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DAILY DOSE OF DELIGHT #16 (From FUNNY GIRL)

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From the beginning, the set is full of meaning.  There are walls, fences, railings, staircases, hallways, doors, stairwells, and drab colors, all indicating the heights, depths, and barriers in the lives and stormy relationship of Fanny and Nicky.  The railings must remind Nicky of prison bars, and as the scene starts, Fanny walks away from the wall where they’ve been standing.  She goes to a post and spins around to face Nicky, who says he likes to feel free.  It’s almost a split screen effect, with him in front of an open hallway, and Fanny right in front of stained glass doors.  He has a way to escape, and she has a doorway through which she might choose to pass.  She laughs and sums up their situation in a comedic way.  As Fanny continues down the sidewalk, she begins to sing of their individual lifestyles –  are they lucky (a word Nicky the gambler would appreciate), or happy, or childish by not admitting their need for others, specifically, each other.  Fanny ascends the staircase and caresses the banister as she continues her song.  She turns her gaze away from Nicky, and closes her eyes when she starts the “lovers” verse.  She has a dreamy look on her face as if the rest of the song is being sung inside her own heart, admitting to herself the depth of her feelings and need for Nicky.  But as she sings that lovers “are the luckiest people”, she’s facing a brick wall, another sign of their relationship.  Fanny throws a quick glance Nicky’s way, and flashes a smile as she sings the line “one person, one very special person”.  All the while, Nicky is watching her from the railing on which he sits in front of a sign for “New Era Optical”, as Fanny’s song envisions the relationship she wants with him.  The only time Sharif really moves during this scene is when Streisand belts out the word “people” after the “hunger and thirst” line.  It’s as if her voice has power to physically move him.  Had she sung this song in a bolder, flashier manner, it wouldn’t have been as effective in revealing her vulnerability and emotions.

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Daily Dose# 16

  • An amazing song to hear. After a few words, this song begins with the elegant voice of Miss Streisand who excels well as Fanny Brice. I was glad that she did not “belt” the song as it was perfect just as it is. Even though the lovers are in taciturn, we could see that Nick gazes lovingly at Fanny during the song. The camera shots were simply perfect as it follow the movements of Fanny till it ends. 

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Some observations:

1.  An empty city sidewalk at night is a sexy location. It's the post-crowd, end-of-night, intimate time of a date.  It is a blank canvas full of possibilities. (Think Singing in the Rain, though Kelly is contemplating alone.) 

2.  I love how she uses the iron railings as props to hang on to and stroke. Gives her hands something expressive to do. (Kelly and the lamp post.)  

3.  The camera  does a wonderful smooth swirl around her that is both vertical and horizontal when she is on the stairs,  like its draping her in satin. It's done to get Shariff back in the frame, but psychologically it seems to move her from a lonely woman to one who is no longer alone. She's also fiddling with her fingers at this point showing her trepidation which adds a lot to the story and which would not have been visible if the camera had caught her from the waist up. 

4.  One of Streisand's most beautiful poses is the one I have snipped here at the tail end of the song. It elongates her neck gracefully and gives her a more classic profile.  Nice way to end the song. 

streisand.JPG

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Had this performance been more theatrical and expressive, which to be honest there's still a sense of it being theatrical here, it would have lost that intimate feeling. Making it a bigger song

makes me imagine there being more of an ensemble and more going on. I like that it has a more personal feel to it, especially since it starts off being more intimate. However, I can see her

belting the song some more, when she starts to belt it then comes back down, I got excited then calmed along with the rise and fall of her voice. Then again, that could very well have been

what they were going for. You get to rise and fall with her and her voice.

As she begins to sing she starts to move away from him, but his eyes stay locked on her the entire time. She tends to look away from him at times, almost like she's contemplating her feelings

and if it's a good idea. But in the end, she turns back towards him, though her eyes are closed. The lighting here put emphasis on her, nearly spotlighting her, while her dress seems to

practically match the background. But her singing and the lighting allow her to stand out.

