Funny Girl (1968)

G | 151 or 155 mins | Biography, Musical | 19 September 1968

Director:

William Wyler

Producer:

Ray Stark

Cinematographer:

Harry Stradling

Production Designer:

Gene Callahan

Production Company:

Rastar Productions, Inc.
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HISTORY

Producer Ray Stark first developed Funny Girl as a “straight screenplay,” according to a 27 Aug 1967 LAT article. The story, based on the life of Stark’s mother-in-law, Fanny Brice, originated from a set of notes dictated by the actress-singer-comedienne prior to her death in 1951, as stated in the 19 Sep 1968 NYT. The notes contributed to an unpublished autobiography, of which Stark obtained the book plates for $50,000. An early version of the screenplay written by Isobel Lennart was titled My Man. The script evolved into a stage musical also written by Lennart, with music by Jule Styne and lyrics by Bob Merrill. The show, then titled Funny Girl, debuted at the Shubert Theatre in Boston, MA, on 14 Jan 1964, and opened at the Winter Garden Theatre on Broadway two months later. Stark retained film rights, as noted in a 15 Apr 1964 Var brief, and Lennart was kept on to adapt the screenplay.
       The 27 Aug 1967 LAT noted Stark’s claims that Barbra Streisand was an “unknown” when she was first brought to his attention. After originating the role of “Fanny Brice” onstage, Streisand left the Broadway show in preparation to reprise the role on film, according to a news brief in the 23 Feb 1965 DV. Paramount Pictures was reportedly in contention to finance the picture, and George Cukor was named as a potential director. At the time, Stark was an executive vice president for Seven Arts Productions, which was in the process of moving its operations from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) to Paramount. However, Stark owned rights to ... More Less

