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Funny Girl Reviews

Few film debuts in the 1960s were more auspicious than that of Barbra Streisand in FUNNY GIRL. Already a legit and recording star, she shot to superstardom and nabbed an Academy Award for best actress in the bargain. William Wyler's musical debut is less assured than one would have liked, but no matter; La Babs had played musical-comedy star Fanny Brice on Broadway and had the role down pat by the time director Wyler brought the story to the screen. In the early 1900s in New York City, young Fanny, an ugly duckling with an unstoppable ambition to be a star, is determined to get out of the Lower East Side. Her big break comes when she's spotted by handsome gambler Nicky Arnstein (Sharif), who helps her catch the eye of Florenz Ziegfeld (Pidgeon). Ziegfeld hires her for his new Follies presentation, where her subversive comic style proves extraordinarily popular; soon she is one of the Follies' biggest stars. The remainder of the picture--which, despite its real-life subject, tells a formulaic story--recounts her steady rise to national celebrity and her tumultuous marriage to Arnstein. The oddly cast Sharif is better than usual, but Streisand, of course, is most of the show, belting out songs, pulling heartstrings, alternating between raucous slapstick and dramatic power, and generally demonstrating that she has arrived in a big way. The memorable Broadway score was augmented for the screen with several tunes from Brice's life, including her signature, "My Man."