Funny Face/B,C
Paramount/1957/103/ANA 1.85

     DVD is getting a mini-explosion of Audrey Hepburn and it's a pleasure to enjoy the waif-like innocent charms of the lovely lady. Funny Face, Hepburn's first musical comedy pairs Audrey with aging dance and song leading man Fred Astaire, and happily, the magic is still alive.

Kay Thompson revs up the  fashion engine. ©Paramount

     Shop girl in bookstore is discovered by high fashion photographer on a shoot and he transforms the bookish girl into a fashion butterfly. It may sound like a transformation story a la Pygmalion, but it's more one elaborate, glamorous photo shoot than anything else. Dick Avery is Quality Magazine's star photographer and when he and the crew led by Editor Maggie Prescott invade a Greenwich Village bookstore for an impromptu fashion spread, he notices more than the books. Contrast the dumb posturing of the Quality model with the fresh innocent allure of Jo Stockton and Avery is inspired to make her "The Quality Woman." That means cast and crew take their cameras to Paris, amen, to create a line of clothing for the magazine's new signature lady. At first a reluctant model, Stockton jumps at the opportunity to seek out her philosopher guru Emile Flostre at his favorite Paris hangout.
     Paris is introduced with one of the two best production numbers in Funny Face, "Bonjour, Paris!" Director Stanley Donen uses split screen techniques to enhance the production number as Hepburn, Astaire and Kay Thompson revel in the sights of the city of lights. Avery proceeds to set up more photo op glamour fashion shoots with Hepburn and the city than you can stuff in a crocque-monsieur. There are some entertaining dance song and dance numbers to alleviate the numbing excessiveness of the fashion world. Astaire is effective in an out-of-place matador number and Hepburn maximizes use of her angular shape for some art house bohemian dance expressiveness. Early on Kay Thompson inspires her Quality magazine staff to "Think Pink" in her New York offices.
    Ray June's Technicolor photography captures the grand flair of the glitzy magazine world with appealing saturation. Donen keeps the dances and songs flowing with little attempt at more than a paste-up story. The choreography is never rises to some of Astaire's classic inspirations in other efforts, but Funny Face is easy to watch.
     Too bad about the transfer. Edge enhancement is so prevalent it's got the hot cartoon colors bleeding off the images. Some of the process shots are cranked to the extent that people actually have halos. There's a dreamy wedding sequence that comes off far too hazy for its own good. The colors are often astonishingly brilliant. There's some dirt here and there. Funny Face would no doubt benefit from restoration work, but then, so would I.  The music and dialogue is delivered either Dolby Digital 5:1 or through the original clean mono tracks.







Selections from the Feature Archive include articles on Akira KurosawaFrank Darabont, Blonde Bimbos, Hollywood Street Gangs, or Vietnam: The Hollywood Pariah, and many more....

Puttin on the Ritz
silkstockings.gif (144022 bytes)
Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse bring Silk Stockings to life, a remake of Ninotchka, one of many films successfully turned into musicals by the Hollywood dream factory. Read all about remakes into musicals by clicking on the divine dancers.

Astaire, Rogers, Kelly and More Dance Delights on Film

Fred and Ginger tapped their way into the hearts of movie fans everywhere. Stu Kobak  takes a look at some of those dance movies that gifted audiences toe-tapping pleasure. Click on the image to get in on the beat.

Have you visited Home Theater Talk lately? One of the friendliest places on the Net for Home Theater and DVD discussion, you can get help for installation problems or simply share your opinions with other Vidiots.

.The online site for Film Comment Magazine includes all the information you need to know about cinematic events sponsored by the Film Society of Lincoln Center.

Find reams of movie and DVD reviews at the Movie Review Query Engine, a index of reviews appearing on the Internet.

Take a look at the merry images of America's gift to the  movies: Hollywood Musical Posters are  featured from The Movie Poster Archive.