Producer Ray Stark first developed Funny Girl as a “straight screenplay,” according to a 27 Aug 1967 LAT article. The story, based on the life of Stark’s mother-in-law, Fanny Brice, originated from a set of notes dictated by the actress-singer-comedienne prior to her death in 1951, as stated in the 19 Sep 1968 NYT. The notes contributed to an unpublished autobiography, of which Stark obtained the book plates for $50,000. An early version of the screenplay written by Isobel Lennart was titled My Man. The script evolved into a stage musical also written by Lennart, with music by Jule Styne and lyrics by Bob Merrill. The show, then titled Funny Girl, debuted at the Shubert Theatre in Boston, MA, on 14 Jan 1964, and opened at the Winter Garden Theatre on Broadway two months later. Stark retained film rights, as noted in a 15 Apr 1964 Var brief, and Lennart was kept on to adapt the screenplay.
       The 27 Aug 1967 LAT noted Stark’s claims that Barbra Streisand was an “unknown” when she was first brought to his attention. After originating the role of “Fanny Brice” onstage, Streisand left the Broadway show in preparation to reprise the role on film, according to a news brief in the 23 Feb 1965 DV. Paramount Pictures was reportedly in contention to finance the picture, and George Cukor was named as a potential director. At the time, Stark was an executive vice president for Seven Arts Productions, which was in the process of moving its operations from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) to Paramount. However, Stark owned rights to Funny Girl outside of his deal with Seven Arts, and he ultimately made a deal with Columbia Pictures instead of Paramount. An article in the 20 Dec 1965 NYT announced Columbia’s acquisition of Funny Girl for an undisclosed purchase price. Although the 23 Mar 1966 Var indicated that Stark would take a leave of absence from Seven Arts as production got underway, the 29 Jun 1966 Var confirmed that Stark had left his post at Seven Arts entirely, with plans to independently produce Broadway plays and films.
       Principal photography was initially scheduled to begin in Jan 1967, according to the 22 Jun 1966 DV. A 28 Jul 1966 DV brief announced that Sidney Lumet was on board to direct, and the bulk of shooting was set to take place in New York City. Months later, the 14 Nov 1966 NYT reported that the start of filming had been pushed to 1 May 1967. Jule Styne and Bob Merrill were said to be in the process of penning four new songs for the film (“Roller Skate Rag,” “The Swan,” “Funny Girl,” and “Temporary Arrangement”), while the following three would be dropped: “Henry Street,” “Rat-tat-tat-tat,” and “Who Are You Now?” Stark was quoted in the item, stating that he was acting autonomously as producer, with Columbia simply acting as financier on the $7-million project.
       According to a 19 Oct 1966 Var article, Stark sent a proposal to New York production unions, asking to shoot there for “Hollywood rates” instead of higher New York rates. In exchange, Stark would provide figures that compared costs of shooting on either coast. Mayor John Lindsay urged the unions to agree, but the proposal was turned down by representatives of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), who argued the only way to determine which coast was more expensive was to shoot the same film twice in both places. As a result, location filming in New York was scaled down.
       Sidney Lumet’s departure from the project was announced in an 18 Jan 1967 Var item, which cited “‘artistic’ and ‘interpretive’ differences” between Lumet and Stark. Rumors circulated that Columbia might drop the film, in which case Stark planned to take it to Warner Bros. However, the 15 Feb 1967 DV noted Columbia was still on board, and William Wyler might replace Lumet, barring scheduling conflicts with Patton (1970, see entry), which Wyler was attached to direct at that time. On 20 Mar 1967, DV confirmed Wyler’s involvement. Filming was slated to begin in Jul 1967, preceded by rehearsals in Los Angeles, CA. As of late Mar 1967, Isobel Lennart was at work on a fifty-page script revision, according to a 31 Mar 1967 DV item.
       David Janssen was named as Streisand’s co-star in the 18 Apr 1967 DV, which also noted that Rosalind Russell was in talks to star as “Rose Brice.” Neither Janssen nor Russell appeared in the final film. The 15 May 1967 DV reported that Omar Sharif had been cast as “Nick Arnstein,” and Stark was in the process of rearranging the shooting schedule to accommodate Sharif’s prior commitment to Mackenna’s Gold (1969, see entry), production of which was scheduled to overlap with Funny Girl. Sharif was not expected on set until Sep 1967, according to a 7 Jul 1967 DV item; however, he had begun pre-recording songs, including “Temporary Arrangement,” and a duet with Streisand titled “You Are A Woman,” at Goldywn Studios. On 6 Jul 1967, Streisand recorded “Funny Girl,” one of Styne and Merrill’s four new songs written for the film, at Goldwyn’s Stage 7. A total of sixteen songs, which would make up roughly forty percent of the film, were recorded with orchestras ranging from nine to eighty members, according to the 9 Aug 1967 Var.
       On 11 Jul 1967, a week of location shooting in New York City was scheduled to commence, prior to principal photography in Los Angeles, CA, beginning 7 Aug 1967, according to production charts in the 14 Jul and 11 Aug 1967 DV . As stated in the 22 Jun 1967 DV, the musical number for “Don’t Rain On My Parade” was set to be filmed in and around the New York City Harbor, the Battery, and Jersey City, NJ. A 19 Jul 1967 NYT article indicated that a sequence involving Fanny Brice running to catch a tugboat was shot on Pier 36 on the East River. The East Coast shoot was concluded by 20 Jul 1967, when DV announced that Streisand, other cast members, and an eighty-person crew had recently returned to Los Angeles. Pre-recording sessions at Goldwyn Studios continued through early Aug 1967.
