Funny Girl

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(1968) ★★

BBC2: Saturday 15 August, 1pm

Barbra Streisand as music hall star Fanny Brice in a strident, cliché-ridden musical from a celebrated Broadway production. Walter Pidgeon is legendary showman Florenz Ziegfeld, the handsome gambler Fanny falls for is played by Omar Sharif. The iconic Egyptian actor, who sadly died in Cairo last month at age 83, was noted for his devotion to bridge, but this still feels like a funny way to commemorate his work. The way to go is surely his unforgettable debut opposite Peter O’Toole in Lawrence of Arabia (Sky Movies Select at 4.20pm). Sharif’s entrance is one of cinema’s most transfixing moments. As for Funny Girl, it’s fine for Streisand fans, a headache for everyone else – including, it seems, veteran director William Wyler. When asked if he had any trouble with his leading lady, a notorious perfectionist, Wyler replied sardonically: “Not really, seeing as it’s the first film she ever directed.” Along with Frank Capra and John Ford, Wyler completes the trio of film-makers who have won more than two Oscars for directing. It was the highest grossing film in the US for 1968, so a sequel – Funny Lady – was inevitable, even if it didn’t arrive until 1975. In the meantime, Streisand consolidated her screen stardom with Hello, Dolly! and The Way We Were. Better than all of them is Funny Face (Film4, Tuesday at 11am), the silky smooth 50s Gershwin musical in which fashion snapper Fred Astaire turns shy bookshop clerk Audrey Hepburn into a chic cover girl and the toast of Paris.

Certificate: U

Duration: 155min

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