I remarked a few months ago that I’m a fan of the 1968 musical Funny Girl. Sure the plot gets a little plodding at times, but Barbra Streisand is a delight in it. The thing is, Omar Sharif’s performance is often forgotten – understandably, I suppose, but still. A scene I often think of in Funny Girl is not one that people turn to immediately when they remember it, but in its way it’s a beautiful piece. The Fanny/Nick arc is not the thrust of the film, but Omar and Barbra are lovely to watch together in this romantic and funny scene. From Fanny's appearance it's a dance between humour and romance.
Fanny's would be romance with Nick seems stalled and she's still uncertain what his intentions are, she may be becoming a star but she's still unsure of herself. They argue, and then she decides to stay. He orders dinner and she giggles realising she has no idea what he's saying.
"If I can't tell when you're ordering roast beef and potatoes, how can I tell when you're making advances?"But, of course she will know because he'll be much more direct. He says so.
He begins -
"You are woman! I am man." (the name of the song)
We don’t usually see Sharif like this, but the role is tailor made for him, he just has to look good and make us believe that Streisand’s Fanny would be enticed by him. It’s no tough job for him, but that doesn’t make it any shoddier.
"You are softer to the touch,It’s a feeling I like feeling very much."
You can almost see Fanny breathing, as she gets tense under his touch. Fanny is such a inexperienced girl and Streisand’s plays it impeccably. For example, I love how she’s so on edge she downs the glass of champagne in one go.
It’s only adding to the comedy, and what’s more Sharif is still cool as cucumber, his Nick isn’t fazed a bit.
" ...Still our friendship...leaves something to be desired..."
It does make us wonder how dangerous he could be, but Fanny’s obviously caught in his web.
As we watch her face (Streisand is so emotive) we can see her defences wearing down more and more. It leads to the first attempt at the kiss.
"You are woman I am man.Let’s kiss."
In her own way, Fanny’s trying to fend him off for the sake of chastity, we can presume. Lucky for her, the seduction is interrupted by the butler.
This leads to Fanny’s own monologue (which is played over while she thinks). It’s a nice moment, but not only for Streisand’s singing (truthfully, the song is lovely but it doesn’t show her range), but it’s still nice seeing her face as she has that emotional tug-of-war. And William Wyler, never one to shirk on cinematic idiosyncrasies gives us moments like this –
"Should I do the things he tells me to?In this pickle...what would Sadie do?"
"Just suppose he wants his dinner back..."
It’s more than the just the slight humour in Fanny mimicking the statues though, the art direction and costume design are just lush her and what better way to show them off?
Of course the butler can only stay for so long, and eventually the lights are dimmed – we know what’s coming next…
But she’s liking it…
And then of course, the kiss – lovely.
But of course, it doesn’t end there…
"...If I stop him now, can he sue me?!"
But she won’t stop him…the lights go down and the camera pans out…
…as they kiss.
Funny Girl is a delight...and so is this scene.