How old is this old movie musical that I watched just now? Well, it was made in 1957, so…hmm…must be 65 years old!

To paraphrase Jamie Oliver (in a very different context), if you want to appreciate this 1957 musical, you have to get your classic Broadway musical mindset on.

I’m talking about the Gershwin brothers’ Funny Face, starring Audrey Hepburn and a too-old-for-her Fred Astaire.

Yes, it was made in 1957, although it feels more like ten years earlier. Anyway, I hadn’t seen it when it came out, so to me it was new. But it definitely requires a certain willing suspension of disbelief, or else it’s just going to sound silly. As with any musical—except, I suppose, A Chorus Line and its ilk—you have to be able to put up with actors suddenly bursting into song in contexts where it wouldn’t make sense to do so IRL. Not to mention a plot that doesn’t bear too close examination. But that’s all right: if you jump into the world of the performance and immerse yourself, you will definitely enjoy it.

Five random fun facts:

  • Although much of the film feels dated, Hepburn’s character’s rejection of the advances by the middle-aged French philosopher is right up-to-date.
  • I never knew that Kay Thompson was an actor; I remember her only as the author of the Eloise book(s).
  • Apparently Fred Astaire’s photographer character is explicitly based on Richard Avedon.
  • Both Astaire and Hepburn sing well enough for their roles, IMHO. But who am I to judge?
  • It says here that “the plot of the film version is drastically different from that of the Broadway musical” version.

Categories: Movies & (occasionally) TV