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Daisy Gamble, an unusual woman who hears phones before they ring, and does wonders with her flowers, wants to quit smoking to please her fiancé, Warren. She goes to a doctor of hypnosis to do it. But once she's under, her doctor finds out that she can regress into past lives and different personalities, and he finds himself falling in love with one of them.Written by
I'm not a big Barbra Streisand fan. I've seen a couple of her films and I never liked them, so when I watched ON A CLEAR DAY YOU CAN SEE FOREVER, my expectations were low. After seeing ON A CLEAR DAY, I'm still not a Streisand fan but I have to say that it's the first time I enjoyed one of her films. It's not altogether successful and some of Streisand's usual shtick was annoying from time to time.
The main problem with ON A CLEAR DAY was the structure of the story. It's very uneven and because there are several different timelines, one taking place in the present, and two or three during the past, plus the myriad of songs sung by Streisand and the great Yves Montand, sometimes in different styles, the whole thing just didn't jibe. To make matters worse, the movie is filled with an endless number of incongruous ideas and themes, many of them borrowed from other musicals of the 1960s (MY FAIR LADY, CAMELOT, OLIVER, etc), or original to this musical but still conflicting with each other, like ESP, reincarnation, hypnotism, regression, multiple personalities, making plants grow faster, blackmail, court cases, death penalty, Streisand's square boyfriend, smoking, etc, none which are fully explored and with everything ending up muddled for nothing.
There are even more problems with ON A CLEAR DAY. The story is never clear over what we're supposed to feel for Streisand and Montand. Are they supposed to fall in love? Were they supposed to be lovers or were they always supposed to remain platonic because of the doctor - patient relationship? Does Montand only love Melinda? Where were they going with all the conflicts between the two? The resolution of their relationship is not satisfactory at all.
Then there's the whole tedious part when Montand is in trouble with the university and he might lose his job. This plot point served no purpose at all and should have been left on the cutting room's floor. And the film is painfully dated during the contemporary scenes.
There was just too much going on. Like DARLING LILI, another ill-fated musical released in 1970, ON A CLEAR DAY suffers from a clear case of multiple personalities. Unlike LILI, this Streisand musical is not a disaster. It's just that the story and direction were all over the place. There was no focus and if there was a story that needed focus, it's this one. With better direction, and without the dated set-up in the contemporary scenes, this film could have been amazing.
There are still nuggets of greatest to be found here and there amidst the beautiful mess. My favorite scene is the one when we hear Streisand singing "Love With All The Trimmings" while Babs, as Melinda Tentrees, flirts with the ridiculously handsome John Richardson. It's so over-the-top in it's depiction of romance novel lushness that the only thing you can do is admire this bit of nonsense. In fact, if you don't think too much about ON A CLEAR DAY and follow it for what it is, the movie is pure escapism. You're sorta whisked away into an adventure that takes place in the mind. I just wished it knew what it wanted to be and that Streisand wasn't wearing those dated & scary 1960s clothes.
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