Cast & Crew
In the Manhattan offices of Quality Magazine , editor Maggie Prescott and her band of assistants brainstorm to come up with an inspirational theme for the latest issue of their fashion publication. Maggie decides that the color pink will be it, and soon offices, buses and even airplanes are being painted that color. While all America is being outfitted in pink, Maggie, still in her gray business suit, decides that her next issue will be dedicated to "clothes for the woman who isn't interested in clothes." In his studio, photographer Dick Avery is having little luck in capturing Maggie's concept, so they decide to change locations and do the fashion shoot inside a bohemian Greenwich Village bookstore. Never one to stand on formality, Maggie and her troupe proceed to take over Emery's Concepts Bookstore, going so far as to lock Jo Stockton, the store's clerk, out of the shop. As the bookstore is in shambles following the photographic session, Dick stays behind to help Jo pick things up. The two soon begin talking about Paris, but while Dick extols the beauty of the French city, Jo tells him that she wishes to go there merely to meet philosopher, Prof. Emile Flostre. Later, Maggie decides to create "the Quality Woman," a model who will have a collection of clothes designed especially for her by the noted couturier, Paul Duval. Dick suggests Jo, but neither she nor Maggie are initially enthusiastic about his idea, until Jo learns that the job will entail a trip to Paris. As soon as they arrive in France, Jo, Dick and Maggie split up to secretly do some sightseeing, only to run into each other at the Eiffel Tower. Later, when Jo misses her first costume fitting, Dick finds her in a bohemian café, and angers her by pointing out that her fellow philosophers have only been listening to her because she has been paying for their drinks. The two soon make up, and the next day, after hours of hair and makeup in Duval's salon, Jo is transformed from a plain bookworm into a high-fashion butterfly. For the next week, Dick and Jo travel throughout Paris, as he photographs her in Duval's new collection at such historical locales as the Louvre Museum. Overcome with emotion during the final shoot, in which she finds herself wearing a wedding gown before a small, country church, Jo professes her love to Dick, and though the older photographer is surprised, he admits he feels the same way toward her. Later, back at Duval's salon, Maggie coaches Jo on how to act during the upcoming fashion show, with particular emphasis on how the young girl should handle the press. The night before the show, however, Jo learns that Flostre is appearing at the café, and is completely overwhelmed upon first meeting the handsome, young French philosopher. Dick then embarrasses Jo by dragging her out of the café, arguing that Flostre is more interested in her body than her mind. Jo and Dick continue their fighting backstage at Maggie's press party, with disastrous results. Now the laughing stock of all Paris, Dick, Maggie and Duval face financial ruin if the missing Jo does not appear at the fashion show. Disguised as beatnik folk singers from Florida, Dick and Maggie crash Flostre's party, where they are required to perform a spiritual. After a brief skirmish with Flostre, a frustrated Dick announces he is leaving both Jo and Paris to return to New York. Soon thereafter, Flostre attempts to make love to Jo, and the disillusioned girl rushes out of his house, arriving at Duval's salon just in time to appear in the fashion show. Meanwhile, Maggie tries to stop Dick from leaving France, but is unable to catch him either at his hotel or at the airport. Dick, however, meets Flostre as they board the same plane, and upon learning that Jo rejected the Frenchman, Dick rushes back to Duval's. Told that Jo has already left the show, Maggie suggests that Dick use Flostre's philosophy of empathy to ascertain where she has gone. Dick then rushes to the country church, where he finds Jo, still wearing Duval's wedding dress, and the two lovers are once and for all united.
Jean Del Val
Marcel De La Brosse
George W. Davis
John P. Fulton
Hubert De Givenchy
Best Costume Design
Best Writing, Screenplay
The source for the story was an unproduced musical play called Wedding Day by Leonard Gershe, loosely based on incidents in his friend Avedon's life. Freed unit producer Roger Edens bought it for MGM with Astaire and Hepburn in mind. But at that time, Hepburn was Paramount's most valuable star, and Paramount was not about to loan her to MGM. Astaire, who was by then freelancing, also owed Paramount a film. With uncommon generosity, producer Arthur Freed not only allowed Edens to take Funny Face to Paramount, but also to take some key Freed unit talent with him: Director Stanley Donen, musical director Adolph Deutsch, arranger Conrad Salinger, choreographer Eugene Loring, and cinematographer Ray June. Edens bought the rights to the Gershwin score for the 1927 stage musical, Funny Face, from Warner Bros., although the plot of that show had nothing to do with Gershe's story. (Astaire and his sister Adele had starred in Funny Face on Broadway.) Edens added another Gershwin song, "Clap Yo' Hands," plus three new ones that he co-wrote with Gershe.
Hepburn, who had idolized Astaire since she was a child, was thrilled to be working with him, but very nervous. Although she'd had dance training, she was by no means on Astaire's level, nor was she a trained singer. But at their first meeting, he soon put her at ease. "Fred literally swept me off my feet," she later recalled. Putting an arm around her waist, he twirled her around, and his ease dissolved her nervousness. The perfectionist Astaire practiced with Hepburn for many hours, but made it so enjoyable that Hepburn didn't mind.
