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Brice, a poor Jewish girl from New York's Lower East Side, rose to fame and won audience's hearts everywhere with her comic antics and powerful singing. Unfortunately, she had far less success in her personal life, and the film focuses on her doomed romance with her first husband, gambler Nicky Arnstein.
For more about Funny Girl and the Funny Girl Blu-ray release, see Funny Girl Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on April 29, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Barbra Streisand, Omar Sharif, Kay Medford, Anne Francis, Walter Pidgeon, Mae Questel
Director: William Wyler
» See full cast & crew
Funny Girl Blu-ray Review
There's nothing funny about this beautiful transfer.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, April 29, 2013
The whole world will look at me and be stunned!
There are singers, there are movie stars, and then there are those rare entertainers who are not only both, but who excel at each craft. From Elvis to J-Lo, from Kris Kristofferson to Ice Cube, the silver screen and the top 40 both have certainly seen a fair share of crossover stars performing to various levels of success. There's arguably none better than Barbra Streisand, she of one of the most gifted singing voices of her -- or any -- time and a hugely talented actress who would rise to big screen stardom in Funny Girl, her first leading role on the way to a rather storied career. Reprising her part from the hit Broadway show of the same that debuted a few years before Funny Girl would grace the screen in 1968, Streisand and the film both proved instant successes, she winning a split-decision Academy Award for Best Actress for her work and the film nominated for seven more of the golden statues, including Best Picture. Though perhaps not the first name in American Musicals, Funny Girl was and remains a huge success of music, storytelling, filmmaking, and fun, a picture of simple ambitions but one that's beautifully crafted and that withstands the classic test of time decades after its release.
Fanny Brice (Streisand) is a struggling stage performer who dreams of making it big with the famed Ziegfeld Follies but instead must work on smaller productions. She's said to be too skinny through the legs and lacking an attractive face. She's also a little clumsy while performing line routines, but her zeal gets her a little farther than her talent alone. When her bumbling on-stage antics entertain the audience, she finally catches her break. Florenz Ziegfeld (Walter Pidgeon) himself wants her to play in his production, and play a key role in it at that. She also meets the alluring Nick Arnstein (Omar Sharif), a playboy with a gambling addiction who seems like everything Fanny has ever wanted in a man. As her career explodes, her slow courtship with Nick reaches the point that they decide to marry, if he can win big during a riverboat gambling excursion. Can her career survive a topsy-turvy romance with an up-and-down gambler, and is Nick really everything Fanny wants, both as a lover and as someone who will support her career wholeheartedly?
Though it may be a story from the days when the arrival of a telegram was a block-wide event and the world existed without knowing the horrors of a worldwide conflict, or two, Funny Girl nevertheless remains a relevant and charming little slice of fictionalized pre-war Americana now decades after its release and even more decades removed from its setting. The tale of a girl who finds her confidence, her man, and herself through the course of the picture, it's a touching, captivating, entertaining, and yes, funny little film that charms its way into the heart through its simplicity of story and common audience bond through its portrait of a talented, but outwardly regular (her legs are too skinny and she stands apart from her peers, not in a good way, they say), person yearning for, living, and ultimately facing the realities and consequences of her dreams. Through richly written songs, enthusiastically performed dance, a nicely conceived though somewhat plain narrative, and finely executed characters, Funny Girl swoops through a rather gentle but firm and fast-paced tale of a whirlwind period of one's existence, based on the life of stage and screen star Fanny Brice, whom Streisand captures with a magical flavor, charm, and authenticity well beyond her then-limited acting experience.
Funny Girl, at its core, is a simple story of a self journey complicated by the realities of life, including stardom, coming into and falling out of money, and learning the difference between true love and the idea of being in love. Much of the picture's early storyline revolves around Fanny's sense of self-worth, or lack thereof. She's told she lacks the looks and the body type to perform, and when she gets her big break with the biggest name in show business, she shies away from tackling the best part because it goes against her perceived self image that's been negatively beaten into her and become something of a reality when it's anything but. Fortunately, she overcomes with equally tough love from her employer. Later, as an accomplished stage actress but perhaps not so accomplished in life, she faces the facts of falling in love with the charms of a handsome man but maybe a little less so with the deepest leanings of her heart (one of the key songs, Sadie, Sadie, speaks to her desire to be in love like someone else, to live like that person rather than concentrate completely on her own deeper needs and wants). The movie is all about the complexities of life made rather simple in a very brisk, approachable, humorous, and memorable sort of way. It's about how even the best bumble and stumble about -- sometimes it's on skates in front of an audience, sometimes it's in one's own mind, sometimes it's just the unseen but deeply felt bumps along the figurative road of life -- and how life has a way of working things out in the end.
