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DAILY DOSE OF DELIGHT #16 (From FUNNY GIRL)

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Beautiful performance. Barbra Streisand really is so talented! 

I really like the way that she performs this song. She does belt a portion of the song, but the ebb and flow of the song works well for the production. She is "speaking" to somebody through the song, and while belting it out might work on stage because the audience is in the room, in a film it comes across a little bit strange. It feels like she is talking to him, and allowing her more vulnerable side to come out. I also love the way it's filmed, with him looking on in the background. This is her chance to explain to him, but he's still back there, listening to her. I love the way it puts her in the spotlight without losing the thread of the plot.

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  1. How might Streisand’s performance of the song “People” have felt different in the film, had she been more theatrical and expressive, perhaps even belting her song more? If she had sung it a different way, I don't believe it would have come across as emotional as this version. 
     
  2. Note the emotional transition moments in this scene: how do the two characters relate to each other as the lyrics are sung? You can tell that he cares deeply for her, as he just sits and watches her as she's singing. He was intrigued by her. 

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Hi. Former Glee FANATIC here. (It's where the gleeful & my name came from).I'm ashamed to say as I watched Funny Girl, I was reminded of all of Rachel's performances from the show,  as well as Kurt's performance of "I'm the greatest star". A quick clarification though. Lea Michele's performance of " My Man" is breathtaking & incredibly moving, however,  the emotion was not because of Cory Monteith's death. "My Man" was sung as an audition in the season 2 episode "Funeral". The show never showed her Broadway performance of the song. Cory passed away in the summer before season 5.

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1. She belted the song in the stage version and that would have made it less intimate and realistic in the film which was what they were going for. Streisand had already had a big hit with this song on stage and on record so it was cool to refine and reinterpret it for the film.

2. Nick is drawn into Fanny as she evaluates through song his outlook on life and relationships. She moves away and he follows to listen.

3. Their movements at the start of their conversation as they banter changes when Fanny turns and moves away from Nick - he’s getting a different view of Fanny as she opens up to him in song. Maybe he’s rethinking his viewpoint as he stops and listens.

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  1. How might Streisand’s performance of the song “People” have felt different in the film, had she been more theatrical and expressive, perhaps even belting her song more?  She was not "performing" even for Sharif in the scene.  Streisand always feels her songs so on a quiet street and no other distractions she goes deeply inward and stays far away from Sharif.
     
  2. Note the emotional transition moments in this scene: how do the two characters relate to each other as the lyrics are sung?  Streisand's character is shy and unused to male suitors but leads the conversation out of embarrassment.  Sharif doesn't have a lot of role in this scene.
     
  3. How does the direction and editing of this scene support Streisand’s performance? Be specific about blocking, reaction shots, etc.  The camera follows her down the street and then comes around the other side in order to bring Sharif into the background at the end.  By putting her on the stairs she is elevated as the central point.

 

You pointed out that Streisand's portrayal of Fanny Brice is not totally accurate.  I've seen one film with Fanny Brice in it and from what I can see Streisand makes more of Fanny by adding herself in the mixture.  Growing up I had a collection of 32 Streisand albums so it's hard for me to not sing along.  To me that's a musical: to get the audience to want to sign it over and over.  And its not bad for the music business either.

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I have always been a huge fan of Ms Streisand. Everytimw i hear this song, it seems she sings it differently. I feel in this clip she had to keep the song more subdued. The way she sings it seems it is happening in real time. She doesn't need to perform here. She has the attention of everyone. 

The camera is on her most of the time, as she moves thru the song. Although they do show how Omar seems to be enthralled with her . It is just so natural, and loving . 

Through out the song Omar is just in awe of her, she sings it so beautifully it is hard not to fall in love ... such a great scene and song ... They sure don't make them like they used to that's for sure ....

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After seeing "Funny Girl", while participating in the live Twitter chat, I realized what makes this musical so powerful is the contrast between the two parts of the story and how much the characters grow as a result. The songs ultimately punctuate the stellar acting. 

1) How might Streisand's performance of the song "People" have felt different in the film, had she been more theatrical and expressive, perhaps even belting her song more?

It would have been overblown, extreme and lacking in the subtlety that made her film rendition so touching and memorable. The scene between Fanny and Nick is quietly intimate requiring the song to echo their conversation and feelings for each other at the time.

2) Note the emotional transition moments in this scene: how do the two characters relate to each other as the lyrics are sung?

