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COVID Bound, time for old Hollywood movies

Funny Face, 1957, starring Fred Astaire and Audrey Hepburn

· COVID,movies

American, musical, romantic comedy.

I'm not going to lie. My favorite scene in the movie is the ending -- as flawed as it is -- when Fred Astaire and Audrey Hepburn sing to each other under faux moonlight declaring they should live together happily ever after. Any concerns Cary Grant might have had he was too old to play opposite Hepburn, should have vanished with the release of Funny Face, directed by Stanley Donen. Astaire was 30 years Hepburn's senior, and the age difference makes for an unlikely pair.

Think Pink.

Kay Thompson practically steals the film from Astaire and Hepburn with her remarkable dancing and singing. Thompson plays a witty, high-energy, fashion editor, Maggie Prescott, looking for the next, big, fashion trend. Prescott's character adds amusement and comedy to an obvious destiny that might otherwise be grim.

It is because of Maggie Prescott, with the assistance of Astaire's character, Dick Avery, there is an ugly duckling tale at play. Like the story of Pygmalion, Prescott and Avery conspire to turn Hepburn's character, Jo Stockton, from bookish beatnik to beautiful, fashion model.

Hilarity ensues from the beginning to the end of Jo Stockton's transformation. After they all fly off to Paris to get ready for the fashion show, Jo decides to go to a French café, where she hopes to find Professor Emile Flostre, the eminent philosopher of Empathicalism. At the café, Hepburn, a talented dancer in her own right, gets to show off her dance skills in an iconic modern dance solo. It was said Astaire found Hepburn a pleasure to work with.

Not everyone found the musical, Funny Face, entertaining when it first came out in 1957.

"...a displeasing piece of work, pseudo-sophisticated, expensive and brash in approach, vulgar in taste and insensitive in outlook. This, in fact, is the American 'musical' at its worst; not even the presence of Mr Fred Astaire, who was in the original stage production, can save the day. It may seem extravagant to discuss a 'musical' in terms proper to a serious creative work, yet there is that in the film's attitude towards the 'intellectual', whether in Greenwich Village or Paris, which offends. It is not amiable parody and it is not telling satire; it has its roots in the ill-based instinct to jeer, and its jeers are offensive." The Times review, April 25, 1957(1)

Some people do not find humor in funny things, and some people find humor in serious things (like the review above). The movie became a success only after its re-release in 1964 after My Fair Lady, also starring Hepburn.(2)

'S wonderful, 's marvellous, that you should care for me ...

Probably my favorite George Gershwin song.

Funny Face can be streamed on Amazon Prime. There are two versions, one without additional rent, and one with additional rent. For this review, I watched the non-additional, rent version.

(1), (2) source: wikipedia

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