Funny Face (1957) Poster


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Think pink!
jotix1006 September 2005
Stanley Donen's "Funny Face" was one of the best musicals that came out of Paramount, a studio not known for that genre. The DVD format we watched recently seems to have been transferred with great care as the colors have a vibrant look, something that wasn't the case with the technique used during that era that made colors fade.

The film owes its appeal to Audrey Hepburn, an actress not known for being a singer, or a dancer, but who had enough charm to make the movie her own. The pairing with the great Fred Astaire pays off well because Mr. Astaire was always an actor who had enough chemistry with his leading ladies. Ms. Hepburn's costumes by Givenchy and the way she carries herself in them is one of the best assets about "Funny Face".

The other surprise of the movie is Kay Thompson, who plays the magazine editor Maggie Prescott. Ms. Thompson makes an excellent contribution to the film as the no nonsense woman who ruled what the fashions of the day should be as shown in the pages of the magazine.

The songs of George Gershwin are complimented by the original music composed for the musical by Roger Edens, Adolph Deutsch and Leonard Gershe. The great cinematography of Ray June shows Paris at its best. Thanks to Stanley Donen all the elements feel into place and we were left with this musical that will delight audiences forever.
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Plot, Schmot!
eye36 July 1999
You have Audrey Hepburn, you have Fred Astaire, you have Gershwin songs. Who needs a plot?

Okay, there was something of a plot, something about a Greenwich Village girl who wants to go to Paris, talk b.s. philosophy on the Left Bank, wear black clothes and no make-up. It reads like something out of one of Woody Allen's early stories - before he wrote it!

Audrey Hepburn never knew how to look bad nor act bad. But in this she looks light-years more beautiful as the proverbial Greenwich Village used-book-store Plain Jane than any Paris fashion model - then or now.
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Gershwin, Paris, Astaire, Audrey Hepburn, Richard Avedon, and John-Paul Sartre
theowinthrop23 July 2005
This 1957 musical is a little odd. It has a title based on an original 1920s Gershwin musical (that included the title song) which starred Fred and Adele Astaire. It was a musical and scenic valentine to France (but only one tune in it deals with France - "Bonjour Paris!". It is a spoof on the modern fashion magazines, fashions in general, and advertising - but the spoof while sharp at times is never pushed. The opening sequence, "Think Pink," describes how Kay Thompson plans a campaign to make the American woman go for "pink" clothes, accessories, toothpaste, etc., only to admit to her assistant she personally loathes the color. It takes full advantage of the attractive face and features of Hepburn, who is convinced to be a model and help push a new line of fashions in Paris. And it makes two characters into imitations of Richard Avedon the photographer (Astaire as Dick Avory) and Jean-Paul Sartre (Michel Auclair as Prof. Emile Flostre).

Avedon was a rarity - a fashion photographer who became a great artistic portrait photographer. Astaire never is shown taking pictures of great or famous people in the film but several times he demonstrates a refinement that separates him from the rest of Kay Thompson's entourage (most of whom don't care what havoc they cause, as long as they get their jobs done). He also has enough sense to question Hepburn's accepting of "empathicalism", and it's viability. Witness his moment in the bistro pouring wine to the two old codgers who are quite pleasant to him while he insults them in English. Hepburn, of course, is so insistent on the validity of her philosophical beliefs that she rejects Astaire's warnings, and jeopardizes the fashion show.

The final blow (seemingly) to the Astaire - Hepburn relationship is when he confronts Flostre at the author's home. He knocks out the Professor, and his brutality demolishes the relationship with Hepburn. But within minutes Hepburn sees another side to Flostre which is unexpected, and suddenly realizes that Astaire may be right after all.

The character of Flostre is obviously based on that of Jean-Paul Sartre, the founder of "existentialism". Based on in some details, but not in theory. "Empathicalism" has to do with trying to empathize with others so as to have a proper response to their needs and aspirations. "Existentialism" has to do with: "An introspective humanism or theory of man which expresses the individual's intense awareness of his contingency and freedom; a theory which states that the existence of the individual precedes his essence." This is from Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary. Sartre has a more complex view of man and society, and one can plow through BEING AND NOTHINGNESS to try to understand it. In fact some critics have wondered if the Nobel Prize Winner eventually got very wrong headed about his theory. But he certainly seems a meatier philosopher than his celluloid copy.

But Flostre does have the trappings of Sartre on him. He is revered by his followers world wide (such as Hepburn). He is a man with sexual appetite (as Sartre was with his long time companion and fellow writer Simone Beauvoir). And there is some traces of an anti-capitalist, even anti-American attitude in him. It is not definitely pushed, but when Astaire and Thompson break into his house during a party, they pretend they are American share cropper singers whom Flostre had brought to France to perform for his guests. Now, we never hear what this actual pair actually would sing, but judging from their background they would have to throw in some protest songs. Sartre was very critical of the U.S.A. and capitalism (today his fans have to explain Sartre's willingness to accept Russian imperialist moves under Communism in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s - they find it very hard to do so).

