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A Few Words About A few words about...™ Funny Girl -- in Blu-ray

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Robert Harris, Apr 26, 2013.

  1. Cineman

    Cineman Well-Known Member

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    You mean to say microphones recorded what Barbra was singing live on the sound stage and what we hear in the movie is what she sang in those takes, what the microphones picked up, continuity cuts and all? Do you have a link or a reference for that?

    I accept that she is talk-singing the first part of the song live, before the orchestra swells and she swings into full song. I know that was not looped in later, you can clearly see she is saying the words live. I certainly accept that she was vocalizing during those takes during the rest of the song and not just faking it in silence. But it is hard to believe that the rest of what we hear of My Man in the movie is the very recording of what she actually sang live on that sound stage following the talk-singing at the beginning of the song.

    How did they manage to match the sound and the editing/continuity cuts so seamlessly? How did she manage to hit and deliver every note of the song after the talk-singing portion precisely as she sang it for that 1965 album without a scintilla of difference between the two? Of course, I am prepared to be amazed by anything Barbra Streisand and the wizards at Columbia could do, but this one would really be awesome.
     
  2. Cineman

    Cineman Well-Known Member

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    I believe that scene was showing that this was not the first time Florenz Ziegfeld saw and heard Fanny Brice and that this "audition" was merely a formality since, as he says, he needed a strong voice in the show. In real life and as mentioned in the movie, she had been appearing on stage for months, if not years before Ziegfeld called her in and asked her to be in his show. In all probability, Ziegfeld would have seen her perform already, or at the very least his representatives would have seen her perform and he would already know she would be right for his show.

    This was not a "discovery" scene with Ziegfeld plucking a rank newcomer out of utter obscurity to give her a break and both Flo Ziegfeld and Fanny Brice would have been very much aware of that by the time he called her in to offer her a job. For her to appear to be begging or desperate for work and recognition from Ziegfeld or anyone else at this stage of her career would not have been accurate and that is no doubt why nobody before or behind the camera attempted to portray it that way in the movie, presenting it as they did with stage hands and other performers simply going about their business and Fanny accompanied by a lone rehearsal pianist. This was a "strictly business" audition and meeting between two experienced pros, not the "break of a lifetime and rip your heart out performance" meeting.
     
  3. JohnMor

    JohnMor Premium
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    No, only the first verse was live. The remainder used her vocal track from the My Name Is Barbra recording.
     
  4. KMR

    KMR Well-Known Member

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    When lip-synching a filmed musical number, the performer will typically still be singing out loud along with the prerecording, not just moving her mouth in silence. Having no air actually moving through the throat will make the performance more obviously "fake". Of course, even so, "perfect" lip-synching is a very rare thing indeed, and most times it's easy for the viewer to detect the slightest differences between voice and lip movement.

    Although my personal theory is that it's more often the way the sound is recorded and mixed that makes lip-synching vs. live performance more obviously different. Way too often the voices are miked too close, and the sound is too "dead" (I'm not sure those are the best terms, but it's all I can think of at the moment)--and the sound itself is telling me "These vocals were done in a recording studio, not live on the set." With a more "live" type of sound, it would help sell the idea that what we're hearing was actually being sung right there while it was being filmed.
     
  5. Mark-P

    Mark-P Well-Known Member

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    I remember an Interview where Barbra said that she is a terrible lip-sync-er and prefers to perform her songs live on film. However I don't know what was actually done on Funny Girl.
     
  6. Will Krupp

    Will Krupp Well-Known Member

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    She's right!

    It's comforting, somehow, to know that there's at least ONE thing she isn't perfect at :)
     
  7. JohnMor

    JohnMor Premium
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    True. And you can see clear evidence of that in the "My Man" number after it switches to the prerecorded portion.
     
  8. Cineman

    Cineman Well-Known Member

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    My Man is one of the greatest film acting and musical sequences in the history of movies. Barbara's face and line delivery during the opening verse is a study in how to convey a whole series of complex and complicated emotional dilemmas on camera. I said in an earlier post that I prefer the song Funny Girl to the stage version alternative in that it more precisely book ends her first big number in the movie, I'm The Greatest Star, and brings the question full circle to what Fanny's quest for stardom on stage has done to her personal life, her love life, and which will she choose.

    You see every element of Fanny/Barbra's struggle with that dilemma during the opening verse of My Man. Has it been worth it, will she walk right off that stage and chase her man again as she essentially did earlier in the movie, will she swallow hard and tough it out, how will it effect her career, her life, and on and on. You see all of that and more in Barbra's face and body language.

