Yes, it’s Funny Face! The fabulously glamorous musical that exposes the seamy underbelly of the world of fashion! Starring KAY THOMPSON and DOVIMA! Also starring the clothes of Hubert de Givenchy! With special guest appearances by Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire.
Our movie opens with Kay as Maggie Prescott, Vreeland-esque Editor-in-Chief of Vogue-esque Quality magazine as she marches into her office and already we are awash in envy. We can’t decide if we want to be her or one of the fembot receptionists.
She quickly orders her gaggle of fashionistas into her office for some berating (it’s official: we want to be her). The latest issue is a dreary disaster and none of you bitches know what the hell you’re doing. Then she fires them all. Haha. No, of course not. This is a musical, so she sings to them instead. By the way, what are the green pills for?
Divine, kittens! This is what gay men see when they close their eyes and fall asleep.
Meanwhile, Fred, as Avedon-esque photographer Dick Avery is struggling mightily to get the fabulous-on-a-level-that-we can’t-even-articulate Dovima to strike just the right pose.
Kay shows up with the Vaginettes and decides that the shoot isn’t working and just like in the real fashion industry, the photographer, the model, and the entire editorial staff decide to just hop in a couple cabs and look for a place to shoot pictures.
They settle on a dreary philosophy bookstore in the village where Audrey Hepburn works. She is principled and wears no makeup so naturally these people pay absolutely no attention to her when she demands that they leave.
In fact, they try to get her in the shot just to shut her up.
Dovima. Fabulosity incarnate. For some inexplicable reason, this is her last scene in the film. We could have watched 2 hours of her posing and changing outfits but sadly, no one asked us.
When that doesn’t work, Kay, ever the fashion editor, strong arms her right outside and locks her out for a couple hours.
They leave the store in a shambles and Dick, ever the fashion photographer, stays behind to pretend to help clean up, but really just wants to make a move on her. As we said, she is principled and wears no makeup so that means she throws him out.
But that’s the thing with principled girls who wear no makeup. One kiss is all they need to question their principles and wardrobe choices. She sings. Badly.
The next day, Kay has a brainstorm. Screw these vapid overpaid models! We need a real girl to become the Quality woman! She decides to initiate a search, when Fred comes in and tells her that the principled girl who wears no makeup would be perfect. She is appalled, but agrees to take a second look at her.
She orders some books from the store just to get her to come in and then, ever the fashion editor, cruelly assesses her flaws in front of the Vaginettes, who apparently aren’t thinking pink anymore.
Her precious principles threatened, she runs off to escape these insane women with incredible posture and because this is a movie, hides out in a dark room where – what a coincidence! – Fred is developing pictures of her. He of course sings and dances a little bit to get her to change her mind.
It must have worked, because suddenly her eyelashes are curled and about an inch longer and makeup has blossomed on her face.
Now that she’s wearing makeup, her principles have vanished and she agrees to travel to Paris for a fashion shoot and runway show. She kids herself by telling everyone that it’s because she wants to hang out with French philosophers. Kay laughs and tells her she doesn’t give a shit what she does so long as she does what she’s told.
The three of them travel to Paris and Kay sings her lungs out. The other two sing but we barely noticed them.
Seriously, most of the musical numbers (including this one) are more than a little lame, but Kay sells the hell out of every number and every scene she’s in. Aside from the gorgeous couture, she is the only reason to watch this film.
The next day, at the salon of prissy French designer Paul Duvall, Kay is simply BESIDE HERSELF. That DREADFUL GIRL never showed up for her fitting!
This movie is unfortunately lacking in the man meat, but Duvall’s actually kinda cute, weak chin notwithstanding.
Fred decides to go look for her and when he sees a stereotypical beatnik BEATING HIS GIRLFRIEND decides that this must be the place.
Sure enough, Audrey’s inside blabbing away about her pet philosophy, Empathicalism. She must say that word 200 times in this film.
The film takes a somewhat annoyingly snotty view of beatnik culture and in fact, it’s one of the aspects that dates it so badly because with the hindsight of a half century behind it, it’s clear just how wrong and off base they were about a subculture that literally wound up changing the world.