       By mid-Jul 1967, anticipated production costs were said to be between $10 and $12 million, although the 28 Sep 1967 LAT later cited an $8-million figure provided by Stark, who insisted the film would be “twice as big” as similarly budgeted productions. By the time the film opened, the 19 Sep 1968 NYT listed a final budget of $8.8 million. According to a 21 Sep 1967 Los Angeles Sentinel article, Streisand’s wardrobe costs, alone, amounted to $100,000. The actress reportedly received a salary of $250,000, plus a percentage of the gross, while Stark was set to receive ten percent of the gross and fifty percent of net profits.
       A 2 Aug 1967 DV item claimed that Wyler planned to use a helicopter mount camera indoors for the first time in history. Normally employed for aerial shots, the camera would be mounted on a crane instead of a helicopter, allowing the camera operator to adjust focus, zoom, and camera position remotely without the help of an assistant cameraman.
       Principal photography was scheduled to conclude the week of 27 Nov 1967, as stated in that day’s LAT.
       Various contemporary sources, including the 28 Sep 1967 LAT, noted rumors that Streisand was difficult to work with. Many credited the actress with “directing herself.” Despite sixty-five-year-old Wyler’s veteran status, and the fact that Funny Girl was Streisand’s first film, it was reported that she frequently weighed in on technical aspects such as lighting and camera angles. In the case of the “My Man” number, Streisand insisted on doing a “live take” while filming the scene, instead of using a pre-recorded version of the song, and beginning with a close-up instead of a wide shot. Having performed several variations of the musical, she frequently recalled lines from earlier scripts and encouraged filmmakers to incorporate them. In the 27 Nov 1967 LAT, Streisand admitted the first weeks of production were tense, and suggested that her collaborators were not used to “an actress speaking up.” According to a 25 Sep 1968 Var news item, Wyler defended her at a press conference, stating, “She was not difficult to work with. She’s a perfectionist with a great deal of temperament, and so am I. So, we got along fine.”
       Meanwhile, problems arose between Streisand and Stark, who accused the actress of breaching contract by working on other projects while Funny Girl was in production. Stark sought an injunction to prevent Streisand from working for another producer while Funny Girl was underway, as stated in the 17 Jan 1968 Var. He also demanded payment from her other projects, and asked the court to order her to perform in one of two films he had submitted to her, musical versions of Wait Till the Sun Shines, Nellie (1952, see entry) and Two for the Seesaw (1962, see entry). By mid-Sep 1968, NYT reported that Stark and Streisand had reconciled, and planned to make three more films together. The two eventually collaborated on The Owl and the Pussycat (1970, see entry), The Way We Were (1973, see entry), and Funny Lady (1975, see entry), the sequel to Funny Girl in which Streisand and Sharif reprised their roles.
       On 2 Aug 1967, Var reported that Columbia Records had acquired soundtrack rights. Previously, a cast album of the Broadway musical was released by Capitol Records in 1964. Diana Ross & the Supremes also performed the musical numbers for a 1968 Motown release titled, Diana Ross & the Supremes Sing and Perform ‘Funny Girl.’ Within its first five months of release, Columbia’s soundtrack earned a Record Industry Association of America gold record for topping $1 million in sales, as noted in the 21 Jan 1969 DV.
       Sneak previews were held in Milwaukee, WI, and Dallas, TX, in Jun 1968, according to the 18 Jun 1968 DV. Three months later, Funny Girl premiered at the Criterion Theatre in New York City on 18 Sep 1968. The 16 Feb and 10 Jul 1968 issues of NYT noted that proceeds from the premiere event would go to Mayor John Lindsay’s Commission on Youth and Physical Fitness. An after-party was held in a parking lot where the Hotel Astor once stood. Live footage of the premiere, including an interview with Streisand, as well as behind-the-scenes footage of the making of the film, and a clip from the “Don’t Rain On My Parade” sequence, were set to air the same night on NBC’s Kraft Music Hall, according to a 10 Sep 1968 DV brief. The Los Angeles premiere took place on 9 Oct 1968 at the Egyptian Theatre, and was expected to fundraise $100,000 for the Women’s Guild of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, as stated in the 16 Jul 1968 DV.
       Columbia utilized a “roadshow” release pattern, limiting the amount of theaters showing the film on a reserved-seat basis. A 15 Jun 1969 NYT item stated that Funny Girl had been shown in only sixty-one theaters, to that time. Since the film was a commercial success, this strategy stretched out Columbia’s returns. In Los Angeles, the film grossed $1,587,062 in its first year of release at the Egyptian Theatre, according to the 7 Oct 1969 DV, marking “one of the top grosses in all L.A. firstrun history,” and the 27 Mar 1969 LAT reported that the worldwide gross was expected to reach $80-$100 million.
       Critical reception was mixed. However, Streisand received consistently rave reviews for her performance. She won an Academy Award for Best Actress, along with Katharine Hepburn for The Lion in Winter (1968, see entry), in the first tie for that award in the ceremony’s forty-one-year history, according to a 16 Apr 1969 NYT brief. The film also received Academy Award nominations for Best Picture, Sound, Music (Score of a Musical Picture – original or adaptation), Music (Song – Original for the Picture), Film Editing, Cinematography, and Actress in a Supporting Role (Kay Medford). Isobel Lennart won a Writers Guild of America (WGA) Award for Best Written Musical. Funny Girl film was ranked #16 on AFI’s 100 Years of Film Scores list of the top twenty-five American movie musicals; #41 on AFI’s 100 Years…100 Passions list of the 100 greatest love stories; and the line, “Hello, gorgeous,” was ranked #81 on AFI’s 100 Years…100 Movie Quotes list of the top film quotes of all time.
