Funny Face (1957)

by MARINOVSKA

France. The third most-visited country in the world with the capital in  Paris – extremely popular, visited by millions of tourists every year. City of love, a city of burlesque, cabaret and film. The place which attracts foreign filmmakers. Hollywood takes it as guarantor of success (no wonder, European cities have always been attractive film sets). But there is no other place like Paris. It is not hard to create a list of box office blockbusters filmed on the river Seine. Certainly, on this list would be few titles with Audrey Hepburn.

I love musicals but I realize how many people, especially men believed them to be detached from reality (Seriously, guys? Flying superheroes, streets of Fast&Furious, Bruce Willis saving the world – how is that more real than singing in the rain?).

A musical is a very demanding genre. The musical actor is observed to be less demarcated from dancer or singer nowadays. He must be all (although, the cast of the latest “La La Land” gives me uncomfortable shivers). As a graduated musical actress and a friend of a couple of beautiful and talented students of Academy of Music, I know how difficult and sometimes undervalued this craft can be. Especially when the special effects are your skills and hard work. Here, instead of exploding cars and the newest technology, the scale of voice and the beautiful plie counts.

“Funny Face” has it all – a wonderful story inspired by real people, catchy songs, brilliant lyrics, timeless costumes and of course Paris!

“Funny Face” is a graceful story of the lovely girl Jo (Audrey Hepburn) who works in a bookstore and admires philosophical theories and their sages. Discovered by top fashion photographer (Fred Astaire), who was looking for his “cover face”, suddenly becomes a model and is going to Paris for her very first photo shoot. Observing the adventures of main characters, we follow them through the most famous Parisian neighborhoods and streets, we see beautiful choreography and listen to ones of the most iconic musical songs of the history like Bonjour Paris or Think Pink. I must admit, in comparison to Kay Thompson or Fred Astaire, Audrey’s voice is fairly average, yet, the producers did not take it away from her like they did behind her back during the production of My Fair Lady when they replaced her with vocals of Marni Nixon. Because of that, Audrey lost her chance for Academy Award nomination. Here, however, the voice of Audrey – octave, and one note – sounds well and the jazz How Long Has This Been Going On is a timeless classic song now.

The artist who finds his muse and then gradually falls for her has always been a good, charming storyline. The duet Hepburn-Astaire plays (and dances) it well, at its highest level. Too bad, that almost all her screen partners, including Gary Cooper and Humphrey Bogart, were more than twenty years older. Closest to her age was probably only William Holden with whom she had an affair while working on the set of Sabrina.

Jo Stockton is dressed in the finest costumes of two: first is the most famous Paramount’s chief costume designer, Edith Head and Hubert de Givenchy – French, young designer, the longtime friend of Miss Hepburn. Since Sabrina, he dressed her in almost every movie she was starring. Why was that? Because great movie stars used to chose their screen wardrobe. The style of our main character is timeless – the cut of her dresses is referring to Dior’s New Look and the cigarette pants are trying to displace the sexy look of rebellious Brigitte Bardot. Audrey exposes, the not so common anymore, type of sex appeal, proving that class and taste were once the domain of young women too. And these hats!


TITLE

FUNNY FACE

DIRECTOR

STANLEY DONEN

COSTUMES

HUBERT DE GIVENCHY, EDITH HEAD

FAVOURITE QUOTE

Maggie Prescott: The Quality Woman must have grace, elegance and pizazz.

Dick Avery: Every girl on every page of Quality has grace, elegance, and pizazz. Now, what’s wrong with bringing out a girl who has character, spirit, and intelligence?

Dovitch: That certainly would be novel in a fashion magazine.