Wednesday, February 29, 2012


“There is so much talk now about the art of film that we may be in danger of forgetting that most of the movies we enjoy are not works of art.”
Pauline Kael

One of the things I’ve always loved about the late Pauline Kael, film critic for The New Yorker from 1968 to 1991, was that, as intellectual and committed to the arts as she was, she was not a movie snob. She was one of the few film critics to understand how trash films and pop entertainment can hold as much appeal and be every bit as satisfying and uplifting as great art. 
In her time, she continually repudiated the efforts of critics who sought to promote a narrow, solely academic, definition of cinema. A definition shrouded in high-mindedness, “good taste,” and a self-seriousness blind to film’s more accessible, subjectively emotional appeal.  Kael seemed to be on a crusade to stop moviegoers from feeling guilty for enjoying movies as pop culture pleasures, encouraging them to instead relate to film's immediacy, passion, and ability to get under our skin. In short, to learn to connect to cinema as the “lively art” it is.  
But this didn't mean that there was no room for discernment and or critical judgment. Kael drew the line at lazy, cynical, boxoffice-geared product which pandered to the lowest common denominator and insulted the intelligence of the audience. For a movie to be worthwhile, it had to have imagination, vitality, ideas, and something elemental in its plot capable of striking a chord with the soul’s need to find beauty, joy, heroism, or myth. If a film can convey to an individual even a shred of what that person holds to be beautiful about the world, it doesn't matter if it’s The Cool Ones or Fanny & Alexander.

To absolutely no one’s surprise, I bring this all up as a way of ushering in this essay about Vincente Minnelli's On a Clear Day You Can See Forever; a grievously imperfect film that I nevertheless find to be perfectly...pun intended...hypnotic.
Barbra Streisand as Daisy Gamble / Melinda Winifred Wayne Moorpark Tentrees, nee Wainwhistle
Yves Montand as Dr. Marc Chabot
Warren Pratt
Jack Nicholson as Tad Pringle
Bob Newhart as Dr. Mason Hume
John Richardson as Robert Tentrees
On a Clear Day You Can See Forever is based on the moderate success/probable flop 1965 musical by Burton Lane/Alan Jay Lerner which starred the incandescent Barbara Harris and ran for 280 performances on Broadway. It’s a breezy romantic comedy with a glorious score and a charmingly original, if problematic, plot centering on ESP and reincarnation. It’s also the film that contains my all-time favorite Barbra Streisand musical comedy performance.

Simplified, On a Clear Day You Can See Forever relates the story of Daisy Gamble (Streisand), a nervousy introvert who seeks the services of psychiatrist/hypnotherapist Dr. Chabot (Montand) to help her to quit smoking. Daisy is a shrinking violet (hee-hee), a colorless wallflower (ditto, are a major motif in the film) so cowed by her button-down fiancé, Warren (Blyden) that she tries to suppress the fact, both to herself and others, that she is actually gifted with ESP and, among her many talents, can make flowers grow simply by talking to them. 
"Hurry! It's Lovely Up Here"
If any voice could coax flowers out of their beds in the morning, it's Streisand's 
Under hypnosis, Daisy reveals herself to be the reincarnation of a 19th-century British clairvoyant named Melinda Tentrees who was executed for treason. Melinda is everything that Daisy is not: alluring, self-assured, and unreservedly sensual. For Dr. Chabot, fascination with Daisy’s case soon turns into infatuation with the elusive Melinda, while Daisy, misreading the doctor’s attentions, starts falling for Chabot.

That's quite a lot going on, what with showy fantasy flashbacks to the sumptuous Regency period to sort out the whys and wherefores of Melinda's untimely death; at least two, possibly three, romantic triangles (a hexagon, I suppose: Chabot/Daisy/Melinda & Warren/Daisy/Tad); a college scandal; plus time out to squeeze in several musical numbers. In fact, there's so much going on, several aspects of the film feel as though they are shunted to the sidelines or neglected outright.
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 nearly 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.)
On the rare occasions Minnelli ventures out of the studio, good use is made of the film's New York locations. Here, Yves Montand stands atop the Pan Am Building imploring Daisy to "Come Back to Me"
(or, as transposed by critic Rex Reed per Montand's French accent, "Cum Buck Dooo Meee!")

As it turns out, On a Clear Day You Can See Forever did indeed undergo a prodigious amount of cutting before release. Conceived as a roadshow* attraction, On a Clear Day You Can See Forever bears the brunt of the many songs, scenes, and subplots excised in the interest of whittling the film down to a marketable running time. But this doesn't fully explain On a Clear Day You Can See Forever saddling itself with a leading man so thuddingly dull that the film loses all romantic longing. Nor does it account for production values which would have looked dated in 1965; the curious choice of not having Streisand (a great comedienne) interact with any of the comic supporting actors (that's left to Montand, who sucks the laughs out of every scene); or the head-scratchingly weird decision to remove all of the score's liveliest and peppiest numbers (and this movie could use all the pep it can get) leaving only the melodic ballads.