    Then she closes her eyes, tilts her head back, the orchestra comes in fully, she swings into song, her gestures and voice get bigger, broader, she's playing to the balcony and we see in that instant what she has decided to do; she is going to give the audience the greatest show, everything she can give, not in spite of her personal pain, but because of it. She will neither ignore nor forget about Nick and the tragedy of her love life, she will incorporate it into her performance, use it to make her an even greater star.

    It was also a brilliant choice not to see the audience in that scene or hear them applaud at the end of the song. The audience at the end of My Man is as invisible and, metaphorically, in the mind of Fanny as the audience at the beginning of the movie where she walks onto an empty stage and pretends to mow 'em down with a Tommy Gun. Now we know why she wanted to get rid of them, so as not to have to make the decision she had already been making in Nick's absence and finalized on that stage tonight. The verdict on the wisdom of her decision is left to us, Barbra's audience, in silence.
     
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  9. verneaux

    verneaux Well-Known Member

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    I NEVER thought this scene was an audition or a 'discovery'. I never said that in my post. I said it was sloppy. Her movements are unfocused in both her turns and her hand/arm gestures. Perhaps you think that she was "marking" it... it doesn't look like it.

    I don't think she should appear to be begging or desparate for work. But if she is being featured in a Zeigfeld Follies, she should look like a competent performer. If I were making decisions based on this performance (which Zeigfeld seems to be doing according to his lines after the song) I would cut this number from the show.
     
  10. Cineman

    Cineman Well-Known Member

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    I just think it is odd that you are evaluating the Second Hand Rose scene as though it was a featured song/number in a movie musical that should have been done on par with every other number in the show. Yes, on that basis it could be considered sloppy. But nobody else before or behind the camera appears to think of that scene and that song the same way you do. They cut into it in the middle of the song, nearer to the end than the beginning, Fanny/Barbara's gestures are not only "unfocused", as you say, in terms of a rehearsed and polished performance, she literally smirks and shrugs off her presentation at the end as though both she and Flo know her getting the job did not depend on whether or not she brought down the house singing it or floored anyone with the comic brilliance and impeccable timing of it. In fact, she doesn't even seem to be all that impressed with having been hired by Ziegfeld and chooses to make an offhand joke about it as soon as he closes the deal, which, again, is handled so casually by the filmmakers that we almost miss it as easily as Fanny does.

    Then there is the problem of where the story would go from there if she had done Second Hand Rose to near perfection in that scene; Ziegfeld isn't supposed to think he just hired the Star of the Future for The Ziegfeld Follies. He is supposed to think he hired a competent, somewhat successful and locally popular singer/comic with a strong voice for his second act. It will be Fanny's bold decision to wow her audience and, ultimately, Ziegfeld in the number that immediately follows. That decision is supposed to lift Ziegfeld out of his seat in more ways than one and it is the number that will show him who the star of his show ought to be, not her audition piece earlier that day.

    I don't know, maybe you're right. But I just never felt the Second Hand Rose scene and song was a time for Fanny/Barbra to shine beyond providing an excuse to introduce Walter Pidgeon for the first time in the movie (another very good reason not to turn that scene into a Barbra showcase, btw) as Florenz Ziegfeld and tee up the next scene/song, which really IS the big star-making moment for Fanny Brice in Funny Girl.
     
  11. Everett Stallings

    Everett Stallings Well-Known Member

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    I think I read this @ Barbra Streisand.com
     
  12. Garysb

    Garysb Well-Known Member

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    Cineman likes this.
  13. Cineman

    Cineman Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the link. I will definitely add it to my bookmarks. I see where there is still room for debate about which recording is in the final cut of the movie, the new recording from “live” takes on the movie sound stage that day or from a previous recording. It starts by stating that “she sang live” with a clarification by Jack Solomon that, “The second half of the song, after the master shot, is dubbed”, suggesting Barbra re-recorded the second half, dubbed it in a subsequent recording session.

    Later in the article, columnist Joyce Haber, reports, “Barbra had insisted on a “live” take of the song, which is unusual, because she thought her pre-recording too “theatrical”, not sufficiently “emotion-charged” for the movie.” Haber then recounts a “live” recorded moment, ““It cost me a lot, but there’s one thing that I’ve got, my man,” moving lithely, like a tiger, expressively, like the greatest star.” Of course, this is a section of the song that doesn’t appear in the final cut of the movie. Was Haber mis-remembering which part of the song Barbra was singing during the moment she wanted to mention in her report? Probably just edited out for the final cut. When Haber cites the pre-recording Barbra thought too "theatrical", I assume she means a new recording Barbra had made for the movie but now didn't think was right for the scene. But I suppose she also could be referring to the 1964 recording..?

