Funny Face (1957)

103 mins | Musical, Romance | April 1957

Director:

Stanley Donen

Writer:

Leonard Gershe

Producer:

Roger Edens

Cinematographer:

Ray June

Editor:

Frank Bracht

Production Designers:

Hal Pereira, George W. Davis

Production Company:

Paramount Pictures Corp.
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HISTORY

The working title of this film was Wedding Day . The opening credits include the following written statement: "We are most grateful to Mrs. Carmel Snow and Harper's Bazaar Magazine for their generous assistance." The onscreen credit for sound recording reads: "George and Winston Leverett." Funny Face is based on Wedding Day , an unproduced musical play by Leonard Gershe. According to LAT , Gershe(1922--2002)served in the merchant marines with Richard Avedon, the noted fashion photographer who was the real-life model for the "Dick Avery" character. Modern sources state that Gershe based the love story in Wedding Day on Avedon and his wife Doe, who, like the character "Jo Stockton," became a noted model despite her indifference toward that profession. Modern sources also state that the original musical score for Wedding Day was written by Vernon Duke and Ogden Nash, and that the musical play was once optioned by producer Clinton Wilder. Before any stage production was mounted, Gershe sold the rights to his play to M-G-M, which assigned producer Roger Edens and director Stanley Donen to the project.
       According to Cosmopolitan , M-G-M soon thereafter decided to incorporate into the project the George and Ira Gershwin score from the 1927 musical play Funny Face , in which Fred Astaire had previously starred on Broadway with his sister Adele. Four songs from that musical--"Let's Kiss and Make Up," "He Loves and She Loves" "Funny Face" and "S'Wonderful"--were used in the film, along with two other Gershwin compositions: "How Long Has This Been Going On?" which was originally cut from the musical play Funny ... More Less

