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Stanley Donen
Audrey Hepburn, Fred Astaire, Kay Thompson
Writing Credits:
Leonard Gershe

'S Wonderful! 'S Marvelous!

An impromptu fashion shoot at a book store brings about a new fashion model discovery in the shop clerk.

Not Rated

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English Dolby Digital Monaural
Latin Spanish Dolby Digital Monaural
French Dolby Digital Monaural
Latin Spanish
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 103 min.
Price: $29.99
Release Date: 9/30/2014

Available as Part of the “Audrey Hepburn Collection”

• “Kay Thompson: Think Pink!” Featurette
• “This Is VistaVision” Featurette
• “Fashion Photographers Exposed” Featurette
• “The Fashion Designer and His Muse” Featurette
• “Parisian Dreams” Featurette
• Trailer


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


Funny Face: Audrey Hepburn Collection [Blu-Ray] (1957)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (September 25, 2014)

With 1957’s Funny Face, we find the first of three collaborations between two screen legends: director Stanley Donen and actor Audrey Hepburn. Oh, and it tosses in another cinematic great as well, with Fred Astaire in a starring role.

When fashion magazine editor Maggie Prescott (Kay Thompson) decides to publish a spread about “clothes for the thinking woman”, she assigns Dick Avery (Astaire) to handle the photography. Alas, he can’t elicit the necessary intellectual impression from dim-witted model Marion (Dovima) so the magazine staff takes the show on the road to a location they hope will add substance to the shoot.

This leads them to a Greenwich Village bookstore at which Jo Stockton (Hepburn) works. The photo session leaves the shop a mess, so Dick stays behind to help Jo organize the books. A romantic connection ensues, and Dick also believes Jo could make a good model. This takes the philosophy student to Paris – and a love affair with her photographer.

Most memorable musicals succeed due to a combination of good songs and lively dance scenes. In my opinion, Funny Face comes with neither. Despite the presence of Astaire – arguably the greatest dancer in movie history – the production numbers seem lackluster for the most part; they don’t flop, but they fail to provide much life. Indeed, the dance sequences appear so bland that it becomes tough to accept that the guy behind Face also directed Singin’ in the Rain. A couple of Astaire’s dance routines show some pep, but they’re isolated instances.

As for the songs, Face mixes 1920s tunes from George and Ira Gershwin with then-contemporary numbers from Roger Edens. The Gershwin tracks hold up the best, of course, but they seem rather outdated in the 1950s setting, as the movie fails to give them a particularly contemporary feel. The Edens tracks remain largely forgettable; they may have been more “modern” but they don’t make much of an impression.

Given the semi-blandness of the movie’s music and choreography, Funny Face should flop, but it doesn’t. What makes this a mostly engaging film? Its cast, as the charm of its participants ensures that we stick with the tale.

Though I must admit it takes a leap to accept Hepburn and Astaire as a romantic couple. Of course, May/September screen pairings have been part of movies probably as long as cinema has existed, so it’s not like Face does anything radical when it links the 27-year-old Hepburn to the 57-year-old Astaire.

Still, enormous gaps of this sort fare better when the older actor doesn’t show his age quite as much as Astaire does here. Fred really looks like a guy pushing 60 and seems more likely to be Hepburn’s grandfather than her boyfriend. The movie does nothing to help the audience accept the age difference so it becomes a lot to swallow.

But probably not as tough to accept if someone less likable than Astaire played Dick. I don’t know how much true chemistry he enjoys with Hepburn, but he seems as charming and delightful as ever, and Audrey helps sand the rough edges off her potentially unlikable character. Jo could – and probably should – come across as an annoying intellectual snob, but prepossessing personality allows us to embrace and care for her.

Funny Face also manages some pretty good comedy. Does it break fresh ground as it mocks Parisians, fashion gurus and pretentious intellectuals? No, but it still scores some laughs, and these add to the movie’s charm.

