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Funny Face (DVD)

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3 Reviews

Genre: Musicals & Classical / Theatrical Release: 1957 / Director: Stanley Donen / Actors: Fred Astaire, Audrey Hepburn ... / DVD released 03 September, 2001 at Paramount Home Entertainment / Features of the DVD: Anamorphic, Dubbed, PAL, Widescreen

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    3 Reviews
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      02.01.2011 17:12
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      Hepburn and Astaire guide us musically through a bit of romance, albeit somewhat unbelievable

      There's something magical about Audrey Hepburn, whether it be the effortless acting or the grace and poise she has on screen. It has enabled many a leading man to have an easier ride through a film, with her quirkiness leading the way. Funny Face sees her play a bookshop worker who becomes the centre of attention as the face of a top flight fashion magazine through a chance encounter and a potential romance.

      The setting this time takes us to Paris, with a rollicking Gershwin tune that allows us to see the sights of the city in one song. The plot doesn't waste much time in getting us there from the origins of the film in America, with the magazine's editor and main photographer coming along for the ride. There, the romance and intrigue begins and Hepburn continues her magic.

      I know I've made it seem plain sailing, and in many ways it really does feel just as magical as some of her other films. She does have that natural ability that only comes along once in a blue moon, and she shows off her talents to the best of her capability. However, there's something a little edgy about the whole thing - something uncomfortable.

      Hepburn's leading man is Fred Astaire, and of coruse we get some wonderful dancing and signing from him as well as Hepburn - her first musical, apparently, and she sings all the songs herself, unlike in My Fair Lady. The only problem is that Astaire plays Dick Avery, the photographer whose attractions for Hepburn's bookshop worker Jo Stockton is almost instantaneous. usually, the leading man in Hepburn's on screen life is very believable, but the age gap here between her and Astaire is 30 years, and just doesn't seem believable, especially for a 1950s film such as this. Gregory Peck's reporter in Roman Holiday and the gruff George Peppard in Breakfast at Tiffany's make the romance sizzle and provide great believable charisma. Here, however, Astaire seems more like an old man after a young woman, and it's more uncomfortable to watch than anything else.

      I think this is probably what made it seem edgy. The music is very good, although forgettable (surprising for a Gershwin score) and the direction smooth. The plot is a bit outlandish and hard to believe, but then tales involving Hepburn often have that adventurous and fictional feel to them that make them entertaining. It's the characters that you need to rely on, really, and in this I felt they just fell short. Astaire's inclusion in the role was insisted upon by Hepburn as well, which seems surprising.

      There's some suspense, and the acting is actually very good. You get a true experience of both stars' musical and dancing capabilities through a variety of numbers, and I particularly liked one scene where Astaire and Kay Thompson, playing magazine editor Maggie Prescott, do a song and dance at a French party that shows off their talents. It's a far cry from the near Bohemian balletic performance from Hepburn in a French underground cafe and the graceful singing voice she has. High levels of entertainment though.

      I suppose that my overall feeling is one of uncomfortability. The film flows nicely, with as decent plot and undoubtedly praiseworthy performances, but the age gap between the two leads just doesn't make for a believable tale. It's almost good enough that you could put this aside as it's all quite innocent, but ultimately I couldn't do this and found it awkward to watch. Worth a watch for the entertainment, but the romantic element of it put me off somewhat.

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      09.03.2007 21:39
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      i loved this movie

      i recently watched a dvd called Farce of the penguins and i cried through it was great always liked documenterys but they do tend to drag on a little well as you will of heard of march of the penguins this is similar except for the randy penguins and samual l jacksons commentary i love that bloke explains mating and lives of penguins in a whole new like but must say not for children.avalible to rent at blockbuster

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        12.12.2006 11:24
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        Not the best of Audrey or Fred

        I was a bit fed up last night. My thirteen-year-old daughter has been very challenging lately and I just needed to relax and unwind. I have shelves of DVDs, several of which I have bought, but never got round to watching. So I scanned my shelves looking for an upbeat, feel good movie to cheer me up.

        A few months ago, I bought The Audrey Hepburn Collection box set. The only film I have seen Audrey in is the wonderful My Fair Lady, but I think she is beautiful and fascinating and I wanted to see more of her work. The one I chose to watch last night was Funny Face, a 1956 film starring Audrey with Fred Astaire.

        I love films from this era and I love musicals, so I had high hopes for this one. It began reasonably well with setting the scene and a pleasant musical diversion featuring women in pretty pink dresses. By this point though, my husband had his head in his hands and contemplated turning off the computer and going to bed, before he died from a saccharine overdose!

        After a fairly promising start, it quickly descended into cheesy and dull. But I was waiting for the appearance of Audrey herself and it did improve once she was on the screen. She plays Jo Stockton, a young woman working in a bookshop.

