nobody movie_The Daily Stream: A new movie star meets an old-school musical in a funny face

Funny Face was released in 1957 at the end of the classic Hollywood musical era. Two years earlier, “Oklahoma!” was released in theaters, and the rise of the roadshow mega-musicals that would dominate (and subsequently kill) form in the 1960s was just beginning. The story of “Funny Face” would have felt just as at home in the 1930s or 1940s as it did then, and regardless of the decade, Fred Astaire probably still would have starred. This is a frothy light film in which the scenes seem more like excuses to get to the songs than the songs do any sort of legwork to help tell the story. Luckily, Stanley Donen is the one at the helm, and no one knows how to move his camera to show heartbreaking, thrilling choreography like he does. The way he moves bodies effortlessly through beautifully lit spaces can also be seen in films like “sing in the rain‘ and ‘On the Town’ is just wonderful.

While an integral part of the Hollywood studio system, Donen never rests on his laurels and has always found new ways to assert himself as a visual stylist. Funny Face serves as a fulcrum for the director, blending the more traditional work of those earlier musicals with his more experimental side, seen in pictures like Charade and Two for the Road (both starring Audrey Hepburn). . We have the scenes of Fred Astaire singing and dancing to old school Gershwin songs, having fun with different props and such. However, we also have scenes such as Audrey Hepburn performing a modern jazz dance in a Paris nightclub, adorned in a black turtleneck and pants and bathed in red and green lights. The back and forth of old school and new school is invigorating, and Donen executes both to perfection.

When Hollywood abandoned the classic Academy ratio (1.375:1) in favor of CinemaScope’s wider images (2.55:1), VistaVision was Paramount’s middle ground between the two formats, offering fine-grained film that looked beautiful in 1.85:1 . Crucial to Funny Face was that it provided an exceptional setting to capture the dance. While CinemaScope provides a great setting for the audience, it can cause a lot of trouble if you only focus on a few dancers. If you frame them properly where their whole body is in the frame, they can look awfully small on screen and they’re surrounded by a lot of negative space. The way Donen uses VistaVision sees a brilliant compromise between a widescreen format and dance. No set piece, whether it be Astaire dancing alone in a small Parisian square or split-screen watching Astaire, Hepburn and Kay Thompson traverse the city’s most famous landmarks, looks equally superb in the film. No number is lost when shuffling, every single one jumps off the screen.

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