On the whole the parts of the film work well, so I give it seven stars. Kay Thompson is best recalled for being the creator of the little girl at the Plaza "Eloise", but she shows here a highly entertaining performance as Maggie Prescott, the editor who pushes and loathes pink. The film would have been better if somehow Avedon's portrait photography had been brought into the story, possibly in a final scene with Flostre as his subject. However, even without such a sequence the film is rewarding to watch, especially in the musical numbers. Astaire does equally well with Thompson and with Hepburn as his partners here.
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Still a fun musical
harry-762 April 2000
"Funny Face" was great fun during its first runs and is still a most enjoyable musical. A top notch cast headed by Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire make this a winner. Kaye Thompson is on hand for songs, dances and laughs, and George Gershwin's score sparkles. Filmed in part on location in Paris, "Funny Face" beautifully conveys its story of romance with elegance and charm. Smart fashion costumes, photography and choreography combine to make this a hit.
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S'wonderful indeed!
lauraeileen89420 May 2002
I recently saw "Funny Face" and I was just enchanted from start to finish. This beautiful, sublime, light-hearted musical pairs the incomparable Fred Astaire and Audrey Hepburn. It was the perfect vehicle for Hepburn, and in my humble opinion, "Funny Face" ties with "The Band Wagon" as the best Fred Astaire musical of the 50's.

"Funny Face" tells the story of Jo Stockton (Hepburn) a deep and outspoken Beatnik bookseller, and Dick Avery (Astaire), a raffish but compassionate photographer for "Quality" magazine. "Quality" is run by its hilariously vapid editor, Maggie Presscott (Kay Thompson, a real scene stealer). After some unusual circumstances, Dick convinces the waifish Jo that she has model potential and should go to Paris with him. The plot is sometimes a moot point as soon as they get there, but what happens after that is song, dance, great clothes, and a beautiful romantic song and dance with Audrey and Fred on a grassy knoll. There's also a rather famous scene with Audrey descending a flight of stairs in a gorgeous red strapless dress with white gloves.

I've seen a lot of criticism for "Funny Face", and I disagree that it's shallow and anti-intellectual. What separates this movie from, say, "She's All That" is that Jo only goes to Paris as a "means to an end" for modelling, which Jo is vehemently against. She never compromises who she is, and doesn't officially fall for Dick until much later, so romance is never a motive for anything. Also, Dick admires Jo's inner beauty, even before she becomes a stunner. They are much more likable and romantic leads than in most "makeover" movies. Please don't over-analyze "Funny Face", just sit back and let yourself be spellbound. Trust me, "s'wonderful"!!
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Enjoyable Musical
claudio_carvalho25 December 2006
The bookshop salesgirl Jo Stockton (Audrey Hepburn) is accidentally found by the photograph Dick Avery (Fred Astaire), who convinces the owner of the fashion magazine Quality, the powerful Maggie Prescott (Kay Thompson), that she could be the new model she wants for the magazine. Jo dreams on going to Paris to meet her guru, the philosopher Prof. Emile Flostre (Michel Auclair), but she cannot afford to pay for the travel; therefore she sees in the invitation, the chance to visit Paris. Once there, Dick falls in love for her.

"Funny Face" has a great cinematography, art direction, set decoration, costume design and most important, a charming and delightful Audrey Hepburn. Kay Thompson is also excellent. The problem is the silly screenplay that shows at least two great mistakes. The first one is the inconsistent and contradictory character Jo Stockton, presented as an intelligent and clever woman in the beginning, but later becoming absolutely shallow, acting like an irresponsible spoiled child. The second big mistake is Fred Astaire (58), thirty years old older than Audrey Hepburn (28), therefore more than twice her age, as her romantic pair. This great actor looks like her father, and there is no romantic chemistry between them. My vote is seven.

Title (Brazil): "Cinderela em Paris" ("Cinderella in Paris")
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Enjoyable Enough as Long As It's Not Taken Too Seriously
Snow Leopard3 November 2004
As long as you do not take the premise or the characters or the plot too seriously, this is an enjoyable movie with an interesting pairing of Fred Astaire and Audrey Hepburn, plus an excellent supporting performance by Kay Thompson and some good-looking settings and scenery. The musical numbers are pleasant, if rather on the light side. Stanley Donen has the right touch in keeping things together without making the seams show too often.

Hepburn is cast in a somewhat unexpected role, as a drab intellectual store clerk who gets involved with Fred Astaire's (much older) photographer character. Audrey is so charming that's it's very difficult to think of her as a wallflower, and while Astaire is as energetic as ever, there are more than a couple of occasions on which the relationship doesn't really look believable, despite the best efforts of the two stars. The plot isn't supposed to be anything weighty anyway, so perhaps that's the price you have to pay for a rather different pairing.

