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William Wyler, 1968
USA | 151 minutes
The one and only Barbra Streisand (in her film debut) won a well-deserved Oscar for her portrayal of musical comedienne Fanny Brice in director William Wyler’s lavish bio-pic. From the slums of the Lower East Side, Fanny rises to become a star of the Ziegfeld Follies, while navigating a tumultuous romance to ne’er-do-well playboy and gambler Nicky Arnstein (Omar Sharif). The Bob Merrill-Jule Styne score sports multiple show-stopping numbers that would go on to become Babs standards, including “People” and the unforgettable “Don’t Rain on My Parade” (sung from the back of a New York Harbor tugboat!).
“Let’s dispose at once of the ugly-duckling myth. It has been commonly said that the musical Funny Girl was a comfort to people because it carried the message that you do not need to be pretty to succeed. That is nonsense; the ‘message’ of Barbra Streisand in Funny Girl is that talent is beauty. And this isn’t some comforting message for plain people; it's what show business is all about. Barbra Streisand is much more beautiful than ‘pretty’ people.”
—Pauline Kael, The New Yorker