Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Funny Face (1957 Film)
Genres: Jazz, Special Interest, Pop, Soundtracks, Broadway & Vocalists
Listen to Samples
Funny Face: 'S Paradise
Todd Brooks | Florida | 03/22/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I was never a real `fan' of musicals until I saw Funny Face. Even then, it took a second viewing for it to really sink in. While not as exuberant as Singin' in the Rain or as grandiose as My Fair Lady, it holds a special place in Audrey Hepburn's heart as one of the most enjoyable performances of her career--and it shows. Audrey only had to play herself to portray Jo, the pearl trapped inside the shell of self-doubt. In many ways, this mirrored her real life at the time. Reflecting her desire for something light after the grueling War & Peace of 1955, the film is bursting at the seams with energy throughout.
Sound quality-wise, the recording does leave a little to be desired. Though not pulled directly from the film as some may indicate, but rather the recording sessions that make up the film's soundtrack, it is identical to what you'll hear while watching it. This would be a prime candidate for a remaster.
On to the tracks! If you're reading this review, you have probably seen the film, but I feel like writing a bit for each one as a reminder.
1) Overture: Funny Face/'S Wonderful/Think Pink
Welcome to Funny Face! As the track begins, the listener expects an orchestral arrangement of the highlights; however, Fred Astaire politely interjects. We're treated to a slightly up-tempo and jazzier version of the title track, which melds into a dreamlike choral interpretation of "`S Wonderful". Also included is Kay Thompson's classic "Think Pink," which makes you wonder why it didn't receive a track of its own.
2) How Long Has This Been Going On?
A close tie with Moon River as my favorite vocal performance of all time from Audrey Hepburn, "How Long..." encapsulates the essence of Jo at the beginning of the film. Endearingly melodramatic, it is a very meticulous performance that places importance in every word, their pace, and placement. The orchestral interlude late in the song brings up the memory of Jo's unforgettable scene dancing with herself and the hat left behind in the wreckage of her bookshop.
3) How Long Has This Been Going On? [Instrumental Reprise]
A short postscript accompanies the performance involving a delicate clarinet lead following the melody of the title lyric, floating on a soft backdrop of intermittent strings.
4) Funny Face
Earning its distinction as the lightest and most unassuming number on the record, the title track melds the ballroom elegance and zest of its music with the silly, cheerful spirit of its subject matter: "You fill the air with smiles, for miles and miles and miles." My favorite part of the song is the step-ladder ascent of the strings, climbing up the scales at the climax--perfect!
5) Bonjour, Paris!
My favorite song on the record! "Bonjour, Paris!" is a boisterous, energetic production; in a word, BIG. It starts out with what sounds almost like the beginning to a national anthem, and leads into a snippet from the film--Jo, Dick, and Maggie display a false air of indifference to Paris upon arrival, perhaps to impress one another with their worldliness. Once separated, their true tourist curiosity is revealed. Thus begins a romanticized jaunt into Paris led by our three explorers, starting first with Dick: "I want to step out, down the Champs-Elysées..." Conspicuously (and deliberately) left absent is the Eiffel Tower, recognized by our three protagonists later in the song: "There's something missing, I know; there's still one place I gotta go," whereupon they discover the same "strictly tourist" nature in each other and embrace it. If this song doesn't put a smile on your face, I'm afraid there's little hope that anything will.
6) Clap Yo' Hands
If each of our three stars has a signature performance on the album, "Clap Yo' Hands" is unequivocally Kay Thompson's. A spicy mixture of swing, jazz, and blues, peppered occasionally with scat vocals for good measure, the track is perhaps the most uncharacteristic and unexpected. It fits into the story through Dick and Maggie posing as the flamboyant, country-fried pair from "Talluh-hassee" in order to gain admittance to the empathicalist gathering. In the middle of the song comes one of my favorite moments in the film: after the brash "ringa dem bells" section, the music comes to an immediate halt. What directly follows is a light, lilting melody accompanied by a hilarious synchronized jig by the actors: "Why, we's the two most friendly vibrations you ever seen." Thompson proves herself to be a force to be reckoned with vocally, demonstrated by the surprisingly high note she hits at the end. Another track sure to make the surliest of surlies crack a smile.
7) He Loves and She Loves
The most romantic song on the album, "He Loves and She Loves" is an ethereal, nearly percussion-less expression of Dick's falling in love with Jo, structured around a clever conjugation theme that reminds me all too well of my foreign-language class days. The delicate orchestral interlude, to allow for the dance, sharpens into a climax in a decidedly dissonant way, resulting in one of the albums few flaws. However a single, wistful violin saves the day and tastefully leads the listener to the close of the song.
