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Funny Girl Blu-ray Review

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#21 of 40 Matt Hough

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Posted May 03 2013 - 06:09 PM

I had a free evening so I was able to finally watch this. It IS a beautiful transfer with sensational color control and sharpness. Congratulations for one of the best transfers of the year (so far).

#22 of 40 Everett Stallings

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Posted May 04 2013 - 09:26 AM

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.

I agreed,very sad.


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#23 of 40 Everett Stallings

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Posted May 04 2013 - 09:31 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.

What you saw was the RoadShow version, which has never been on TV or home video.


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#24 of 40 Everett Stallings

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Posted May 05 2013 - 07:13 AM

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.


3cd42b98d4e79c6c6f9ac1aa77eddf74.jpg

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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Click here to view the review

 

There's a slight blip near the end of the song "My Man" both sound and picture jump!, I will check my DVD version, though I think this is something new.


Edited by Everett Stallings, May 05 2013 - 07:14 AM.

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#25 of 40 Mark-P

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Posted May 05 2013 - 03:00 PM

There's a slight blip near the end of the song "My Man" both sound and picture jump!, I will check my DVD version, though I think this is something new.

Was it really necessary to quote the entire review to tell us that?



#26 of 40 Richard Gallagher

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Posted May 05 2013 - 09:07 PM

There's a slight blip near the end of the song "My Man" both sound and picture jump!, I will check my DVD version, though I think this is something new.

 

I just watched that song again, and I don't see or hear anything amiss. Would you mind giving me the exact time of the blip you are referring to?


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#27 of 40 Virgoan

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Posted May 06 2013 - 07:09 AM

Utterly glorious transfer.  Wonderful film.

 

A note not meant to create any discord:  I have seen an alternate version of "Funny Girl" that makes a montage of the gambling room footage (with Nick going to a back room to play poker when he should have been in Fanny's first-night audience for a new Ziegfeld show) and the scenes of Fanny's "Swan Lake" number. 

 

Something similar happened with "Gigi", as well.  Someone at MGM made a montage out of Louis Jourdan's "walk" past a fountain at night after returning Gigi to her grandmother.  Various shots of Gigi in her school uniform, her bathing costume, and her first appearance in a gown were intercut during that sequence while the orchestra performed its non-vocal version of the title tune.  In the original theatrical cut, only Jourdan was on the screen (and it was most effective with just him, IMO).



#28 of 40 Matt Hough

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Posted May 06 2013 - 08:11 AM

 

Something similar happened with "Gigi", as well.  Someone at MGM made a montage out of Louis Jourdan's "walk" past a fountain at night after returning Gigi to her grandmother.  Various shots of Gigi in her school uniform, her bathing costume, and her first appearance in a gown were intercut during that sequence while the orchestra performed its non-vocal version of the title tune.  In the original theatrical cut, only Jourdan was on the screen (and it was most effective with just him, IMO).

 

Isn't that the montage that was put together for the Gigi excerpts in That's Entertainment? It sure sounds like it.



#29 of 40 Rob_Ray

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Posted May 06 2013 - 08:23 AM

Isn't that the montage that was put together for the Gigi excerpts in That's Entertainment? It sure sounds like it.

No, TE has the "Gigi" instrumental reprise found near the end of the film.  What the earlier poster was referring to was a video version that made the rounds of cable and video back in the 1980's.  During the instrumental portion of the initial song, when Jourdan is not singing, there was a video montage of still shots of Leslie Caron as Gigi.   I doubt it was ever found on any release print as it looked rather video-generated.  If you come across an old 80s video or laserdisc, you may see it, but it doesn't turn up anymore, thankfully.  



#30 of 40 Virgoan

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Posted May 06 2013 - 10:28 AM

No, TE has the "Gigi" instrumental reprise found near the end of the film.  What the earlier poster was referring to was a video version that made the rounds of cable and video back in the 1980's.  During the instrumental portion of the initial song, when Jourdan is not singing, there was a video montage of still shots of Leslie Caron as Gigi.   I doubt it was ever found on any release print as it looked rather video-generated.  If you come across an old 80s video or laserdisc, you may see it, but it doesn't turn up anymore, thankfully.  

 

 

Ah, that's right...it was during the song rather than the post-Maxim's walk at night.



#31 of 40 noel aguirre

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Posted May 06 2013 - 01:29 PM

I agreed,very sad.


What about Oliver?

