FUNNY FACE  [Blu-ray] [UK Release] S'Wonderful! S'Marvelous! She's The Fairest Lady Of All! Knocks Most Other Musicals Off The Screen!
In the Academy Award® nominated classic, Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire join forces in lending their song and dance talents to the timeless and classic film musical. When fashion magazine mogul Maggie Prescott [Kay Thompson] and her head photographer Dick Avery [Fred Astaire] (which was based on real-life cameraman Richard Avedon, who was both a visual consultant on ‘Funny Face’) scout out a bookstore for their next photo shoot. Dick discovers the unique face of bookseller and amateur philosopher Jo Stockton [Audrey Hepburn] and is soon whisked off to Paris. Jo is soon transformed into a global supermodel . . . and finds herself falling for the photographer, who first noticed her sunny, funny face.
FILM FACT: The National Board of Review gave the film Special Citation award for the photographic innovations. Leonard Gershe was nominated for Best Written American Musical by the Writers Guild of America. Stanley Donen was nominated by the Directors Guild of America for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures and for a Golden Palm at the 1957 Cannes Film Festival. Fred Astaire received a Golden Laurel nomination for Top Male Musical Performance. The film received four Academy Award® Oscar Nominations: Leonard Gershe for Best Writing, Story and Screenplay and Written Directly for the Screen. Edith Head and Hubert de Givenchy (Audrey Hepburn's costume designer) for Best Costume Design. Ray June, Hal Pereira, George W. Davis, Sam Comer for Best Cinematography and Ray Moyer for Best Art Direction and Set Decoration.
Cast: Audrey Hepburn, Fred Astaire, Kay Thompson, Michel Auclair, Robert Flemyng, Dovima, Suzy Parker (Think Pink Number), Sunny Harnett (Think Pink Number), Jean Del Val, Virginia Gibson, Sue England, Ruta Lee, Alex Gerry, Iphigenie Castiglioni, Geneviève Aumont (uncredited), Paul Bisciglia (uncredited), Nina Borget (uncredited), Jack Chefe (uncredited), Albert D'Arno (uncredited), Carole Eastman (uncredited), Heather Hopper (uncredited), Don Powell (uncredited), Cecile Rogers (uncredited), Elizabeth Slifer (uncredited), Emilie Stevens (uncredited) and Baroness Ella Van Heemstra (uncredited)
Director: Stanley Donen
Producer: Roger Edens
Screenplay: Leonard Gershe
Music and Lyrics: George Gershwin, Ira Gershwin and Adolph Deutsch (main score)
Cinematography: Ray June
Video Resolution: 1080p [Technicolor]
Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1 [VistaVison]
Audio: English: 5.1 TrueHD Dolby, French: 1.0 Mono, German: 1.0 Mono, Italian: 1.0 Mono, Japanese: 5.1 Dolby Digital and Spanish: 1.0 Mono
Subtitles: English, English SDH, Danish, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Norwegian, Spanish and Swedish
Running Time: 103 minutes
Region: All Regions
Number of discs: 1
Studio: Paramount Pictures
Andrew's Blu-ray Review: This is a sort of Pygmalion story set in the rarefied world of high fashion, ‘Funny Face’  is an irresistible combination of music, style, and star talents: top production staff from M-G-M's fabled The Arthur Freed Unit; the legendary dancer Fred Astaire; enchanting gamine Audrey Hepburn; and photographer Richard Avedon. Fred Astaire plays fashion photographer Dick Avery, who turns a scruffy Greenwich Village intellectual Jo Stockton [Audrey Hepburn] into a supermodel, and takes her to romantic Paris, and eventually falls in love with her.
Pizzazz! The very word came into being with ‘Funny Face’ in 1957. Stylish and energetic `Funny Face' is a collaboration extraordinaire involving some of the great talents of the era: Producer Roger Edens and director Stanley Donen, screenwriter Leonard Gershe, cinematographer Ray June, costumer Edith Head, couture designer Hubert de Givenchy, photographer Richard Avedon and the film's matchless stars Audrey Hepburn, Fred Astaire and Kay Thompson. Sprinkled with an assortment of Gershwin tunes, this is a brilliant film of considerable pizzazz!
