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Funny Girl Blu-ray Review

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#1 of 40 Richard Gallagher

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Posted April 28 2013 - 05:17 PM

Funny Girl Blu-ray Review

Funny Girl, starring Barbra Streisand in an Academy-Award Winning performance, is a wonderful (albeit somewhat whitewashed) musical biopic of Ziegfeld Follies headliner Fanny Brice. The film is now available in a stunning Blu-ray release, the result of a remarkable 4K restoration of the original film negative by Sony Pictures' Colorworks. The stunning picture quality and the glorious audio each approach perfection. Those qualities, along with the attractive price of this Amazon exclusive (see the end of this review for a link), combine to make Funny Girl one of the most compelling Blu-ray buys of the year.


Cover Art


Studio: Sony

Distributed By: N/A

Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/MPEG-2

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

Audio: English 5.0 DTS-HDMA, Spanish 5,0 DD, French 5.0 DD, Italian 5.0 DD, German 5.0 DD

Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish, French, Other

Rating: G

Run Time: 2 Hr. 35 Min.

Package Includes: Blu-ray

Blu-ray Amaray

Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)

Region: ABC

Release Date: 04/30/2013

MSRP: $19.99




The Production Rating: 5/5

Hello, Gorgeous. - Fanny Brice, addressing her image in a mirror

Funny Girl, starring Barbra Streisand in an Academy-Award Winning performance, is a wonderful (albeit somewhat whitewashed) musical biopic of Ziegfeld Follies headliner Fanny Brice. The film is now available in a stunning Blu-ray release, the result of a remarkable 4K restoration of the original film negative by Sony Pictures' Colorworks. The gorgeous picture quality and the glorious audio each approach perfection. Those qualities, along with the attractive price of this Amazon exclusive (see the end of this review for a link), combine to make Funny Girl one of the most compelling Blu-ray buys of the year.

This Blu-ray presentation opens with the film's original, nearly five-minute overture from the score by Jule Styne. The action opens outside The New Amsterdam Theatre in New York City, where the name of Fanny Brice (Barbara Streisand) is emblazoned on the marquee for the Ziegfeld Follies. Fanny arrives long before opening time. She walks out onto the stage in front of an empty auditorium and plays a few notes on the piano before taking a seat in the orchestra. Something significant and exciting is going to happen that evening, but we are not yet let in on the secret. While seated Fanny learns that her boss, Florenz Ziegfeld (Walter Pidgeon), wants to see her in his office. "Did you hear that, Mrs. Strakosh?" Fanny asks aloud, although she is alone. "Zeigfeld is waiting for me." She puts her head back and continues, "For me. See, you were wrong, Mrs. Strakosh." Fanny then begins to reminisce about her life, beginning with her entry into the world of show business.

Growing up on the lower east side of New York City, Fanny Brice has aspirations to be on the stage, but friends of her family dismiss her ambitions as unrealistic. "For a girl, for average, you're a pleasure," asserts the aforementioned Mrs. Strakosh (Mae Questel). "But when people pay good money in the theater - especially the male element - they want something extra to look at." The implication, of course, is that Fanny is not sufficiently pretty to make her mark on Broadway. Fanny is not dissauded from heading out to a chorus girl rehearsal at a burlesque theater. The rehearsal turns into a catastrophe and she is fired on the spot by the manager, Mr. Keeney (Frank Faylen). However, the pianist, Eddie (Lee Allen), recognizes that Fanny has talent. "You're no chorus girl," he tells her. "You're a singer and a comic." Eddie offers Fanny a second chance to dance in a roller skating number he has choreographed. The number turns out to be unexpectedly hilarious due to Fanny's shenanigans, and she is rewarded with a solo singing performance ("I'd Rather Be Blue") which concludes with a standing ovation from the audience.

After the show there is a knock on the dressing room door. It is Nicky Arnstein (Omar Sharif), a handsome and dapper gambler who is intrigued by Fanny's performance and has come backstage to meet her. Fanny never expects to see him again, but months later she receives a telegram inviting her to audition for Ziegfeld's Follies. She wins the impresario over with a performance of "Second Hand Rose," but, in spite of promising to do whatever he asks, she balks at doing a straight performance of a number in which she has to play a beautiful bride. Fanny develops a way to downplay her plain looks by infusing comedy into her rendition of the song, all without Ziegfeld's prior approval.

Becoming a Ziegfeld Girl gives Fanny the opportunity to once again meet Nicky Arnstein. Following her debut performance for Ziegfeld she brings Nicky to her mother's saloon on the lower east side for a celebration. Eventually the two of them take a walk outside and Fanny sings what was then Streisand's signature song, "People." Fanny falls in love with Nicky and they are married, but it proves to be a troubled, up-and-down union. The actual marriage was, by all accounts, even more difficult than the one which is portrayed in the film. Funny Girl is a film adaptation of the Broadway musical of the same name, which was based upon a book by Isobel Lennart. Some sources contend that Lennart went easy on the character of Nicky because the real Arnstein was still alive when the show was produced and there were concerns about libel litigation.