       The following fashion designers produced lines of apparel and accessories inspired by the film, carrying Funny Girl labels, according to the 8 Jun 1968 NYT: Kate Greenaway (children’s clothing), Teal Traina (dresses and evening wear), Dan Millstein (coats and men’s suits), Mr. Gee (sportswear), Character (lingerie), Rothschild (children’s outerwear), Cathy Dee/La Sport (raincoats), Bianchi (bridal gowns), Marvella (jewelry), Giant Umbrella, Ingber Bags, Vendome (watches), Worsted-Tex (menswear inspired by Omar Sharif’s costumes), and Reiss & Fabrizio (furs).
       An item in the 21 Sep 1967 Los Angeles Sentinel credited Wendell Franklin as an assistant director, and Lena Torrence as a stand-in for Mittie Lawrence.
       Funny Girl marked Barbra Streisand’s feature film debut, and the final motion picture for actor Gerald Mohr, who died on 9 Nov 1968. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
29 Jul 1963
p. 11.
Daily Variety
14 Jan 1964
p. 3.
Daily Variety
27 Mar 1964
p. 3.
Daily Variety
22 May 1964
p. 2.
Daily Variety
23 Feb 1965
p. 2.
Daily Variety
22 Jun 1966
p. 4.
Daily Variety
28 Jul 1966
p. 4.
Daily Variety
15 Feb 1967
p. 2.
Daily Variety
3 Mar 1967
p. 4.
Daily Variety
20 Mar 1967
p. 1.
Daily Variety
31 Mar 1967
p. 24.
Daily Variety
18 Apr 1967
p. 1.
Daily Variety
15 May 1967
p. 1.
Daily Variety
22 Jun 1967
p. 3.
Daily Variety
7 Jul 1967
p. 2.
Daily Variety
11 Jul 1967
p. 8.
Daily Variety
14 Jul 1967
p. 6.
Daily Variety
20 Jul 1967
p. 2.
Daily Variety
2 Aug 1967
p. 4.
Daily Variety
11 Aug 1967
p. 8.
Daily Variety
4 Mar 1968
p. 3.
Daily Variety
18 Jun 1968
p. 2.
Daily Variety
16 Jul 1968
p. 4.
Daily Variety
10 Sep 1968
p. 13.
Daily Variety
20 Sep 1968
p. 3.
Daily Variety
21 Jan 1969
p. 10.
Daily Variety
24 Mar 1969
p. 1.
Daily Variety
7 Oct 1969
p. 3.
Filmfacts
1968
pp. 239-242.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Sep 1968
p. 3.
Los Angeles Sentinel
21 Sep 1967
Section B, p. 6.
Los Angeles Sentinel
21 Sep 1967
Section B, p. 7; Section D, p. 7.
Los Angeles Times
17 Jun 1967
p. 19.
Los Angeles Times
27 Aug 1967
Section O, p. 10.
Los Angeles Times
28 Sep 1967
Section D, p. 14.
Los Angeles Times
7 Nov 1967
Section C, p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
27 Nov 1967.
---
Los Angeles Times
27 Nov 1967
Section C, p. 1, 29.
Los Angeles Times
15 Aug 1968
Section E, p. 27.
Los Angeles Times
4 Sep 1968.
---
Los Angeles Times
13 Sep 1968
Section D, p. 17.
Los Angeles Times
11 Oct 1968
Section G, p. 1, 12.
Los Angeles Times
27 Mar 1969
Section I, p. 16.
New York Times
20 Dec 1965
p. 48.
New York Times
14 Nov 1966
p. 53.
New York Times
19 Jul 1967
p. 29.
New York Times
24 Sep 1967
p. 26.
New York Times
16 Feb 1968
p. 29.
New York Times
8 Jun 1968
p. 20.
New York Times
10 Jul 1968
p. 44.
New York Times
19 Sep 1968
p. 62.
New York Times
20 Sep 1968
p. 42.
New York Times
11 Nov 1968
p. 47.
New York Times
16 Apr 1969
p. 34.
New York Times
15 Jun 1969
Section F, p. 14.
New Yorker
28 Sep 1968
pp. 167-70.
Newsweek
30 Sep 1968
p. 96.
Time
4 Oct 1968
p. 101.
Variety
8 Jan 1964
p. 63.
Variety
15 Apr 1964
p. 47.
Variety
31 Mar 1965
p. 4.
Variety
28 Apr 1965
p. 1.
Variety
23 Mar 1966
p. 3.
Variety
29 Jun 1966
p. 3.
Variety
19 Oct 1966
p. 7.
Variety
18 Jan 1967
p. 13.
Variety
22 Mar 1967
p. 4.
Variety
26 Jul 1967
p. 4.
Variety
2 Aug 1967
p. 43.
Variety
9 Aug 1967
p. 22.
Variety
17 Jan 1968
p. 5.
Variety
14 Aug 1968
p. 2.
Variety
25 Sep 1968
p. 6.
Variety
25 Sep 1968
p. 22.
Variety
25 Sep 1968
p. 30.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
The Ziegfield girls:
George DeNormand
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A William Wyler-Ray Stark Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Mus numbers dir
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCER
Prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Supv film ed
Film ed
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
COSTUMES
Barbra Streisand's cost des
MUSIC
Mus supv & cond
Orch
Orch
Mus ed
VISUAL EFFECTS
DANCE
Vocal-dance arrangements
MAKEUP
Makeup supv
Makeup artist
Hair styles
Hair styles
PRODUCTION MISC
Unit prod mgr
Asst to the prod
Asst to the prod
Scr supv
Public relations
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the play Funny Girl , music by Jule Styne, lyrics by Bob Merrill, book by Isobel Lennart (New York, 26 Mar 1964), from the original story by Isobel Lennart and produced by Rastar Productions.
SONGS
"People," "Don't Rain on My Parade," "I'm the Greatest Star," "Sadie Sadie," "His Love Makes Me Beautiful," "You Are Woman I Am Man," "If a Girl Isn't Pretty," "The Swan," "Roller Skate Rag" and "Funny Girl," words and music by Jule Styne and Bob Merrill
"I'd Rather Be Blue," words and music by Fred Fisher and Billy Rose
"Second Hand Rose," words and music by James F. Hanley and Grant Clarke
+
SONGS
"People," "Don't Rain on My Parade," "I'm the Greatest Star," "Sadie Sadie," "His Love Makes Me Beautiful," "You Are Woman I Am Man," "If a Girl Isn't Pretty," "The Swan," "Roller Skate Rag" and "Funny Girl," words and music by Jule Styne and Bob Merrill
"I'd Rather Be Blue," words and music by Fred Fisher and Billy Rose
"Second Hand Rose," words and music by James F. Hanley and Grant Clarke
"My Man ( Mon homme )," music by Maurice Yvain, French lyrics by A. Willemetz and Jacques Charles, English adaptation by Channing Pollack.
+
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
My Man
Release Date:
19 September 1968
Premiere Information:
New York premiere: 18 September 1968 at the Criterion Theatre
New York opening: 19 September 1968
Los Angeles premiere: 9 October 1968
Production Date:
week of 11 July 1967
7 August--late November or early December 1967
Copyright Claimant:
Rastar Productions, Inc.
Copyright Date:
1 September 1968
Copyright Number:
LP36463
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Technicolor
Widescreen/ratio
Panavision
Duration(in mins):
151 or 155
MPAA Rating:
G
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
21783
SYNOPSIS

