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Funny Lady

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Location: Redstone Theater

Dir. Herbert Ross. 1975, 136 mins. Restored DCP. With Barbra Streisand, James Caan, Omar Sharif, Roddy McDowall, Ben Vereen. Though it was nominated for five Academy Awards, this sequel to Barbra Streisand’s breakout film, Funny Girl, was mostly roasted by critics. But in hindsight, Herbert Ross’s continuance of the Fanny Brice story was much bolder than its trappings would indicate, and despite its 1930s setting, serves as a startlingly jaundiced look at its own time. Though peppered throughout with song and dance, and gorgeously shot by legendary, two-time Oscar winning cinematographer James Wong Howe (this would be his final film), Funny Lady is threaded by disappointment and the compromises of adulthood. Caan plays ambitious songwriter Billy Rose, who jumpstarts Fanny’s stalled career and helps her get over Nicky (Sharif), her dashing ex-husband. Streisand and Caan share a strained chemistry, and that is both the point and why the film works in spite of its uneasiness—even when reality does not live up to our dreams, the show must go on.