*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

On a Clear Day You Can See Forever was only the second Barbra Streisand film I’d ever seen (the first being What’s Up, Doc?), and one I somehow hadn’t even heard of until 1975 when it was booked as the bottom half of a double-bill at the San Francisco movie theater where I worked as an usher. Because of my job, I was initially only able to see bits and pieces of the film, but the first thing that struck me was how beautifully it was shot. The ultra-modern college campus scenes were an overlit bust, but the flashback sequences in England and stylized artificiality of Daisy's rooftop bore Minnelli’s trademark stamp of picturesque opulence. 
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 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.

Sure, the two leads have zilch in the chemistry department, and Barbra Streisand pretty much single-handedly gives the film all it has in the way of humor and pep. Yes, the film vacillates between feeling like there is too much plot and then not enough (and exactly whose idea of a counter-culture dropout is clean-cut Jack Nicholson with his distractingly mature hairline?). Certainly, it's a romantic comedy that strenuously works to keep the lovers apart. It's a movie that banks almost entirely on the appeal of its star. A film that piles on plot complications and eye-popping visuals so we don't really notice that the gorgeous musical score is far more emotive than the story at hand.

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
Lane & Lerner's On a Clear Day You Can See Forever is generally considered to be a wonderful score in search of a better book. The musical is rarely revived. In 2000, Broadway star Kristin Chenoweth headlined a concert version of the show ("Look ma! No book!"), and in 2011, Harry Connick, Jr. starred in an expensively-mounted Broadway revival that used several of the songs from the film and provocatively reworked the plot so that the character of Daisy Gamble was now a gay male assistant-florist named David Gamble who discovers he's reincarnated from a brassy female big-band singer. (A cute idea, but when his character asks the musical question, "What Did I Have That I Don't Have?" it seems to me an audience would have to exercise considerable self-control not to want to call out to the stage, "A vagina!"). The show lasted for little more than a month.
At left: the film's original "pot head" theatrical release poster. At right: Things are getting desperate. In an effort to draw a younger audience, newspaper ads featured an out-of-character, hippie-fied Barbra. Pic used is a Richard Avedon portrait from a photo shoot for Streisand's 1969 album, "What About Today?"

If in Funny Girl Barbra Streisand seemed raw, and in Hello Dolly, lost; then in On a Clear Day You Can See Forever she seems more in charge of her talents than ever. And she's remarkably good. When she's helped by the script (as in the crackling first hypnosis scene) she's at the top of her game. At last given a chance to play sexy, in the flashback sequences, she practically wills you to find her beautiful.
The Great Profile
Vincente Minnelli was the most painterly of directors, and the visuals he brings to On a Clear Day You Can See Forever are no exception. A feast for the eyes, the vivid period production design and more stylized contemporary sets of John DeCuir elegantly complement the splendid costumes by Sir Cecil Beaton (period costumes) and Arnold Scaasi (contemporary costumes). 
"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

The ultra-modern Arnold Scaasi designs used in the contemporary scenes of  On a Clear Day You Can See Forever provide a striking contrast to Sir Cecil Beaton's lavish 19th-century wardrobe. This simple little crowd-pleaser was worn by Streisand in a scene deleted from the film. And for those too young to have been around in 1970- no one ever actually wore an outfit like this in matter what drugs they were taking.
For fans of On a Clear Day You Can See Forever who want to get depressed, here are links to sites offering more info on all that was cut from the film.  Just click on the highlighted sentences.

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"

YouTube audio (with stills) of Jack Nicholson singing "Who Is There Among Us Who Knows?"

If they can restore 1973s Lost Horizon, why not On a Clear Day You Can See Forever?
Fans (or obsessives) of  '60/'70's pop culture will note that Daisy Gamble's fabulously floral bedclothes and wallpaper first made their appearance on the 1966 TV sitcom, Family Affair, in the bedroom shared by Buffy and Cissy.

I absolutely love the title song and Streisand's performance of it is stellar. She sings it so beautifully... it still can give me chills. Just crazy about the way Streisand begins the song like it's an idea that gradually starts to take root, then grows, then bursts with an assurance and awareness. If it was Streisand's intention to magnify the "flower" theme of the film and convey a sense of the character of Daisy "growing" into herself, she does a tremendous job of it. It's a lesson on how to put over a song so it's more than just pretty's a first-class acting performance. Barbra Streisand's rendition of On a Clear Day You Can See Forever is for me what I can imagine Somewhere Over the Rainbow is for Garland fans.

Copyright © Ken Anderson    2009 - 2012


  1. You're such a good writer, Ken. I have a love/hate affair with this film, but like you I always just forward past the scenes that don't feature Streisand's glorious singing.

  2. Hi Jeremy
    Thank you very much! Such a compliment coming from a professional journalist is rather inspiring. I understand the love/hate thing with this movie. I like it more than "Hello Dolly," but Streisand seems to be on her own a little here. I think she gets everything right and the film lets her down. Perhaps the kind of frustration an actor feels when others are in control of their efforts is what fueled Streisand's desire to direct.

  3. Count me in as a big fan of this score. Streisand is great, Montand is NOT. I never *got* his appeal.

    I can take this movie "in doses" but I've only really sat through it once. It possesses moments of sheer brilliance and one can only wonder "what could have been" if the film was constructed better (and had a sexier leading man).