Kay Thompson, a nightclub performer, composer and arranger, was a Freed unit vocal coach for Judy Garland and others, as well as a close pal of Edens. Both he and Gershe knew Thompson was the only person who could play the flamboyant magazine editor, which she did, brilliantly. Funny Face was one of only a handful of films in which Thompson appeared, and the only one in which she played a significant role. The character is said to have been based on both Vogue editor Diana Vreeland and Harper's Bazaar editor Carmel Snow.
Richard Avedon, whose innovative photographs of haute couture had inspired Gershe's story, was hired as "special visual consultant" for Funny Face. He worked with director Stanley Donen to create one of the film's centerpieces, a five-minute montage of Hepburn posing all over Paris for a fashion layout, as well as the witty fashion sequence in the "Think Pink" number, which featured two of his favorite models, blonde Sunny Hartnett, and redhead Suzy Parker. (The latter would soon begin her own career as an actress.) Avedon also designed the opening titles, based on some of his most famous photographs, and the darkroom sequence.
Another Avedon favorite, Dovima, appeared in Funny Face as the whiny-voiced model Marion, who poses and preens in Hepburn's bookstore. The character was given one of Dovima's own traits: a fondness for comic books. In spite of her exotic looks and name, Dovima was actually born in Queens. Her name was a combination of her given names, Dorothy, Virginia, and Margaret.
Donen's visual inventiveness was a good match for Avedon's. As he had done with New York in On the Town (1949), Donen took one Funny Face number, "Bonjour Paree", into the streets of Paris in an exhilarating travelogue that splits the wide screen into three parts and culminates at the Eiffel Tower. But filming in Paris wasn't all glamour. The crew had to contend with unpredictable weather during much of the outdoor shooting. In some of those scenes, the drizzly weather gave the film a very effective Impressionist effect. But by the time they shot the bridal gown number "He Loves and She Loves" at the country chapel in Chantilly, it had been raining for so long that the ground on which Astaire and Hepburn had to dance was a swamp. Dancing was difficult. Hepburn's expensive white satin shoes kept sinking in the mud, and getting ruined. The delays were making everyone tense, until Hepburn joked, "Here I've been waiting twenty years to dance with Fred Astaire, and what do I get? Mud!"
Hepburn had met French designer Hubert de Givenchy when he designed her Parisian wardrobe for Sabrina (1954). Unfortunately, Edith Head received sole screen credit, and when that film won an Academy Award for costume design, the Oscar® went to Head alone. For Funny Face, Givenchy did all of Hepburn's Paris costumes, and she made sure he received equal billing (and an Oscar® nomination) with Head. The film also earned nominations for original screenplay, cinematography, and art direction, but did not win in any category.
With a few exceptions, the reviews for Funny Face were very good, and the film did well in the big cities. However, it may have been too sophisticated for mass audiences, and did not make back its four million dollar cost. Today, in an era of celebrity-fashion worship, Funny Face looks better than ever, and remains one of the treasures of the American film musical.
Director: Stanley Donen
Producer: Roger Edens
Screenplay: Leonard Gershe, based on his unproduced musical libretto, Wedding Day
Cinematography: Ray June
Editor: Frank Bracht
Costume Design: Edith Head, Hubert de Givenchy
Art Direction: George W. Davis, Hal Pereira; Set Designers, Sam Comer, Ray Moyer
Music: George and Ira Gershwin, Roger Edens, Leonard Gershe
Principal Cast: Audrey Hepburn (Jo Stockton), Fred Astaire (Dick Avery), Kay Thompson (Maggie Prescott), Michel Auclair (Prof. Emile Flostre), Robert Flemyng (Paul Duval), Dovima (Marion), Virginia Gibson (Babs).
C-104m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning.
by Margarita Landazuri
She put herself in your place - all you have to do is put yourself in her place, and you're *bound* to bump into each other in somebody's place.- Maggie Prescott
Fred Astaire's character is based on photographer Richard Avedon. In fact, it is Avedon who set up most of the photography for this film, including the famous face portrait of Audrey Hepburn unveiled during the dark room sequence.
Audrey Hepburn's mother as a sidewalk cafe patron.
Hepburn filmed this back-to-back with Love in the Afternoon (1957).
The soggy weather played havoc with the shooting of the wedding dress dance scene. Astaire and Hepburn were continually slipping in the muddy and slippery grass. Hepburn sings several songs. Her next full musical, My Fair Lady (1964), would see her voice overdubbed much to her disappointment.
Hepburn did not want to be separated from her husband Mel Ferrer, so filming of the Paris scenes was timed to coincide with Ferrer's filming of _Elena et les Hommes (1956)_ with Ingrid Bergman. Paris' unseasonably rainy weather had to be worked into the script, particularly during the balloons photo shoot scene. During filming of the Paris scenes, much of the crew and cast were on edge because of riots and political violence that was gripping the city at that time. Hepburn filmed this back-to-back with Love in the Afternoon (1957).
