|Barbra Streisand as Daisy Gamble / Melinda Winifred Wayne Moorpark Tentrees, nee Wainwhistle|
|Yves Montand as Dr. Marc Chabot|
|Jack Nicholson as Tad Pringle|
|Bob Newhart as Dr. Mason Hume|
|John Richardson as Robert Tentrees|
|"Hurry! It's Lovely Up Here"|
If any voice could coax flowers out of their beds in the morning, it's Streisand's
The obviously truncated Jack Nicholson subplot goes absolutely nowhere, Daisy's own relationship with Warren feels like a series of blackout skits, and I would have loved to have seen more of Leon Aames, the father from Minnelli's flawless Meet Me in St. Louis. Meanwhile, too much screen time is allocated to a wholly expository character like Chabot's colleague, Dr. Fuller (Simon Oakland), who exists solely to provide Montand's character an opportunity to engage in a windy reincarnation debate.
|It's not unusual for women to develop crushes on older men, but the near 20-year age difference between Streisand and Montage did nothing to help the pair's already staggering lack of chemistry|
The overall result is a charming musical that is nevertheless strangely choppy and uneven in tone. The film is, at turns, out and out funny, whimsical, stylish, lyrical, and sometimes breathtaking; but it frequently feels like we're watching the combined efforts of artists assigned to do their work in isolation - without an awareness of what others are doing. Structurally, the film is designed to contrast the past and present, but this duality transfers somewhat schizophrenically in the combined efforts of the set designers, costumers, and especially the actors. Instead of creating the impression that time is cyclical and that the past and present are spiritually interlinked; On a Clear Day You Can See Forever frequently just feels like two separate films vying for screen time. A result, no doubt, of the movie being the victim of a great deal of editing. (Not the kind of fine-tuning editing necessary to sharpen a film, but the kind of butchering needed to cut a proposed 3-hour roadshow musical down to a little over 2-hours.)
*Roadshow: A popular distribution method for “event” films in the 60s, roadshow films were higher priced, reserved-seat screenings with overtures, intermissions, and exit music. These films were habitually 2 ½ to 4 hours long. They gradually fell out of favor in the late 70s.
|The rooftop set and cast assembled for the Wait Till We're Sixty-Five production number that was filmed (and showed up on promotional stills) but cut out of the completed film|
The film's score (among my favorites) is lushly romantic, but the film itself (a protracted, metaphysical cockblock) has been cast and directed in such a fashion as to render all potential romantic couplings undesirable. Personally, I didn't want Daisy to end up with ANY of her suitors.
|Dr.Chabot hypnotizes Daisy through telepathy|
|The Royal Pavilion in Brighton, England features in one of the film's many stunning flashback sequences.|
The other thing that grabbed me was the music. Many of the songs from the original score had been excised and a few new ones written just for the film. But of those that remained, who knew that so many of my parents’ favorite standards - the virtual entirety of the Eydie Gorme, Robert Goulet, Jack Jones songbook - came from this show? I was so taken with the brief bits I was able to glimpse of On a Clear Day You Can See Forever that I began to make up excuses to leave my lobby post: check for smokers, feet on the backs of chairs… anything, just so I could get another Streisand fix.
And what a fix it was. Lit to look like a goddess and costumed with decolletage for days, Streisand was a heady dose of '70s-style movie star glamour. On a Clear Day You Can See Forever was the movie that made me fall in love with Streisand (alas, a short-lived romance that ended with 1979s The Main Event) and my personal siren song was her gangbusters delivery of the title tune. I made a point of always being the usher stationed near the doors at the end of each screening just so I could stand inside, flashlight in hand, mouth agape, and wait for her to rattle the crystal on the chandeliers with that final note.Wow! Talk about your goosebumps moment.
|Not sure if this was a wig or her real hair, but this is the look I always associate with Streisand|
Although On a Clear Day You Can See Forever played at my theater (San Francisco's Alhambra Theater) for two weeks, I never got to see the film in its entirety until I saw it at a Los Angeles revival theater many years later. After finally getting the chance to see the entire film from start to finish, I was a little taken aback to discover that I actually enjoyed On a Clear Day You Can See Forever more when I was seeing it a la carte. Seeing it in sections, I was dazzled by the visual style and Streisand's star quality. Seen as a whole, I was taken aback, given that the story is kind of magical and sweet-natured, that it somehow sidestepped giving us any any other character besides Daisy to root for or like.
It's professional, well-done, and definitely enjoyable, but for a musical about mysticism, it's sorely lacking in that intangible kind of charm Minnelli pulled off so beautifully in Meet Me in St. Louis. Perhaps it's impossible to find an actress charismatic enough to be a musical lead, while at the same time, believably bland enough to make a convincing Daisy Gamble; but as cast, Streisand's Daisy doesn't really make sense. She's supposed to be a drip, but she's the most stylish, funny, and interesting person in the entire film. She's the only one you want to spend any time with. When Dr. Chabot expresses exasperation with her quirks, HE'S the one who comes off as unappealing, not Daisy.
Given all that was going on at the time, it's hard to feel that the legendarily meticulous Vincente Minnelli had his heart in this one. He was 63, his third marriage was breaking up, and his first and most-famous wife, Judy Garland, had recently died.
|"What Did I Have That I Don't Have?"|
Streisand's vocal performance and acting on this song is peerless. I've seen it dozens of times and it always gives me waterworks.
And yet...On a Clear Day You Can See Forever is still a film I take endless delight in. The whimsical plot makes me smile (even though it's a tad cumbersome) and I really like Streisand's performance here. And so what if my enjoyment is necessitated by my needing to fast-forward through most of Montand's scenes and overlook the fact that whenever Streisand is off the screen, the film just kind of lies there, inert? It doesn't matter because every few minutes or so, there is the sublime distraction of costumes, sets, and the bliss of getting to hear Streisand sing.
|The visual pleasures of On a Clear Day You Can See Forever are considerable|
|The Great Profile|
|"I'll have what she's having."|
|Daisy's Emancipation / Melinda's Emancipation|
Daisy's recognition and acceptance of her reincarnated self is dramatized in the echoing of her costuming
Behind the scenes info on the making of "On a Clear Day You Can See Forever"
YouTube audio (with stills) of the deleted Barbra Streisand / Larry Blyden duet: "Wait 'till We're Sixty-Five"
If they can restore 1973s Lost Horizon, why not On a Clear Day You Can See Forever ?
THE STUFF OF DREAMS