One of Hollywood’s all-time favorite leading ladies can now appear in your home asBreakfast at Tiffany’s and Funny Face (1957) just arrived on DVD this week from Paramount Home Entertainment. Audrey Hepburn stars alongside Fred Astaire as Jo Stockton, a shy, modern-thinking, bookish salesgirl whose bookstore “Embryo Concepts” becomes the impromptu setting of a photo shoot. When she catches the eye of the photographer (Fred Astaire), she reluctantly allows him and “Quality Magazine” to transform her into an international supermodel on a French photo shoot. Her ulterior motive is to get to Paris and attend the famous philosopher and professor Emile Flostre’s lectures about empathicalism.
If you are an Audrey Hepburn fan (and really, who isn’t?) or a fan of Gap commercials, or the wonderful fashions of the late 1950s, you will want this film. It should relate to modern viewers if for nothing else than the sequence in the Paris cafe that made it into the Gap “Skinny Black Pants” commercials where Audrey is shown stepping from the film into the ad saying, “I rather feel like expressing myself now. And I could certainly use the release. If a girl wants to dance, a girl wants to dance. It’s a form of expression.”
Directed by Stanley Donen, Funny Face also stars Kay Thompson, Michael Auclair and Robert Fleming and features the music of George and Ira Gershwin through Paris. The film was nominated for four Oscars, including Best Writing, Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction and Best Costumes.
The inimitable Edith Head designed the sumptuous dresses and gowns, and both the fashions and scenes of Paris are classic eye-candy. However, there is absolutely no romance or chemistry between Hepburn and Astaire, and I cringed the three times he kissed her. He is still light on his feet in this film… but there is too much dancing and singing, and it makes the movie, which is only 103 minutes, seem much, much longer.
Some of the songs are familiar and pleasant to hear, however, and it is nice to hear Hepburn actually do her own singing, in her sweet, somewhat breathy voice.
There is a lot to love in Funny Face. It blends the best of old Hollywood with a world that is changing into more modern times.
Also see my review of the Paramount Centennial Collection release of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, as well as the ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ Barbie doll, coming soon!
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