In turn-of-the-century New York, Fanny Brice, a young Jew from the Lower East Side, dreams of becoming a Broadway star, despite her unglamorous appearance. When she loses her chorus line job at Keeney's Oriental Palace, Fanny lies to enter a roller skating number and, slipping and sliding, is a comedy hit. After the performance, suave gambler Nick Arnstein visits Fanny backstage and helps get her a raise. Soon Fanny's comedy routines come to the attention of Florenz Ziegfeld, and she is hired for his Follies at the New Amsterdam Theatre. On opening night, she turns the show's lavish wedding finale into a comedy by appearing as a pregnant bride. Ziegfeld's anger is placated by Fanny's success, however, and he keeps the routine and yields to her demand that she choose her own material. Also at the theater that night is Nick Arnstein, who accompanies her to a party at her mother, Rose's, beer hall and then leaves for Kentucky. One year later, while Fanny is in Baltimore on tour, she again encounters Nick. During their whirlwind affair, Nick loses a fortune on a racehorse he owns and decides to recoup his losses by gambling on an ocean liner crossing the Atlantic. As Fanny prepares to board a train for Chicago, she receives roses and a note from Nick. After phoning her resignation from the Follies to Ziegfeld, she catches a train to New York and boards a tugboat to take her to Nick's Europe-bound ship. After her marriage to Nick, the two move into a lavish manor, and Fanny gives birth to a daughter. Sometime later, while Fanny is in rehearsal for a new show, Nick loses his money ... +


