Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Funny Face (1957)

Audrey Hepburn dazzles.

Fred Astaire shines.

But the romance that's at the heart of Funny Face
is a joke.

This 1957 feature from American director Stanley Donen (Singin' in the Rain) earned four Oscar nominations. Three make absolute sense - cinematography, art direction and costume design. The writing award makes no sense.

Funny Face
stands out because of its impressive cinematography. Kudos to Ray June (Horse Feathers, Houseboat), who died a year after this film was released.

Hepburn is radiant as bookstore employee Jo Stockton who becomes the new face of Quality magazine for women. Dick Avery (Fred Astaire) is the photographer who discovers her for editor Maggie Prescott (a very good Kay Thompson).

Maggie and Dick fall in love. Ewww. There's a 30-year difference between the stars. That's an issue for this film fan.

Plus, Funny Face spends too much time on a really dumb subplot that has Maggie trying to talk philosophy with a professor, Emile Floste (Michael Auclair). Dick, besides not being keen on seeing another man vie for Maggie's attention, figures the academic really wants to make a move on her rather than share intellectual thoughts. "He's more man than philosopher," Dick suggests.

Watch Funny Face for June's work, especially scenes shot outside a church and some great song and dance numbers. Pardon lines such as "You're a cutie with more than beauty." Shot in high fidelity in VistaVision.

RATING: 7/10

FUN FACTS: Kay Thompson only made four films. She's the godmother of Liza Minelli and created the Eloise series for young readers.

Director Stanley Donen helmed several musicals in the 1950s including Singin' in the Rain and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. He's still alive at the time of this writing.

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