    Title song is a goose-bump/orgasmic tour de force and "Hurry, It's Lovely Up Here" always puts a kick in my step if ever I'm down. Glad to know I'm not the only one who gets misty eyed while listening to Barbra's "What Did I Have That I Don't Have"

    Great post as usual Ken...keep up the great work.

    P.S. Just realized you are on my Xanadu the Special Features documentary! :)

    1. Hi PTF!
      Yeah, it seems that a lot of people have issues with the film as a whole. Most like the music and Streisand, but find the film itself hard going. And of course, we agree on Montand. I know he must have his fans, but he is so charmless to me. He was so awful in Marilyn Monroe's "Let's Make Love" (well, everybody was)I was surprised Hollywood bothered to take a chance on him again. He's a serious liability to this film.
      Cool that you respond to the songs in the film individually, though. I think it's some of Streisand's best singing. Thanks again for reading and commenting and for the kind words. Very encouraging.
      Oh, and yes that's me on the the "Xanadu" DVD. I love how I am identified as "fanatic"! I think they nailed that one right.

  4. I saw the film on a Sunday night when it first came out and I was so knocked out by Streisand's vocal performance, the magnificent sets and costumes and the sexiness of the banquet scene, I couldn't sleep that night and ended up staying home from school the next day. In spite of the disappointment of Yves Montand's performance (why would Daisy EVER find him attractive? Why would anyone?)the divinely handsome scoundrel Robert Tentrees as played by John Richardson and the goofy characters played by Larry Blyden and Bob Newhart helped move the story along. (Too bad Richardson wasn't cast in the Dr. role--that would have been believable.) Just ordered the DVD and looking forward to enjoying the sumptuous parts of this visual and auditory banquet (and I'll fast-forward through, you know, the cold turnips).

    1. I love to hear when a young person has the kind of response to a movie you described. Sometimes it's only in our youth that we ever let things get to us in such a emotional way, but if we're lucky, we can maintain a certain youthful enthusiasm even as we age. I agree that Richardson would have made an understandably appealing Dr. for Daisy to develop a crush on. Montand just doesn't do it unless you have a father fixation. A dull father at that. Hope the DVD experience matches your first one, a little bit. Thanks for the great comment!

  5. This is my favourite film of all time and has been since I first saw it when it got its first VHS release back in 1991. No matter how many times I see it I always get goosebumps when Barbra sits up in Dr. Chabot's chair and states, "My name is Melinda!". I read somewhere that Paramount offered Montand $500,000 to play the part of Chabot, he turned it down so they offered him $750,000. They should've looked elsewhere. He's terrible in the film and his "singing" is simply embarressing.

    One day I hope to be the proud owner of the 2-disc Special Edition DVD of Minnelli's original version with the featurettes (one of which made a very brief appearance on YouTube some years ago), but short of a miracle, I don't see it happening. Ironically, if the film had been left in-tact and marketed differently - the adverts and trailer would've put me off at the time - it probably would've become the cult classic it so rightly deserved to be! How many other musicals out there deal with re-incarnation and psychic powers?

    It's time "Clear Day" got a new incarnation, just like Melinda.

  6. Hi Ananta
    That's very interesting about Montand. Although I've read that he was displeased with how much his role was whittled in favor of Streisand, I've never met a soul who didn't think he was the film's biggest liability. Cool that you got to see that featurette. I also like that you firstsaw it on VHS and fell in love with it. If you'd seen it on the big sreen,it would have knocked your socks off.

    I agree that, short of a miracle, it's not likely that a complete version of the film will ever emerge (collectors hoarding lost or deleted footage are likely to open themselves up to legal action if they come forward) too many people think of it as a minor effort from Minnelli in ANY incarnation.
    Thanks for commenting!

    1. Montand was wonderful in other roles, but an absolute dud here. He can barely speak English, and Daisy's fascination with him remains unexplained. A restoration of the planned roadshow version would greatly rehabilitate the reputation of this film, which was, after all, the final Vincente Minnelli musical and one of the relatively few musicals Streisand ever did.

    2. Hi Randall, and thanks for visiting the site!
      Maybe one of these days (before I'm dead) someone with the resources and time will see about trying to restore the roadshow version of this. As you point out, the Streisand element alone should be enough, but it IS one of Minnelli's last efforts. We can dream I suppose.
      Oh, by the way, I've haven't seen many Montand films ... maybe light comedy just isn't his forte?

  7. I first saw OACDYCSF as the bottom half of a double bill at a dollar theater in Elmont NY -- the top feature was Jonathan Livingston Seagull which Paramount rightly dumped into dollar theaters before it was in release for a week. We laughed through JLS, but I was riveted by Clear Day. It's been a guilty pleasure ever since, and my favorite Streisand film. So glad you noted the same costume for Melinda and Daisy, it was the third or fourth time seeing it before that clicked for me. The helicopter and location shots of NYC during Come Back to Me fill me with joy -- and I live here! -- and every time I go through Lincoln Center I see Daisy and Judith Lowery. I also recall reading somewhere that Montand was second or third choice, it had been offered to Richard Harris first, but that could be rumor. Thanks for a thoughful, intelligent analysis. Can't wait to read more of your blog.