The working title of this film was Wedding Day . The opening credits include the following written statement: "We are most grateful to Mrs. Carmel Snow and Harper's Bazaar Magazine for their generous assistance." The onscreen credit for sound recording reads: "George and Winston Leverett." Funny Face is based on Wedding Day , an unproduced musical play by Leonard Gershe. According to LAT , Gershe(1922--2002)served in the merchant marines with Richard Avedon, the noted fashion photographer who was the real-life model for the "Dick Avery" character. Modern sources state that Gershe based the love story in Wedding Day on Avedon and his wife Doe, who, like the character "Jo Stockton," became a noted model despite her indifference toward that profession. Modern sources also state that the original musical score for Wedding Day was written by Vernon Duke and Ogden Nash, and that the musical play was once optioned by producer Clinton Wilder. Before any stage production was mounted, Gershe sold the rights to his play to M-G-M, which assigned producer Roger Edens and director Stanley Donen to the project.
       According to Cosmopolitan , M-G-M soon thereafter decided to incorporate into the project the George and Ira Gershwin score from the 1927 musical play Funny Face , in which Fred Astaire had previously starred on Broadway with his sister Adele. Four songs from that musical--"Let's Kiss and Make Up," "He Loves and She Loves" "Funny Face" and "S'Wonderful"--were used in the film, along with two other Gershwin compositions: "How Long Has This Been Going On?" which was originally cut from the musical play Funny Face , then later integrated into the musical Rosalie ; and "Clap Yo' Hands" from Oh, Kay . Modern sources report that the Gershwin musical catalog was controlled at the time by Warner Bros., and that M-G-M acquired the use of these songs for Funny Face in exchange for lending director Donen to Warner Bros. for their 1957 adaptation of the hit Broadway musical The Pajama Game (See Entry).
       In a 27 Oct 1955 M-G-M press release, the studio announced that contract dancer Carol Haney had been selected to play the female lead in Wedding Day , with the studio's Dolores Gray cast in the role of the fashion editor. In Jan 1956, however, DV announced that Paramount had acquired the film rights to Funny Face from M-G-M, and had cast Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire as the romantic leads. As part of this deal, Paramount also acquired the temporary services of M-G-M contractees Edens and Donen, who, the trade paper pointed out, had done considerable prepping for the film at their home studio. DV also noted that Astaire's current project at Paramount, Papa's Delicate Condition , for producer Robert Emmett Dolan, was being delayed until the completion of Funny Face .
       That project, which ultimately starred Jackie Gleason, however, was shelved until 1963 (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1961-70 ). According to Cosmopolitan , M-G-M had also sought Hepburn for the female lead in their production of Funny Face , but was unable to acquire her services from Paramount, to whom she was then under exclusive contract. Modern sources claim M-G-M executives were happy to sell Funny Face to Paramount, as they had become disenchanted with the musical genre due to the lackluster box office performance of such films as their 1955 production It's Always Fair Weather (See Entry).
       According to the file on the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, Funny Face was originally given a budget of $2,739,000. After shooting from 9 Apr to 28 May 1956 at Paramount Studios, the production moved on location to Paris, France, where shooting continued from 5 Jun to 3 Jul 1956. Due to poor weather in France, which extended the location shoot an extra eleven days, the final budget of the film escalated to $3,164,000. According to the Paramount studio files, Avedon's onscreen credit was originally to have read: "Special Visual Consultant (Courtesy of Harper's Bazaar )." Funny Face marked the film debut of noted fashion models Suzy Parker (1932--2003) and Dovima. Funny Face also marked the motion picture debut of Carole Eastman, who had a small role in the film as a speciality dancer. Eastman later became a screenwriter, often using the pseudonym Adrien Joyce. Her most famous screenplay was for Five Easy Pieces (1970, see above).
       Modern sources claim the inspiration for Kay Thompson's character, "Maggie Prescott," was Vogue magazine editor Diana Vreeland. Modern sources include Genevieve Aumont ( French actress ) in the cast. The film received Academy Award nominations in the Art Direction, Cinematography, Costume Design and Writing (Story and Screenplay--Written Directly for the Screen) categories. In May 1990, Funny Face was chosen to close the AFI Film Festival and was re-released by Paramount that same year in select U.S. cities. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
LOCATION
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
American Cinematographer
1 Mar 58
p. 167.
Box Office
16 Feb 1957.
---
Box Office
2 Mar 1957.
---
Cosmopolitan
Feb 1957.
---
Daily Variety
31 Jan 1956.
---
Daily Variety
9 Mar 1956.
---
Daily Variety
13 Feb 57
p. 3.
Film Daily
13 Feb 57
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Mar 56
p. 1, 4.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Apr 56
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Apr 56
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Feb 57
p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
15 Apr 1956.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
16 Feb 57
p. 265.
New York Times
29 Mar 57
p. 16.
Variety
13 Feb 57
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Cam tech
Gaffer
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
Assoc des
Props
COSTUMES
Cost
Miss Hepburn's Paris ward
Ladies' ward
Men's ward
MUSIC
Mus adpt and cond
Orch arr
Orch arr
Orch arr
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog eff
DANCE
Choreog
Choreog
Songs staged by
Dance coordinator
Asst dance dir
Asst dance dir
Asst dance dir
MAKEUP
Makeup supv
Makeup
Makeup
Hair style supv
Hair dresser
PRODUCTION MISC
Spec visual consultant and main title backgrounds
Prod mgr
Asst prod mgr
Unit prod mgr
Casting dir
Secy to casting dir
Secy to Edens
Secy to Donen
Scr supv
Lead man
Company grip
Best boy
Casting
Casting
Casting
Standby labor
Pianist
Pianist
COLOR PERSONNEL
Technicolor col consultant
SOURCES
MUSIC
"Marche funebre" by Roger Edens.
SONGS
"Let's Kiss and Make Up," "He Loves and She Loves," "Funny Face," "How Long Has This Been Going On?" "Clap Yo' Hands" and "S'Wonderful," music by George Gershwin, lyrics by Ira Gershwin
"Think Pink," "Bonjour Paris" and "On How to Be Lovely," music by Roger Edens, lyrics by Leonard Gershe.
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Wedding Day
Release Date:
April 1957
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 28 March 1957
Production Date:
9 April--3 July 1956
retakes 17 July--19 July 1956
Copyright Claimant:
Paramount Pictures Corp.
Copyright Date:
28 March 1957
Copyright Number:
LP8017
Physical Properties:
Sound
Westrex Recording System
Color
Technicolor
Widescreen/ratio
VistaVision Motion Picture High-Fidelity
Duration(in mins):
103
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
18277
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In the Manhattan offices of Quality Magazine , editor Maggie Prescott and her band of assistants brainstorm to come up with an inspirational theme for the latest issue of their fashion publication. Maggie decides that the color pink will be it, and soon offices, buses and even airplanes are being painted that color. While all America is being outfitted in pink, Maggie, still in her gray business suit, decides that her next issue will be dedicated to "clothes for the woman who isn't interested in clothes." In his studio, photographer Dick Avery is having little luck in capturing Maggie's concept, so they decide to change locations and do the fashion shoot inside a bohemian Greenwich Village bookstore. Never one to stand on formality, Maggie and her troupe proceed to take over Emery's Concepts Bookstore, going so far as to lock Jo Stockton, the store's clerk, out of the shop. As the bookstore is in shambles following the photographic session, Dick stays behind to help Jo pick things up. The two soon begin talking about Paris, but while Dick extols the beauty of the French city, Jo tells him that she wishes to go there merely to meet philosopher, Prof. Emile Flostre. Later, Maggie decides to create "the Quality Woman," a model who will have a collection of clothes designed especially for her by the noted couturier, Paul Duval. Dick suggests Jo, but neither she nor Maggie are initially enthusiastic about his idea, until Jo learns that the job will entail a trip to Paris. As soon as they arrive in France, Jo, Dick and Maggie split ... +