At all times, Funny Face remains a slight concoction, as it mixes comedy, romance and music without a whole lot of substance. The movie doesn’t need to provide great depth, though, as the talents of its actors manage to keep it afloat.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture C-/ Audio C+/ Bonus C+

Funny Face appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Though it came with positives, the transfer suffered from too many flaws.

The primary culprit came from a variety of processing issues. Edge haloes became awfully prominent at times – usually in Maggie’s office – and it appeared digital noise reduction stripped the image of some detail. These factors meant that close-ups could look quite nice but wider shots tended to be soft and mushy. Those haloes could create real distractions and turned into the most negative aspect of the image.

No shimmering or jagged edges appeared, and the movie lacked print flaws. Hues worked well, as the movie’s bright Technicolor palette usually looked bright and bubbly. Blacks were dark and deep, and shadows showed nice clarity. Again, the image came with some good elements, but the mix of softness, noise reduction and edge haloes left this as a “C-“ transfer.

Remixed from the original monaural – which also appeared on the disc – the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack seemed acceptable. One shouldn’t expect a lot from the soundscape, though, as it remained restrained. Music demonstrated decent stereo spread but the rest of the material seemed to stay monaural. That was fine, as a musical like this didn’t need to do much with the soundfield beyond the expansion of the songs and score.

Audio quality appeared acceptable for its age. Speech was intelligible and without edginess; the lines sounded a bit stiff but worked well enough. Effects didn’t have much to do but they came across as reasonably accurate.

Music became the most important factor and seemed pretty well-reproduced. The score and songs didn’t boast a lot of range, but they were smooth and lush enough to succeed. A little sibilance could affect vocals, however. In the end, this was a workable but unremarkable track for a nearly 60-year-old film.

In addition to the film’s trailer, we find five featurettes. Kay Thompson: Think Pink! runs 26 minutes, 37 seconds and includes notes from biographer Sam Irvin, “Kay Thompson Tribute Show” performer Jim Caruso, singers Liza Minnelli and Dick Williams, artist Hilary Knight, writer Mart Crowley, and actor Ruta Lee. “Think” gives us a biographer of Thompson, with an emphasis on her part in Funny Face. The show offers a brisk and enjoyable look at her career.

For a look at the photographic process used in Funny Face, we move to the 24-minute, 42-second This Is VistaVision. It provides remarks from cinematographer Steve Gainor, Paramount Pictures camera department head Marianne Franco, visual effects supervisor Richard Edlund, Paramount Pictures producer AC Lyles, and Hitchcock at Work author Bill Krohn. The piece gives us a history of the development and use of VistaVision. It doesn’t seem especially deep but it offers some interesting notes.

With Fashion Photographers Exposed, we get a 17-minute, 54-second piece with photographers Joe Magnani and Jared Schlachet, wardrobe stylist Hollie Williamson, hair and makeup artist Norma Blaque, and celebrity styling agent Crystal Wright. “Exposed” examines the work that goes into fashion photography, with a mild emphasis on connections to Audrey Hepburn and Funny Face. This seems like a good idea but the end result doesn’t really go anywhere.

The Fashion Designer and His Muse fills eight minutes, eight seconds with info from Audrey Style author Pamela Keogh and designer/author Jeffrey Banks. They discuss fashions worn by Hepburn as well as her relationship with designer Givenchy. This becomes another decent but unsubstantial program.

Finally, the seven-minute, 40-second Parisian Dreams offers material from film historian Drew Casper and Ile De France Film Commission writer/director Olivier-Rene Veillon. “Dreams” examines the use of Paris in the movie as well as some visual elements. Like its predecessors, this one comes with a few worthwhile details but doesn’t give us much meat.

With two Hollywood legends in front of the camera, Funny Face uses their talents to make it a winning experience. Though it lacks especially vivid music or dancing, it comes with enough likable energy to make it enjoyable. The Blu-ray presents flawed picture along with acceptable audio and average supplements. I can’t call this a classic movie musical, but it entertains.

Note that the reviewed copy of Funny Face comes as part of a three-disc “Audrey Hepburn Collection”. This set also includes Blu-rays for Sabrina and Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.2666 Stars Number of Votes: 15
11 3:
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