Plot: What’s it about?
Jo Stockton (Audrey Hepburn) is just a bookstore clerk right now, but she has some ideas that could take her beyond her simple means. She has some radical ideas in fact and time, she seeks to spread her ideas and also meet with those who inspired her. The main goal she has is to meet with the founder of a strange philosophy called empathicalism, which involves total rejection of all material goods. But her earnings don’t amount to much and since the founder lives in Paris, she has a long road ahead of her in order to reach her goals. The road will soon be a little smoother however, when photographer Dick Avery (Fred Astaire) enters the scene and changes her life forever. Avery takes pictures for a famous fashion magazine and is looking for his newest cover girl, which just might be Jo Stockton. Of course, this kind of clashes with Jo’s ideals and such, but since the deal includes a trek to Paris, it might be pretty hard for her to decline…
I can’t say that I like all of her movies, but I do like all the performances of Audrey Hepburn. This disc is part of Paramount’s Audrey Hepburn Collection, which is a series I am very much pleased to see and couldn’t wait to make my way through, of course. As usual, Hepburn steals this one and even with other dynamic elements present, she shines above them all to remain the focus. As she falls in love, she takes us with her and that ensures that the emotion is solid, which is an important factor in this kind of flick. She is joined on screen by such folks as Fred Astaire, Michel Auclair, and Kay Thompson, all of whom seem in fine enough form. This has musical elements of course, which are very well done and add a lot of fun to the picture, even non musical fans will find a lot to like with Funny Face’s numbers. I wouldn’t call this a deep film by any means, but it satisfied in all respects and is a real treat to watch, which is enough and then some. I am very pleased to own this delightful movie on our format of choice and as such, I issue a strong recommendation for this disc, even if a little lax on extras.
As is usually the case in her films, Audrey Hepburn is the main focus here and once again, she simply shines in her performance. In this picture, she is able to showcase her usual skills, but also show off her lesser seen talents, very cool indeed. Here she is able to sing and dance a little, which she did so well in stage productions, but wasn’t able to do all the time in her feature films. And of course, she delivers on all counts with yet another superb turn, almost flawless in all respects. Her charms seem in full form in Funny Face and the deeper in love she falls, the more graceful and likable her character becomes. She is helped out by a more than solid supporting cast, but I think she takes the spotlight and deserves every second of it. You can also see Hepburn in such pictures as War and Peace, Sabrina, The Unforgiven, How To Steal A Million, My Fair Lady, and Two For The Road. The cast here also includes Fred Astaire (Royal Wedding, Daddy Long Legs), Robert Flemyng (The 39 Steps, Blackmailed), Kay Thompson (The Kid From Brooklyn), and Michel Auclair (The Swashbuckler, The Beautiful Prisoner).
Video: How does it look?
Funny Face is presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. This flick uses some offbeat visual techniques, some of which have held up well and some of which now show signs of age, which is not good. The intentional soft focus sequences look solid, but even hazier than ever, which could throw off some new viewers. The intense colors look more vivid than I expected, but do show some pulses at times, although not much in the end. I saw no contrast problems either, but there is more than a little edge enhancement present and that lessens the visual experience. This is not the visual presentation I would have liked to own, but this is the finest home video edition I’ve seen, so I am giving it good marks.
Audio: How does it sound?
As they often do, Paramount has included a new Dolby Digital 5.1 track here, which enhances the musical scenes more than a little. Of course, this movie doesn’t have the kind of potential in terms of audio as more modern flicks, but there’s some life in this mix and it shows here. I found this to be a very natural sounding experience, which is good, since some of these older remixes can have a hollow texture to them. The musical pieces sound superb in this mix, much more alive than expected and very effective in the end. No issues with the vocals either, all the dialogue is very clean and always at a proper volume balance. This disc also includes French and English mono options, as well as English subtitles.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc includes a selection of still photos, the film’s theatrical trailer, and Paramount In The ’50s, a retrospective featurette. This piece is not specific to this film, but it does add some value to this disc and fans of movies from this era should give it a look.