Funny Lady (1975)

PG | 140 mins | Comedy-drama, Musical | 12 March 1975

Director:

Herbert Ross

Producer:

Ray Stark

Cinematographers:

James Wong Howe, Vilmos Zsigmond

Production Designer:

George Jenkins

Production Companies:

Columbia Pictures, Rastar Pictures
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HISTORY

Actor Omar Shariff’s character’s name was spelled “Nicky Arnstein” in the opening credits and “Nick Arnstein” in closing credits.
       Funny Lady was a sequel to Funny Girl (1968, see entry), but the only roles that carried over from the earlier film were actress Barbra Steisand’s “Fanny Brice” and Shariff’s Nicky Arnstein. Director Herbert Ross had directed the musical numbers in the otherwise William Wyler-helmed Funny Girl. The producer of both films, Ray Stark, was married to Frances “Fran” Arnstein, Fanny Brice’s daughter. Fran was portrayed as a young girl in the film by actress Samantha Huffaker.
       The 12 Dec 1973 Var announced that both James Caan and Dustin Hoffman were being considered for the co-starring role of “Billy Rose.” Though Caan got the part, many reviews, including the 12 Mar 1975 NYT and the 14 Mar 1975 LAT, remarked that the handsome, athletic actor was an unlikely Rose, who in real life was short, moon-faced, and overweight.
       The 5 Apr 1974 HR reported that principal photography began that week, with Streisand starting her role that day, at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (M-G-M) Studios’ “theatre” soundstage in Culver City, CA. A 10 Apr 1974 Var news item, which mentioned that filming was underway at Stages #5 and #6, announced that cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond had been fired over “creative differences,” and was replaced by seventy-five-year-old James Wong Howe. After sixteen days, production moved to the Burbank Studios for the rest of the fifteen-week filming schedule, according to the 8 Apr 1974 Box. However, according to the 21 Jun 1974 HR, the ... More Less