Physically they seem to move off into their own space after coming together once they leave the party. Despite their distance, it's apparent they're still connected. Their shared issues create a bond and open them up to each other's vulnerabilities and loneliness, hence the song's purpose.

3) How does the direction and editing of this scene support Streisand's performance? Be specific about blocking, reaction shots, etc.,

By placing her on the stair platform alone, when she sings the song in the alley underneath the existing light, the viewer feels as if they're watching her in an intimate moment. The transition from she and Sharif talking to her singing is seamless, and thanks to the editor, an easy shift that shows deeper emotion.

 

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If she had belted this song we wouldn't have been drawn into and mesmorized by Fanny in the moment.  I think that the way she let us see her heart and vulnerability was breathtaking.  I love this film and Barbra is always a joy to study and fall in love with her way of portraying Fanny.  

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The song is being sung with both actors being together- hardly the place to belt out a song about how one of them is feeling!  Nicky never gets too close- can't get too involved- but he does continue to follow this song/songstress.  As the camera zooms out you see her wringing her hands, turning away, etc.. you see how much feeling there is is, at least on her part.  

 

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1.  How might Streisand’s performance of the song “People” have felt different in the film, had she been more theatrical and expressive, perhaps even belting her song more?

     If you’ll listen to the Broadway cast album from 1964, you’ll notice Streisand is singing a great deal louder mainly because in the theater you have to project a lot more energy so that the audience members sitting in the very back row of the house can hear you and feel that powerful energy; this was particularly so back then as this show pre-dates individual mics (befoe individual mics came along they had a row of microphones lined up along the perimeter of the stage and the actors had to have a loud, powerful voice so they could be heard all throughout the house). Having said all that, if Streisand had performed “People” (and all the other numbers in the film for that matter) in the same approach she had done on stage, it would’ve come across as overwhelming and maybe even obnoxious. In film, things are much more up close and personal so the actors can emote and convey feelings just as effectively ina quiet, more subdued manner.

2.  Note the emotional transition moments in this scene: how do the two characters relate to each other as the lyrics are sung?

     Fanny sings about being lonely and needing “one person, one very special person” to feel that sense of completeness when they’ve found their soul mate. This is true of both Fanny and Nick as they both have plenty of connections with members of the opposite sex, but they haven’t really and truly made any significant connection with any of them, until they meet each other. From the moment they first meet backstage at Keeney’s Music Hall, you sense the instant attraction and the palpable electricity between them.
 

3.  How does the direction and editing of this scene support Streisand’s performance? Be specific about blocking, reaction shots, etc.

    The song deals with emotions and how everyone needs a significant other in order to find a sense of completeness and happiness in life. The interesting thing is that the blocking in the scene puts Fanny and Nick several feet apart from one another, representing the distance they feel even though their obviously attracted to one another. It’s their insecurity and self-consciousness (particularly Fanny’s) that keeps them apart. But you know that Nick is treading carefully with their situation and doesn’t want to move too fast as he definitely senses Fanny’s naïveté about falling in love.

 

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1. If this song had been more theatrically sung then it might have overwhelmed the scene and taken away from the subtly romantic vibe happening between Nick and Fanny.

2. Nick seems to be in awe of Fanny and her voice while Fanny barely seems to notice that Nick is even there.

3. The way the scene is shot it's all about Fanny and what she is experiencing emotionally at that moment. Nick seems more of an observer in the scene becoming more and more infatuated with Fanny as she sings.

 

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1.  I feel that the way that Barbara sang it in the movie helped to show her character's vulnerability.  I feel that if she had tried to do it the same as the Broadway musical it would have taken away from the humanity and vulnerability of the character. 

2.  Omar Sharif's character follows Barbara down the street as she is singing the song. 

3.  I like the pacing of how her character is walking and singing down the street and Omar Sharif follows her.  I also like how you can see in the background the shops and details of the New York street that she is walking down. 

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     Having heard Streisand sing it both ways, it would have totally changed the scene if she had belted it out.  When she sings People here it is intimate, her and Nicky are interacting as soon to be lovers.  It is a great song in a great scene, where their surroundings, actually are rather dingy, but you forget that, you really only see the two of them, and a somewhat anxious Fanny.

     Side note, I can still recall a promo for the film, about the making of Funny Girl, where they do the "Don't Rain on my Parade" partly, and you see the boom camera following her and the tape recording there playing for her to lip syn to.  It was a great little piece of selling that showed how movies were made.  Now you tie it in with the class and all the post-production work.  Think of all the noise that would have drowned out that voice, especially on the train, as she is going to Nicky, just before intermission.