In turn-of-the-century New York, Fanny Brice, a young Jew from the Lower East Side, dreams of becoming a Broadway star, despite her unglamorous appearance. When she loses her chorus line job at Keeney's Oriental Palace, Fanny lies to enter a roller skating number and, slipping and sliding, is a comedy hit. After the performance, suave gambler Nick Arnstein visits Fanny backstage and helps get her a raise. Soon Fanny's comedy routines come to the attention of Florenz Ziegfeld, and she is hired for his Follies at the New Amsterdam Theatre. On opening night, she turns the show's lavish wedding finale into a comedy by appearing as a pregnant bride. Ziegfeld's anger is placated by Fanny's success, however, and he keeps the routine and yields to her demand that she choose her own material. Also at the theater that night is Nick Arnstein, who accompanies her to a party at her mother, Rose's, beer hall and then leaves for Kentucky. One year later, while Fanny is in Baltimore on tour, she again encounters Nick. During their whirlwind affair, Nick loses a fortune on a racehorse he owns and decides to recoup his losses by gambling on an ocean liner crossing the Atlantic. As Fanny prepares to board a train for Chicago, she receives roses and a note from Nick. After phoning her resignation from the Follies to Ziegfeld, she catches a train to New York and boards a tugboat to take her to Nick's Europe-bound ship. After her marriage to Nick, the two move into a lavish manor, and Fanny gives birth to a daughter. Sometime later, while Fanny is in rehearsal for a new show, Nick loses his money again and is forced to sell the house. Feeling overpowered by his wife's success, he moves back to New York City and spends more and more time gambling. As his debts mount, Fanny tries to help, but Nick bitterly rejects her offer and becomes involved in a phony bond deal. When he is exposed, he gives himself up and is sent to jail. Over a year later, he comes to Fanny's dressing room before her performance and tells her goodbye. +

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

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