Funny Face is a 1957 American musical romantic comedy film directed by Stanley Donen and written by Gershe with songs written by George and Ira Gershwin. Although having the same title as 1927 musical by the Gershwin brothers, and also featuring Fred Astaire, the plot is completely different and only four of the original songs from the stage production are included in the film. Along with Astaire, the movie also stars Audrey Hepburn and Kay Thompson.
Maggie Prescott, a fashion magazine publisher and editor for Quality magazine, is looking for the next big craze. She wants a new look that will be both “beautiful” and “intellectual.” She and top fashion photographer Dick Avery want models that can “think as well as they look.” The two put their heads together and come up with the idea to use a Greenwich Village bookshop as the background.
They find the shop they want, “Embryo Concepts,” which is being run by the timid store assistant and wannabe philosopher, Jo Stockton. Jo thinks the fashion world is an utter joke. Maggie decides to use Jo but after the first picture, she is locked outside the shop to keep her from interrupting Maggie’s session. The crew leaves the store in complete disarray and Dick stays behind to help clean up.
Back at the offices of Quality magazine, Dick sees something in Jo’s face that is fresh and new and would be perfect for the newest campaign. They send for Jo, pretending they want to buy some books from her store. On arrival, they make her over and try to cut her hair. She is livid and hides in Dick’s darkroom where is working. When Dick talks about going to Paris, Jo becomes interested in the chance to see the philosopher teacher Professor Flostre and is coaxed into modelling for the magazine. Photo-shoot, after photo-shoot, Jo starts to fall in love with Dick. He eventually falls in love with her too.
It is hard to believe that this film was a disappointment at the box office, because it is cute, fun, clever, humorous, romantic and heartwarming. The are romantic songs like “How Long Has This Been Going On?” and “He Loves You and She Loves You” and fun numbers like, “Funny Face” and “Clap Yo’ Hands.” The choreography by Eugene Loring is random, creative and fun, which of course both Hepburn and Astaire dance perfectly. The costumes designed by Edith Head and Hubert de Givenchy are absolutely gorgeous and probably some of the most exquisite costumes in cinematic history, worn by one of the most beautiful women in film history. Every single article clothing is tailored perfectly for Audrey’s thin frame and she wears the pieces with such poise and elegance.
This film does focus a lot on Jo (Hepburn) as a model and they should’ve gave equal time to her modelling life and outside life, but they didn’t. Very little of this movie focuses outside the fashion life of Jo and the magazine. It has a lot of scenes where it shows Jo posing for Dick’s camera, so not a whole lot of acting is done by Hepburn, but she still does a wonderful job in her role. Fred Astaire is outstanding as photographer Dick Avery, although in real life he was 58 years old and Audrey was 28. It is said in the movie that Jo is young, but they never say how young, no ages are actually mentioned, not sure if ages are mentioned in the stage production or not. But you can tell Dick is much older than Jo, just by looking at the characters.
This is truly a wonderful film filled with love, fashion, music and dance in two of the most breathtaking cities on earth, New York City, New York and Paris, France. Why this film received mixed reviews is beyond me, as find this to be a masterpiece of cinematic art. A few scenes are slow and yes it does spend much of the time on her photo-shoots and fashion shows, but it is still a fantastic movie. Lovely, heartwarming and fun-filled until the end. 11+ 4/5