Watching Funny Girl now, you would never guess that it was Barbra Streisand’s film debut. Sure, she originated the role on Broadway four years earlier, but performing on stage can be quite different than on film. Luckily, with William Wyler helming the project, she was in the right hands and delivered an iconic performance in a film that was a box office smash at the time. Join us – Pete Wright and Andy Nelson – as we conclude our Musicals From the 60s series with Wyler’s 1968 film Funny Girl.
We talk about Streisand and why she works so well in this film paired with Omar Sharif. We discuss the story and why it’s not nearly as memorable as the songs throughout, and we debate if a story more in line with the real relationship between Fanny Brice and Nick Arnstein would have worked better. We look at Wyler and what he’s bringing to the table, particularly with his cinematographer Harry Stradling Sr. We look at the production design and how it feels a bit uneven, fluctuating between very stagey sets and obvious location work. And we marvel at an amazing helicopter shot that stands out in a film with several cinematographic moments that are true highlights.
It’s a film that may be better remembered today for its music and for Streisand’s performance than for the story itself, but it’s still a very enjoyable watch. Check it out then tune in to this week’s show. The Next Reel – when the movie ends, our conversation begins.