Top positive review
FUNNY FACE  [Blu-ray]
on July 29, 2014
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