The camera follows her and moves as she moves, smoothly. It appears to be done in one shot since there aren't too many different angles, except just at the start of her singing, there's a cut

back to him. Once she starts singing the camera moves with her, as I mentioned.

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1. It wouldn’t have felt as subtle. In theater, generally actors and actresses have to project their voices so everyone can hear them, even the farthest ones back in the audience. In a film, though, taking this approach feels kind of awkward because the characters feel as though they’re yelling, so taking a quieter approach like Streisand is doing here is generally the better option in film performances.

2. For the most part, this is Streisand’s performance, and there does appear to be somewhat of an emotional buildup as she goes along with the performance, which works to her advantage, especially since she doesn’t ever go overboard with it.

3. There actually isn’t a whole lot of editing during the song outside of a brief reaction shot of Omar Sharif’s character, which makes sense to include since it gives us a glimpse as to what he thinks of her throughout her emotional performance. Otherwise, the camera mainly follows Streisand around, giving a good mixture of closeups and long shots at just the right moments.

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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?

The scene would’ve come out fake. It’s the subtle take that makes this performance stand out. Especially when you’re dealing with different kinds of performance actors. 
 

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

The characters support for each other and comes out together with their differences as the lyrics progress. 
 

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

The camera follows the main character as she’s making her point through song, without completely blocking the male character so the audience can interact with both reactions and feelings. Again, subtly shot to look effortless.

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After learning the difference that the director wanted for the film, I could see the shyness of the Fannie Barbara Streisand portrayed as she figetted with her hands and shyly looked his way when she expressed the idea of "luckiest" in a wishful tone quality.  She did not think she was beautiful enough, talented enough, or brave enough to even wish for a love with this handsome man but whoever won his love would be one of the luckiest people.  Hmm.  She always amazes me with her deep emotional understanding of the character she is creating.  She is one of my favorites!!

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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?  In this film People is more intimate with Nicky and her.  It is not a song made for the audience.
     
  2. Note the emotional transition moments in this scene: how do the two characters relate to each other as the lyrics are sung?  He admires her.  She has fallen in love with him.  This is why People need each other.
     
  3. How does the direction and editing of this scene support Streisand’s performance? Be specific about blocking, reaction shots, etc.  Most of the song is her close up then at the end when she finishes the song with the line you're half now you are whole the shot widens to both and he is just staring at her affectionately. 

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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?
    Well, it seemed an intimate scene, despite Omar not being in a great deal of it - just admiring her from afar - so she needed to sing quietly as she seems to be introspectively considering her feelings and what she wants and needs.  I find it interesting that she continues to move away from "people"/Omar, as she is singing how "people who need people are the luckiest people in the world," as if she is foreshadowing what will ultimately happen in the movie.
     
  2. Note the emotional transition moments in this scene: how do the two characters relate to each other as the lyrics are sung?
    As stated above, she moves away from him as she is singing and he doesn't go after her.  Perhaps they know that they aren't destined to be together?
     
  3. How does the direction and editing of this scene support Streisand’s performance? Be specific about blocking, reaction shots, etc.
    It is showing us how she perceives what she is saying and how she is ultimately reacting to it.  

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We've finally reached the final Daily Dose of Delight. It's been fun, guys!

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?

The tenderness of the moment would have been lost. The song is meant to be largely introspective, and singing it over-the-top and bombastically would have ruined the moment.
 

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

They are clearly attracted to each other, but for various reasons, neither is yet willing to admit it. They become more open toward each other as the song progresses.
 

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

She's being introspective, and quiet, thinking of her love for Nick, but she is conflicted, because he's a gambler. She moves away from Nick, needing space to reflect on her feelings.

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1. If the song had been performed more theatrically with Streisand belting it out, it would have made the whole scene less emotional and intimate.

2. As she sings, he just looks on, entranced, by her performance.

3. The soft lighting enhances Streisand's beauty and emotions as she sings. While she is performing, the camera is always focused on her while Omar Sharif's character stays in the background. 

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It is hard to believe this wonderful class is just about over.  I can't wait for the next one.  

