Funny Girl Blu-ray delivers stunning video and solid audio in this overall recommended Blu-ray release
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.
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
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
Doing it her way.
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
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
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
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,
in a good way, they say), person yearning for, living, and ultimately facing the realities and consequences of her dreams. Through richly written
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
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
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
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'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 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.
Unfortunately, this debut Blu-ray release of Funny Girl contains only two brief vintage supplements.
Barbra in Movieland (SD, 10:09): A retro piece that looks at shooting one of the film's musical numbers at the abandoned Jersey Central
Railroad Station and as experienced through the eyes of its caretaker, Charlie Peterson. With optional English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, and
This is Streisand (SD, 5:34): Another retro piece that takes a look at the life and career of Barbra Streisand, her work in the film, and
starring alongside Omar Sharif. This supplement contains the same subtitle options listed with the extra above.
Funny Girl is a rock-solid Musical, perhaps not quite as dramatically deep as some others but certainly heartfelt in every way, fast-paced,
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.
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 ...