Kay Thompson provides many of the best moments. Sometimes the satire of trendy philosophy comes off well, at other times it gets a little dull. Not to be forgotten are the colorful and interesting settings and backgrounds, which set off the story and music fairly well. It's sometimes a strange combination, but as lighter entertainment it all works well enough.
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that age-gap romance
didi-54 May 2004
This snappy musical teams an ageing Fred Astaire with the young and lively Audrey Hepburn, puts them in Paris with a lovely Gershwin score, and piles on the slush to create romantic confection that really is irresistible.

Audrey is at her best here, whether singing (in her own voice) ‘How Long Has This Been Going On?', dancing wildly around a café, or looking like a mannequin in the fabulous frocks. Kay Thompson is on hand too, with her own fabulous number, ‘Think Pink' about the trials and tribulations of being a fashion magazine editor.

It probably works best with the misty filters and the dreamy sequences, though. And Audrey is serenaded by Fred dancing beneath her window, like the dashing prince who comes to rescue Rapunzel. Musical corn perhaps, but addictive nonetheless.
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The Bird of Paradise
krorie4 December 2005
This is a rare bird indeed, a Hollywood musical that succeeds as parody as well as musical entertainment, featuring the best song and dance man of all time, Fred Astaire, and the Hollywood establishment darling, Audrey Hepburn, who was always magnificent despite being pampered and fawned over by the media moguls. Unlike Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire's dancing seemed natural. Astaire spent as much time learning his steps as Kelly, but the viewer always got the idea that Kelly had learned the steps whereas Astaire appeared to be inventing as he shuffled along. Astaire's early movies were made during the age of the crooner, yet his singing could not be pigeonholed into that category. Like his dancing, his singing flowed naturally and freely.

The story to "Funny Face" is a simple one, a musical variation on Shaw's Pigmalion which was already a hit musical "My Fair Lady," turned into another Audrey Hepburn vehicle a few years after "Funny Face." What makes this movie stand out is the spellbinding choreography by Astaire, Et.Al., Ray June's cinematography, George Gershwin music, such as the title song, the direction of Stanley Donen, and the Paris fashions by Hubert de Givenchy. The colors are breathtaking. Note the incredible images of the opening dance "Pink." The sights of Paris have never appeared more intriguing. And who would have thought a song and dance in a photographer's dark room could be so delightful?

One of my favorite numbers from "Funny Face" is the hilarious yet imaginative parody of modern dance performed by Audrey Hepburn in a Paris cabaret. The parody can also be interpreted as poking harmless fun at Gene Kelly's ballet-style dancing in "An American in Paris." This scene shows the versatility of the multi-talented Hepburn. Teaming her with the also multi-talented Astaire makes for a winning combination. Why the hoopla about their age differences? Do film reviewers not live in the real world anymore?

This is a much better musical than many of the more touted ones of the 1950's. If you're not careful, this little screen gem may slip past you.
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Love that Audrey!!!!
xyscaling7 February 2004
Outstanding. Beautiful. Classic. What a real lady!!!

The photo sequence in Paris has never been topped. Such a 10+ movie, I can just watch it over and over. Those are kind of strange adjectives and comments from me, especially since I'm a Sci-Fi, action, fantasy kind of movie fan.

This makes me wonder, will we ever have another Audrey?? Maybe an actress who is even close? To think that she thought she had: 1. A square face, 2. A big nose and 3. Big feet. That just shows how human and natural she really was..........

What a surprise for me to find this movie. I had never even heard of it untill it came out on DVD. S'Marvelous!!
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Good-natured musical
Leofwine_draca26 February 2014
FUNNY FACE is notable as a colourful '50s-era music teaming the talents of two of the best-known stars of all time, Fred Astaire and Audrey Hepburn. In this film, whose story feels like an earlier version of THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA, Astaire and Hepburn consummate a May-December relationship when they're brought together by chance.

Hepburn stars as one of those unbelievable mousy characters - here a bookshop assistant - who's transformed into an ultra-glamorous model when she goes to Paris for a photo shoot. Astaire is the top-of-his-game photographer, and much of the film gets by on their easy charm.

Of course, there are there requisite song-and-dance numbers to enjoy, and a storyline that's never too heavy or too much. In all, it's just right, and old hand Stanley Donen brings plenty to the production with his assured direction. A very good-natured and pleasing effort.
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Photography, Poses
tedg21 March 2006
This is an odd and appealing little movie.

It is a musical from an era when they were losing audiences. It features the king of such things at the time, an aging Fred Astair, at 58 and substantially heavier than his prime. He has relatively few dance numbers and none of those are clever or graceful.

Instead, this whole thing is cleverly engineered to exploit the rather unique traits of Audrey Hepburn. She was in the middle of a remarkable career based more on simple charm than presence at acting. When charm dominates the thing, you have to be extraordinary. Who else can you place in this category? Clara Bow and Louise Brooks, probably. Judy Garland when singing.

