There are a number of choose motion pictures from my childhood that can perpetually maintain a really particular place in my coronary heart. However the one which stands out most in my thoughts is the Barbra Steisand-led musical manufacturing of Humorous Woman, which follows the life and profession of Broadway star Fanny Brice and her spectacular rise to stardom. There’s love, there’s romance, there’s a ton of incredible musical numbers. It’s little surprise the movie went on to obtain a whopping eight Academy Award nominations.
The movie got here out again on September 18, 1968, which, to be clear, is almost twenty years earlier than I used to be even born (let’s not make me any older than I already am, thanks very a lot). So, why was a ‘90s baby so emotionally invested in a ‘60s movie, you would possibly ask? Nicely, for starters, it was considered one of my mother’s favourite motion pictures, and we at all times had a good time watching it collectively. Once in a while, we’d simply get within the temper to observe it, make some popcorn, and sing alongside to all of our favourite numbers. It was a particular time put aside for simply the 2 of us — one thing that I’ve come to treasure increasingly more through the years.
But that wasn’t the one cause I’ve at all times felt such an in depth kinship with this movie. To me, Fanny Brice is an underrated feminist icon who has by no means actually acquired the credit score she deserves. However now, on the point of Humorous Woman’s fifty fifth anniversary, it’s time to offer Streisand’s character her simply rewards.
Admittedly, many works of cinema haven’t held as much as the check of time, and all through the years, Humorous Woman has acquired its justifiable share of criticism from viewers. A fast Google search will present you that one of many largest complaints concerning the movie facilities round Fanny’s love life, significantly in terms of her most important love curiosity, Nicky Arnstein (Omar Sharif). Many discovered the romance disappointing and felt that it lowered Fanny to nothing greater than a lovesick lady prepared to surrender every thing she had labored so onerous for to marry a good-looking man.
To an extent, I can see the place the frustration is coming from. Right here was a lady on her strategy to changing into an enormous Broadway success — the epitome of every thing she had ever dreamed of. Nevertheless, after spending a while with Nick, she realizes how a lot she loves him and decides to halt occurring tour to go see him, which culminates in them getting married. However does that call robotically make her not a feminist? I are inclined to disagree.
Personally, I by no means considered this as Fanny selecting a person over her profession. In truth, I admired Fanny’s tenacity to at all times go after what she wished — one thing she’d repeatedly finished all through her life lengthy earlier than Nicky Arnstein ever got here on her radar.
She wished to be a Broadway star, and he or she made that occur regardless of everybody in her life telling her it wasn’t going to occur. They known as her a refrain lady with skinny legs and didn’t suppose she match the “typical magnificence requirements” society anticipated of all girls. Briefly, they didn’t imagine in her. However she believed in herself. The extent of confidence she had in herself as each a singer and performer was downright admirable. She knew her value, and that ambition and self-assuredness made her the success she grew to become.
When she felt uncomfortable with a scene for considered one of Mr. Zeigfield’s productions, she modified the storyline in order that the viewers would chortle along with her, not at her. She had been informed to not change it and knew doing so may get her fired, however she felt passionate sufficient about it that she determined to do it anyway, and increase — the viewers liked it. So, isn’t her pursuit of Nick simply one other instance of her ambition to go after what she needs, each personally and professionally?
When Fanny begins singing “Don’t Rain On My Parade,” it’s as a result of she as soon as once more appears like others try to dictate how her life ought to go. However she calls for to be the one answerable for her choices, which is at all times a refreshing message to ship to girls of all ages.
So, you see, this isn’t a music of defeat the place her goals not matter. It’s an anthem declaring that she needs this man, he makes her glad, and nothing and nobody is getting in her manner. And let’s not overlook, she went again to her profession not too lengthy after getting married. She was merely prioritizing her private life when she wanted it most and looking for a wholesome work-life stability. That’s not foolish or trivial. That’s courageous.
And sure, their marriage finally ended as a consequence of Nick’s skewed, outdated views on gender roles and who ought to or shouldn’t be the principle breadwinner of a household. However that’s his personal insecurities he must grapple with. And when you suppose Fanny let him off too straightforward for all of the damage and heartbreak, she places him in his place within the movie’s sequel, Humorous Girl.
Time and time once more all through the movie, Fanny showcased the sorts of qualities all girls need to really feel: confidence, dedication, stubbornness, ambition, and sure, even typically lovesickness. To me, as a younger lady, she was the entire bundle — somebody I actually seemed as much as as a task mannequin. And now that legendary icons like Barbie are lastly getting the popularity they deserve, I say it’s excessive time we give Fanny a few of that love as nicely.