     This has been a great course from TCM and Ball State, I look forward to the next offering.  Professors did a great job!

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Response to #1.

For me, this is one of the least emotionally engaging scenes in the film. Babs and Sharif do much better with “Don't rain on my parade” and “You are woman I am man.” Here, if Babs is selling, Sharif isn’t buying. He stays a good 5 feet away from her throughout the scene. Belting the song won’t help if the man isn’t emotionally invested at this particular moment. Let’s say Sharif’s character knows he is interested, but that’s all he’s willing to be at this time.

Response to #2.

This is a pretty flat scene and feels more like a performance piece (for Babs) than an emotional transition. Brice may know what she wants, but her charms are slow to work. It takes her leaving the Ziegfield show and getting herself on Arnstein’s ship before he realizes he is stuck with her and that he might be okay with that. To be honest though, Arnstein (as played by Sharif) always favors his vice over his wife. 

Response to #3.

This is a pure performance showcase for Babs. No more, no less. Sharif is there as window-dressing, as a stand-in for the audience; and it’s a shame that an actor as talented and as beautiful as he was had to take on the task for her. 

As you can tell, Funny Girl is not my favorite musical. I find the central characters irritating. They make horrible decisions and can’t seem to learn from their mistakes. 

 

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If Streisand would have been more theatrical and expressive, her performance wouldn't have been as it was...from deep within her soul.  She sang as though the words were pouring from her heart...a plea to Nicky to need her and love her.  When she would start singing louder, she pulled herself back so she didn't appear too desperate or needy in his eyes.

The emotional transitions were interesting.  He tells her he likes being free and then she jokes with him about how freedom can lead to loneliness as Fanny Bryce was such a joker.  They then go into such a serious frame of mind with People being a way for Fanny to pour her heart out for him to see that it was up for the taking.

The direction and editing was tremendous in this scene.  While they are laughing and joking, then are moving down the sidewalk and once she begins singing, they are at a stand still.  He lags behind, just watching her with this awesome amazement.  He is obviously taking her words to heart and understands that she is pouring out her soul and we are able to see his face throughout the entire song.  She walks up the steps, moving her higher up in the picture and sings facing him only a few seconds before she turns and sings to the audience.  High up like a star on stage and singing from the tip of her toes to the top of her head and it gives me goose bumps every time!  

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1.      How might Streisand’s performance of the song “People” have felt different in the film, had she been more theatrical and expressive, perhaps even belting her song more?

If this song was presented as theatrical, and over the top, it would have undermined Fannie’s character and the mood of the scene. Fanny is shy and awkward and she is in the company of this handsome, worldly, debonair man. She is attracted to him, but she has no confidence that he would be interested in her.  Streisand portrays Fannie's inexperience by singing with nuanced highs and lows, and she barely looks directly into the camera and also looks away from Arnstein.  This was the perfect way to present a powerful song without overt or brash.

2.     Note the emotional transition moments in this scene: how do the two characters relate to each other as the lyrics are sung?

Fannie is initially using her comedy and self-depreciating humor to block Arnstein’s attention and as a cover for her insecurity, but when she sings her guard goes down and she is vulnerable. Arnstein begins to see beneath Fannie’s jokes and he sees how special Fannie is. Also, I think it is interesting that Wyler allows Streisand to move about and explore the set, as she sings soulfully and maintains a physical distance from Omar Sharif (who is very still).

3.      How does the direction and editing of this scene support Streisand’s performance? Be specific about blocking, reaction shots, etc.

I think by taking the two characters away from the others and putting them on a deserted street, this is a way of bringing them together emotionally.  Also, the shots of Fannie in the forefront with Arnstein standing on the side allows him to give Fannie space. This supports that she is uncertain about herself, she’s self-conscious about being with Arnstein and we see the character at her most vulnerable. The worldlier Arnstein recognizes that Fannie cannot handle a full-on romantic approach and he wisely hangs back and does not push her. All of these things help to establish who these characters are and gives us a hint of a budding romance developing. The direction supports Streisand's acting performance, and gives her credibility

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  1. How might Streisand’s performance of the song “People” have felt different in the film, had she been more theatrical and expressive, perhaps even belting her song more?