8) Bonjour, Paris! [Instrumental Reprise]
Ira Gershwin presents us with a snappy jazz-fusion interpretation of "Bonjour, Paris," barely over a minute, and headed up by a marimba and saxophone leads. A light, brush-like snare drum and the occasional piano contribution are the supporting actors. If you didn't know better, you'd swear this was a Mancini piece written for Breakfast at Tiffany's.
9) On How to Be Lovely
"On How to Be Lovely" is the cutest track in the list. Featuring Thompson and Hepburn, it is an ambitious mid-tempo stage number with less emphasis placed on the band as compared to other songs to accentuate the vocal performances. Thompson's character, Maggie, takes on an almost motherly role to Jo (her parents are left a mystery to the viewer), demonstrating how to be "lovely" when she gets her first taste of fame. Maggie sings her teachings to the budding model, which are then repeated by Jo in true pupil fashion. Their two vocals occasionally meet into a pleasant harmony, and the "doo-wee-oo" sections prove to be delightfully charming.
10) Basal Metabolism
The only true instrumental on the album (barring, of course, the short instrumental reprises), "Basal Metabolism" is at first a disjointed exploration of avant-garde jazz. It is loosely based around the melody of "How Long Has This Been Going On," and conjures up images of a dimly lit, cigar smoke-filled gentleman's club. A minute or so into the song, as demonstrated in the film, a bass string is lifted at an exaggerated height and released, which begins a pluck-pluck rhythm, slowly evolving into a high-energy swing-jazz rendering of the song "Funny Face."
11) Let's Kiss and Make Up
Though the placement of this song belies its appearance in the chronology of the film, I feel the decision to place it as essentially the last song is well merited--for some reason, it just feels right that way. As I mentioned before, each of the stars had their signature moment in the soundtrack, and this is without a doubt Fred Astaire's. It shows his sweet nature, both on camera and off, and his incredible dance routine in the film proved to audiences this old favorite still "had it." The song has lovely flowing sections as well as staccato stop-start rhythms that are reflected in his dance steps. Midway into the song, the melody turns to an alarming tone indicative of a Spanish bullfighter, humorously acted out by Astaire.
12) `S Wonderful
And this, folks, is the icing on the cake. A dreamy, feather-light melody reminiscent of "He Loves and She Loves," it is a love song that plays upon the slang of those who speak too fast to let articulation catch up: `S Wonderful, `S Marvelous that you should care for me. As Dick and Jo have their final dance in the chapel yard, the orchestra takes over the last half of the song, culminating in an extravagant finish.
Above all, if you're anything like me, the soundtrack to Funny Face will make you happy, no matter what mood you're in. I can't think of any other recording that has such an effect on me. We need to be reminded every so often not to take life too seriously."
Great for some
Todd Brooks | 01/03/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I loved this soundtrack, mostly because I love the movie. Fred Astaire gives Gershwin's songs his usual warm style and Hepburn delights with her soft unique vocals; however, this cd may not be the best choice for everyone seeking songs from Funny Face. The clips of dialogue, which do display the experience of the film, also take away from the cd's music listening aspect. It helps tell the story, but takes away from the listening enjoyment of the common listener. If you don't mind dialogue in your music, like me, then this is for you. If not try getting a cd with Funny Face's wonderful songs on it. There are many cds with such songs sung by Fred Astaire and his sister Adele from the production of Funny Face they were in on Broadway during the 1920's."
FUNNY FACE really is "S'Wonderful"!!!
Byron Kolln | the corner where Broadway meets Hollywood | 11/26/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"FUNNY FACE is still regarded as one of the most enjoyable movie musicals ever made, with a top-notch cast headed by Fred Astaire, Kay Thompson and Audrey Hepburn, with a perfect Paris location. The soundtrack album of the film is a particular delight.Fred Astaire croons and breezes his way through numbers like the Title Song, "S'Wonderful" and "Let's Kiss and Make Up". Legendary song-stylist and arranger Kay Thompson (who had also worked as a vocal coach to many of the big M-G-M musical stars) brings down the house with her show-stopping "Think Pink", as well as her engergetic 11 o'clock number "Clap Yo' Hands". She later instructs Audrey in the finer points of womanhood in "On How to Be Lovely".Audrey Hepburn is charming as Jo Stockton, the 'dowdy, bookish intellectual shopgirl' (as she was referred to in the original ad campaign for the film), and sings an affecting version of "How Long Has This Been Going On?", and joins Astaire and Thompson for "Bonjour Paris!", a fast-paced valentine to the City of Lights.FUNNY FACE has been reissued here complete with the original Verve logo and liner notes. The remastering job is quite patchy, though lovers of this soundtrack will just be happy with having it in their collections."