    1. Hi Anonymous
      I love that you live in NYC and get a kick out of those shots of New York in the "Come Back to Me" number. When I was an usher, a woman shared with me a story of seeing "On a Clear Day..." when she was a little girl and her family just moved to Manhattan. The way the film made New York look so magical made the city less scary to her. She's been in love with the movie ever since. I too have heard that others were offered the Montand role. I'd read that most of the actors of suitable stature considered the role thankless and too subordinate to Streisand.Too bad.Thank you very much for your complimentary comments and sharing your history with this "guilty pleasure"!

  8. "On A Clear Day You Can See Forever." I absolutely love this movie, and have since I saw it the week it opened in the summer of 1970. The combination of Vincente Minelli, Alan Jay Lerner, Cecil Beaton, and Barbra Streisand, is almost a gift from God.

    However, I do recognize and admit that it is seriously flawed. I read in several sources that Richard Harris turned down the role of Marc, and I fantasize about what the movie would have been, had he (fresh from his success in the film musical "Camelot") accepted the role. At times, I am consumed with wonder over the 33 minutes of film that ended up on the cutting room floor: the purple outfit, the zebra outfit, the wedding scene, "Wait Till We're Sixty-five," the scene with Madame Truzenda, "Who Is There Among Us Who Knows," the regression sequence with 'word association' and Daisy in a costume we never saw, the "E.S.P" musical number, the second party at the Royal Pavilion, the extended version of "He Isn't You," the intermission, and God knows what else! Of course, the film dies every time Mr. Montand speaks or sings, but it comes brilliantly back to life every time Ms. Streisand comes into view. Has she ever looked or sounded better?

    When I bought the DVD, I was devasated to find that there were no special features. I repeat: no special features!!!?? What are DVDs for? Total insanity. Is it possible that the lost footage is truly lost for all time?

    Thank you for your insightful comments and for posting these beautiful pictures.

    1. Of course, I have to say from the outset that I love your "name"!
      It really must have been remarkable getting to see the film at a theater when it opened. I can only imagine how heady the experience was.
      i think I saw Richard Harris singing some songs from "Clear Day" on You Tube, and he would have been marvelous. But still, as you say, Streisand rarely sounded or looked better than she does in this film.

      Like you, I cannot fathom why Paramount has treated this film so shabbily in its DVD release. Two iconic stars (Streisand, Nicholson), a legendary director...they REALLY couldn't dig up the lost footage? And if indeed it is lost forever, what a waste.

      I have the same feelings about all the unused footage from Robert Altman's "Nashville"; I obsess over the many hours of unseen footage just rotting in some vault somewhere. I hate sometimes that the movie industry people sees its films as product and forgets that every now and then they create something of cultural value that needs to be taken care of. If there was ever a movie that demanded an authentic restoration, this is it.
      Thank you so much for sharing your memories and thoughts about this film. So much fun hearing from a fan who see the pluses but is not blind to the minuses. Much appreciated!

  9. Hey Ken. I just now happened upon this. Better late than never! What a wonderful, insightful read. This is definitely one of my favorite Streisand movies. And of course for me also, I love it because of the music, the visuals, and the incomparable Barbra Streisand, whose in top form musically and dramatically.

    Being a voice teacher/vocal coach, I couldn't help but notice all the repeated praise of Streisand's singing in this particular musical. Well, my opinion differs not. She is amazing! Not only are her vocals near other-worldly in their production, her acting in her songs is simply top notch as well, as is her acting throughout the film in non musical moments. Even though her vocals in her two previous movie musicals were beyond better than probably most of her generation could pull off, she was, for the most part, using her gut-busting Broadway belt for all the big numbers. In "Clear Day", she learned how to soar! She instinctively (because she's never had a voice lesson - unbelievable!) 'let go'; she stopped pushing up from her chest alone to achieve her big notes. And this is what started setting her apart from the other 'belters', and what eventually became known as "the Streisand chills" - soaring up into the stratosphere without going into her soprano, while holding those notes for what seemed like forever!

    Thank you again, Ken, for a great read! And by the way, I was also a big Pauline Kael fan. She also was a big fan of Barbra's. She loved and supported her when sometimes others wouldn't. She recognized genius, and didn't shy away from praising it because of political reasons. Yes, there are a lot of politics in the entertainment world too! And because she loved and respected Barbra's talent and potential so much, she would also come down hard on her on some occasions, like a scolding mother would. But all-in-all, I think they both loved and respected each other in the highest regards.

    Oh, I almost forgot. That yellow, black and white zig zag patterned pant suit wasn't intended to be warn in the present day of 1970. It was going to be warn in a future scene that was later scrapped. They were going to visually show the future that Daisy was describing to the Chabot at the end of the film, when they were married. But alas, it as many other described scenes mentioned in other posts, ended on the cutting room floor. One of the biggest age-old questions amongst Streisand fans is, Will we ever be able to see any of the missing Clear Day footage? One can only hope and pray that as in the tagline for her movie "Yentl" -- "Nothing's Impossible!"

  10. Glad you enjoyed the post and I'm most happy with your sharing your knowledge of voice and singing in relation to Streisand and this film. Very informative! It has always been a fave of mine musically, and it pleases me that the film is remembered and approached more kindly now than it was received in 1970.
    I like too that you recall Pauline Kael's unique critical relationship with Streisand. I always liked how she called it like she saw 'em. Giving praise when deserved and calling out stars she felt were cheapening their talents.

