Funny Face (1957)
Hepburn Snaps a Cinderella Story
I was taught that I ought not expose my inner senses... - Jo
Audrey Hepburn made two musicals during her career the first was "Funny Face" where she danced alongside Fred Astaire and the second was "My Fair Lady" with both revolving around a semi-Cinderella story. And as you would expect from a musical "Funny Face" is full of song and dance scenes featuring both the talents of Audrey Hepburn but also her co-stars most significantly Fred Astaire who together deliver some of the most memorable scenes in the movie.
Whilst searching for a different location for a fashion shoot, photographer Dick Avery (Fred Astaire - The Band Wagon) stumbles across a little bookshop which along with his boss Mrs. Prescott (Kay Thompson) and a gaggle of assistants commandeer. But whilst there he meets the dowdy, but beautiful assistant Jo (Audrey Hepburn - Sabrina) and when checking through the photos he realises that Jo has something special about her. With the help of Mrs. Prescott they persuade Jo into heading off to Paris with them on a modelling job, even though she despises the idea of being an air headed clothes horse. Whilst there not only does she start to enjoy the work but also the company of Dick as they become romantically entangled. But even in the city of Love it doesn't always run smoothly.
I'm not going to lie; the storyline to "Funny Face" is as simple and obvious as they come with a Cinderella style tale. After the meeting in the book shop photographer Dick whisks the slightly dowdy Jo off to Paris to model for him and soon not only does dowdy Jo turn into beautiful Jo but they find love. Of course things don't run entirely smoothly, it would be boring if they did, but it is certainly not the most complex or believable of storylines. And there is nothing wrong with that as "Funny Face" is simply charming and fantasy like, even though when Audrey Hepburn is meant to be dowdy her natural beauty radiates through.
Of course the reason for this simplistic take on a Cinderella story is that "Funny Face" is a musical and the various song and dance scenes take precedence over the storyline. Thankfully it works be it whether it's magazine editor Maggie Prescott singing "Think Pink!", Fred Astaire dazzling us with not only his twinkle toes but also voice as he delivers "Let's Kiss and Make Up" or Audrey Hepburn delighting us with "How Long Has This Been Going On?". You could say it's all a little stereotypical with these song and dance scenes ending up being the most memorable aspect of the movie but it doesn't matter because they achieve their purpose and that is to entertain and you expect nothing less from a movie with a Gershwin score.
As for the acting well as a fan of Audrey Hepburn she is as wonderful and beautiful as ever. Yes she maybe a little too beautiful to be believable as a dowdy book shop assistant but it doesn't matter as she shows not only some impressive dancing skills with an amusing expressionist dance routine but also her pleasant singing voice. And alongside Hepburn is Fred Astaire who as you can imagine is completely at home delivering all the song and dance scenes often with a wonderful touch of humour as in his double act scene with Kay Thompson "Clap Yo' Hands". Talking of which Kay Thompson is perfectly over the top as magazine editor Maggie Prescott delivering many of the movies funnier moments including one with an over sized pair of scissors.
What this all boils down to is that "Funny Face" is a very enjoyable musical, an entertaining movie with plenty of memorable song and dance scenes. Audrey Hepburn is wonderful, Fred Astaire is marvellous and Kay Thompson injects a brilliant sense of comedy. But whilst it all works it never feels anything more than solid and adequate especially when compared to other musicals which have far more memorable song and dances scenes.
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