“People” is a very expressive heartfelt song especially with the magnitude of Barbara Streisand’s voice. Even though she has an enormous presence when she sings it you still feel the intimacy between Fanny and Nicky. If it had been more theatrical I wouldn’t have believed the love between them. She draws you in with her mannerisms, her eyes, her low voice singing, and her enormous ability to make this song quiet as a mouse or roar like a lion.  
 

  1. Note the emotional transition moments in this scene: how do the two characters relate to each other as the lyrics are sung?

It is said that “eyes are the windows of the soul”.  The way these two characters look at, follow, and look after each other with their eyes made me feel like I was intruding into something very private. This movie made my heart go out to Fanny. Even though “The way we were” is not a musical poor Streisand’s characters in both movies try to turn herself inside out to fit into whatever her man will love.

 

  1. How does the direction and editing of this scene support Streisand’s performance? Be specific about blocking, reaction shots, etc.

Streisand performs as a shy but very much in love woman. Singing quietly but this intimate way of expressing herself draws you into the scene. As she walks in front he seems to be chasing her like prey. She did not consider herself to be very attractive, but she still had deep feelings and it shows at the end. She still loves and wants to be loved regardless of the play boy he is…the heart wants what the heart wants.  She is on one side and he on the other silent but strongly felt as he sees nothing but her.

 

Awesome real life musical! Good biography!

 

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It's become routine in recent years for the performers in live musical theatre to wear radio mics. This isn't as easy as it sounds, even with the latest technology. In the early days of musical theatre, performers were expected to reach the back row unassisted, hence "The Belt". The microphone, once the kinks were worked out (see Singin' in the Rain),brought with it the ability to whisper a song and still be heard.

In this scene from Funny Girl Barbra Streisand is able to show off her full range, singing in almost a whisper in some  passages and opening up in others.

In terms of blocking, Fanny starts the scene walking away from Nick swings around an iron column turning to face him,but with the column between her and Nick. She turns and walks away, this time with her back to both Nick and the audience, seemingly alone in her thoughts. The camera catches up with her and we see her in profile (that famous profile) and then full face.

Throughout all this, Nick is keeping a respectful distance, respecting her space. This is clearly important to Fanny, a fiercely independent woman who's willing to be intimate, but only on her own terms. 

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1. Had Barbara Streisand performed "People" in "Funny Girl" (1968) by belting it out, it would be less emotional and it wouldn't have that significant Streisand "touch" to the song in William Wyler's film adaptation.

2. By taking another look at this iconic number, I think Barbara's characterization of Fanny Brice is trying to win the heart of Omar Sharif's characterization of Nick Arnstein of the film by being emotional while singing "People."

3. I think the pacing and blocking are perfect throughout the scene, with fluid camera movements.  There are no distractions or jerky movements throughout the "People" number.

Fun Fact: The Holiday Cinema (which would become a second-run twinplex) in Frederick, Maryland showcased "Funny Girl" as their premiere film for the theater's grand opening in Oct. 1969: Holiday_Cinemas_Grand_Opening_Ad_News_Po

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How might Streisand’s performance of the song “People” have felt different in the film, had she been more theatrical and expressive, perhaps even belting her song more?

Fanny is supposed to be unsure of herself, and uneasy with her burgeoning feelings for bad-boy Nicky.  To have her character belt out a song would be out of character.  Especially a song about relationships and needs.  That is a move of someone with confidence in their actions, which is definitely NOT Fanny.

Note the emotional transition moments in this scene: how do the two characters relate to each other as the lyrics are sung?

Nicky hangs back, not really interacting with Fanny as she sings beyond a few small smiles.  Fanny on the other hand sings directly to him when she is singing about general things, like over protective mothers and their kids.  When the lyrics turn to more personal themes, like lovers, she tends to turn her head away from him, often closing her eyes.  It's as if the emotions are so intense that she can't work up the confidence to let him see her true feelings.

How does the direction and editing of this scene support Streisand’s performance? Be specific about blocking, reaction shots, etc.

Streisand is the star in this scene.  She is centered in the frame most of the time, with the lighting strongest around her and edging toward shadows elsewhere.  This gives her a spotlight to showcase both the character's struggle to understand her feelings, and the incredible talent she brings to all of her performances.  Having Sharif off in the distance, part of the scene, but at the same time outside the action lets Streisand shine while keeping the story line of Fanny's conflicted feelings for Nicky in the viewers minds.

