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FUNNY FACE: CENTENNIAL COLLECTION

FUNNY FACE: CENTENNIAL COLLECTION

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OFFICIAL CENTENNIAL DISC NUMBER: 4

THE STORY SO FAR:

Fred Astaire plays a fashion photographer based on real-life cameraman Richard Avedon, in this entertaining musical directed by Stanley Donen (Singin’ in the Rain). The story finds Astaire’s character turning Audrey Hepburn into a chic Paris model–not a tough premise to buy, especially within this film’s air of enchantment and surrounded by a great Gershwin score. Based on an unproduced play, this is one of the best films from the latter part of Astaire’s career.

 

SPECIAL FEATURES

Featurettes – 1. Kay Thompson: “Think
Pink”
2. This is VistaVision
3. Fashion Photographers Exposed
4. The Fashion Designer and His Muse
5. Parisian Dreams
6. Paramount in the ’50s
Trailer – Original Theatrical Trailer
Text/Photo Galleries – Photo Gallery

THE CRITICISM

In 1957, Paramount produced a very enjoyable musical comedy called “Funny Face”, directed by Stanley Donen, and to the music of George Gershwin, Adolph Deutsch, Roger Edens and Leonard Gershe. With a simple plot, the film begins in New York City within the offices of the major fashion magazine named “Quality”. Its president, Maggie Prescott (Kay Thompson), is determined to find a new way to promote the magazine. In a moment of inspiration, she comes up with the slogan “Think pink,” and breaks into song praising the color pink and saying that everything (from women’s clothing, soap, furniture, etc.) must be pink. Of course, she “wouldn’t be caught dead” in it.

Moving on to another magazine project, Maggie wants to find the perfect spot to photograph one of the magazine’s models named Marion (Dovima, who was a major fashion model in the 1950’s working closely with photographer Richard Avedon. This was her only film.). An assistant suggests that they go to a bookstore in Greenwich Village to create an intellectual atmosphere. Maggie, Marion, a host of Maggie’s staff all in pink and the magazines head photographer, Dick Avery (Fred Astaire), force their way into a dingy, but quiet, bookstore along with all of their equipment. A store employee, Jo Stockton (Audrey Hepburn) protests the uninvited intrusion vehemently, but the “Quality” magazine army locks her out of the store to work undisturbed. After several hours, the “Quality” mob vacates, but the books and store are left in a shambles for Jo to clean up. Dick offers his help to clean the store, but Jo refuses. After Dick leaves, Jo proceeds to sing another wonderful song in the film, “How Long Has This Been Going On?”

Maggie decides that “Quality” must find a real “Quality woman” to represent the magazine and it isn’t Marion. When Dick develops the photos taken at the bookstore, Jo is in one of them. He suggests to Maggie that Jo could be the woman that they need, but Maggie has her doubts. To lure Jo to the “Quality” offices, they order a large number of books and want them delivered. Jo arrives hours later with a pile of books and is accosted by Maggie’s staff who want to redress her in preparation for a photo shoot. Jo escapes and hides in Dick’s dark room. They talk and he sings to her another of the film’s title song, “Funny Face”. Jo completely disagrees with everything that “Quality” magazine represents; she believes in “empathicalism”, a philosophy that rejects all material things, as described by her idol, Professor Emile Flostre, who lives in Paris. When Jo is told that the “Quality woman” photo shoot and a fashion show will be done in Paris, she reluctantly agrees to be the model since it will give her the opportunity to meet Prof. Flostre.

 

See Also

This DVD marks the start of Paramount’s Centennial Collection. The special features are loose ports from previous Collector’s Edition. But, there’s a new spin to the approach that’s matched with improved A/V Quality. Sure, a Blu-Ray release would’ve been nice. But, I truly love the fact that Paramount is showing a Criterion style love for its classic catalog.

 

The special features are almost identical ports from the 50th Anniversary Edition. The A/V Quality is amazing, but I wanted to see something in 1080. Oh well, you can’t win them all. Still, if you haven’t seen the film…I recommend it. It’s a classic. 

THE BREAKDOWN

  • Video: The best that I’ve ever seen this film look.
  • Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 and Mono
  • Extras: Featurettes, Galleries and more!
  • Packaging: Keepcase in a Slipcover
  • Final Score: 99% – A+

 

RELEASE DATE: 01/13/09

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