Actor Omar Shariff’s character’s name was spelled “Nicky Arnstein” in the opening credits and “Nick Arnstein” in closing credits.
       Funny Lady was a sequel to Funny Girl (1968, see entry), but the only roles that carried over from the earlier film were actress Barbra Steisand’s “Fanny Brice” and Shariff’s Nicky Arnstein. Director Herbert Ross had directed the musical numbers in the otherwise William Wyler-helmed Funny Girl. The producer of both films, Ray Stark, was married to Frances “Fran” Arnstein, Fanny Brice’s daughter. Fran was portrayed as a young girl in the film by actress Samantha Huffaker.
       The 12 Dec 1973 Var announced that both James Caan and Dustin Hoffman were being considered for the co-starring role of “Billy Rose.” Though Caan got the part, many reviews, including the 12 Mar 1975 NYT and the 14 Mar 1975 LAT, remarked that the handsome, athletic actor was an unlikely Rose, who in real life was short, moon-faced, and overweight.
       The 5 Apr 1974 HR reported that principal photography began that week, with Streisand starting her role that day, at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (M-G-M) Studios’ “theatre” soundstage in Culver City, CA. A 10 Apr 1974 Var news item, which mentioned that filming was underway at Stages #5 and #6, announced that cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond had been fired over “creative differences,” and was replaced by seventy-five-year-old James Wong Howe. After sixteen days, production moved to the Burbank Studios for the rest of the fifteen-week filming schedule, according to the 8 Apr 1974 Box. However, according to the 21 Jun 1974 HR, the Aquacade swimming sequence was filmed at the Los Angeles Swim Stadium in Exposition Park. Though the film avoided references to specific years, the real-life Crazy Quilt opened on Broadway in 1931, Aquacade premiered with Eleanor Holm in 1937, and The Baby Snooks Show ran on both the CBS and NBC radio networks from Sep 1944 to Brice’s death on 29 May 1951. The film cost $8.5 million, of which Columbia Pictures contributed about $4.9 million, according to the 5 Mar 1975 Var and the 17 Mar 1975 New Yorker.
       The 3 Apr 1975 UCLA Daily Bruin reported that of the nineteen songs recorded for Funny Lady, only sixteen appeared in the final release. A scene in which Caan sang “Does The Spearmint Lose Its Flavor On The Bedpost Overnight” to young Fran Arnstein was eliminated altogether, as was Ben Vereen’s duet with Streisand on “Fifty Million Frenchmen Can’t Be Wrong.” Streisand reportedly had final say on which songs were eliminated and which ones stayed in the picture. The soundtrack included incidental pieces of Bob Merrill and Julie Styne’s “People” and “Nicky Arnstein Themes” from Funny Girl, without attribution, for which Columbia and Rastar Pictures apologized in the trade papers, including the 29 Oct 1975 issues of both DV and Var. The 30 Apr 1975 Var reported that the estate of Vincent Youmans, who wrote the lyrics for “More Than You Know” and “Great Day,” sued Columbia and Ray Stark for $3 million, claiming they failed to obtain licenses to use the songs. Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. later ran an official apology to Youmans in the trade papers, including the 1 Aug 1978 HR.
       On 9 Mar 1975, an ABC television special titled Funny Girl to Funny Lady, airing live from the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., launched the world premiere of Funny Lady.
       Though Steisand won the 1968 Academy Award for Best Actress in Funny Girl, her reprise of the Fanny Brice role in Funny Lady failed to garner a nomination. Funny Lady was nominated for Academy Awards in the following categories: Cinematography; Costume Design; Music Scoring: Original Song Score and Adaptation or Scoring: Adaptation; Music—Original Song (“How Lucky Can You Get?”); and Sound.
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BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
8 Apr 1974.
---
Box Office
24 Mar 1975
p. 4766.
Daily Variety
17 Apr 1974.
---
Daily Variety
29 Oct 1975.
---
Hollywood Reporter
5 Apr 1974.
---
Hollywood Reporter
3 May 1974.
---
Hollywood Reporter
21 Jun 1974.
---
Hollywood Reporter
5 Mar 1975
p. 3, 14.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Aug 1978.
---
Los Angeles Times
14 Mar 1975
p. 1.
New York Times
12 Mar 1975
p. 30.
New Yorker
17 Mar 1975.
---
Time
24 Mar 1975.
---
Time
7 Apr 1975.
---
UCLA Daily Bruin
3 Apr 1975.
---
Variety
12 Dec 1973.
---
Variety
10 Apr 1974.
---
Variety
30 Apr 1975.
---
Variety
5 Mar 1975
p. 20.
Variety
29 Oct 1975.
---
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
San Francisco (Oak Park) Marionettes Swim Team:
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Columbia Pictures and Rastar Pictures Present
A Ray Stark Production of
A Herbert Ross Film
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
Asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCER
Prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Aerial photog
Cam op
Key grip
Gaffer
Dir of photog
Still photog
Elec
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Asst art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
Supv ed
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
COSTUMES
Cost des
Cost des
Mens ward
Ladies ward
Miss Streisand's ward
MUSIC
Mus and lyrics to orig songs
Mus and lyrics to orig songs
Mus arr and cond
Addl mus adpt
Choral supv
VISUAL EFFECTS
Title des
Spec eff
Spec photog eff
DANCE
Mus numbers staged by
Assoc choreog
Dance arr
Dance asst
Choreog
MAKEUP
Make-up
Hairstyles
Make-up supv
Hairdresser
Hairdresser
PRODUCTION MISC
Asst to Mr. Ross
Casting
Aquatic seq
Aquatic seq supv by
Asst to the prod
Scr supv
Unit pub
Prod services by
SOURCES
SONGS
"Blind Date," music and lyrics by Fred Ebb and John Kander, sung by Barbra Streisand
"So Long, Honey Lamb," music and lyrics by Fred Ebb and John Kander, sung by Barbra Streisand and Ben Vereen
"How Lucky Can You Get," music and lyrics by Fred Ebb and John Kander, sung by Barbra Streisand
+
SONGS
"Blind Date," music and lyrics by Fred Ebb and John Kander, sung by Barbra Streisand
"So Long, Honey Lamb," music and lyrics by Fred Ebb and John Kander, sung by Barbra Streisand and Ben Vereen
"How Lucky Can You Get," music and lyrics by Fred Ebb and John Kander, sung by Barbra Streisand
"Isn't This Better?" music and lyrics by Fred Ebb and John Kander, sung by Barbra Streisand
"Let's Hear It For Me," music and lyrics by Fred Ebb and John Kander, sung by Barbra Streisand
"If I Love Again," music and lyrics by J. P. Murray and Ben Oakland, sung by Barbra Streisand
"More Than You Know," by Vincent Youmans, Edward Eliscu, and Billy Rose, sung by Shirley Kirkes and Barbra Streisand
"It Was Only A Paper Moon," by Harold Arlen, E. Y. Harburg, and Billy Rose, sung by Barbra Streisand, James Caan, and Chorus
"Beautiful Face, Have A Heart," by James V. Monaco, Fred Fisher, and Billy Rose, sung by Garrett Lewis and Cast of Crazy Quilt
"Clap Hands, Here Comes Charley," music and lyrics by Joseph Meyer, Ballard MacDonald, and Billy Rose, sung by Ben Vereen
"I Found A Million Dollar Baby In A Five And Ten Cent Store," by Harry Warren, Mort Dixon, and Billy Rose, sung by Barbra Streisand
"Fifty Million Frenchmen Can't Be Wrong," by Fred Fisher, William Raskin, and Billy Rose, sung by the Cast of Crazy Quilt
"If You Want The Rainbow, You Must Have The Rain," by Oscar Levant, Mort Dixon, and Billy Rose, sung by Cast of Crazy Quilt
"Me And My Shadow," by Al Jolson, Dave Dreyer, and Billy Rose, sung by James Caan
"Does The Spearmint Lose Its Flavor On The Bedpost Overnight?" by Marty Bloom, Ernst Breuer, and Billy Rose, sung by James Caan
"I Caught A Code in My Dose," by Arthur Fields, Fred Hall, and Billy Rose, sung by Barbra Streisand
"Am I Blue?" by Harry Akst, Grant Clarke, and Billy Rose
"Great Day," by Vincent Youmans, Edward Eliscu, and Billy Rose, sung by Barbra Streisand
"Red Sails In The Sunset," lyrics by Jimmy Kennedy, music by Hugh Williams
"People" (fragment), lyrics by Bob Merrill, music by Julie Styne
"Nicky Arnstein Theme," lyrics by Bob Merrill, music by Julie Styne.
+
COMPOSERS
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
12 March 1975
Premiere Information:
New York opening: week of 12 March 1975
Los Angeles opening: 14 March 1975
Production Date:
began week of 5 April 1974 in Culver City, CA
Copyright Claimant:
Vista Company
Copyright Date:
9 March 1975
Copyright Number:
LP44340
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Widescreen/ratio
Filmed in Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
140
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