But at least we got an adorable dance sequence out of it:
Fred drags her outside and berates her and she petulantly agrees to show up for her fitting the next day.
Now, we normally don’t include clips of non-musical scenes, but this is probably the most iconic scene in the movie and damn if she doesn’t look absolutely breathtaking in those clothes (although we can’t help wanting to get a pair of tweezers and work on those eyebrows).
Is there a gay man alive who hasn’t breathlessly uttered “Take the pictchah! Take the pictchah!” whenever someone has a camera on them?
Anyway, the shoot ends with Audrey in a wedding dress outside a church and a lightbulb finally goes off over Fred’s head. “Say…this gal likes me! I better make my move.” Fashion photographers: sleazy principle destroyers.
But, this is a musical and instead of slapping him, she sits primly while he sings and dances for her. This is enough for her to declare her love and start calling him “Darling.”
Later, for no discernible reason, Kay and Audrey dress up like Eastern Europeans as Kay uses her man hands to demonstrate “How to be Lovely.” Even Kay couldn’t sell this number.
The night of the big unveiling, Audrey is nowhere to be found but Fred suspects she caught a case of principles again and knows where to find her.
Sure enough, she’s smoking weed and discussing Empathicalism with its founder while wearing couture. Models. What can you do?
Fred drags her out of there and tells her to wake up, baby. That Empathicalist guy just wanted to get into your Givenchy.
Their argument continues as they wait onstage for the curtain to rise on the new Quality girl and because there is both running water and a fan in the background, we know what happens next, don’t we kittens?
COMEDY! Quel horreurs!
Audrey is humiliated and runs off.
The next day, as Kay and Fred read the press reports that make them out to be laughing stocks of the fashion industry, they decide to track Audrey down because they know she’s not going to show up that night for her runway show. This is when we know we’re in a musical, because Diana Vreeland would have spent the next day figuring out ways to destroy Audrey.
Anyway, they find out that she’s been invited to M. Empathicalist’s salon that night for some marijuana and sex. Just like Diana Vreeland and Richard Avedon would, they decide to dress up like beatniks and sneak her out of there. But first, Kay has to bring the house down:
That bitch is a FORCE OF NATURE, y’all. We said the same thing about Judy Garland: it’s really something when you don’t even notice Fred Astaire in a musical number. One thing we absolutely love about her here is she somehow manages to make her dancing look spontaneous, as if she’s just making it up on the spot, while at the same time hitting every mark dead perfect. Even Astaire doesn’t do that.
They find Audrey upstairs, empathicalizing with M. LeSleazy, so Fred knocks him out with a guitar. Seriously. Audrey scrunches up her widdle nose and tells them to get out. Fred is pissed and decides to take a flight home that very minute, because in musicals, there’s always a plane waiting to take you away from the girl in the third act.
After they leave, LeSleazy wakes up and Audrey realizes Fred was right all along, so she smashes a statue over his head. Congratulations, girl. You are now officially a self-absorbed fashionista. You may turn in your black turtleneck now.
Audrey shows up at Duvall’s salon looking for Fred but Kay commandeers her and says “Fuck that! You’ve got a runway show to do, bitch!”
Sigh. Unfortunately, they barely shot the runway sequence so you don’t get to see enough of the clothes. We’re not saying anything that hundreds of others haven’t said, but Audrey Hepburn was BORN to wear Givenchy.
At the airport, Fred runs into LeSleazy and finds out that Audrey knocked him out and left him. It’s funny because his bandages look like a turban! HAHA! Silly foreigners.
Fred heads back to the salon and learns that Audrey ran off looking for him. He runs off again to find her. Oh for Christ’s sake, stop dragging it out. And if you’re going to drag it out, have Kay sing or something.
Thankfully, they had some extra footage from the fashion shoot scene and Fred finds her there, in her wedding dress. How perfect. Sing, kiss, the end.
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Musical Monday: Kiss Me, Kate, darlings!
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