By Madeline Clapier
Classic Reviews is an ongoing series that highlights movies from before 1980 that are still worth seeing.
Clever, witty, and sweet, Funny Girl is a tragic love story and musical that follows the career of Fanny Brice. She fights society’s beliefs about beauty, while showing America that all she needs is talent as she dominates the entertainment business. As her career develops, she meets a handsome older man with a ruffled shirt. The repetition of her encounters with him lead into a relationship that she does not fully understand. Still very young and naive, Fanny allows her love to lead her into a marriage with the infamous gambler Nicky Arnstein.
Barbra Streisand gives a stellar performance as Fanny Brice. Streisand has become the archetype of a Broadway star, and Funny Girl captures that. Songs like “Don’t Rain on my Parade” and “My Man” elevate the character into a beautiful version of a girl that society calls unattractive. Often she is told her skinny legs and large Jewish nose will keep her from being a star. Even so, Fanny wholeheartedly believes that her particular beauty is not an obstacle, but an extension of her unique qualities. Her enchanting voice declares: “Who’s that American beauty rose with an American beauty nose?” She lives for the stage, but all she really wants is to get married and be a traditional wife. She finds the option of marrying Nick Arnstein awe inspiring.
Nick Arnstein, played by Omar Sharif, was overwhelmingly spontaneous. He was incredibly charming and untrustworthy at the same time. No matter what he did, Fanny never could see past the undying love she had for Nick. He was a gambler, unable to stop and accept help from his famous wife. He would travel searching for opportunities to play cards or bet in horse races. Sometimes, going places just to gamble on the train or boat ride there.
Funny Girl is a movie that will forever stand out. Its does not follow a fast pass that would be seen today. Funny Girl pays more attention to developing the characters and making sure the movie is at par, than rushing to fit into the fast stories we are used to now. Although that format is not modern, the movie is an unexpected story of beauty and love.