1)  It is late at night, she and Nick are all alone, and that makes it an intimate setting.  The street lights are on and everything is quiet.  To just belt out the song would have taken all the intimacy and delicate meaning of the song away.  Maybe Ethel Merman would have sung her heart out here, but Fanny is sharing her heart in this scene.  Barbra made it soft and expressed her attraction and interest in this handsome gambling man.

2)  He stands quietly by while she sings of how people need people and when you do need people how you are the luckiest people in the word.  As she sings, she moved farther away from Nick, almost to express how far apart they are in their different worlds.  He who has money and such a daring profession while She lived in a poorer section of town and is just getting started in her career.  Standing on the stairs just made me think was that move meant to say that she wants to get closer to his world and become closer to him?  Just a thought.

3)  She starts standing close to Nick - walking ahead of him while they talk.  With the song inserted at that point, it kind of tells you how alone he is in what he does.  Do gamblers build long lasting relationships with other people or other gamblers?  Probably not.  As she sings she moves farther away from him - not too far - just to the staircase, maybe to give herself time and space to look at her feelings about "Mr. Ruffled Shirt".  So different and yet alone as well.  I don't think it is love for her right away, but there is a definite attraction between them.  

 

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1. Belting the song, which works for Broadway, takes away from the intimacy of the screen. Something about movies lets things be muted and subdued to really push the emotion. Fanny shows a different side to herself this way. Also, personally, a softer lip-synced song is almost always better than a lip-synced belted song. I think it's harder to sync to a song that's bigger.

3. Giving Barbara a lot of higher ground puts her in control of the scene when it comes to blocking. Having her be "upstage" and then cross up the stairs gives her a vulnerability and draws the eye - you follow her as she shyly sings her song. It follows her and keeps her separate from Sharif while she sings about her feelings for him.

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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 Fanny's realization that she can't keep pushing potential suitors away.  There's no way the song would have so much resonance if she had been belting it full force a'la Ethel Merman.  The song itself is more a soliloquy, meant for her and the audience, than a loud monologue meant to be heard by the entire stage, backstage, and audience.

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

Nicky, finally realizing that he is more interested in Fanny than making money, follows her through her performance through the alley and around the back of the building.  She leads him with her words and he is fine to follow.
 

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

As with many structured shots, this performance is all about balance of power:  who is in charge? who is only along for the ride.  Fanny is center "stage" on the screen for the performance of "People" and Nicky is in the margins traveling as she moves (and the camera goes along).  He is on the edges of the performance while Fanny maintains the center of the balance of power.  A similar feeling is when Nicky comes back to the house for the final time:  Fanny is seated on a divan with only her head in the center of the frame, outstretched hand with a lit cigarette.  She holds the center balance of power where Nicky is an off center tiny man in the corner. (if anyone can find a screen cap of it, that'd help)

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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?

It was interesting to listen and watch this scene through the question's lens and compare it to the released pop version. Here we have Streisand articulating her reflected thoughts and for her almost speaking the lyrics. The volume and emotion relate directly to the story line and is within the context of the current mood. The pop version is where she gets to an opportunity to perform her signature over-emotional belting out of lyrics and music.
 

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

Her back is mostly to him as she walks away. It is almost as if she is shyly presenting her thoughts (those things you want to say to a new lover but feel vulnerable about) and I wondered if she was strolling away - occasionally making eye contact- to see if he would follow....
 

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

Moving away from him leaves her the entire spotlight - especially climbing the stairs where she has now created a good distance both horizontally and vertically. This compensates for the need to belt a song out and she can simply speak her mind - and becomes almost a private conversation - those things  that you are unsure if you want someone to hear yet need to say. We never really see him.

 

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1) If the song "People" was upbeat and theatrical in the film it would have given the character of Fanny more confidence and provided more visual and vocal entertainment for the viewers. If "People" was sung with Barbra Streisand belting the tune and dancing around, the audience would see it as another entertaining part of the musical. The way the song was produced and filmed in Funny Girl made Fanny's character more vulnerable to express her feelings, to allow viewers to let her voice and opinion be heard. To support this argument I remember in my public speaking course in college the professor would tell us that to present an opinion and speech we needed to talk slow and low, because it would allow our listeners to pay more attention and get a sense of what you are saying. In fact, the way it was presented adds more to the story and reveals more of who the character is. It tells us how she has fallen in love and just like any person, she wants love in return.