Funny Girl follow Fanny Brice's career up to the point where her marriage to Nicky comes to an end. The film was, of course, followed by the less-successful sequel, Funny Lady, which focuses upon Fanny's later relationship with Billy Rose. However, Funny Girl stands as a fully-realized musical in its own right. Barbra Streisand shared the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role with Katherine Hepburn (The Lion in Winter), and the film was nominated for seven other Academy Awards, including Best Picture. The supporting cast, which includes Anne Francis, is excellent (particular Kay Medford as Fanny's mother and Walter Pidgeon as Ziegfeld), but from start to finish this is Barbra Streisand's show. Funny Girl was the only musical ever made by the esteemed director William Wyler, and some members of the cast complained that they were being bossed around on the set by Streisand. "You'll have to forgive Barbra," Wyler reportedly responded, "this is the first picture she's ever directed." That is a very amusing comment, and it undoubtedly contains more than a kernel of truth.



Video Rating: 5/5  3D Rating: NA

As noted, the video presentation is a joy to behold. I would call the reader's attention to comments about Funny Girl made by our resident expert, Robert A. Harris:

Color, density, shadow detail, grain structure. It's all there. In spades. David Bernstein was in charge of color for this one...The main titles are perfect for the first time on video. The dark reds are dead on. The flesh tones, perfect, as are the blacks...An absolutely perfect Blu-ray release.

Please read Mr. Harris' full comments to whet your appetite while you wait for a genuine Blu-ray treat.



Audio Rating: 5/5

The audio is just as satisfying as the video. The 5.0 DTS HD-MA soundtrack for this musical provides the viewer with a deep, expansive and thoroughly immersive experience. Dialogue is crystal clear throughout and the numerous musical numbers are glorious. The wonderful score by July Styne has already been noted, and this is a good time to mention the exceptional lyrics by Bob Merrill. The various foreign language soundtracks are in Dolby Digital 5.0.



Special Features Rating: 2.5/5

The extras on this Blu-ray consist of two standard-definition featurettes.

"Barbara in Movieland" follows Charlie Peterson, the caretaker of the Jersey Central Railroad Station in Hoboken, New Jersey, where Barbra Streisand sings "Don't Rain on My Parade" in Funny Girl. The station had been closed for five years when it was selected as a location for the film. Peterson was a close observer of the filming and was even hired to essentially portray himself during a scene in the station. The featurette in in excellent shape and has a running time of about ten minutes.

"This is Streisand" is a brief promotional short about the early career of the multi-talented star as she embarked upon her first motion picture role. It is letterboxed and has a running time of 5 1/2 minutes.

Sony also has included previews of Playing For Keeps and Amour.

The single disc is packaged in a standard amaray Blu-ray case.



Overall Rating: 5/5

I will once again steal a thought from Robert A. Harris, who has declared that this release of Funny Girl "is a thousand dollar Blu-ray at a trifle of that cost." It is difficult to see how any fan of Barbra Streisand and any admirer of Funny Girl could quibble with Mr. Harris. The only disappointment is the absence of more extras. Who would not jump at the chance to hear a commentary track by Streisand and Sharif? However, that is no reason to avoid this Blu-ray disc, particularly in view of its very modest price. Funny Girl is a treat from start to finish.

Equipment used for this review:

Panasonic DMP-BD50 Blu-ray player
Panasonic Viera TC-P46G15 Plasma display, calibrated to THX specifications by Gregg Loewen
Yamaha HTR-5890 THX Surround Receiver
BIC Acoustech speakers
Interconnects: Monster Cable


Reviewed By: Richard Gallagher


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#2 of 40 noel aguirre

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Posted April 28 2013 - 05:37 PM

Yet another top tier musical without an isolated score? 

Still a day one purchase but slightly disappointed. 



#3 of 40 Richard Gallagher

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Posted April 28 2013 - 05:43 PM

Yet another top tier musical without an isolated score? 

Still a day one purchase but slightly disappointed. 

 

If it were a Twilight Time release it would have an isolated score. It also would cost twice as much.


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#4 of 40 Matt Hough

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Posted April 28 2013 - 06:24 PM

Those of us who were around during the roadshow era well remember the excitement of those overtures before the start of the movie, as involving and thrilling as overtures before a stage musical when one was as highly anticipated as Funny Girl.

 

Thanks for the review.



#5 of 40 Richard Gallagher

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Posted April 28 2013 - 06:33 PM

Those of us who were around during the roadshow era well remember the excitement of those overtures before the start of the movie, as involving and thrilling as overtures before a stage musical when one was as highly anticipated as Funny Girl.

 

I expect that there will be some people who are unfamiliar with overtures and who will be wondering why their screens are blank during the first five minutes!


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#6 of 40 Mark-P

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Posted April 28 2013 - 06:40 PM

I expect that there will be some people who are unfamiliar with overtures and who will be wondering why their screens are blank during the first five minutes!

