Thursday, March 13, 1980
|7:30 p.m.||Funny Face plus Interview with Richard Avedon|
Stanley Donen (USA,1957)
Albert Johnson Introduces and Hosts Stanley Donen and Richard Avedon Following Screening!
In Wheeler Auditorium
“This outstandingly beautiful musical film remains a tribute to the best elements of the genre - it epitomizes lyric entertainment at its most visually stylish, tuneful and romantic, and, in a sense, indicates the need for a return to these elements in contemporary American cinema. The forthright, traditional approach to the musical still works, especially with Fred Astaire in his last great role as lyric hero, and with Audrey Hepburn in her only, very extraordinary appearance as lyric heroine. Another marvel, not to be underestimated on any level, is the major presence of Kay Thompson (former radio jazz singer and longtime vocal arranger at MGM, notably for Charles Walters, Judy Garland, Lena Horne, etc.). This trio of artists perform, together and separately, with dazzling virtuosity, and their triangular paean to Paris, ‘Bonjour, Paris’ (written by Roger Edens) is the classic emotional outburst felt at some point by every American who has ever visited that city’s glittering byways. The music, by Gershwin for the most part, only emphasizes, in the most dulcet way, the mad jazz-patterns of people-of-fashion, slightly amok and in love, not too far from the Ritz.
“The tale is mock-Cinderella, with a brainy gamine from Greenwich Village, suddenly discovered by a magazine photographer, and transformed into the world’s most famous image of ‘haute couture.’ It is all-too-possible that the photographer resembles the fabled Richard Avedon, whose portraits have so recently been exposed to all the world. Mr. Avedon’s fame has been with us for more than two decades, and he served as ‘visual consultant’ on Funny Face, which is why the film resembles no other: it has the same visual mastery associated with that man who painted a bridge at Arles. Avedon’s excitement is inherent in every explosion of color - from an eye-popping succession of pink sylphs in a faery-world of narcissism to a witty series of Audrey Hepburn as a model subjected to different moods and locales, a mute Bernhardt in triumph over absolute ‘chichi.’”
Director Stanley Donen, one of the greatest directors of American musicals of the fifties, began his career as a Broadway chorus dancer (appearing in the original “Pal Joey”), and went on to Hollywood where he worked as assistant choreographer on several films with Gene Kelly, including Busby Berkeley’s Take Me Out to the Ball Game (1949). Donen and Kelly teamed to co-direct the legendary On the Town in 1949, and again for Singin’ in the Rain in 1952 and It’s Always Fair Weather in 1955. Among Donen’s outstanding number of features are Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954), The Pajama Game (1957), Damn Yankees (1958), Once More with Feeling (1959), Two for the Road (1966), and Bedazzled (1967).
• Directed by Stanley Donen. Screenplay by Leonard Gershe. Photographed by Ray June. Visual Consultant: Richard Avedon. Art Direction by Hal Pereira, George W. Davis. Music arranged by Adolph Deutsch from George and Ira Gershwin, Roger Edens, and Leonard Gershe. Choreographed by Fred Astaire, Eugene Loring. With Fred Astaire, Audrey Hepburn, Kay Thompson, Michel Auclair. (1957, 103 mins, Technicolor, Print from
Preceded by the short,
Interview with Richard Avedon
A BBC-filmed interview between Richard Avedon and Robert Hughes, Time Magazine critic, made during the Marlborough Gallery Avedon Exhibition in 1975.
• (1975, 20 mins, color, Print Courtesy of Richard Avedon)