I Saw That!

One woman's opinions about popular entertainment.

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Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States

Amateur boxing coach, Christian (but not so heavenly-minded that I'm no earthly good) singer, writer, self-defense advocate, childfree. feminist www.smartwomenboxingtraining.org

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Funny Girl (1968)

Fanny Brice is a poor Jewish girl living with her mother (Kay Medford) in New York. Her mother and her mother's friends don't take her show business dreams seriously. They point out that she's not a beauty queen, but Fanny is determined to make it. She makes it into a Ziegfeld show, then deviates from the script. Scheduled to sing a song about being a beautiful bride, Fanny steals the show by coming out with a pillow under her dress, pretending she's pregnant. Ziegfeld (Walter Pidgeon) is not happy, but when he sees the audience's pleased reaction, he decides to keep her in the show.

After one of her performances, she meets Nick Arnstein (Omar Sharif), a gambler with ties to underworld crime. After a brief separation, they meet again, fall for each other, and end up married. Fanny's star goes up, but Nick's fortunes dwindle. She attempts to help her husband out, but his male pride causes resentment on his part. Soon, their marriage is in trouble. When Arnstein is caught up in an illegal scheme, Fanny is faced with some hard decisions to make.

There's only one song I'm not crazy about on the soundtrack, and that's "The Swan", a comedic number. Other than that, the music is excellent, even though, it does disappear for a long stretch in the latter half of the movie. I liked the "plain and homely girl makes good" theme, which some could say applies to Ms. Streisand's career, as well. She certainly has no problem singing a line from "Sadie, Sadie" that goes, "The groom was prettier than the bride!"

Ms. Streisand is a bonafide diva with a beautiful voice who can also act. Her non-musical role have included Nuts (1987) and The Mirror Has Two Faces (1996). One of Mr. Sharif's biggest roles before Funny Girl was in the epic Dr. Zhivago (1965). He is also a world-class bridge player. Anne Francis, who also appears in this film, made history as TV's first female detective in the series "Honey West" (1965). She also starred in a Jerry Lewis film called Hook, Line and Sinker (1969). Walter Pidgeon was a respected actor who appeared in numerous films, including the war time classic Mrs. Miniver (1942).

Fanny Brice was a real person. She was a performer with the Zigfeld Follies, and continued her career in radio and movies. Her most famous character was a mischievous child named Baby Snooks.

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