2) As Fanny begins to sing, Nicky Arnstein slowly follows her. Fanny looks down, touching the gate and shyly looking up at him while she sings, "People who need people..." When she sings about children she swings from the staircase, goes up the stairs and playfully sways from one side to the other while smiling at Arnstein. She then turns away, looking over her shoulder and her face is more serious. She then fidgets with her hands and nervously tries to look back at him when she says, "One very special person." He is still looking at her, as if to give her enough space to let her express herself while he observes. 

3) The direction of this scene is very effective as it goes perfectly with the song. We notice the two characters under a lamp talking about being lonely. It is something they relate to and talk about, which is highlighted with the lamp and shot of both of them. There is a lot of shadow used as Fanny walks away and begins to sing. It isn't until she reaches the fence in front of a building and she continues the song that the shadow has disappeared and she is spotlighted. He followers her but then stops to rest on the railing to observe her. When she sings, "acting more like children" we see the camera change to Arnstein, which could signify that he is acting like a child because he doesn't accept the fact that he needs someone or the fact that he is in love. The entire scene focuses more on Fanny singing, because it makes it more effective to see her movements as she sings. It allows the viewer to see the character and understand her more.

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1.      That is a tough call, her performance in the film being reflective suits the movie more.  I don’t think being more expressive would work. It further demonstrates her apprehensive love of Nicky, you can feel her being swept away, but unsure.  The song draws attention to that point. I think sung any other way would be too much for the scene and purpose.

2.      Their placement during the song is key, how they move towards, and away from each other at points. It shows the multiple layers to their relationship.  Fanny’s stance is more open, like willing and ready to love someone, while Nicky almost seems to just be watching in the shadows, although he does join Fanny and moves in closer.

3.      Many of these points are covered in my #2 answer, but these techniques are key to the movie as a whole.  The direction and editing create a scene and further reinforces Fanny’s singing and emotions. The shots are able to bring us in and confirm more of the character’s feelings and motivations.

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If Streisand had performed People in the same manner as the play, it wouldn't have been as intimate or personal as it is in the film. She also does it in a way where it's part of the interaction between the two characters so the focus is not just on her, as solos on stage tend to be. It's interesting though that the song out of the movie stands on it's own with one meaning and a different meaning in the film. And a lot of that has to do with Streisand's amazing singing and acting skills. To take the same source and give it different meanings takes a lot of talent. It's hard to imagine anyone else being about to play Fannie the way she did and have the same success.

It is such a personal and intimate song that it brings out deep emotions from both characters. Streisand's are more obvious as she is the one singing, but Omar does more than stand and watch and give her the space to perform. He is still part of that intimate interaction and his expressions reflect that. He's not just following and watching her, but it's also in the way he stops and leans on the rails and looks at her in a loving way. The message of the song is not lost on his character.

The direction and editing of the scene make it all Streisand's, yet it can't leave out Omar as his character is also important to the scene. If he wasn't in it then the song wouldn't have been so intimate. The viewers have to see why it's being sung. Shots that widen so that we also see Omar yet keep the focus on Streisand are able to keep the song intimate between the two. 

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1. I feel like if she were more theatrical it would take away from the true meaning of the song. The performance that Streisand gave was more emotional and memorable.

2. You can tell both the characters are together. While she sings, he looks at her adoringly.

3. She dances and moves in a playful manner. The movement makes the scene more emotional.

 

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1. If Streisand performed “People” more theatrical or expressive, it would have taken the loneliness, yearning and sadness out of the song. I think it would look like she was doing a vaudeville skit.

2. As Fanny starts to sing she walks away from Nicky while singing to him. He follows her but the longer she sings the further away from each other they get. He’s still listening, he’s just not following. It’s like he’s somewhere else. And she’s feeling strongly that she wants someone who needs her, unlike him.

