Like a someone who has taken good care of herself, “Funny Girl” remains appealing 50 years after it was released.
It features superstar Barbra Streisand in a loose adaptation of the life of Fanny Brice, a Brooklyn native who became a successful singer and actor. Streisand shines like the superstar she was already becoming. It’s amazing to see her and co-star Omar Sharif, so young and sexy, and to enjoy that fabulous, young voice singing classics such as “People” and “Don’t Rain on my Parade,” both by Bob Merrill and Jule Styne.
The story opens with a mature Fanny Brice reflecting on her life before she takes the stage in Broadway producer Florenz Ziegfeld’s production.
We see her as a teenager “with skinny legs” trying to become a chorus girl — unable to suppress her exuberant personality, she messes up a roller-skating number and ends up delighting the audience with a rendition of “I’d Rather Be Blue.”
Her performance also delights Nicky Arnstein, played by Sharif, who corrals Fanny after the show and predicts her rise to stardom. She is smitten, but we sense their relationship will end badly.
Soon, Fanny is asked to audition for the legendary Ziegfeld. Fanny argues with Flo about what, exactly, she will sing. When the show opens, presenting an array of scantily clad young women as spring, summer, fall and winter brides, Fanny appears in a white wedding gown — with a pillow simulating pregnancy.
She sings the requested song but plays it for laughs. While Ziegfeld steams, the audience loves both it and Fanny. Her career seems secure.
But, of course, her personal life isn’t. The suave Arnstein turns up again in her dressing room, congratulating her and trying to take her to dinner. When she refuses, he agrees to accompany her to her home in Brooklyn, where her saloon-owning mother is throwing a party in her honor.
Fanny’s mother, Rose, recognizes Arnstein for the career gambler he is. It takes Fanny years to come to a similar conclusion.
(Atlanta Jewish Film Festival screenings: Feb. 1, 3:15 p.m., Perimeter Pointe; Feb. 13, 7 p.m., Springs)