The working title of this film was Wedding Day. The opening credits include the following written statement: "We are most grateful to Mrs. Carmel Snow and Harper's Bazaar Magazine for their generous assistance." The onscreen credit for sound recording reads: "George and Winston Leverett." Funny Face is based on Wedding Day, an unproduced musical play by Leonard Gershe. According to Los Angeles Times, Gershe(1922-2002)served in the merchant marines with Richard Avedon, the noted fashion photographer who was the real-life model for the "Dick Avery" character. Modern sources state that Gershe based the love story in Wedding Day on Avedon and his wife Doe, who, like the character "Jo Stockton," became a noted model despite her indifference toward that profession. Modern sources also state that the original musical score for Wedding Day was written by Vernon Duke and Ogden Nash, and that the musical play was once optioned by producer Clinton Wilder. Before any stage production was mounted, Gershe sold the rights to his play to M-G-M, which assigned producer Roger Edens and director Stanley Donen to the project.
According to Cosmopolitan, M-G-M soon thereafter decided to incorporate into the project the George and Ira Gershwin score from the 1927 musical play Funny Face, in which Fred Astaire had previously starred on Broadway with his sister Adele. Four songs from that musical-"Let's Kiss and Make Up," "He Loves and She Loves" "Funny Face" and "S'Wonderful"-were used in the film, along with two other Gershwin compositions: "How Long Has This Been Going On?" which was originally cut from the musical play Funny Face, then later integrated into the musical Rosalie; and "Clap Yo' Hands" from Oh, Kay. Modern sources report that the Gershwin musical catalog was controlled at the time by Warner Bros., and that M-G-M acquired the use of these songs for Funny Face in exchange for lending director Donen to Warner Bros. for their 1957 adaptation of the hit Broadway musical The Pajama Game .
In a October 27, 1955 M-G-M press release, the studio announced that contract dancer Carol Haney had been selected to play the female lead in Wedding Day, with the studio's Dolores Gray cast in the role of the fashion editor. In January 1956, however, Daily Variety announced that Paramount had acquired the film rights to Funny Face from M-G-M, and had cast Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire as the romantic leads. As part of this deal, Paramount also acquired the temporary services of M-G-M contractees Edens and Donen, who, the trade paper pointed out, had done considerable prepping for the film at their home studio. Daily Variety also noted that Astaire's current project at Paramount, Papa's Delicate Condition, for producer Robert Emmett Dolan, was being delayed until the completion of Funny Face.
That project, which ultimately starred Jackie Gleason, however, was shelved until 1963 (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1961-70). According to Cosmopolitan, M-G-M had also sought Hepburn for the female lead in their production of Funny Face, but was unable to acquire her services from Paramount, to whom she was then under exclusive contract. Modern sources claim M-G-M executives were happy to sell Funny Face to Paramount, as they had become disenchanted with the musical genre due to the lackluster box office performance of such films as their 1955 production It's Always Fair Weather .
According to the file on the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, Funny Face was originally given a budget of $2,739,000. After shooting from 9 April to May 28, 1956 at Paramount Studios, the production moved on location to Paris, France, where shooting continued from 5 June to July 3, 1956. Due to poor weather in France, which extended the location shoot an extra eleven days, the final budget of the film escalated to $3,164,000. According to the Paramount studio files, Avedon's onscreen credit was originally to have read: "Special Visual Consultant (Courtesy of Harper's Bazaar)." Funny Face marked the film debut of noted fashion models Suzy Parker (1932-2003) and Dovima. Funny Face also marked the motion picture debut of Carole Eastman, who had a small role in the film as a speciality dancer. Eastman later became a screenwriter, often using the pseudonym Adrien Joyce. Her most famous screenplay was for Five Easy Pieces (1970, ).
Modern sources claim the inspiration for Kay Thompson's character, "Maggie Prescott," was Vogue magazine editor Diana Vreeland. Modern sources include Genevieve Aumont (French actress) in the cast. The film received Academy Award nominations in the Art Direction, Cinematography, Costume Design and Writing (Story and Screenplay-Written Directly for the Screen) categories. In May 1990, Funny Face was chosen to close the AFI Film Festival and was re-released by Paramount that same year in select U.S. cities.
Voted One of the Year's Ten Best Films by the 1957 National Board of Review.
Voted One of the Year's Ten Best Films by the 1957 New York Times Film Critics.
Released in United States 1990
Released in United States June 9, 1990
Released in United States Spring April 1957
Re-released in United States December 14, 1990
Re-released in United States May 1990
Re-released in United States on Video July 18, 1995
Shown at Seattle International Film Festival June 9, 1990.
Honored with a Special Citation for Special Effects by the 1957 National Board of Review.
Released in United States 1990 (Shown at AFI/Los Angeles International Film Festival (Gala) April 19 - May 3, 1990.)
Released in United States Spring April 1957
Re-released in United States May 1990 (Los Angeles)
Released in United States June 9, 1990 (Shown at Seattle International Film Festival June 9, 1990.)
Re-released in United States on Video July 18, 1995
Re-released in United States December 14, 1990 (Film Forum; New York City)