Indeed there will be.



#7 of 40 classicmovieguy

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Posted April 28 2013 - 07:38 PM

Can't wait to get this Blu-ray - and crank up the volume for that utterly glorious Overture.



"When I get a little money, I buy movies.  If there is some left over I'll attend to utilities and groceries".
 
My DVD and Blu-ray collection - http://classic-movieguy.dvdaf.com/

 

 


#8 of 40 Richard Gallagher

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Posted April 28 2013 - 08:42 PM

 

Bingo!


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#9 of 40 Matt Hough

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Posted April 29 2013 - 04:20 AM

[sigh] What can one say?



#10 of 40 jseabough

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Posted April 30 2013 - 11:33 AM

Miss the Road Show experience... it made movie going an event. I just got my copy and took a quick look. Beautiful job on this!



#11 of 40 Mark-P

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Posted April 30 2013 - 11:38 AM

My Amazon pre-order slipped a day. It won't be delivered until tomorrow  :(



#12 of 40 RobertR

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Posted April 30 2013 - 06:41 PM

Had a quick peek today.  Looks gorgeous.  I'll watch the whole thing on Friday.



#13 of 40 babsdude

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Posted May 01 2013 - 03:50 AM

I watched the whole thing last night and agree -- hello, gorgeous [Blu-ray]!  FUNNY GIRL looks absolutely stunning.

 

The only "fix" I noticed are the last few frames of Swan Lake, with Streisand flying in the rafters.  I seem to remember a frame-jump there, and it now looks smooth to me.

 

I noticed very good (what I think is called) "directional dialogue" --- during "His Love Makes Me Beautiful," for example, the chorus girls are separated into left and right channels when they speak their "seasonal dialogue."

 

This Blu is just gorgeous.  I have one complaint -- I have to check my FUNNY GIRL DVD to make sure -- but there are NO FUNNY GIRL trailers on this Blu!!!  I thought the original DVD had the 1969 trailer *and* the 2001 re-release.  Otherwise, I wish there were more bonus materials ... but I think that complaint has been covered, LOL.



#14 of 40 Mark-P

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Posted May 01 2013 - 11:16 AM

There were no trailers on the DVD either. In fact there are no original trailers for Funny Girl to be found anywhere on the web. The only one I was able to dig up was for a 2001 special engagement. Which is too bad because I love to screen trailers for upcoming events when I have friends over for movie night.


Edited by Mark-P, May 01 2013 - 11:17 AM.


#15 of 40 Rob_Ray

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Posted May 01 2013 - 11:51 AM

I can't understand why the marketing folks at Sony don't pull out all the stops with this release, since Mr. Crisp's team in asset preservation spared no expense in restoring the film using all the state-of-the-art techniques at their disposal.  Funny Girl should qualify for some sort of Special Edition with hours of extras and commentaries, if not a full-blown boxset.

 

As far as transfer quality is concerned, this is a stellar release.  It's too bad Sony's marketing forces are clueless about that.



#16 of 40 Richard Gallagher

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Posted May 01 2013 - 12:25 PM

That's why I gave it only 2 1/2 stars for the extras. It is what it is, but at least you aren't paying $25.00 for it.

 

Who knows the reasons? I'm guessing that Streisand wasn't interested in doing a commentary or a retrospective. She didn't do anything for the Blu-ray of Hello, Dolly! either.


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#17 of 40 Matt Hough

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Posted May 01 2013 - 12:36 PM

Well, she was a hired hand for those films; they weren't made by her production company and weren't directed by her (officially). I kind of get the feeling she's more about the now and the future than she is about the past. She did do introductions for her TV specials when they were released on home video. All of them were products of her production company.



#18 of 40 Rob_Ray

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Posted May 01 2013 - 01:14 PM

But there are other added value extras to be had even without Streisand's participation.  Footage from the NY premiere exists and the Swan Lake outtakes are certainly out there.  Omar Sharif participated in the "Lawrence of Arabia" extras and Sony could have spent a few minutes with him discussing "Funny Girl" at that time.  And there's a line out the door of people who could provide a commentary track.  Sony's marketing department just doesn't appreciate the gold to be found in their catalog titles by releasing deluxe special editions along side or before the bargain-priced no-frills discs.

 

This is the closest thing Columbia has to a "Singin' in the Rain".  I'm glad "On the Waterfront" went to Criterion.


Edited by Rob_Ray, May 01 2013 - 01:15 PM.


#19 of 40 noel aguirre

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Posted May 01 2013 - 03:00 PM

What's up with the neon pink cover?  Love the movie-but that's really bad. Maybe that's why Babs wanted nothing to do with it. lol? Why not the original Bob Peak cover?



#20 of 40 ahollis

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Posted May 02 2013 - 06:02 PM

It is based on one of the re-release one sheets.

Edited by ahollis, May 02 2013 - 06:03 PM.

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