On the last night of her once-successful Broadway show, entertainer Fanny Brice expects to see Nicky Arnstein, the estranged husband she still loves, but instead he sends flowers, along with their final divorce decree. Fanny and her confidant, chorus singer Bobby Moore, are out of work, and because of the Depression, not even legendary producer Florenz Ziegfeld, who made Fanny a star many years earlier, can raise money to launch a new musical show. When Fanny visits Bernard “Barney” Baruch, her financial advisor, to discuss selling her stock portfolio at a loss, Fanny meets Baruch’s former secretary, Billy Rose, a brash young hustler who irritates her. Fanny and Bobby tour New York City nightclubs, looking to “borrow” new material, and one night she hears a woman singing a torch song, “More Than You Know,” that interests her. Suddenly, Billy Rose sits down at their table, admits that he wrote the song, and offers to sell it to her. Indignant, Fanny informs him that new songwriters pay her to sing their songs. Billy relents, confessing that he went to Baruch’s office because he knew she would be there. Fanny records “More Than You Know” at a studio, but three days later, she is shocked when Variety announces that Fanny Brice is starring in Billy’s new show, Crazy Quilt. She storms into his office, but Billy assures her he can get $50,000 from Ziegfeld’s former backer, Buck Bolton. Reluctantly, she agrees, ... +