Still, the movie feels a little shallow; there's nothing new in terms of dramatic arcs or deep themes. It's a fairly superficial inward journey, but the basic plot is beautifully covered by a lineup of catchy tunes and, more importantly, a brilliant performance from Barbra Streisand. She handles her duties beautifully, bringing a very tangible charm to her character, whether as she doubts herself, stumbles about on stage, finds her confidence, falls in love, or looks deeply within herself by the end. She brings a sense of authentic, cheery life to the part, both verbally and physically; her talents on the stage are bested only by her natural beauty and incredible singing voice. She blends all of those talents into the part and makes her Fanny Brice one of cinema's most memorable Musical characters, even considering that slight lack of inward depth that's nicely concealed by Streisand's overwhelmingly positive contributions to the role. She shares a wonderful chemistry with screen legend Omar Sharif who handles the part of the gambling addicted playboy brilliantly. The two are a perfect match, looking as good on the screen as most any other couple in Musical memory. Their contributions are not to be overshadowed by the picture's Oscar-nominated cinematography and editing and Director William Wyler's (Ben-Hur) effortless work behind the camera in bringing the film's best assets to the forefront.
Funny Girl Blu-ray, Video Quality
Funny Girl's 1080p transfer, lovingly restored from the original negative in 4K, dazzles on Blu-ray. The 2.35:1-framed print is meticulously clean, showing not a speckle, hair, or any sign of wear. Light grain beautifully floats over the image, giving it a desirable film-like texturing. It's ever-so-slightly soft on the whole, with a handful of shots looking a bit fuzzy, but the overall quality of the image is otherwise practically above reproach. Details are exquisite; the many rich, lavish backdrops, as well as some of the more homely and worn down elements, reveal intimate textures that are beautifully clear and lifelike. Skin textures aren't often deeply intricate -- Streisand in particular takes on a very smooth, but naturally so appearance -- but do show some natural lines and details in close-up shots. Colors are beautifully reproduced. The balance is striking, whether the film be showering the screen with a parade of bright hues or showcasing some plainer brown and other earthen tones. Black levels are deep and stable, while skin tones appear even. This is everything a catalogue title should be, a miraculous presentation that's sure to please all comers.
Funny Girl Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Funny Girl features a fundamentally sound DTS-HD Master Audio 5.0 lossless soundtrack. The absence of a dedicated LFE channel doesn't particularly harm the presentation. It's a naturally airy, light affair throughout, at its best during the introduction and intermission when musical dominance offers a big, smooth, room-filling sound that's heavily focused up front with the accompanying surround information largely lost in the shuffle but nevertheless crucial in creating a more richly realized spacial presence. Clarity is exceptional through the entire range. Later musical numbers prove quite a bit less aggressive, for the most part, but still retain the base clarity and smoothness. Some of the supportive sound effects, such as crowd applause, come through as somewhat tinny and unfocused; as the camera shifts, the audible dynamics change drastically and with a sudden jarring sensation, effectively pulling the listener out of the moment. Dialogue plays smoothly and with a command of stage and clarity befitting a film of its period. All in all, this is a good soundtrack, not quite at the top of the heap but a fine presentation nonetheless.
Funny Girl Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Unfortunately, this debut Blu-ray release of Funny Girl contains only two brief vintage supplements.
Funny Girl Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Funny Girl is a rock-solid Musical, perhaps not quite as dramatically deep as some others but certainly heartfelt in every way, fast-paced, boundlessly charming, brilliantly performed, and endlessly entrancing. The key cog is, of course, Streisand, who debuts on the big screen with a charisma, confidence, and understanding of the role that feels unparalleled in the medium. She's certainly helped along by her familiarity with the stage production, but she glows on the screen and shows a command of the camera that only few actresses have ever shown before. This is a great movie from the top-down, and Sony's Blu-ray does it justice. While the supplements are disappointingly slim, the audio is good and the video is breathtaking. More supplements and this would be a shoo-in for one of the year's top releases. As it is, Funny Girl still comes very highly recommended.
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Funny Girl Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Funny Girl Blu-ray - March 25, 2013
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has officially that it will release on Blu-ray director William Wyler's Funny Girl (1968), starring Barbra Streisand, Omar Sharif, and Kay Medford. The release will be available for purchase online and in stores across the nation ...
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