Combustible Celluloid
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With: Fred Astaire, Audrey Hepburn, Kay Thompson, Michel Auclair, Robert Flemyng, Dovima, Virginia Gibson
Written by: Leonard Gershe
Directed by: Stanley Donen
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 103
Date: 02/13/1957

Funny Face (1957)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

That Funny, Sunny Face

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The cinema was created for Audrey Hepburn's face. Light and celluloid never caressed any other actor's face so perfectly, so lovingly. She was beautiful and charming and regal. She moved like some lovely, lean sea creature. Her first starring role in Roman Holiday (1953), for which she won an Oscar, set her up in our minds as a princess, and we never got over it.

So we're very excited now that Paramount Home Entertainment has released several Audrey Hepburn movies to DVD, including Funny Face. It's a full-color musical extravaganza, directed by Stanley Donen (Singin' in the Rain), one of the kings of the color musical. Fred Astaire stars in his last great role, still hoofing and singing in his late '50s, while Audrey was a mere 28. Astaire plays a Richard Avedon-like photographer who discovers the meek bookworm and hepcat-wannabe Hepburn working in a dingy bookstore. Astaire whisks Hepburn away to Paris, but the brainy lass is more interested in Paris' beat-culture, of which Donen presents a vibrant spoof. The Gershwin music ("How Long Has This Been Going On?", "S'Wonderful") keeps the film bouncing, as well as Donen's extremely lively use of color.

Funny Face gives Hepburn a rare opportunity to really play around, using her intelligence as well as her charm. In addition, she always excelled playing opposite much older men--she was too classy for men her own age--and Astaire makes a great co-star for her. It's one of her looser, more animated pictures as well. The crisp digital images on these DVDs make it possible to gaze at Audrey's face with even greater clarity, and the world moves a little closer to perfection.

In 2009, Paramount released a third edition of Funny Face on a two-disc DVD set (as part of Paramount's Centennial Collection). It includes many of the extras from the previous two versions, plus a couple of new ones. A Blu-ray edition followed in 2014.

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