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. Fanny is now getting close to Nick and she’s invited to his home. Fanny is still an impressionable young girl, and Nick is a man of the world. She doesn’t even realise that he plans on seducing her until he actually starts singing.
He begins -
You are woman! I am man. (the name of the song)
Streisand is a comedian at heart, even though her dramatic turns are good it’s the comedy she always plays with such alacrity. I just love the expression on her face her, it’s exaggerated (as much is throughout this scene) and it works because that’s who Fanny is.
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…
It’s a moment that’s both romantic and funny, and it works both ways. Sharif is still being exceptionally seductive, but Fanny spends the time giggling as if he’s tickling her funny bone.
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.