In the Manhattan offices of Quality Magazine , editor Maggie Prescott and her band of assistants brainstorm to come up with an inspirational theme for the latest issue of their fashion publication. Maggie decides that the color pink will be it, and soon offices, buses and even airplanes are being painted that color. While all America is being outfitted in pink, Maggie, still in her gray business suit, decides that her next issue will be dedicated to "clothes for the woman who isn't interested in clothes." In his studio, photographer Dick Avery is having little luck in capturing Maggie's concept, so they decide to change locations and do the fashion shoot inside a bohemian Greenwich Village bookstore. Never one to stand on formality, Maggie and her troupe proceed to take over Emery's Concepts Bookstore, going so far as to lock Jo Stockton, the store's clerk, out of the shop. As the bookstore is in shambles following the photographic session, Dick stays behind to help Jo pick things up. The two soon begin talking about Paris, but while Dick extols the beauty of the French city, Jo tells him that she wishes to go there merely to meet philosopher, Prof. Emile Flostre. Later, Maggie decides to create "the Quality Woman," a model who will have a collection of clothes designed especially for her by the noted couturier, Paul Duval. Dick suggests Jo, but neither she nor Maggie are initially enthusiastic about his idea, until Jo learns that the job will entail a trip to Paris. As soon as they arrive in France, Jo, Dick and Maggie split up to secretly do some sightseeing, only to run into each other at the Eiffel Tower. Later, when Jo misses her first costume fitting, Dick finds her in a bohemian café, and angers her by pointing out that her fellow philosophers have only been listening to her because she has been paying for their drinks. The two soon make up, and the next day, after hours of hair and makeup in Duval's salon, Jo is transformed from a plain bookworm into a high-fashion butterfly. For the next week, Dick and Jo travel throughout Paris, as he photographs her in Duval's new collection at such historical locales as the Louvre Museum. Overcome with emotion during the final shoot, in which she finds herself wearing a wedding gown before a small, country church, Jo professes her love to Dick, and though the older photographer is surprised, he admits he feels the same way toward her. Later, back at Duval's salon, Maggie coaches Jo on how to act during the upcoming fashion show, with particular emphasis on how the young girl should handle the press. The night before the show, however, Jo learns that Flostre is appearing at the café, and is completely overwhelmed upon first meeting the handsome, young French philosopher. Dick then embarrasses Jo by dragging her out of the café, arguing that Flostre is more interested in her body than her mind. Jo and Dick continue their fighting backstage at Maggie's press party, with disastrous results. Now the laughing stock of all Paris, Dick, Maggie and Duval face financial ruin if the missing Jo does not appear at the fashion show. Disguised as beatnik folk singers from Florida, Dick and Maggie crash Flostre's party, where they are required to perform a spiritual. After a brief skirmish with Flostre, a frustrated Dick announces he is leaving both Jo and Paris to return to New York. Soon thereafter, Flostre attempts to make love to Jo, and the disillusioned girl rushes out of his house, arriving at Duval's salon just in time to appear in the fashion show. Meanwhile, Maggie tries to stop Dick from leaving France, but is unable to catch him either at his hotel or at the airport. Dick, however, meets Flostre as they board the same plane, and upon learning that Jo rejected the Frenchman, Dick rushes back to Duval's. Told that Jo has already left the show, Maggie suggests that Dick use Flostre's philosophy of empathy to ascertain where she has gone. Dick then rushes to the country church, where he finds Jo, still wearing Duval's wedding dress, and the two lovers are once and for all united. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.