Wednesday, March 30, 2011

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(Late) Casting Coup Tuesday: Funny Face



Sorry for the lateness of this: packing for a trip, constant working, etc., etc.: it's been a busy time.

Hard to preface Funny Face without just bursting to song. It's one of my all-time favorite movies. Of ever. Definitely in my Top 100, definitely in the 50, maybe the 25...? And yet, because I'm the kind of mind who thinks that way, I wonder what a remake made now would look like...

Not that they could ever make it nowadays. They'd have to punch up the Audrey Hepburn character, an intellectual who runs a philosophical bookshop only to find herself the model of a new French fashion line when a magazine photographer becomes enchanted with her face...her sunny, funny face. Not that there's anything wrong with a young woman becoming a model, but when the guy you want her to wind up with says, "He cares as much for your intellect as I do" and sings, "If you could cook/The way you look/I'd swim the ocean wide/Just to have you by my side". It's seems like quite a sexist film, even down to a musical number where Kay Thompson teaches Audrey how to be a proper, lovely woman.



Kay Thompson! My God, but that's the most challenging aspect of this recasting! Hepburn and Astaire are fantastic in their roles, but their roles are stock characters from the House of Musical Theatre. But Thompson??? In the middle of what seems like a sexist film is this powerhouse, editor-in-chief of a leading fashion magazine, an Anna Wintour 20 years before Wintour even landed a job. Thompson's portrayal of Maggie Prescott is one of the greatest ever committed to film, a tour-de-force of PERSONALITY. This is the woman who created Eloise, trained Frank Sinatra and Judy Garland, and yet to me, she will first and foremost be Maggie Prescott. Maggie!



Anyway, I think I did the old girl proud. Take a gander and you'll see:

PAUL DUVAL
Who is He: The fashion designer whose line Jo is set to model in Paris.

Originally played by:
Robert Flemyng (The Man Who Never Was, Shadowlands)

My Choice:
David Bowie (Labyrinth, Zoolander)
Bringing a sense of style all his own, Bowie easily commands a room, as Duval undoubtedly does as well. His coolness would be an interesting flip from Flemyng's more harried interpretation.


EMILE FLOSTRE
Who is He: A French philosopher, founder of a philosophy called Empathy. He frequents an artsy club in Montmartre, and has a lavish apartment where he holds meetings for his fellow intellectuals. Oh, and he totally just wants to lay some hotties.

Originally played by:
Michel Auclair (Beauty and the Beast, The Day of the Jackal)

My Choice:
Vincent Cassel (Irreversible, Black Swan)
My goodness, but he's rather good at playing these dominating, manipulative, sexual types, isn't he? And he's so FRRRRENCH, you know?


MAGGIE PRESCOTT
Who is She: Editor-in-chief of a leading fashion magazine. She realizes that a new look is necessary to appeal to the new consumer -- and Paul Duval -- though she believes it is a regular model in an intellectual background. She is the most amazing human being in the world.

Songs: Think Pink, Bonjour Paris, On How to Be Lovely, Clap Yo' Hands

Originally played by:
Kay Thompson (Manhattan Merry-Go-Round, Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon)

My Choice:
Jenifer Lewis (Meet the Browns, The Princess and the Frog)
Oh my God, when I saw her in Madea's Family Reunion, it was like Maggie Prescott reborn! She's fun and fabulous, equally great in supporting turns and diva roles. And she can SING!


DICK AVERY
Who is He: A professional photographer. He thinks little of Jo's intellectual studies, believing that such things are not meant for pretty young things...even though he clearly respects powerful women like Maggie. Dick realizes that Jo is perfect for the New It Girl wanted by Maggie and Duval, and he volunteers to watch her when they bring her to Paris. He does, and he photographs her, and...he falls in love with her.

Songs: Funny Face, Bonjour Paris, Let's Kiss and Make Up, He Loves and She Loves, S'wonderful

Originally played by: Academy Award Nominee/BAFTA Award/Golden Globe Winner for Best Supporting Actor (The Towering Inferno), Golden Globe Winner for Best Actor in a Musical/Comedy (Three Little Words)
Fred Astaire (Top Hat, On the Beach)

My Choice: Golden Globe Nominee for Best Actor in a Musical/Comedy (Kate & Leopold)
Hugh Jackman (Australia, Real Steel)
How few there are that can cut a rug, sing to bring down the house, and never lose a shred of their masculinity. Dick's a red-blooded male, though artsy. And Jackman? He can bring both of those aspects, as well as that incredible voice.


JO STOCKTON
Who is He: Owner of a book shop in Greenwich Village catering to intellectuals and pseudo-intellectuals. When Maggie and Dick burst in to use her place as a set for their new shoot, they wind up running into this headstrong, intelligent young woman. Dick brings her on as a model and whisks her off to Paris, but she's much more interested in meeting philosopher Emile Flostre. Still, she can't deny a certain attraction to Mr. Avery...

Songs: How Long Has This Been Going On, Bonjour Paris, On How to Be Lovely, S'wonderful

Originally played by: Academy Award/Golden Globe Winner for Best Actress [in a Drama] (Roman Holiday), BAFTA Award Winner for Best British Actress (Roman Holiday, The Nun's Story, Charade)
Audrey Hepburn (Sabrina, My Fair Lady)

My Choice: Hollmann Award Nominee for Best Actress (Avatar)
Zoe Saldana (Star Trek, The Losers)
A beauty, a dancer, and a singer, if I'm not mistaken. Most importantly, though, a fine actress, believably integrating good looks with intelligence.

2 comments:

TomS said...

I have to agree totally with Vincent Cassel. He is seductive and magnetic!

Fine choice too, of Hugh Jackman. If anyone can carry the baton held by Fred Astaire, Jackman can. And he's a better actor!

And Bowie would definitely change the chemistry of the film.

Now, I was thinking---Meryl Streep can SING, and Maggie Prescott sounds like a natural role for the Prada queen...

Trying to cast anyone to replace Audrey Hepburn is truly a mission impossible. It is her face that comes to mind when I hear the title "Funny Face". Don't know who among today's screen stars has anything approaching her qualities....to me, it would be someone Carrie Mulligan-esque.

So glad you know and love this film!

Caleb Strul said...

I'm 83% sure you wrote this article just for me. David Bowie?? 'Swonderful... 'Sawful nice!!!

Man I love this moooovie.