    It was a pleasure reading your comments about a film and performer you love, and I'm glad, on just happening upon my site, you took the time to say hello and contribute. Much appreciated and hope you stop by again!
    (Now if only someone could dig up some of that lost footage!)

  11. Recently, some news footage (with sound!) surfaced of Streisand filming the zoo sequence in the yellow zig-zag outfit. The song she was lip-synching? "Come Back To Me." That settles that. It's in one of the drafts that the Llamas sing to her -- they were filming that scene. Minnelli himself said in an interview that they had to cut one of Barbra's scenes because the modern outfit she was wearing was TOO outlandish. I'm betting it was this one!

    I believe (and I put on my Barbra-Archives site -- thanks for the link here!!) that they never filmed E.S.P. -- it was cut before the movie began. I think "Go To Sleep" replaced it.

    I have heard from many fans over the years, some with "inside info" that the cut footage exists ... and that it does not. I have heard that Paramount tried to find it all for the CLEAR DAY laserdisc release in the 1990s -- and could not. I have also heard Streisand has it.

    So ... CLEAR DAY is one of my FAVORITE films, and I'm a bit obsessed with all the cut scenes. Loved reading this piece!!


    1. Hi Matt
      Thanks a MILLION for clearing up that costume issue! Conflicting stories have been floating around for years. It's such an odd costume that few are able to imagine it fitting in with contemporary times, but, you being a Streisand fan, that outfit is nothing compared to some of the high-fashion get ups she's been photographed in during her early career. If I'm not mistaken, I think you relate a similar story on your site about an exotic outfit that was excised from "The Way We Were" film that she eventually wore on the cover of her "The Way We Were" non-soundtrack album.
      Your Barbra Archives site is without peer for info on all things Streisand:

      I am glad you're such a big "On a Clear Day" fan. Seriously, the stuff you've uncovered is fascinating and I thank you for puling together the whole roadshow experience for all of us. I'm very glad you enjoyed this post. Thanks for stopping by!

  12. Hi Ken - I love this film, and agree with many of your observations.

    Please, however, let me say a word in praise of the inimitable Monsieur Montand. I disagree that he is awful in this film, and in Let's Make Love (which IS a bad movie, unlike Clear Day). Montand's English is halting, but he has real charm and comic timing. And NOBODY, but nobody, can sing "Come Back To Me" in the same iconic way that Yves HAS to be in that thick, almost unintelligible French accent for it to be as funny as it is. (GREAT and INVENTIVE sequence, Mr. Minnelli.) I even believe that Yves laid on the accent a little more thickly than he needed to on purpose, to spoof the "International man of mystery" he must have seemed to Daisy.

    You're right, there are no sparks flying between Montand and Streisand, but that's the point of the story, isn't it? They're not meant to be together until they meet in Virginia in the next lifetime.

    I do like Yves, and so did Simone Signoret! :-)

    1. You comment is a great example of what I enjoy about the comments section of blogging. While it's always nice to be complimented and agreed with (and the people who read my posts are generally so polite that they often only comment when they have something nice to say), I do find it illuminating to read a different point of view.
      I really am not fond of Montand in this film, that's pretty clear. But I love your take on him and his performance, and it is indeed the first time I believe I've ever heard ANYONE say anything good about him in context with this film, so even though I don’t agree, I found it fascinating and enlightening.
      Better still, you make an interesting point: narratively-speaking, Daisy and Chabot ARE supposed to be an ill-fit, so the lack of chemistry between Streisand and Montand actually works for you in the context of the story. I love that! I think such an observation is the cornerstone to how subjective the filmgoing experience is and how something that doesn’t work for me can actually be something that enriches the film for someone else.

      I do so love the "Come Back to Me" sequence too, and your enthusiastic praise of Montand's interpretation (exaggerated Gallic charm)is almost enough (almost) to make me reconsider his rendition of this great song.

      Thanks very much for sharing your refreshingly pro-Yves Montand opinion. I enjoyed reading it very much!

    2. Anonymous here (from Apr 8, 2012 - I still can't figure this out) -- I just caught up with the Montand/lack of chemistry comment. Keep in mind that Dr. Chabot is a psychiatrist, and as typical as it is to want to 'murder' your psychiatrist is the tendency to 'fall in love' with him (or her). Although Daisy doesn't go to Marc for psychoanalysis per se, she does go to him for help with a personal problem. And it took me I-don't-know-how-long to realize that by "Come Back to Me" Daisy has internalized her therapist's voice, so Marc is actually 'speaking' to Daisy's subconscious -- his voice is echoing in her head and coming out of the mouths of strangers. It can be argued it's her fantasy of him, not him in actuality, and her version of his voice would have an extra-plummy accent. (I once dreamed of my therapist as Ingrid Bergman -- it was a close I my movie addled brain could get to her accent) When Daisy screams "Will you stop bothering me!?" it's a textbook example of a therapy patient resisting growth until (not unlike a plant) he/she finally blossoms.