`Funny Face' had been a work in progress for years, but the vital element that finally brought the project together was Audrey Hepburn. Then under contract to Paramount Pictures, Audrey Hepburn was a white-hot star at the time and any picture with her name attached had a very good chance of being made. She loved both the script and the opportunity to dance with Fred Astaire and quickly agreed to do the picture. Fred Astaire, then nearing 60, was coming to the end of his career in musical films. `Funny Face' and `Silk Stockings' were released within months of each other in 1957 and were his last popular film musicals.
Kay Thompson, ace vocal coach, arranger and cabaret star, had worked with Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Lena Horne and many others during her years in M-G-M's music department. Gershe had her in mind from the start for the role of Maggie Prescott, a character closely modelled on powerhouse fashion editor and style doyenne of the era, Diana Vreeland. According to Leonard Gershe, it was Vreeland who coined the word `bizzazz' that mutated into `pizzazz.' Kay Thompson as Maggie Prescott, is an invigorating presence and she steals just about every scene she's in; early on, her "Think Pink!" number kicks Funny Face into high gear.
Ultimately, the success of `Funny Face' belongs just as much to Thompson as it does her two co-stars; the ebullient and ever dapper Fred Astaire and translucently glamorous gamin Audrey Hepburn. To voyage with these three into the chic byways and street cafes of Paris is to be magically teleported on a grand holiday through Parisian haute couture. And Stanley Donen's direction makes Funny Face so much more than mere sumptuous entertainment. It is a wry musical comedy taking a deadly sly poke at the fashionista guru. Under Stanley Donen's expertise and Leonard Gershe's capably crafted screenplay the exclusivity of haute couture evolves from haughty parade into a surreal exploitation of that impressionist and elegant lifestyle. This is a world created by human hands and ego, and, about as far removed from the one we find ourselves a part of at the beginning of our story. But that is precisely why ‘Funny Face’ succeeds; because it parallels the mundane with the superficially sacred, and elevates the escapism to a most rarefied art form.
`Funny Face' is a Cinderella tale, the kind of story that was Audrey Hepburn's bread and butter. The film begins in the offices of Quality magazine where editor Maggie Prescott [Kaye Thompson] decrees that the world of fashion shall think and wear pink (though she does not)! Soon after, she and photographer Dick Avery [Fred Astaire] venture to bohemian Greenwich Village on a shoot...where bookstore clerk Jo Stockton [Audrey Hepburn], an ugly duckling with swan potential, is unearthed. The plot takes off from here. Cut to Paris where newly made-over model Jo wears exquisite Givenchy haute couture and is gorgeously photographed by Dick Avery everywhere in the City of Light. Songs are sung. Dances are danced. Love blooms. A fairy-tale ending eventually comes to pass. The basic storyline is nothing new, but watching Hepburn, Astaire and Thompson cut loose in New York and Paris (and in song) is so easy on the eyes and ears that in so many ways...s'wonderful!
Ultimately, the success of `Funny Face' belongs just as much to Thompson as it does her two co-stars; the ebullient and ever dapper Fred Astaire and translucently glamorous gamin Audrey Hepburn. To voyage with these three into the chic byways and street cafes of Paris is to be magically teleported on a grand holiday through Parisian haute couture. And Stanley Donen's direction makes `Funny Face' so much more than mere sumptuous entertainment. It is a wry musical comedy taking a deadly sly poke at the fashionista guru. This is a world created by human hands and ego, and, about as far removed from the one we find ourselves a part of at the beginning of our story. But that is precisely why `Funny Face' succeeds; because it parallels the mundane with the superficially sacred, and elevates the escapism to a most rarefied art form.
