Funny Girl 1968 Based on the life of stage star Fanny Brice and her relationship with gambler Nick Arnstein. Adapted from the stage musical, music and lyrics by Jule Styne and Bob Merrill. Directed by William Wyler. Awaiting her gambler husband Nicky Arnstein (Omar Sharif), who’s been released from prison, Ziegfeld Follies star Fanny Brice (Barbra Streisand) looks back over her life and their marriage. The piece is as if written for its star.
Some great numbers, though eight from the Broadway show were dropped angering Styne. Fun. Expensive and looks it. Best Actress Academy Award tied with Katharine Hepburn for A Lion in Winter ?! Rent on Amazon Prime, free with Netflix.
Funny Lady 1975 Sequel to Funny Girl. Score by John Kander and Fred Ebb. Directed by Herbert Ross. Contrived, but if you like the first one, continue. Barbra Streisand balked at a sequel until they made the character “tougher and more mature.” James Caan plays Brice’s second husband, Billy Rose. The Aquacade is something to see! Rent on Amazon Prime.
What’s Up Doc? 1972 Directed by Peter Bogdanovich. Four people arrive at a San Francisco hotel with the same overnight bag. Whistleblower Mr. Smith has government papers, socialite Mrs. Van Hoskins is transporting valuable jewels, Dr. Howard Banister (Ryan O’Neal) is carrying rock samples that have musical properties, Judy Maxwell’s (Streisand) case is filled with clothing and a dictionary. The bags gets switched both by accident and intentionally while wacky Judy pursues Howard despite his fiancé, Eunice (Madeline Kahn).
To my mind, the most amusing of a series of churned out light comedies in which Streisand was featured. The director called it “something like Bringing Up Baby: daffy girl, square professor, everything works out all right.” Rent on Amazon Prime or Netflix.
The Way We Were 1973 Directed by Sydney Pollack. Arthur Laurents wrote both the novel and screenplay. Activist Marxist Jew, Katie Morosky (Streisand), and handsome, carefree Protestant, Hubbell Gardiner (Robert Redford), meet in college, then again during WWII, when they unexpectedly fall in love. Katie’s feelings about his frivolous friends remain unchanged.
Despite pushing Hubbell to write “literature,” he accepts a screenplay assignment. They move to California where best friend J.J. (Bradford Dillman) and ex-girlfriend, Carol Ann (Lois Chiles), now a couple, are immersed in the Hollywood scene.
Katie is uncomfortable with much of their lifestyle, but loves Hubbell. Her political activism erupts during Blacklisting, threatening his reputation and job. He would handle things less aggressively, she sees him skating by. Katie becomes pregnant, but separate after the child is born. He stays in California, she moves back to New York and marries someone else. They meet again accidentally years later. Both actors are very fine. The story resonates on many fronts. Rent on Amazon Prime.
A Star Is Born 1976 Description in my listing: Make It Again, Sam – Four Plus Versions of A Star is Born. Rent on Amazon Prime or Netflix.
Yentl 1983 Based on Lea Napolin and Isaac Bashevis Singer’s play and his story “Yentl the Yeshiva Boy.” Music and lyrics by Alan and Marilyn Bergman. Co-written, co-produced, directed and starring Barbra Streisand. Yentl Mendel’s father secretly teachers her Talmud, despite prosecution of the study by women. When he dies, she cuts her hair, dresses as a boy, and sets out to become a Yeshiva student.
Along the way, Yentl, now Anshel, is befriended by Avigdor (Mandy Patinkin) who helps get her accepted into school, then rooms with her thinking she’s a boy. The two share lively excited debate. Yentl/Anshel also meets Avigdor’s fiancé, Hadass (Amy Irving), an attractive young woman whom even Yentl believes is perfect.
When a secret about Avigdor is revealed and he’s denied Hadass, he presses Yentl/Anshel into marrying her so he can remain close. By now Yentl is deeply in love with her roommate for whom she’ll do anything. The marriage takes place, consummation put off. In all other ways, it’s successful. Yentl/Anshel praises and respects the housewife teaching her to think/question for herself.
On a trip to a neighboring town with Avigdor, Yentl reveals who she is…A good film, well acted, with a rich score. Illuminating. Often moving. Streisand said studios claimed the film was “not commercial” because it was “too ethnic.” Rent on Amazon Prime or Netflix.
Prince of Tides 1991 Adapted from the novel by Pat Conroy. Produced, directed and starring Barbra Streisand. South Carolina teacher and former football coach Tom Wingo (Nick Nolte) travels to New York when his poet sister, Savannah (Melinda Dillon), attempts to commit suicide (not for the first time) and is hospitalized. His marriage to Sallie (Blythe Danner) is failing.
Tom agrees to sessions with his sister’s psychiatrist, Susan Lowenstein (Streisand), in order that she learn about family background. The Wingos history ranges from dysfunctional to tragic. We see it in flashback. Attracted to the married doctor, he agrees to coach her son (Streisand’s real son, Jason Gould) in football. The boy’s strict father is avidly against any sport that could harm Bernard’s hands and, with good reason, more than a little suspicious of Tom and his wife.
Tom and Susan have a liaison but clearing repressions from his childhood also allows him to be available to Sallie. A decision must be made. Good book. Good film. Shot tenderly with soft lenses. Rent on Amazon Prime or Netflix.
The Mirror Has Two Faces 1996 Loosely based on the French film by Andre Cayette and Gerard Oury. Produced, directed, and starring Barbra Streisand. Columbia English Lit Professor, Rose (Streisand), lives with her vain, needling, widowed mother, Hannah Morgan (Lauren Bacall). Equally vain, selfish sister Claire (Mimi Rogers), who married the man Rose wanted (Pierce Brosnan), compounds Rose’s negative feelings about herself. Assuming she’ll spend the rest of her life alone, the heroine dresses poorly, eschews make-up, and remains overweight.
As Rose, Hannah secretly answers a personals ad placed by good looking mathematics professor Gregory Larkin (Jeff Bridges). Larkin specifically states “Physical appearance not important!” The teacher gets punch drunk when attracted thus, ipso facto, feels mating should be a practical matter. Unaware of her mother’s involvement, Rose agrees to a date. She and Larkin get on like a house on fire and in no short time he proposes.
Unfortunately, Rose doesn’t realize the extent of his stipulations. She’s confused, hurt, and appalled by her husband’s distancing. When Larkin goes away several months, she remakes herself into a svelte, feminine woman that shocks him upon return. He reflexively rejects her and she goes back to mom. It doesn’t end there of course.
Variety called it “A vanity production of the first order,” but the ugly duckling to swan theme can be irresistible and there’s no denying components of both wit and wisdom. Rent on Amazon Prime or Netflix.