There's no one like this today, hasn't been for decades. Perhaps we filter them out, as we demand other qualities. Still, it is worth watching her to see just what it is that makes her so mesmerizing. Her face is oddly misproportioned, with a shallow jaw, heavy brow and commanding nose over that huge mouth. Its almost a caricature of a face, so that when she smiles, she lights up the whole screen.

And it seems to be more genuinely in her character than when Julia Roberts does a similar thing with a similar face. She has three faces against which she cast all her poses, all of them open to us. Smiling, crying or concerned and listening. Its an amazing limited vocabulary, though one more than Kate Hepburn managed to wring a career from.

I think this and "Breakfast at Tiffany's" may be her best films because it is as if they were grown especially for her abilities, to endear us to her through her face.

The setup in Tiffany's is complex, a call-girl in a movie who creates her own movie. This is more straightforward. She is discovered by a fashion photographer who -- in the body of the movie -- photographs her in all sorts of romantic settings. The beginning is just in getting her to Paris for this. The end is just the standard love, distance, reconciliation drill. But that second act is terrific: he places her in scenes to photograph. We see the setup with terrific clothes, the actual shooting process and then the final print. I guess eight or nine times.

Regular tedg readers will know I'm a student of folding in films. Here's an example. The point of this movie is to get us to fall in love. So while we watch beautiful, romantic photography, we have a surrogate in the film who does the same. As he watches and falls in love, so do we. A simple and effective narrative device.

Hey, and the subplot involves her fascination with the philosophy of empathy. get it?

Oddly, this conflates beatniks, philosophy and the French, which in my experience have little to do with one another. No matter, the result is an excuse for Audrey to perform -- without Fred -- the dance highlight of the film. Who would have suspected that such a gaunt frame, grown for static poses would come across so effectively in a modern routine that intends to poke fun at itself.

You must see this for the exploitation of an odd and unique face. And that dance in the beatnik club.

Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.
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Kirpianuscus30 April 2018
Givenchy , Gershwin, Fred Astaire, Kay Thompson. and especially, Audrey Hepburn. and Paris. the pieces of a charming puzzle, with a drawing story. the first temptation is to criticize it. for reasons who are more than legitime for a XXI century viewer. the second - to enjoy it. because it confirms and gives many surprises. it confirms the unique Audrey Hepburn. giving new nuances in singing , dancing and Givenchy scenes. it surprise for admirable job of Kay Thompson. and confirms the science of Fred Astaire to be a magnificent partner for each actress. it impress for a special flavor about an ideal Paris. and for the smart use of the story about anonymous girl becoming, after an accident, star. short, a lovely classic. for many reasons. in special for the memorable shooting scenes
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A great MGM musical--made by Paramount
1726830 December 2005
"Funny Face" is one of the last great musicals. No one would be surprised to find MGM producing this film, but Paramount released it. All the care in casting, production, and direction is MGM-like, thanks probably to a large degree by frequent MGM director Stanley Donen and MGM jack of all trades musical Kay Thompson.

The plot is typically a piece of fluff--"drab" Audrey Hepburn (it is genetically impossible for Audrey Hepburn ever to be drab) is discovered by Fred Astaire and transformed into a high-fashion model for Kay Thompson's fashion magazine, "Quality."

Although the job of fashion model goes against all her values, Hepburn signs on as the Quality Woman to get a trip to Paris where she hopes to meet the renowned philosopher Emile Flostre, who has developed the concept of empathaticalism. If none of this makes a great deal of sense, so what? Just sit back and be beguiled by Hepburn's beauty and surprisingly excellent singing and dancing. Astaire, of course, is sublime, and Kay Thompson is hilarious as a force of nature oblivious to everything not related to "Quality" magazine. Except for two new songs, "Think Pink" and "Bonjour, Paris"--both delightful--the score is by the Gershwins.

Who could ask for anything more? Well, there is more--stylish photography, witty dialogue, clever production numbers, and delightful performances from all involved. The sight of Audrey descending a vast stairway in a stunning red Givenchy gown is classic and has been referenced frequently in other movies and countless advertisements and commercials.

