"I wanted to replace all my VHS's with DVD's and this is a perfect solution. You get these wonderful DVD's in one set and they are beautful to the eyes. The cover is very attractive and the movies themselves are crystal clear and the sound is superb. Not as many bonus features as I would like but I'm happy with this box set."
Legacy of Fanny Brice Overshadowed by Definitive Streisand o
Ed Uyeshima | San Francisco, CA USA | 06/21/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Far more than sharing the extended life story of Ziegfeld Follies star Fanny Brice, these two movies really show how Barbra Streisand transformed from a screen novice to a reigning goddess over the course of seven years. When she hit the big screen in 1968's "Funny Girl", she became an instant movie legend as master filmmaker William Wyler tailored a launching pad so accommodating to her personality and drive that it becomes apparent only later that the film itself is not terribly exceptional. The first half of the film, by far the best part, is about Brice's fast climb to stardom and her blind infatuation of gambler Nick Arnstein, played with a bit too much continental charm by an overshadowed Omar Sharif. The comparatively dramatic second half is really about the inevitable fate of their relationship. The energy that drives the first half seems to sputter in the second half, and Streisand is left to carry the whole thing to the finish line.
The fact that the story has anything to do with Brice seems purely circumstantial in deference to Streisand's phenomenal talent especially as a first-rank comedienne and the pre-eminent song stylist of her generation. For the latter aspect alone, "Funny Girl" is essential viewing, especially for three solo numbers penned by the legendary team of Jule Styne and Bob Merrill (who co-wrote "Gypsy"). First, as a young wannabe trying to convince Mr. Keeney at the local burlesque house to hire her, Streisand sings "I'm the Greatest Star" with an appropriately persistent brassiness that suddenly turns into a dramatic clarion call picking up the percussive momentum of "Don't Rain on My Parade" until the song title truly becomes fact and not a boast.
The second song is her anthem, "People", sung to an unsurprisingly awestruck Sharif on the darkened Hollywood-phony backlit set of Henry Street, first as an expression of her unrequited love for Arnstein and then more effectively as a solo plea bordering on desperation as she leans against a lamppost. The third number is made breathtaking by the ingenious way that Wyler films her performance of "Don't Rain on My Parade" as a montage of fast cuts that leads an Arnstein-chasing Brice to the amazing tugboat finish. The fact that they all occur in the first half makes the second half all the more desultory saved at the end by Streisand's memorably triumphant take on Brice's "My Man". These are all indisputably classic movie musical moments.
The remaining numbers are good and mostly a vehicle to show off Streisand's considerable comedy skills - maneuvering roller skates on "I'd Rather Be Blue (Over You)", flouncing her dress in front of a nonplussed Ziegfeld on "Second Hand Rose", waddling around as a "pregnant" bride in the Ziegfeld extravaganza "His Love Makes Me Beautiful", accommodating Arnstein's aggressive parlor advances in "You Are Woman", and chronicling her happily married state in "Sadie, Sadie". That's not to say she is not a fine dramatic actress, just a sometimes rather theatrical one at least in her first film here, as she expresses her heartbreak in a variety of overdone hairstyles and clothes until her seeming vindication at the end. No other actress can express as dexterously the concurrent insecurity, egotism and humor that Streisand in her prime could.
The talent is still very much in evidence, but the spirit has hardened somewhat in "Funny Lady", the 1975 sequel which picks up Brice's story during the Depression when the established star struggles financially to preserve her career. Unlike its predecessor, this movie does not provide a character arc which allows us to discover anything new about her character. Instead, director Herbert Ross and screenwriter Jay Presson Allen focus on the turbulent, sometimes comic relationship between the established Brice and her eventual husband, rising impresario Billy Rose. The staccato dialogue between the two, a far cry from the moony worship Brice held for first husband Arnstein in the first movie, is what makes "Funny Lady" good light entertainment even though the old-fashioned narrative often feels disjointed and truncated.
Fortunately, in full diva mode as the success-insulated heroine, Streisand is at the top of her game here, and James Caan brings youthful energy to his portrayal of the brash, egotistical Rose. The rest of the actors barely register, including Roddy McDowall as Brice's unctuous assistant and confidante, Ben Vereen who doesn't have a single line of dialogue as entertainer Bert Robbins, and an embalmed-looking Sharif reprising his role as Arnstein this time as a preening, materialistic fortune hunter. What a shame that the swooning love story of the first film reaches such a cynical denouement in this story.
There are songs written for the film by the estimable team of John Kander and Fred Ebb, and they meld nicely with the old, Rose-penned standards presented here. However, some of the production numbers are badly staged, for example, the faux-gospel take on "(It's Gonna Be a) Great Day" with a sequin-infested Streisand surrounded by an ensemble of uncoordinated dancers, or the clarion call of "Let's Hear It for Me" complete with a roadster and a biplane to replicate the driving rhythm of its obvious inspiration, "Don't Rain on My Parade". In fact, there are many ill-used references to "Funny Girl" from the opening montage to the overorchestrated refrains of "People" when Arnstein kisses Brice.
Moreover, the movie has a constant veneer of excess, especially the overdone Bob Mackie gowns, as if nothing seems rooted in reality. Through all this, Streisand does manage to create some breathtaking musical magic - her sonorous version of "More Than You Know" in the recording studio; her torchy, show-stopping lament, "How Lucky Can You Get" (although her revealing gown is rather distracting); and best of all, her pristine rendition of the old chestnut, "If I Love Again", set against a glass grand piano. These are the pleasures that make the movie worthwhile in spite of its various shortcomings."
The Best Musicals & THE BEST SINGER
Tv & Cd Reviewer | USA | 04/30/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This boxset is A must buy it has two great movies Funny Girl & Funny Lady with the greatest singer to top it off from both movies their are great songs including People , dont rain on my parade , lets here it for me. Their are okay bonus on both dvds , for this price buy this dvd boxset because its absolutly the best !"
Great combo price, but missing a great extra from solo Funny
Jeffrey A. Moon | Dallas, Texas USA | 12/18/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I'm getting this even though I already own "Funny Girl". The price for this duo is less than purchasing "Funny Lady" DVD alone. The only negative is that the "Funny Girl" (only) DVD has a great extra entitled "Barbra in Movieland", which is a very entertaining, detailed, well-narrated, behind the scenes short, concentrating on the filming of the musical number, "Don't Rain on My Parade". Many DVD "featurettes" bore me as mostly everyone interviewed banally talks endlessly about how talented and wonderful everyone else is; how lucky they are to be involved in such a "profound" project; etc. This short was obviously produced, possibly as a promotional piece, during or shortly after the actual filming in 1968. An old abandoned railway station in New Jersey is shown being brought back to turn-of-the-20th century-life. Its only current inhabitant, an elderly (real-life) caretaker who has worked at the station for decades, including its more active days as a bustling transportation hub. His presents and occasional comments provide an interesting and nostalgic aspect to the piece He relates going to see the real Fanny Brice years before. William Wyler even gives him a cameo in the scene; But he probably won't go see the film, "My wife and I don't get to the movies much anymore", he says. I've pulled out this DVD a number of times just to watch this extra. I can't say that very often."
Funny Girl/Funny Lady DVD
Kathleen Brandenburg | Roy, Utah USA | 03/09/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"These movies are wonderful. I have loved them for years and very happy to add them to my collection. Barbra streisand is wonderful in both. Highly reccomend both movies."