    So it still is not clear from the recounting of it by Solomon and Haber whether Barbara got her wish not to use a pre-recording of the song (including the 1964 recording?), because she thought it too “theatrical” or was it “dubbed” with a brand new recording after the scene was shot.

    To me, the movie’s vocal track in that second half of the song sounds identical to the 1964 recording.

    On a side note, I re-watched Funny Girl a couple of weeks ago and was struck for the first time in umpteen viewings of one of my favorite movies by the predominance of crowd scenes behind the opening credits. There are several shots of large crowds behind those credits, nicely setting up the fashion, architecture, street scenes and atmosphere of the era in which the story takes place. But it also introduces and beautifully sets up something else important to this story. Those crowds are, after all, the third “character” in the love triangle involving Nick, Fanny and her audience. Those crowd scenes help give meaning to the post-credits scene where Fanny “machine-guns” the audience inhabiting her mind in the empty theater, threatening as they are on this particular night to their arch rival for her attentions, Nick. It is why, imo, the book-end songs in the movie, I’m The Greatest Star > My Man, are thematically better than the finale song in the Broadway show (which I also like as a song).

    When she sings My Man, particularly the talk-singing part in the first half, Barbra’s face, body and voice show all the turmoil, the conflict, the back-to-the-wall, heart-wrenching decision Fanny has to make and is about to make regarding these two rival loves of her life. The fact that, after the decision has been made, the audience remains silent and unseen in their morally ambiguous victory over Fanny’s emotional life is perfect, painful, haunting.
     
  14. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    The producer of Funny Girl (stage and film), Ray Stark, was Fanny Brice's son-in-law, so there was more than a bit of history and background in the project.RAH
     
  15. JohnMor

    JohnMor Premium
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    The dubbed portion wasn't rerecorded subsequently. They used the same vocal track that was used on her 1965 studio recording that appeared on the "My Name is Barbra" album.
     
  16. Cineman

    Cineman Well-Known Member

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    That is my take on it, too. I've been saying 1964 because I thought that was when she recorded it for the album. But it must have been 1965, when the tv special was produced in April of that year. However, I've never seen that decision stated as directly as that by anyone involved in the making of the movie, i.e. Jack Solomon, who was quoted in the Streisand link above. I've read that Barbra didn't want to use a previous recording, that she wanted to sing it live on the sound stage, that another recording was dubbed in later and so on, but never quite so directly that, "We used her vocal track from the 1965 recording."

    I'm glad they used that one. It is perfect for the scene. But if that decision hadn't been made before the shooting of the scene and Barbra or other powers that be decided to go with the 1965 recording afterwards, meaning that earlier vocal track was not audible to her via the tiny attached speaker Jack Solomon mentions in the link so as to make sure the sync was as exact as possible, how lucky were they that her lips, body language and everything else matched that previous recording as well as any post-shoot lip syncing dub ever done in a movie musical? I mean, it just looks like she had to have been listening to that recording while she was shooting the scene rather than that they tried to fit that recording into a scene that had already been shot.
     
  17. Garysb

    Garysb Well-Known Member

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    Has the idea that the 1965 recording was used ever been confirmed or is it because it just sounds the same when listening? The orchestration on the 1965 recording is different from the film so they would have had to lift the vocal without the orchestra. Was that possible in the 1960's before digital recordings? . Here is a clip from you tube from the 1965 TV show "My Name is Barbra" where she sings "My Man"
    Starts at about 3.40 mark. This is not the same recording as heard on the TV soundtrack album as all songs on the album were rerecorded .

     
  18. JohnMor

    JohnMor Premium
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    Most of Streisand's mid-sixties (ands most 70's) album tracks were recorded separately from the orchestra. It was extremely common with busy artists. The orchestra was recorded first, then when time permitted, the artists came in and recorded the vocal. Most of Columbia's pop artists worked that way. Streisand only really started regularly singing "live" with the orchestra again with "The Broadway Album."Oh, and to answer your specific question: yes, they had that ability going back to the introduction of multi-track recording.
     
  19. Robin9

    Robin9 Well-Known Member

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    My take on this film is that it's rather like Pal Joey. A successful Broadway show was reduced in scope to provide a vehicle for a star with a devoted following. In both cases good songs from the original were jettisoned while additional songs from other sources were added. In both cases supporting parts were shrunk to provide more opportunities for the star to shine. In both cases those who love the original show are unenthusiastic about the movie while fans of the star love the film.

    Has anyone read Hello, Gorgeous: Becoming Barbra Streisand? Is it worth reading?
     
  20. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Well-Known Member
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    Yep, it's an exceptional book detailing the early part of Barbara's career and personal life that's not nearly as well known as her star years. William Mann is a terrific writer, and you should thoroughly enjoy it. I did.
     

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