They don't make'em like this anymore, and they never will. They had TALENT then! Britney as Audrey? Madonna as Kay Thompson? Justin as Fred Astaire?
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awesome movie
prettyone9574727 February 2006
I love everything about this movie. It was written by Leonard Gershe about my mother (Doe Siegel) and her love (and then husband), Richard Avedon. It depicts Mom's brilliant intellect. Her compassionate, youthful energy. Forget about reading too many nuances into this movie. Art is a departure from reality and Leonard uses his creative license well. It seems I am to include more lines before this can be submitted...what more to say. Fun. Spontaneous. Flirtacious. Romantic. I hope people enjoy the very heart of this movie. Mom continues to be a gracious, caring, and inspirationally bright woman. She gave up her career to raise her family. We love her dearly.
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Colorful and energetic, but with a hackneyed script...
moonspinner554 September 2005
Although she gets to use her own singing voice on her song numbers, Audrey Hepburn's natural gamine appeal is nearly swallowed up in the fake-happy surroundings of "Funny Face", a stylish Stanley Donen musical saddled with a leadweight (though Oscar-nominated!) script by Leonard Gershe. Fred Astaire plays a famous photographer based in New York City who discovers the beauty in a mousy Greenwich Village book-clerk. So far, so good. But from these promising beginnings comes nothing more pressing than a complicated-romance plot which holds no weight, no substance, and delivers nary a flicker of chemistry between Fred and Audrey. There's also a dire subplot about a philosopher in Paris, with the film laughably comparing a beatnik lecture to a spiritual. Hepburn is used as a model--and she's a great model--but where's all that enchanting feistiness we know she's capable of? Donen is only interested in flash and fluttery-gay nonsense. The Gershwin songs are often lovely, the film's color schemes and fashions are terrific, but the movie's kick is all a fabrication--and its romance is rote. Other Oscar noms included: art direction, Ray June for his cinematography and Edith Head for her costumes (shared with Audrey's designer, Hubert de Givenchy, who received his only recognition from the Academy here). **1/2 from ****
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Why can't they just leave my man Gershwin alone....
funkyfry10 October 2002
Entertaining but thin musical -- Stanley Donen's take on "American in Paris." Astaire is a bit too old to be plausibly linked with Hepburn (who we're supposed to believe is unattractive in wool dresses and glasses. This woman would look good in a trash bag). The movie seems to take place in a universe where Fred Astaire never ages, because the difference in their ages is never even an issue as I recall. the dances are pretty disappointing, except Audrey Hepburn's "Basil Metabolism" beatnik sequence. Beautifully photographed with style, everyone does well but there is no real substance. Good Gershwin songs culled from a handful of plays (including the original "Funny Face", which was a better show starring Fred and Adele Astaire), mostly inferior versions of often-done standards. No plot is taken from the original musical at all. This movie just seems so out of place at its time -- making fun of beatniks just points up how much time had already passed Donen, Astaire, and certainly Gershwin by. Must have felt like a relic to audiences in the 50s: seems like it could be a cherished relic to fans today.
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Sit Back, Relax, Don't Think Too Much - Just ENJOY!
hec-829 January 2007
I'll admit there are inconsistencies in Jo Stockton's character, and having Fred Astaire at his age as the paramour for Audrey at her age is a little absurd, but the movie is such a lot of fun that you get sucked into it and plot problems et cetera tend to recede into the distance. Besides the photographic SFX, my favorite part of this movie is Kay Thompson for two reasons: 1) she helps prove once and for all that you don't have to be a soprano to be a smashing vocalist; 2) I know this was supposed to be Audrey Hepburn's picture but right at the outset Kay just marches in, clamps her teeth on a corner of the scenery, and all but drags it out from under the other two principals-- and does it so well that you can't help but admire her for it. (Oh, and while I'm thinking of it: it's true Audrey Hepburn wasn't known for her singing, although she sounds just fine to me, but yes she WAS a professional dancer - if I remember right she earned her living during or shortly after WWII as a ballerina.)
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Funny Face
jboothmillard19 February 2011
Warning: Spoilers
From director Stanley Donen (Singin' in the Rain, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Charade), I certainly recognised the title, but other than that I wasn't aware of any other details, but it sounded like a film that should be seen. Basically Dick Avery (Fred Astaire) works as a photographer for fashion magazine Quality, and suggests to publisher and editor Maggie Prescott (Kay Thompson) finding a backdrop both beautiful, and intellectual. They choose a Manhattan neighbourhood bookstore in Greenwich Village, and despite the clerk and amateur philosopher Jo Stockton (Audrey Hepburn) protesting, they go ahead, and Dick has her in a photo too. Dick stays behind for a little to help clear up the terrible mess the magazine crew have left behind, and he gives her a little kiss that makes her feel special for that small amount of time. Having developed the photo Dick thinks that Jo has a very intriguing, funny face that has potential, so they lure her to the studio to offer her a modelling contract, and eventually she accepts. She may have accepted because of the idea of travelling to Paris, but she soon gets used to and enjoys the posing that comes with it, especially when it is with Dick, they are falling in love. One night Jo hears that the philosopher she has always wanted to see, Prof. Emile Flostre (Michel Auclair) is giving a lecture at a café near the fashion gala she is set for, so she goes, forgets the gala, and ends up in an argument with Dick. She goes back to the Professor, and Maggie and Dick after a song and dance manage to get in to get Jo back, and when he comes round from being knocked out he tries to make a pass at her she whacks her "idol" with a vase. Before the crew of Quality magazine leave Paris, there is one final fashion show, but Maggie and Jo find out that Dick has plans to leave on a plane, but Jo agrees to do the runway show/catwalk before running out to go and find him. In the end, after it looks like she's too late, but in fact Dick hasn't left at all, he goes to the one place he can think of that she would be alone, and they reunite for the loving end of the film. Also starring Robert Flemyng as Paul Duval, Dovima as Marion and Virginia Gibson as Babs. Hepburn is beautiful and lovable as the knowledgeable new to fashion model, and a good singer too (her voice was dubbed for My Fair Lady due to it not being the sort required, i.e. powerful), Astaire is a nice guy with plenty of moves and witty dialogue, they make a good couple on screen, and Thompson is pretty good too. The music and songs are catchy in their own ways, the dance and choreography is well done by the two lead stars, and the Paris locations are good viewing, all in all, a good old-fashioned musical comedy. It was nominated the Oscar for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design and Best Writing, Story and Screenplay - Written Directly for the Screen. Fred Astaire was number 81, and Audrey Hepburn number 13 on The Greatest Movie Stars, and Hepburn was number 31 on The 100 Greatest Pop Culture Icons, and Astaire was number 5 on 100 Years, 100 Stars - Men. Very good!
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Charming fluff, very easy on the eyes and brain. But, considering the talent, it could have been even better.
barnabyrudge30 May 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Funny Face has the credentials to be an absolute classic – we're talking great actors, a great director and the perennially popular background of Paris. It certainly emerges an entertaining, exuberant musical as one would expect. But there's just something missing, a little sprinkling of magic or some overlooked ingredient, that would have sealed its place in the echelons of truly amazing movie musicals. When giving any other movie a 7-out-of-10 rating, I'd normally be listing all the things the movie has done right to earn itself 7 marks; with Funny Face it's almost a case of listing what the film has done wrong to lose 3 marks.