Musically, `Funny Face' achieves many high water marks with Audrey Hepburn singing in her own voice the poignant, "How Long Has This Been Going On." Fred Astaire taps the exuberant "Let's Kiss and Make Up." Fred Astaire and Audrey Hepburn do an elegant pas deux to George and Ira Gershwin’s immortal "S'Wonderful" and the entire cast gets into the act with "Bonjour Paris!" Arguably, the song which lingers the longest in our collective memory remains Kay Thompson's acidic and comical "Think Pink" an ode to fashion for fashion's sake. As Kay Thompson croons "Red is dead. Blue is through. Green's obscene. Brown's to boo...and there is not the slightest excuse for plum or puce...or chartreuse."
Finally, `Funny Face' is a beautiful lightweight and cheerful little musical, immeasurably aided by Paramount Pictures patented high fidelity widescreen process VistaVision, and the sumptuous backdrop of Paris at its most photogenic, despite reoccurring inclement weather throughout the shoot, `Funny Face' emerges with a genuine sparkle and heart; an ultra-gorgeous musical with much to appreciate and admire throughout with "On how to be lovely." `Funny Face' rates a perfect ten! So all in all, this was well worth the wait for Paramount to release this sumptuous Blu-ray release, but sadly this UK Release has no Extras, like with the USA Blu-ray Release, but despite this I am still proud to have this enchanted Hollywood Classic Musical in my Blu-ray Collection. Highly Recommended!
Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Audrey Hepburn as a dowdy, shy little bookworm obsessed with philosophy to the point of excluding all else? Say it's not so.
But such is the legendary actress' role at the start of "Funny Face," an endearingly frothy little musical that spends equal time exploring the nightlife of 1950s Paris and a sparkly, sunny version of the fashion industry. Hepburn and Fred Astaire are the ones who really make the story shine, with plenty of song-and-dance numbers and a quirky, slightly sardonic little romance. It's never a deep story, but it's always a charming one.
Dissatisfied with the latest edition of Quality fashion magazine, publisher/editor Maggie Prescott (Kay Thompson) decides to splash the world with the Next Big Trend: think pink. Cue musical number.
She also decides to add an intellectual bent to the fashion world ("Marion, dear, what are you reading?" "Minute Men from Mars!"), and temporarily takes over a boho bookstore for a suitable backdrop, much to the dismay of the owner Jo (Hepburn). Photographer Dick Avery (Fred Astaire) is struck by Jo's earnestness and unique "funny face," and convinces Maggie to make her their new star model -- supposedly a woman who embodies intellect as well as chic fashion.
Jo doesn't like fashion ("It is chichi, and an unrealistic approach to self-impressions as well as economics!") agrees because she wants to meet her favorite philosopher in Paris, and immerse herself into the bohemian nightlife. But she's slowly growing to love her modeling career -- and Dick as well. But when Jo encounters the eminent Professor Flostre, her budding relationship with Dick is disrupted -- can fashion and philosophy find true love, or are their differences too much?
"Funny Face" is loosely based on an old stage musical -- and by "loosely based," I mean they borrowed a few songs from it and crafted a whole new plot. Fortunately this doesn't keep the movie from being vastly entertaining -- it's a big frothy creampuff of a musical, where you can guess the ending and all the plot twists far in advance, but somehow it just doesn't matter because it's such fun, and the romance is so sweet despite Astaire and Hepburn's chasmic age gap.
Part of the movie's charm is the glamourized views of Paris -- it's all romantic hotels, dramatic photo shoots ("Take the picture, TAKE THE PICTURE!"), idyllic wedding chapels and quirky little nightclubs. And it has a lot of dry humour ("Every girl on every page of Quality has grace, elegance, and pizzazz. Now what's wrong with bringing out a girl who has character, spirit, and intelligence?" "That certainly would be novel in a fashion magazine") and not-so-subtle spoofery of the pretentions both of bohemians and of the fashion elite. And boy is that fun.
It's also graced with a bunch of delightful musical numbers -- the over-the-top "Think Pink," the sweet "'s Wonderful," the adorably quirky titular song, and the exuberant "Bonjour Paris!" Hepburn in particular shines in two of these numbers -- she sings a fragile little ballad called "How Long Has This Been Going On?" in the ruined bookshop, and does a wildly kooky "Basal Metabolism" dance number in a bohemian bistro -- it's incredibly different from everything else in the movie.
