Song of the Day #4,353: ‘People’ – Barbra Streisand

I love the experience of seeing something I’ve heard of but never really known, something I think is one thing but find out is something else entirely. That was how I responded to 1968’s Funny Girl.

The William Wyler film is based on the Broadway show of the same name, and features Barbra Streisand’s film debut, reprising the role she brought to life on stage. It depicts the relationship of actress Fanny Brice and her high-roller husband, Nicky Arnstein (played by Omar Sharif in the film).

I knew nothing about this movie except that it starred Streisand, though I had no idea it was her first onscreen role. She won the Best Actress Oscar, tying with Katherine Hepburn, and became one of the only actors to win for their screen debut. Streisand did not win the Tony for her performance of Fanny Brice on stage, and is subsequently one T short of an EGOT.

Funny Girl is basically a retelling of A Star is Born, where a talented woman’s rise to fame coincides with her husband’s downward spiral. In this case, it is gambling rather than alcoholism that does in Nicky Arnstein.

Streisand went on to star in the 1976 remake of A Star is Born opposite Kris Kristofferson. And, picture a snake eating its own tail, recent Star is Born alum Lady Gaga is set to play Fanny Brice onstage in a Broadway revival of Funny Girl.

Shockingly, the only Streisand screen performance I’ve seen prior to this was The Prince of Tides. In my defense, she hasn’t been very prolific during my lifetime. After delivering 11 film roles in the 70s, she has appeared in just eight films during the last 40 years.

I was blown away by her performance. I knew well that she has those pipes, but I wasn’t prepared for how funny she is, or how effortlessly she commands the screen. For an actress to deliver such a charming tour de force performance in her very first movie is truly astonishing.

I might not watch Nuts anytime soon, but I plan to check out the rest of those 70s movies.

Funny Girl ranks #16 on the AFI 100 Years of Musicals list. On the strength of Streisand’s performance, I’d rank it higher on my own.

We travel single, oh
Maybe we’re lucky, but I don’t know

With them just let one kid fall down
And seven mothers faint
I guess we’re both happy
But maybe we ain’t

People, people who need people
Are the luckiest people in the world
We’re children, needing other children
And yet letting our grown-up pride
Hide all the need inside
Acting more like children than children

Lovers are very special people
They’re the luckiest people in the world
With one person, one very special person
A feeling deep in your soul
Says you were half, now you’re whole
No more hunger and thirst
But first, be a person who needs people

People who need people
Are the luckiest people in the world

3 thoughts on “Song of the Day #4,353: ‘People’ – Barbra Streisand

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen this movie or, if I did, it was when I was a kid. Seems like a good one to add to our pandemic movie list.

  2. Peg says:

    I love this movie and Streisand’s performance. We saw a wonderful production in the Town Hall theater a few years ago. My memories of Streisand in other movies are that she is best when in a musical because her extraordinary voice is better than her acting especially in a drama IMO

  3. Amy says:

    As you might remember, I was a rather enthusiastic Streisand fan in my late teens and early 20’s. During those years, I made a point to listen to all of her albums and to see many of her films. This was, unsurprisingly, one of the highlights, though I also quite enjoyed The Main Event, What’s Up, Doc?, and, of course, The Way We Were (tell me you’ve at least seen that one!!) I was such a huge fan, in fact, that when Nuts premiered and didn’t open in Gainesville, where I was attending school, my roommate and I drove two hours to see it in Orlando. I used a monologue from that film in my Oral Interpretation of Literature class. In fact, that film inspired the theme for my final project in that class – madness. So… I’m glad you finally got a taste of what inspired me all those years ago. Barbra Streisand is a legend.

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