Funny Face (1957)
On Wednesday, January 7th, Movies at Mothers returns when we present our third film charting the extraordinary career of the great Fred Astaire, Funny Face, directed by Stanley Donen and co-starring Audrey Hepburn and Kay Thompson. Music is by George and Ira Gershwin, as well as Leonard Gershe and Roger Edens.
When a fashion shoot for Quality Magazine invades a Greenwich Village bookstore, photographer Dick Avery (Fred Astaire) takes note of the store’s Bohemian cashier, Jo Stockton (Audrey Hepburn). He recognizes in her a charm and intelligence that set her apart from the haute couture models with whom he normally works. Dick convinces Quality’s editor, Maggie Prescott (Kay Thompson) to take a chance on the girl and give him the opportunity to feature Jo in a high profile fashion shoot in Paris. Though reticent about pursuing a career as a fashion model, a profession she regards as facile and mindless, Jo jumps at the opportunity to travel to Paris in the hopes she might meet her intellectual hero, Professor Emile Flostre (Michel Auclair), founder of the philosophical school of “Empathicalism”.
Funny Face is Stanley Donen’s stylish and colorful send up of the fashion world, reveling in its most seductive qualities, while in equal measure poking fun at its inherent absurdities. Nowhere is this more exuberantly displayed than in the Gershe/Edens number “Think Pink”, where Maggie Prescott (patterned after Vogue editor Diana Vreeland), composes an editorial for Quality Magazine declaring pink as the de rigueur color for the modern woman. This number, along with several other sequences use multiple split screens to mimic the page layout format of fashion magazines of the era.
As an additional nod to the world of Haute Couture, much of Dick Avery’s photography, as well as the imagery in the opening title sequence was created by Richard Avedon, including the iconic high-contrast portrait of Audrey Hepburn that we see created before our eyes as Dick serenades Jo in the darkroom with the titular number, “Funny Face”.
Like last month’s offering of The Band Wagon, which was based on a 1932 Broadway show that featured Fred Astaire and his sister Adele, Funny Face get’s it’s title and four of its songs from a 1927 review that showcased the Astaires with music by George and Ira Gershwin. In the case of both film adaptations, the plotlines have nothing to do with the original productions, and several entirely new songs have been added.
The excitement begins at 6:30 when you can enjoy one of the best dinners in town, followed by the screening at 7:00 PM. Hope to see you there!
Mothers is located at 212 SW. Stark.