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       When Fanny (Barbra Streisand) sings "People" to Nicky (Omar Sharif), she does so in a relatively subdued way and underplays the scene effectively. The quiet start reflects her nervousness and shyness; the song builds, as her confidence grows. All this subtlety would have been lost in a more theatrical presentation, where she would be expected to "belt the song out." It would have been inconsistent with the portrayal of her off-stage character, as it had been presented up to this point in the movie. Her self-consciousness about her looks and her general shyness are the distinguishing features of her personality. The presentation of the scene in this subtle way preserves the integrity of these essential characteristics.

       The way Fanny and Nicky relate to each other in this scene reinforces the relationship that has been building to this point. Fanny is shy and nervous, and she demonstrates it with her soft voice, near-constant movement, and her reluctance to make eye contact with him. At first, Nicky follows her and stays close, but then he backs off and gives her room. He leans against a fence rail and watches admiringly as she engages in her reverie. The scene is shot wide, to allow both to be seen; she in the foreground in sharp focus, while he is in the background in soft focus. Then, as she gets lost in her song and it reaches its climax, she is filmed in isolation. Her shyness has momentarily vanished, as she transitions from the insecure private Fanny, to the confident public performer, Fanny Brice. But, the moment passes and the scene ends.  

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If Streisand's performance had been more theatrical and loud, she might have appeared more forceful as well and less humble and reflective, also less coy and flirty. It would have taken away from the subtlety of the masterful performance, and might have ended up intimidating Nick instead.

At first, Fanny seems flirtatious toward Nick. She's unsure and hesitant, turning away from him. From afar, Nick smiles and becomes more riveted on her, as her singing grows more intense, really emphasizing the lyrics. 

Fanny crosses to the lamppost, holds it, and cautiously flirts with Nick, drawing him in. She leads him over to the stairs and turns back with a question: "maybe we ain't." Nick focuses on her, as she proceeds up the stairs. He is passive now, allowing her her space. He smiles, but keeps his distance. The coloring of her dress blends into the background, as if to say this scene is about the song and its powerful words, keeping the viewer from being distracted. As the song grows more intense, Nick is riveted from afar. Intimacy is felt, even at that distance, though the question remains: Do they really need each other? At the end of the scene, we see a closeup of Fanny's face with her eyes closed, deep in the feeling of the moment. Nick stays focused and smiling throughout.

 

 

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BARBRA MADE IT MORE EMOTION OR ROMANTIC SINGING THE SONG THE WAY SHE DID INSTEAD OF BELTING IT OUT. CAN TELL THAT OMAR CARES FOR HER WHEN SHE BEGINS SINGING. LIKE THE WAY THEY FILM HER SINGING ALONE AWAY FROM OMAR.

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If Streisand had belted the song People in a more theatrical way it would be difficult to connect with the lyrics as an expression of her character. The sensitively sung moments in the song reveal intimacy and honesty and bring the audience into the performance.

In song’s introduction, Fanny Brice (Barbra Streisand) is walking slowly up a street with Nicky Arnstein (Omar Sharif) following a short distance behind, attentively watching her and listening to her sing. As Brice walks she alternates between facing away and facing towards Arnstein. This conveys character insecurity; she is tottering on the idea of committing to love. She appears awkward, vulnerable and shy but the way she sings the song suggests that she is desperate for experiencing what the lyrics are saying. He is admiring her from a distance. They are not close in this scene and do not open up to each other.

It is filmed in a way where we almost see it from Arnstein’s perspective. The focus is on Brice and the camera follows her movement. We see the back of Arnstein. As Brice reaches the staircase the camera comes in closer to her with a dolly shot and we lose sight of Arnstein. The camera pans around Brice to create a shot where we see Arnstein resting casually on a railing. We can see both of their faces, Brice still in the foreground and Arnstein in the background. These directorial/editing decisions make Streisand as Brice the subject in the frame and show the emotional distance between the two characters.

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  1. How might Streisand’s performance of the song “People” have felt different in the film, had she been more theatrical and expressive, perhaps even belting her song more?  If she was belting the song it would be more of a musical number. She is singing very casual in this film and it makes the song very low key.
     
  2. Note the emotional transition moments in this scene: how do the two characters relate to each other as the lyrics are sung? From the moment the clip starts till 25 seconds in they are together and she walks away from him when she sings "we travel single" and she stays single though out the song. He stays single during the song also.
     
  3. How does the direction and editing of this scene support Streisand’s performance? Be specific about blocking, reaction shots, etc.  The guy stays far in the distance and Barbra is almost alone how she sings about people needing people. The guy she likes is so close yet very far away.

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