        By this stage, the weakest of plots is starting to emerge. The annoying Maggie Prescott (Kay Thompson) runs Quality, a fashion magazine. After deciding that pink is the new black, she whisks her team off to do a photo shoot, choosing Jo’s bookshop as the ideal location. Poor little Jo is distressed at the invasion, especially when the valuable books begin to be moved around indiscriminately.

        During the shoot, photographer Dick Avery (Fred Astaire) takes some pictures of Jo beside the magazine model. He has recently been lamenting at the model’s lack of intelligence and Jo is in total contrast, being intellectual and fascinated by ‘empathicalism’ - the philosophy of Professor Flostre from Paris.

        While it held my interest up to this point, the next part involves this serious young girl (who looks about fifteen) being kissed by the old photographer (who looks about sixty) and being happy about it! This seemed completely out of character for Jo. If Dick had proved himself to be caring, intelligent and warm, the attraction might be understandable, but it didn’t work for me. After all, there were thirty years between Audrey and Fred!

        The rest of the plot follows the characters as Jo is persuaded to model for Quality magazine. She is taken to Paris for a photo shoot, where she has the opportunity to meet her hero Professor Flostre. Dick Avery goes to France as the photographer, so there is a possibility of a bit of conflict here amongst the romance.

        The plot itself is very flimsy, but then again, that’s pretty standard for these kinds of films and good ones can rise above that. Sometimes the songs and dance routines are wonderful classics. Sadly, very little can rescue this film.

        While Audrey is magnificent and very endearing, Fred Astaire comes across as unrealistic and rather naff. He was great in some films, but I didn’t find him anything except embarrassing in Funny Face.

        The songs couldn’t save it either. Despite them being by Ira and George Gershwin, they were often bland and almost always forgettable. The lyrics and rhymes were often cringe-worthy too and hubby and I spent quite a lot of time laughing at them.

        The highlight of the film for me was watching Audrey Hepburn dance. Apart from a few scenes in my Fair Lady, I hadn’t seen her dance before, but I remember hearing she was a trained ballerina and that was very evident in Funny Face. Her grace and beauty are a joy to watch and my favourite part of the film was her jazz dance in the Paris café (which the DVD case described as “a ‘Basal Metabolism’ dance in a cool-cat bistro” – er, yeah, whatever…).

        Another good thing to say about the film is that the fashions are interesting to see and often beautiful. There are some good shots of Paris too, although the insertion of stock footage makes this somewhat disjointed at times. Still, this was the 1950s and special effects were very basic then.

        The sub-plot involving Professor Flostre (Michel Auclair) failed to provide the interesting diversion I hoped it would. Without giving away too much of the plot, the scenes involving him and Jo were dull, uninvolving and – ultimately – unbelievable. It felt like they needed to fill twenty minutes and invented this idea in an emergency script meeting.

        I really wanted to like this film, but I can’t say I did. While I loved Audrey, the other components of the movie were weak. I have no idea why it received four Academy Award nominations at the time. The only award I would nominate it for would be ‘Naffest musical’.

        LOVED
        Audrey – especially her dancing
        The clothes
        Some of the shots of Paris
        The café
        The pink sequence

        HATED
        Fred Astaire’s character
        Gershwin’s songs
        The romance story
        The plot (What plot??)
        The sub-plot


        DVD EXTRAS

        Retrospective Documentary – Paramount in the 50s Featurette
        Photo Gallery
        Theatrical Trailer

        While the bottom two are self-explanatory, the documentary might need some explanation. It lasts about eight minutes and while it is quite interesting to see clips from the films and understand the chronology of them, overall, I found the documentary disappointing.

        Why? Well, it is basically a long advert for Paramount Pictures and they only highlight their own films. The voiceover is supremely annoying too and I was quite relieved when it was over. Worth watching once only.

        PRICES

        I bought the box set from Ebay a few months ago, but you can get the single DVD of Funny Face from Amazon for £5.99 brand new. If you’d prefer the box set, it’s £34.99 on Amazon and features five movies on DVD.

        Audrey Hepburn Collection box set –

        • Breakfast at Tiffany's
        • Sabrina
        • Funny Face
        • Paris When it Sizzles
        • Roman Holiday

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      • Product Details

        Fred Astaire plays a fashion photographer based on real-life cameraman Richard Avedon, in this entertaining musical directed by Stanley Donen (Singin' in the Rain). The story finds Astaire's character turning Audrey Hepburn into a chic Paris model--not a tough premise to buy, especially within this film's air of enchantment and surrounded by a great Gershwin score. Based on an unproduced play, this is one of the best films from the latter part of Astaire's career. --Tom Keogh, Amazon.com