Maggie Prescott (Kay Thompson), bulldozing head honcho at Quality magazine, wants to find the next "thing" in the trend-setting world of fashion. She and ace photographer Dick Avery (Fred Astaire) invade a quaint antiquarian book shop in Greenwich Village to carry out an "intellectual" photo shoot with their bimbo-ish models. During the shoot, Dick accidentally catches a shot of the book shop worker Jo Stockton (Audrey Hepburn), and later realises that her funny face might actually be the perfect profile to launch the magazine in a new direction. Dick and Maggie persuade Jo to come to Paris with them for a fashion shoot and show. She is reluctant to get involved in the industry, but accepts anyway as she is keen to meet her idol, philosopher Emile Flostre (Michel Auclair), who is giving lectures in Paris. By travelling to France she sniffs an opportunity to meet the man she admires so much. But, unexpectedly, Jo soon finds herself falling for the charm of her photographer Dick. Loves course never runs smooth, as Jo, Dick and Emile are soon to discover…

Loosely based on a 1927 Broadway musical, this film is a lot of fun to watch. The noticeable age gap between Astaire and Hepburn makes their romance unconvincing, but watching the two of them own the screen in their inimitable way remains a joy. Overall the film's musical numbers are very well done – Think Pink, Bonjour Paris, He Loves And She Loves and Let's Kiss And Make Up being just a few of the highlights. There are occasional longueurs in the story (it has, after all, the thinnest of plots, flimsily stretched to a 100+ minute running time), but there's always a lively scene or song just round the corner to liven things up whenever tedium looms. Overall, Funny Face is a classy show. As mentioned, though, it could have been an absolute classic. It's reminiscent of a damn good golf player who can hit the green every time, but cannot seem to sink the putts that would make him a world beater. Funny Face gives itself a glorious shot at perfection, then lets it drift away on a wave of lightweight feathery fluffiness.
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Flawed, but still superior
jiw228 April 2011
I'd seen this film once before, back in the days when videotapes on a CRT television screen were the only home theater. Doesn't really seem that long ago, does it? Well, I picked up the DVD in the bargain bin of a local store recently, and watched it tonight on the widescreen monitor attached to my computer.

What a difference! The framing of all the shots suddenly makes sense, as does the absolutely amazing cinematography. It's a film built around photography, and that concept is reflected in the photography itself. Set design, choreography, camera angles -- it's all there. Having once been a professional photographer myself, I could really appreciate all the care that went into photographing this film.

I was also very pleasantly surprised at how well Audrey Hepburn acquitted herself here. The role doesn't require much in the way of acting ability, but she gives it all she's got and makes Jo not only believable but sympathetic. She's not really a singer, but she handles her singing parts creditably. And though she isn't really a dancer, either, her dance numbers are outstanding. Ginger Rogers she ain't, but even next to Fred Astaire, her footwork is way above average. And how *graceful* she is! She carries off even her solo dance number with a balletic poise and flexibility that astonished me.

As for Fred Astaire himself, he never at any point made a convincing romantic lead to me. Though a magnificent dancer, his screen persona was too much the cold fish to really play a passionate lover (as Gene Kelly certainly could). And his moment of "Gosh, I never realized it before, but I must really be in love with this girl" is just too much of an eye-roller. Even Laurence Olivier couldn't have pulled *that* one off.