In fact, Hepburn shines in pretty much every part of this movie, and while playing a character that could have easily been annoying -- earnest, naive, rather snobbish, and idealiastically devoted to any and all "isms" -- while Astaire serves as a counterbalance, playing a photographer who is just jaded enough to see the absurdity all around him. And Thompson is a real scene-stealer as the fashion queen who seems to think that Quality Magazine keeps the whole modern world afloat.
"Funny Face" is indeed funny. It's also sweet, charming, romantic, and "'s wonderful" -- a cute little musical filled with stunningly gorgeous clothes and a bit of wicked satire. Definitely worth checking out.
on May 7, 2004
Well, funny isn't how I'd describe Audrey Hepburn's face. Dazzling, luminescent, one-of-a-kind... but funny? I'm not laughing. I more side with Fred Astaire's character Dick Avery, who says "What you call funny, I call interesting."
Seriously though, how does a shy, introverted, intellectual bluestocking who is a firm believer in empathicalism became a fashion model for Quality magazine? Part of it has to do with photographer Dick Avery blowing up some snaps of her after an uninvited photo session in her Greenwich Village bookstore, and selling her to Maggie Prescott, editor of Quality. Another has to do with a photo shoot in Paris for the new layout of Quality, in exchange for which she'll get to meet Professor Flostre, the philosophical founder of empathicalism and her hero.
The best scenes in the movie are the photo shoots, which shows Jo doing poses in the rain, holding balloons, and tearfully standing at a departing railway station. But the standout has to be her running down the steps of the Louvre in a sleeveless red Givenchy gown, the statue of the Winged Victory behind her, emulating the famed statute. Another is Jo's dance in the nightclub, expressing herself after Avery pokes fun at her empathicalist beliefs. It's a spontaneous number set to a upbeat jazz rhythms, with Jo wearing a black body stocking, and it would be the last time Audrey would use her dancing talents in a movie.
The movie's attitude to the French beatnik and intellectual culture that began in the 1950's is clearly and unfortunately contemptuous, not surprising, considering that America in the 50's was in the growth-oriented prosperity, which had no room for intellectual thought. The concept of empathicalism, the philosophy of putting one in another person's shoes via emotion and manner of speech. That is kind of sabotaged by Avery, who speaks in a charming manner to two Frenchman while using insulting words.
The only sympathetic and likeable character here is Jo Stockton, played by Audrey, of course, but the motivations of her character selling out by working for a fashion magazine, which is so phony, materialistic, and shallow, is questionable. Still, Audrey is a breathe of fresh air, whatever she wears.
As for the characters played by Fred Astaire and nightclub performer Kay Thompson (Maggie), they're not exactly laudable. Fred Astaire's Avery is nice but shallow, and the chemistry between him and Audrey isn't credible. At least he could still dance. His character is based on famed fashion photographer Richard Avedon, as indeed is some of the story, where Avedon trained and married one of his models. As for Thompson, her brusque, bossy, brash, and downright aggressive attitude does not endear her well. Not content with having her crew make a mess of the Embryo Bookstore in the beginning, she then has the nerve to push her outside until the photo shoot is finished! Her character is a cariacature of either Diana Vreeland of Vogue or Carmel Snow of Harper's Bazaar.
The costumes by Givenchy are great, as are the musical numbers by Gershwin, especially the "He Loves and She Loves" and "S'wonderful" numbers, both of which feature Fred and Audrey dancing together. BTW, Astaire and his sister Adele had already danced to this in the Broadway show of the same name back in 1927. And this is the first of three movies with director Stanley Donen for Audrey, the others being Charade and Two For The Road. Donen of course made Fred Astaire dance on the ceiling in Royal Wedding years before Lionel Richie did for MTV.
So, "what's wrong with bringing out a girl who has character, spirit, and intelligence?" Well, nothing if she's allowed to stay true to her beliefs. Dated by today's standards, due to its endorsement of shallow materialistic values as opposed to something more genuine and intellectual, redeemed by Audrey and some of the songs.