On the last night of her once-successful Broadway show, entertainer Fanny Brice expects to see Nicky Arnstein, the estranged husband she still loves, but instead he sends flowers, along with their final divorce decree. Fanny and her confidant, chorus singer Bobby Moore, are out of work, and because of the Depression, not even legendary producer Florenz Ziegfeld, who made Fanny a star many years earlier, can raise money to launch a new musical show. When Fanny visits Bernard “Barney” Baruch, her financial advisor, to discuss selling her stock portfolio at a loss, Fanny meets Baruch’s former secretary, Billy Rose, a brash young hustler who irritates her. Fanny and Bobby tour New York City nightclubs, looking to “borrow” new material, and one night she hears a woman singing a torch song, “More Than You Know,” that interests her. Suddenly, Billy Rose sits down at their table, admits that he wrote the song, and offers to sell it to her. Indignant, Fanny informs him that new songwriters pay her to sing their songs. Billy relents, confessing that he went to Baruch’s office because he knew she would be there. Fanny records “More Than You Know” at a studio, but three days later, she is shocked when Variety announces that Fanny Brice is starring in Billy’s new show, Crazy Quilt. She storms into his office, but Billy assures her he can get $50,000 from Ziegfeld’s former backer, Buck Bolton. Reluctantly, she agrees, realizing Billy has promised Bolton that his mistress, actress Norma Butler, will be one of the stars. However, as they rehearse Crazy Quilt in Atlantic City, New Jersey, Billy disregards Fanny’s warnings that the show has too many complicated production numbers. On opening night, sets collapse, dancers miss their cues, a buffalo stampedes the cast, and Crazy Quilt turns into a disaster. Not even Fanny’s big number, “I Found A Million Dollar Baby In A Five And Ten Cents Store,” can save the production. To stop Fanny from walking out, Billy confesses he had to borrow extra money from mobsters, and if he cannot make good on the loan, they will kill him. Fanny agrees to stay, but demands that Billy scale down the show. During an angry scene in which Billy grabs Fanny and kisses her, she dumps a jar of face powder on him. In response, he pours the rest of the powder on her, and they collapse in laughter. On the night the improved Crazy Quilt opens in New York City to applause and great reviews, Nicky Arnstein visits Fanny backstage. Flustered and still in love, she is crushed to see a new wedding ring on his finger. Afterward, Bobby informs her that Nicky is married to a wealthy woman, which makes Fanny feel doubly rejected, because Nicky spent nearly all her money while they were married. As Billy plans to travel to Fort Worth, Texas, to open a new show, he offers Fanny a wedding ring, and she accepts. Billy admits he made up the story about borrowing money from the mob, but it was the only way to keep her close to him. At their wedding party, Fanny’s society friends treat Billy dismissively. A honeymoon trip to Texas on a train turns into three days of bickering, and Billy wonders if they can tolerate each other. Over the next few years, their busy careers keep them apart, and at one point they talk only because they both telephone Ned, their publicist, at the same time. When Billy opens his newest show, Aquacade, in Cleveland, Ohio, Fanny takes a detour on her journey to Hollywood, California, to see him. The show takes place in a large pool, with synchronized swimmers, starring Eleanor Holm, a 1932 Olympic gold medalist. During rehearsals, Fanny surprises Billy by disguising herself as a little girl in an outrageous swimming costume, mixing with the glamorous swimmers and pulling Eleanor off a mid-pool pedestal. Realizing how much Fanny expresses her truest feelings for him through humor, Billy reaffirms his love. He asks Fanny to stay in Cleveland and provide the show with comic relief, but she declines, saying she has other commitments. At Union Station in Los Angeles, Fanny is greeted by Bobby Moore and Norma Butler, who take her to a polo game in Beverly Hills. Spotting Nicky on the field, Fanny gets angry and accuses her friends of playing a trick on her. She telephones Billy, says she has seen Nicky, and begs him to join her, but Billy is committed to Aquacade. Nicky visits Fanny at her hotel to tell her he no longer has the money problems that destroyed their marriage, and even if he leaves his wife, he will be rich. Feeling nostalgic, Fanny recalls their first night together many years earlier, but as they kiss, she remembers that Nicky has not asked about their young daughter, Frances, nor has he seen her in six years, even though Frances worships him. Disgusted with both Nicky and herself, Fanny walks out of the hotel, gets a ride to an airport, and flies to Cleveland in the back seat of a biplane. Arriving at Billy’s, she finds him in bed with Eleanor. She takes a taxi to the train station, where Billy arrives soon afterward to apologize. Fanny says she came home to tell him her love for Nicky, the main barrier between them, was over for good, but she blames herself, not Billy, for his infidelity. Though she forgives Billy, she asks him to leave her alone to wait for her train, and they wish each other luck. Years pass. Fanny moves to Los Angeles and becomes the star of a popular radio program, The Baby Snooks Show. Billy continues writing popular songs and mounting successful plays. When he visits Fanny in the late 1940s, Billy plays one of his songs, “Me And My Shadow,” and says he wrote it for her, because their marriage was like a parade, without any time for intimacy. He says he recently purchased the Ziegfield Theater in New York City and wants to star her in his next show. Fanny says she will think it over. They kiss, and part for the last time. +

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

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