It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 500. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.
This week’s musical:
“Funny Face” -Musical #32
Fred Astaire, Audrey Hepburn, Kay Thompson
Model cameos: Dovima, Suzy Parker, Sunny Hartnett
An intellectual book store clerk (Hepburn) gets caught up in a fashion shoot. Photographer Dick Avery (Astaire)-based off of real life photographer Richard Avedon- feels she would add something unique to the fashion magazine he works for.
-This movie was originally going to be an MGM film in the Freed Unit. However, since both Astaire and Hepburn were both working for Paramount, the film was moved to that studio. The MGM executives also weren’t in love with the script, according to The Fifties: Transforming the Screen, 1950-1959 by Peter Lev.
-Fred Astaire only wanted Audrey Hepburn for the film. Filming was delayed, because she wanted husband Mel Ferrer to be with her, according to “Audrey: A Life in Pictures” by Carol Krenz.
-Hepburn was self-conscious about being too skinny and flat chested. Fashion designer Hubert de Givenchy said everyone would be looking more at her eyes, Krenz said.
-Astaire’s role is based on the life of famed fashion photographer Richard Avedon. Stanley Donen hired Avedon for the visual consultant, according to “The Audrey Hepburn Treasures.”
-During the “He Loves, She Loves” number when Hepburn is in the wedding dress, it was difficult for Astaire and Hepburn to dance due to slippery and muddy grass.
-Hepburn’s own dog appears in the train fashion shoot scene.
-The white socks Hepburn wears in the jazz dancing scene caused trouble on set. Hepburn thought all black, including the socks looked better. Director Stanley Donen said if she wore all black, she would fade into the the background in the dimly lit scene and there would be no definition in her movement, according to the Sam Irvin book “Kay Thompson: From Funny Face to Eloise.”
-“Think Pink” isn’t an excellent song but the pink fashion sequence that goes along with the song is to die for. The number has models, including famous Suzy Parker, modeling pink bathing suits, day wear, evening gown and using pink shampoo and tooth paste.
-The fashion shoot with Audrey Hepburn. The different scenarios are fun and the clothes are gorgeous.
All of the music is by George and Ira Gershwin, so most of it is familiar and fairly enjoyable. However, some of the songs aren’t as recognizable Gershwin favorites like “Lady Be Good” and “I Got Rhythm.”
-“Funny Face” sung by Fred Astaire to Audrey Hepburn as he convinces Hepburn to model. Probably the most memorable song in the film.
-“S’Wonderful” sung by Fred Astaire and Audrey Hepburn
-“Let’s Kiss and Make Up” sung by Fred Astaire
-“How Long Has This Been Going On?” sung by Audrey Hepburn
Though it’s said Fred Astaire wouldn’t do the film without Audrey Hepburn, Astaire is sadly wasted in this film. Astaire has two major dance numbers, but I don’t feel like it gives him an opportunity to really show off his talent.
However, “Funny Face” gives Audrey Hepburn a rare time to show off her dancing skills on screen. Hepburn originally trained to be a ballet dancer before going into films. Hepburn dances with Astaire and does the bohemian jazz, modern dance number.
Hepburn also does her own singing, rather than being dubbed like she was in “My Fair Lady.” Her voice, though, is better suited for the Gershwin tunes than the operatic score of “My Fair Lady.”
On a whole, though the plot isn’t fantastic- this movie is GORGEOUS. Beautiful color, beautiful clothing and my favorite are the fashion montages.
On a personal note: This film taught me the definition of empathy and made me want a black turtleneck.
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One of the major points of contention in my marriage is how my wife loves this movie and I really can’t stand it. Never really liked Gershwin and I think Fred Astaire was well past his prime at this point. But, yes, your pictures really did nail the really solid pieces of the film: Donen’s use of color and just how good Hepburn looks.