arnstein) of a popular showbiz personality of  yesteryear. If the first half of the film, typically concerned with Fanny's rise to stardom is entertaining, with a couple of nicely produced stage numbers (directed by Herbert Ross who would direct the1975 sequel, Funny Lady) from thence, when it concerns itself with what comes after success, it plods its long-winded way to the seemingly tacked-on Pollack-Yvain torch song, "My Man", that is much more about Barbra than Brice.

Somewhat surprisingly, the film was a smash hit and became the highest grossing film of 1968.





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