The multi-talented Kay Thompson, it need hardly be said, more than holds her own in the acting, singing and dancing categories.

The script is by turns funny, banal, emotional and weak. Funny when it's gently skewering the fashion industry and self-righteous pseudo-intellectualism; banal in its clichéd and predictable love story; emotional when Audrey Hepburn gets to hint at the powerful emotions she can't reveal and weak in its rapturous "Oui, oui, it's gay Paree!" swoonfest over arriving in Paris.

So, no, it's not one of the great classical musicals (even the chosen Gershwin songs were far from the best selections from that vast repertoire). But you've got to take the bad with the good, and the good is very good indeed. Recommended.

PS: Oh, and for God's sake, folks -- *puh-leeze* get off that "age difference" high horse. If that's the sort of thing upsets you so much, maybe you shouldn't be watching movies at all.
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Well, it's not exactly the worst film ever made, but...
johnm_00110 October 2000
In some circles, this film is considered a "classic" (whatever that might mean to you). The question is why? It's about as plotless as a music video, and the relationship between a young girl and a much older man is fairly questionable. I'm not one of those people who thinks Fred Astaire and Audrey Hepburn walk on water. I like them in some films and don't like them in others. "Funny Face" falls into the latter. It has some nice Gershwin tunes, and Paris locales; but it meanders on, merely on the strength of Audrey Hepburn's looks. In fact, if one were to find a point to the film, it would be to dress Miss Hepburn in as many clothes as possible. If you find that entertaining (and there is certainly nothing wrong with that, if you do), then this is the film for you. There is no question that Audrey Hepburn could play a mean Audrey Hepburn. In the right vehicle (Sabrina, Roman Holiday, Charade, Breakfast At Tiffany's), there was no one better. It's as if "Funny Face" is pretending to be such a vehicle; and she works hard at being "Audrey Hepburn". It's just that what's she's doing isn't all that worthy of her, to begin with. Watching it is like eating cotton candy. It doesn't leave you feeling satisfied, just a bit sick. The characters in this film start to become very annoying, about a half hour into it. Just how much prancing around Paris can you take? I don't watch films for their hidden meaning or depth, so I'm not asking "Funny Face" to be more than sheer entertainment. I just want to BE entertained. "Funny Face", barely entertains. I get the feeling that the producers decided that since they were giving us Fred Astaire, Audrey Hepburn (with Kay Thompson thrown in to help with the Astaire/Hepburn overdose), Paris, its fashions and locales, and Gershwin tunes, then that would be more than enough. They didn't need to bother with a good story to go with it all. Well, they were wrong. Unless you are a die-hard fan of either Hepburn or Astaire (or both), you'll be left wondering how such a pointless film could have obtain "classic" status.
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A Peculiar Time-Warp...
erin17861 January 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Certain things are absolutely timeless, and then there are others that just do not translate. I was studying abroad in Paris when my mother sent me a box set of Audrey Hepburn films. Learning "Funny Face" took place predominately in my host-city, I popped it in. I am willing to make the occasional logic leap and accept some fluff, and I do understand "Funny Face" wasn't attempting to sweep the Oscars, but there is a limit. And while there are some fabulous scenes, overall, I was disappointed.

"Funny Face," in brief, begins with the owner of "Quality" magazine, Maggie Prescott, and her photographer, Dick Avery, trying to find a new face to shake the fashion world. It is found in the young Jo Stockton, an educated, introverted, and supposedly homely girl working in a bookstore. She dreams of going to Paris to meet Professor Flostre, the founder of the philosophy she studies, "Empathicalism." Though at first reluctant, Jo agrees to model for "Quality"'s photo shoot and fashion show, as both events are in Paris. Sparks fly between Jo and Dick, but jealousy reigns for the latter when Jo meets her professor and the man has more than talking philosophy on his mind. Hijinks, song, and dance ensue.

As to my criticisms:

My first issue came from the extraordinarily obvious age disparity between Miss Hepburn (playing bookshop employee-turned-cover girl Jo Stockton) and Fred Astaire (playing photographer Dick Avery). Both are great actors and it isn't the first time the former was paired with an older leading man, but this is a thirty year age gap and it shows. I might have been more willing to go with it if at some point the age difference had been addressed, but it's conspicuously left off like the audience won't notice if no one mentions it. In fact, I almost found it creepy to see Fred Astaire plant one on Audrey in one of the opening scenes. Their chemistry often seemed forced, and quite honestly, I thought Astaire and Kay Thompson (playing Maggie Prescott, and nearer his contemporary) had far more spark between them.