      Whew. What a long way of saying the lack of chemistry is no impediment to a patient falling for a shrink -- it's all projection. There's an interesting book called "We Danced All Night" by Doris Shapiro who was Alan Jay Lerner's production secretary when OACD was originally produced on Bway which has some background on Lerner's psychoanalysis (and his patronage of Dr Feelgood, who famously gave "vitamin B12" shots that were really amphetamine boosts) as well as info on scenes and character detail on Mark Bruckner (turned into Chabot for the film) that were dropped from the script to keep it a manageable length. There's also a chapter about OACD in "Blue Skies and Silver Linings" by Bruce Babington, a critical cinema analysis of ten specific film musicals including Golddiggers of 1933, Swing Time, and Carousel. Yes, a serious critical study of OACD, in very august company.

      Obsessed by OACD? Me? Well, like I always say, "They're geraniums. Any minute now."

    3. Hi Anonymous
      This is a REALLY late reply to your comment, but I don't think I'm getting notified of all the comments from older posts. In any event, thanks for the amusing and informative info on the film and the whole chemistry issue.
      You certainly make a persuasive case for your point of view, which is what is great about the arts... there are always so many things one can extract from a film, resulting in two different people seeing entirely different things, yet both having sound reasons for the impression they're left with. Thank you for the follow up!,

    4. Well, I was born the year this movie was released and although I'm not an expert at the specifics of this film, I do love it. Barbra is amazing and glows in her entire performance. It's not the knock your socks off with the story line but I think deserves more credit than it has received. I am however, disappointed there are only a few brief scenes with John Richardson. I also bought the DVD and disappointed there were not any additional footage about the movie. What ever did happened to John Richardson? It seems he has disappeared from acting since the 90's. My question is how was he selected for his character Robert Tentrees? I can't find any archived footage about him regarding this film.

    5. Yes, John Richardson is such a stunner one is always left wishing there were more of him in the film (a great deal easier on the eyes than any other male in the cast, although thin-haired Jack Nicholson is kind of cute). Various production stills found on the internet suggest there was at least one more scene or an extended one.
      For such a major production, precious little has been written about it. Have no idea if he was under contract to Paramount at the time, but he certainly had the requisite looks for stardom, if not the talent. Till alive, internet sources say he retired to become a photographer.
      Glad to hear this is a favorite film. Thanks for visiting my blog and commenting!

  13. I always wondered what response audiences would have had to Streisand had Clear Day been her debut movie instead of Funny Girl. I am one of those Streisand fans who feels her performance in Clear Day was light years better than Funny Girl and Hello, Dolly. I saw Clear Day as a double feature with Owl and Pussycat, both in Nov. 1970, with my father!!!!!! I was 15. Oy vey.

    1. You make a good, very valid point. No matter how talented a star, the public tends to take them to task after a while, even when are they are producing relatively consistent work. I definitely like her work here more than in "Hello Dolly!"
      I remember the brief Meryl Streep backlash in the mid 80s when she was criticized for her use of accents and (surprisingly) for being too technically proficient.
      I like that "On a Clear Day" is one of your favorites, as it at least gives Streisand a chance to be a clotheshorse in both contemporary and period clothes for a change. But I especially love that you saw this G-rated movie with the R-rated "Owl and the Pussycat"...with your father yet! That's an enviable double bill.
      Thank you very much for commenting!

  14. WOW. I just stumbled on your site while looking for pictures of the "zig zag" outfit to post on Pinterest. What a great and thoughtful review you gave this film. I'm old enough to say I saw it on opening day in New York City. I couldn't agree more with your assessment especially of the non performance of Montand. Barbra was in great form and voice in this film which makes it such a major disappointment for me (I'm a super fan of hers) even after all these years. Thanks again and now I'll read you faithfully.

    1. Hi Robert
      What a nice comment! And also, such a thrill to imagine you saw this in New York when it opened. That "Come Back to Me" number must have looked like a NY picture postcard valentine to the city.
      I understand why, as a Streisand fan, you find the film disappointing. Happily she sings like a dream in it.
      I look forward to hearing from you again. Thanks!.

  15. Ken, really enjoying poking around your glad I discovered it. My husband keeps asking me what I am reading and laughing about, but it's too hard to pry myself away to explain it to him. I saw this movie when I was 10 in a movie theatre in Pittsburgh. I fell in love with Barbra on the spot (I had not yet seen Funny Girl so this was my introduction). I loved how she looked, how she talked, how she dressed, how she sang -- oh how she sang! The title song and What Did I Have became cornerstones in my reportoire of interior show tunes that ran through my head during my teen years. The Come Back to Me sequence was a thrill to this little girl; the New York scenery, the clever lyrics and the idea of a man wanting a woman enough to sing to her!

    As I grew into my (very) awkward teens, this movie came to represent so much more to me. Somehow I saw it as a touchstone of hope, that one day my awkwardness and plainness would one day be appreciated by someone who would love me enough to sing to me from on top of the PanAm building!

    I guess Barbra affected a lot of girls/boys that way. Anyway, for years, whenever I felt low, drab and that nothing would ever "happen" for me, I would sing On A Clear Day to myself (sounding like Barbra of course!)