3. The camera follows Streisand giving her a little space, but once she mentions lovers the camera goes in closer. (So you know this is important to her) When she sings about it being with one person,  the camera comes around to the other side of Streisand and backs up a bit to show Omar. (The man she wants as a lover) That’s when she starts to get nervous fiddling with her fingers. The scene ends with the camera getting closer to Streisand and you can see she’s frustrated with the whole situation.

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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?

Belting would not have matched the scene to me (I never saw the play just the movie). The way it is performed is much more intimate, like a soliloquy - Fanny is revealing her true feelings to the audience and Nicky. I think she reveals far more in little gestures and glances  - the lover lyrics - than if she was in full performance gear. You understand the complexity of their relationship in the few minutes of this lovely performance.
 

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

Nicky says focused on her throughout the song which tells me he is interested and intrigued by this funny girl even though commitment is not in his character. He's listening to her as she reveals her heart. Fanny is retrospective and glances at him throughout the song - not too much because she is a little shy about letting him know how she feels. 
 

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

The camera begins showing both - being flirty and casual. As she begins the song in earnest, the camera stays on her - not close up but medium shot I guess - most of the time with frequent cuts to Nicky so we know he is paying attention to what she is saying. Keeping both actors in view most of the time supports the fact that this is a romance between two people  just beginning - two people with a lot of challenges facing their relationship because of differing outlooks and character. She is hopeful; he is intrigued. Do these people need each other enough to make a go of it? Stick with the movie, folks.

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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?
 

Her character does not warrant the song to be anymore theatrical. As they begin their journey together this scene provides an excellent look at the character Fanny. The softness is magical. 

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

The characters are drawn together. A commonality and basis for their attraction. 

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

She is picture perfect. The lighting, the scene, the handsome gent. It’s absolutely dreamy. Love it. 

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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?  I don't think that it would have been as convincingly heartfelt. It really seemed as if she was in love with Nick.
     
  2. Note the emotional transition moments in this scene: how do the two characters relate to each other as the lyrics are sung?  Looking at each other with goo goo eyes.  
     
  3. How does the direction and editing of this scene support Streisand’s performance? Be specific about blocking, reaction shots, etc.

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1.  If Barbara had performed this gorgeous number at her full force vocally, she would not have been able to convey as much sifting out of the thoughts of her heart.  It would have lacked the subtle attraction and vulnerability she feels about her attraction to the character of Nick.  She obviously struggled with insecurities and inexperience, which is revealed not only by the dialogue, but her actions as she performs the song...we gain a gorgeous glimpse into her introspection, as a woman, not as a performer, through her interpretation and action, portraying Fanny. 

2.  She is nervously flirting, rather coy and shy...he is giving her enough space to sing out her heart and explore her feelings, as he is standing a bit apart, merely watching.  There is a distance he allows her, of safety in that space.  It also seems that she is fearful of even admitting her attraction to herself, much less to him, in her quiet whisper of the lyric, "a very special person."  There is so much brilliance in this scene, by all involved both in front of and behind the camera, especially Barbara.

3.  Showing her walking away and the use of arm movements and space support Streisand's performance.  The use of a storefront, a gathering place for people, in the barber, was also a lovely touch in dealing with community, the walking out onto the street from the alley, also depicted that beautifully...that people truly do need people.  There is also the gentle smile, as he is listening, through the direction of Nick's reactions and the way that the camera shows them both in the scene, so that you may see those reactions is brilliant.  It would not have meant as much if she was the only person in the scene...the lyrics are highlighted by giving the audience a glimpse of more than one person...the humanity and direction beautifully intertwine.  

 

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I think if she would have belted it out it would have seemed inauthentic and boisterous. Its not what the scene called for in my opinion.

Nicky seems entranced by Fanny in a way that I at least didn't notice before this scene.

In the beginning they are physically close to one another, even have a moment of being face to face. By the end is he father away only able to admire her from afar. Its almost telling of the whole film in one musical performance.

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