The makers of this film again gave little credit to their audience by presenting the notion that putting Hepburn in a bizarre over-sized wool vest and shapeless shift made her dowdy and unattractive. And was it really necessary to play on the cliché that a girl who enjoys to read and demonstrates the general ability to think must be a sexually unattractive virginal frump? Admittedly, I live in a different generation, but the film bothered me by hammering in the idea that a truly happy woman gives up her books and devotes herself to buying designer ensembles and picking up her husband's laundry. I am continually floored when older films make comedic references to spousal abuse, and was so here, when Dick Avery is searching for Jo in the streets of Montmartre and passes an arguing French couple, the male of which solves the dispute by smacking his girl across the face--she responds by lovingly falling into his arms. I was particularly galled by Astaire's line concerning Jo's sex-crazed professor- idol, Flostre (Michel Auclair), "He's about as interested in your intellect as I am!" No, silly, a man doesn't want you to think--just stand there and look pretty like a china doll. This is what made no sense to me--they spend the beginning of the film struggling to find a fresh face with some substance behind it, only to transform it into the stereotypical vapid pretty girl who can only achieve real fulfillment if some man deigns to make her a wife.

The strange subplot mocking beatniks led to some confusion. I am not an authority on the subject, but last time I checked, the beat generation was primarily focused in the United States and did not exactly sweep young Parisian intellectuals. It almost seemed placed there just so the filmmakers could have a go at making it look ridiculous and give Thompson and Astaire the chance for their energetic song and dance routine. The very fact that "Funny Face" is a musical was odd--the leading pair, while not tone-deaf, are not singers. And why when Dick serenades Jo outside her hotel (exactly why, if they're all on the photo shoot, do they all seem to be booked in separate hotels?), does he act like a matador? Spain and its bullfights are NEAR France; they are not IN it. And during his matador number, why in the world does a cow come through?? Paris, even in 1957, was a very metropolitan capital--live barnyard animals in the streets are a relatively rare occurrence.

Absolutely hysterical was the number "Bonjour, Paris!" in which Maggie, Dick, and Jo, bright- eyed and ready to go even after at least eight hours on a plane, wildly dance through the city streets, magically jumping between the spread-out landmarks, and proudly proclaiming themselves as American tourists. Their dance in the elevator on the Eiffel Tower was particularly amusing--I'm not sure what the crowds were like back in the 1950's, but nowadays those things pack you in like sardines--you're lucky if you can MOVE your foot, let alone do a couple pirouettes.

All that said, I will acknowledge the costumes (particular those by Givenchy for Audrey Hepburn) and shots of Paris are beyond fabulous--the best part of the film is Hepburn's photo shoots, interspersing her ensembles in the Louvre, Opéra, and other major sites in the city. The dance sequence with Thompson and Astaire is great--Hepburn's famous (and lately popularized by the Gap) "Basil Metabolism" dance is...unique. Amongst all that was bizarre, it does have a few moments of charm. To the potential viewer--do not watch this expecting any sort of cinematic masterpiece and know that not all t he jokes have carried over well across the half-century since it was released.

It's certainly an attention-grabber, if nothing else.
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Excellence in Grace
blue_42_7029 August 2005
There is absolutely no way to match the grace of Fred Astaire. Wait maybe you could balance it with the elegance of Audrey Hepburn! That's what this movie does making it a must see for any "Classics" fan. This is the epitome of greatness. Two of the greatest of all time together is to meet the combustion potential of Audrey with the flare of Astaire. There are absolutely no words fitting enough to describe this coupling. They are absolutely incredible. Please do yourself a favor and pick this one up anywhere you can! It will not disappoint you and if it does then romantic-musical-comedy isn't your genre, maybe you should try Greek tragedy. Ha-Ha! So get it and enjoy!
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Romantic, stylish and witty- just great fun
TheLittleSongbird17 February 2011
I was surprised at how much I loved Funny Face. It looks beautiful, with stunning locations(Paris especially looks gorgeous), splendid costumes and sets and ravishing photography. George and Ira Gershwin's songs are superb, I especially loved Funny Face and How Long Has This Been Going On?, and the incidental music is suitably mellow, while the story is wonderfully romantic if very simple and the script sparkles with wit.

Stanley Donen's direction is credible, and the choreography fits each musical sequence very nicely, especially that of He Loves, She Loves which is beautifully filmed and Audrey Hepburn is so elegant in this scene. The performances add a lot to this film. Fred Astaire is charming and debonair and acts, sings and dances very well. Audrey Hepburn is beautiful and very beguiling, while Kay Thompson also stands out which is no easy feat considering she is up against two greats. In regards to the chemistry and the age difference between Astaire and Hepburn, I had no problem with the age difference and I thought the two worked really well together.

However, Funny Face does have a few scenes that I am not all that fond of. One is the Clap Yo' Hands routine, it's well performed and choreographed but to me it was also very dated and humourless. The main ones are the ones with the ridicule of Emile Flostre, which came across as very anti-intellectual and very atypical of Donen.

Overall though, it is a very nice film and great fun. 8/10 Bethany Cox
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