    Well that clear day finally came, and like Daisy's flowers I blossomed. Amazingly enough I left Pittsburgh and got a job in NYC! And I met the man who still sings to (and about) me! We both worked for a large insurance firm that bought the PanAm building and we even got a chance to visit the top floor (weren't allowed to go to the roof). So my OACD fantasy actually came true!

    That's why I love this movie so much. It's flawed to be sure, but Barbra, the music, the costumes and that glorious cinematography created a fairy tale that still enchants.

    1. Hello Roberta
      I'm so glad you happened upon this site, and that you've enjoyed going over a few older posts.
      I must say your fairly tale association with this film is quite touching and very amazing! What a wonderful memory to share with us!

      When I think of some of the lazy, even cynical kinds of movies studios pour their money into today (Adam Sandler comes to mind), I always wish that more filmmakers knew or remembered that movies have the power to be what "On a Clear Day" was for you.
      They don't have to be perfect or even good movies, but they need to have something that takes us beyond what and where we are. They need to have people behind them who care.

      If anybody ever writes a collection of anecdotes in which people relate what movies seemed to stick with them their entire lives, (maybe I should!), what you shared here is a perfect template.
      Thank you so much, and congrats for blossoming and finding your own Dr. Chabot!

    2. Ken, asci explore this blog a few things are becoming apparent to me. First, you have exquisite taste. No matter what genre of film, the movies you select (good or bad), your reviews always highlight something transcendent, whether it was intentional or unintentional on the part of the filmmaker. Your reviews are also beautifully written. You have to do a book!

      Secondly, when I read you comments, I am struck by your enormous generosity of spirit. Even if a commentator expresses an opinion that differs from yours, your thoughtful, graceful and respectful replies remind all of us that the true by-product of film is the shared experience and varying reactioñ we all have as an audience.

      It is an absolute pleasure to get to know you through reading your posts. Your partner, family and friends are lucky people indeed!

    3. Roberta
      Of the great many kind comments I receive on this site (and I've been lucky in attracting what I think are a particularly nice cross section of film devotees), I must say yours ranks among the nicest. Thank you for such a lovely compliment!

      Your words hearten me because one of the reasons I even started a film blog was because i grew impatient with the timbre or "criticism" I was reading.
      Not only were people stating emphatically that certain movies were either "Good" or (a favorite) "The worst movie ever made" without expounding upon such opinions - and that's what they forget them to be, just opinions, not fact - but any voice of dissent was met with vitriolic verbal abuse. Or worse, the claim that if you didn't share the reviewer's opinion, you were a neanderthal moth breather incapable of grasping the philosophical subtleties of the Fast & Furious franchise.
      Thus, I really appreciate hearing that in some small way, my blog communicates my own philosophy which you articulate beautifully: "The true by-product of film is the shared experience and varying reactioñ we all have as an audience."
      Your comment made my day!

    4. Sorry for all the typos in my previous post. I was a) typing on my phone, b) typing without my reading glasses and c) typing before I had my first cup of coffee this morning! I'll be more literate in future comments!

  16. Hey... what is the actual running time of this movie ? Someone on Amazon complained about lots of cuts, making the movie from 3 hours+ become the 2:09:00 length... so is the 2h9m the time it has ever been ?

  17. This film has only ever been released in its 2 hour, 9-minute version. Originally conceived as a much longer film - a roadshow attraction - the Amazon complainer must be speaking of when (way back in 1970) Paramount cut nearly an hour of its running time before releasing it to theaters. Much if not all of that footage is considered lost and only preview audiences back in the day ever got a chance to see the full, uncut version of this film.

  18. I don't know why Barbra and Paramount don't make a sequel of On a clear day... with all deleted scenes in a new story with Daisy having some strange dreams and search help with the son of Dr. Chabot and with new songs, the deleted ones we have On a Clear Day Again a new musical film with Barbra. Maybe it's a crazy idea but a way to restore all the deleted scenes and in 2020 the movie celebrates 50 years so, I don't know but maybe it's a good idea.

  19. Dear Ken: Hello!

    I just watched "On a Clear Day" again the other night. I will try to share some thoughts that I hope are not redundant with the many excellent comments above!

    First--what was Paramount thinking when they greenlit this movie?? Doing a film version of a Broadway musical that did not succeed, and pumping millions of dollars into it. . .

    It's true the movie is lavish, stylishly directed, the score is of high quality (each and every number is excellent), the script is intriguing and witty, Streisand is phenomenal, etc. etc. But taking all the plusses into account, the movie clearly is so offbeat and of such specialized appeal that there is no way it ever would have been a popular blockbuster. I guess studios in the late 1960s were grasping at ANYTHING they thought might be the next "Sound of Music."

    Like you and everyone else here, I just love Streisand in this movie. Her singing is peerless, her comedy playing spot-on. And her amazing versatility has never been shown to better advantage. One thought that struck me as I watched this time was, in the "Love with All the Trimmings" scene: I wonder if Streisand as a little girl, growing up as the "neighborhood oddball" in Brooklyn, ever dreamed that someday she would be the star of a multi-million dollar musical, dressed in a fabulously expensive period gown and jewels, photographed to perfection, and erotically kissing a leading man with the looks of a blond god? Well. . .maybe Streisand DID imagine such a thing happening. But for anyone else--what an impossible fantasy come true!