#32 of 40 Cineman

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Posted May 06 2013 - 04:33 PM

No, TE has the "Gigi" instrumental reprise found near the end of the film.  What the earlier poster was referring to was a video version that made the rounds of cable and video back in the 1980's.  During the instrumental portion of the initial song, when Jourdan is not singing, there was a video montage of still shots of Leslie Caron as Gigi.   I doubt it was ever found on any release print as it looked rather video-generated.  If you come across an old 80s video or laserdisc, you may see it, but it doesn't turn up anymore, thankfully.  

Wasn't that a cable/television broadcaster's idea of a "fix" for some source material film damage, flashes and glitches during that sequence in the pre-digital era? I vaguely remember seeing one of those pro-Letterbox directors commenting on it as an example of the same kind of liberties taken to pan&scan widescreen movies taken to an even more outrageous level. There were some flashes and glitches in the film during the sequence, so the broadcasters decided they could cover them with a montage they put together themselves. Again, I only vaguely remember this being reported when digital fixes came onto the scene and they were touting them as a much better alternative to damaged source material than had been applied in the past. 



#33 of 40 Rob W

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Posted May 06 2013 - 07:37 PM


Edited by Rob W, May 06 2013 - 07:40 PM.


#34 of 40 Everett Stallings

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Posted May 08 2013 - 05:24 AM

I just watched that song again, and I don't see or hear anything amiss. Would you mind giving me the exact time of the blip you are referring to?

2:33.14 It's really no big deal, but it's there.


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#35 of 40 Everett Stallings

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Posted May 08 2013 - 05:29 AM

Was it really necessary to quote the entire review to tell us that?

Yes, Iam very old!


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#36 of 40 bjwmovies

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Posted May 17 2013 - 06:09 AM

regarding Striesand's involvement, i know she was very involved prior to the restoration years back for the DVD - i read she would preview samples and reject them and send them back to the lab. of course she was interested in this new restoration and especially restoring in keeping with in Wyler's original look, this is her crown jewel and Wyler's, with extras i believe she does not see the worth, commentary etc as maybe she feels the film should stand on it's own and represent what was seen when it was released 1968, none of these extras were needed 1968, just promo material, no need to promote a classic, just let it stand on it's own as the film now does as it has been properly restored on blu ray, maybe she feels there is no need to have talking heads along for the ride on the BR to validate it,  any worthy FG memoirs maybe she will save for a book as she has already and she always praised Wyler for the masterpiece.


Edited by bjwmovies, May 17 2013 - 06:12 AM.


#37 of 40 Virgoan

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Posted May 17 2013 - 06:56 AM

With all due respect, I believe "Ben-Hur" is Wyler's "crown jewel."  I also don't know to what Streisand has to say over how this film is presented.  It was her first film, and I seriously doubt she has any ownership or say-so unless she worked a deal later.  It would be interesting to find out, though.



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Posted May 17 2013 - 06:57 AM

No matter how many times I watch "The Roller Skate Rag", I find it hysterically funny.  You'd think I'd tire of it, but I don't.  Everything looks so spontaneous and unplanned.  It's really a marvelous accomplishment.



#39 of 40 Matt Hough

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Posted May 17 2013 - 12:40 PM

No matter how many times I watch "The Roller Skate Rag", I find it hysterically funny.  You'd think I'd tire of it, but I don't.  Everything looks so spontaneous and unplanned.  It's really a marvelous accomplishment.

 

Speaking of that number, it's fairly common knowledge that a roller skate number was planned for the original stage version (the show's official logo pictures Fanny upside down on skates) but they couldn't work out the logistics. Was the song in the movie the song that was planned for the stage?



#40 of 40 bryan4999

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Posted May 17 2013 - 06:09 PM

Speaking of that number, it's fairly common knowledge that a roller skate number was planned for the original stage version (the show's official logo pictures Fanny upside down on skates) but they couldn't work out the logistics. Was the song in the movie the song that was planned for the stage?

 

No. The rollerskate song intended for the stage show was called "I Did It On Rollerskates", the movie song was created later for the film. Apparently, Styne-Merrill composed over 50 songs for Funny Girl. The show went through quite a development period; the excellent site barbra-archives.com goes into quite a bit of detail and is worth reading through the Funny Girl pages if you are interested. That site also has sound clips of Omar Sharif's cut number "Pink Velvet Jail" and many other treasures.


Edited by bryan4999, May 17 2013 - 06:10 PM.






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