    Like very few others above, I think Montand has his good points. For one thing, I think he is quite believable as a psychiatrist and college professor. And for another, I find his singing quite wonderful. His resonant baritone makes the beautiful song "Melinda" glow. (Of course, Nelson Riddle's orchestration also helps quite a bit. I watched the movie with headphones this time around and noticed that throughout, Riddle's arrangements are absolutely wonderful.)

    I agree with you that the movie seems disconnected and unsatisfying as a whole. I decided that it is best approached as a "chamber musical." The movie really is about Melinda's therapy and her journey to self-acceptance, which is in many ways an internal process. So it makes sense that much of the film takes place in one location/set (Dr. Chabot's office), and the songs--though wonderful--are mostly internal monologues rather than extroverted show-stoppers. And as Chabot notes to Daisy at the end, he too has been changed for the better by her therapeutic journey. There is a lovely moment where, as Streisand sings the title song and exits Chabot's office for the last time, Chabot also steps out of his office into the sunshine outdoors.

    1. Hello David!
      I’m always happy when someone revisits (I’m assuming it wasn’t your first time) “On a Clear Day”!

      I thoroughly know what you mean in questioning Paramount’s acquisition of a musical that really didn’t work on Broadway and not thinking about how to make it work on screen. Especially as a popular entertainment on scale with the popular musical blockbusters of the day….The Sound of Music (which NEVER seemed to leave theaters throughout the entirety of my childhood).

      I think Minnelli perhaps envisioned a great romantic film along the lines of MY FAIR LADY wherein Higgins and Eliza don’t really get together either, spending the entire time ignoring their feelings for one another. But that was based on a well-structured play with an easy-to-identify-with central desire and conflict. As much as I love ON A CLEAR DAY, I don’t know if the idea of it ever works when Daisy Gamble (as personified by Streisand) is just as mesmerizing to the audience as Melinda.
      And while I love that you have no problem with Yves Montand—I dislike him so much that your feelings strike me as almost saintly and very true to your kind nature—he still seems as much of an ill fit for Daisy as Warren. Also, for me, he’s so sexless, and Streisand is so…if not exactly sexy, she radiates an authentic sensuality.

      That’s an interesting question you pose about Barbra and that princess moment that is the "Love with All the Trimmings" scene. You’re right, perhaps that is how Streisand, even in her most humble period, always saw herself, or maybe it was just a dream to wish she aspired. But I would love to have had a journalist ask what it felt like seeing herself larger-than-life on the big screen, looking like a classic movie goddess. We certainly know such underdog triumphs fueled her appeal as a gay icon and patron saint of the late-blooming outsider.

      Reiterated in so many comments here, yours included, is an appreciation for the music (thanks for citing Nelson Riddle's orchestrations and arrangements), the sumptuous look of the film, and the appeal—physical and vocal—of Streisand. Like today’s cinema of spectacle where action-filled CGI set pieces mitigate vacant storylines, ON A CLEAR DAY seems to be a movie people are capable of enjoying as sensation. It touches our spirits so engagingly, we forgive it for not entirely moving our hearts.

      Lastly, your closing comments characterizing ON A CLEAR DAY as a "chamber musical" is the stuff of pre-production story meetings that I wish had happened. The inner monologue concept seems ideal for the intimacy of the stage, but a big, roadshow musical cries out for more than just static visual splendor. It needs a couple of extroverted show-stoppers.
      And to compare the Broadway score with the film, it’s clear that all the songs that weren’t internal monologues were excised for the film. A valid decision, one explaining the loss of Nicholson’s solo and the rooftop number “wait till we’re sixty-five,” but robs the film of a certain liveliness that would have given it wider appeal.

      Thank you, David. Your even-handed appraisal of ON A CLEAR DAY is supported by a writer’s instinct for story and a film buff’s eye for detail: I never took note of that final shot of Chabot walking out onto the balcony into the sunshine. I love that!

  20. "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."

    Really, really late to the party here, but... is this just something people liked to do with Simon Oakland? That's the entirety of his role in Psycho!

    1. Hi Nequam-
      Ha! I love the wording of your question and the keen observation behind it, as it’s something I’ve often wondered about Simon Oakland's filmography, myself.

      I can’t recall who it was, but a movie critic in the ‘70s did indeed comment (unfavorably) on what they referred to as “The Simon Oakland role.” It was after the film BULLITT (1968) seemed to propel the character actor into a stream of film and TV roles in which he played the by-the-numbers police captain or lawyer the rebel hero always butted heads against. The complaint lodged was that so many of Oakland’s characters seemed to be little more than exposition facilitators.
      Why Oakland was to go-to guy for these roles remains a mystery.
      Thank you very much for reading this post and contributing to the comments section.

  21. This post is absolutely splendid. Your comments about Daisy being the only one anyone finds humorous are spot on. While the film is lacking, her performance is sublime.

    1. Thank you! Its hard for me to re-read some of my older posts without wanting to rewrite them entirely, but I I'm so glad you enjoyed this look at my favorite of all of Streisand's musicals. As you say, the film has its issues, but Streisand is bliss