Saturday, March 30, 2024

GOOD & PLENTY: MY NAME IS BARBRA

"The movies were my escape. ...The Loew's Kings was one of those extravagant movie palaces with red-velvet seats, an exotic painted and gilded ceiling, and Mello-Rolls…the best ice cream cones. And the candy! My usual was two packages of peanut M&M's and a box of Good & Plenty, with soft black licorice inside the hard pink or white cylindrical shells. It was like eating jewelry."

Built in 1929 on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn, the movie palace that gave birth to many of Streisand's dreams would, in later years, play host to several of her films.  

An essential theme emphasized by Streisand throughout her heavily-anticipated (and heavy) autobiography My Name Is Barbra is her need to find something she can identify within the roles she plays, the songs she sings, and the films she directs. 
I chose the above quote (Chapter 1, page 23)—the adult Streisand recounting what movies meant to her as a 13-year-old growing up in Brooklyn without a father (Emmanuel Streisand passed away when Barbra was just 15 months old)—because, as a person who also prefers to identify with the things I invest my time and interest in, I instantly related to the fantasist she describes. A child who sought escape in the transportive magic of movies and who could come up with a simile as fancifully evocative as "It was like eating jewelry." 

What Streisand shares in that beautifully written paragraph resonated with me like the literary equivalent of looking in a mirror. Indeed, the quote reads exactly like entries I've written for this blog about my own childhood growing up in San Francisco and how, after my parents' divorce when I was 11, the movies I saw every weekend at our neighborhood theater (the ornate and landmark Castro Theater near Market St.) were my primary escape and solace. 
I don't remember a world that didn't have Barbra Streisand in it. 
My parents had her albums. Her face stared out at me from the magazines on our coffee table. Her TV specials always came on at my bedtime. I grew up thinking Barbra Streisand was a contemporary of stars like Eydie Gorme (14 years older) and Judy Garland (20 years older). Imagine my shock when, years later, I discovered that the "grown-up lady in the evening gown" was the same age as Aretha Franklin and Paul McCartney.

The casual, self-reflective tone of Streisand's childhood memory is characteristic of what I most readily responded to in My Name Is Barbra and a large part of why I found the book to be such an irresistible page-turner. Unlike many celebrity memoirs and autobiographies that struggle to conceal the Marie Antionette-esque roots of their genesis (i.e., dazzle us "little people" with a peek at Hi-Ho the Glamorous Life), My Name Is Barbra finds Streisand successfully achieving through her writing what I feel she's always done so masterfully in her acting, singing, and directing: establishing the human connection. 

Streisand's gift as a writer—through uncluttered prose and chummy asides—is in making the reader feel as though they are on the receiving end of a private, marathon heart-to-heart monologue with an old friend—an old friend who just happens to be one of the greatest stars of her generation. 
It's likely not the memoir that Streisand could have written at any other time in her life, for it reads like a woman at peace with herself, with nothing to prove, no facade to keep up, and no axes to grind. She just wants to settle some scores, set the story straight, and replace decades' worth of gossip and innuendo with some clear-eyed, not-always-flattering-but-almost-always funny, truth.
(Page 93) On Streisand thinking then-boyfriend, future-husband Elliott Gould looked like a cross between Humphrey Bogart and Jean-Paul Belmondo: "He told me I was a cross between Sophia Loren and Y.A. Tittle. I didn't have a clue as to who Y.A. Tittle was...still don't." 
(Tittle is an NFL Hall of Famer popular in the 60s) 

With the dispelling of diva rumors the object and the demythologization of the Streisand Persona the goal, My Name Is Barbra takes us meticulously through the personal and professional life of this famously close-mouthed EGOT with a breezy alacrity that's…given its length…nothing short of extraordinary.  

Lauren Bacall and Shelley Winters both wrote bestselling autobiographies so comprehensive that they spanned two volumes. Alas, fans of Winters had to wait nine years between volumes (published 1980 and 1989), while Bacall junkies had a whopping 16 years to wait for their next fix (1978 and 1994). Leave it to Barbra Streisand, a self-professed lover of instant gratification, to show her fans some mercy and deliver the entire goods in a single three-pound, 790-page volume. And for this, my inner Veruca Salt (who screamed, "I Want It Now!" when Streisand's book was published) is eternally grateful.  

Streisand goes nose-to-nose with a guest on her 1966 TV special Color Me Barbra
"An 'amiable anteater'? That's how I was described at nineteen
 in one of my first reviews as a professional actress."
 
You gotta love a book whose Prologue has the iconic actor-singer-director-composer-screenwriter-designer giving a rundown of the paradoxically insulting/exalting things critics have said about her looks over the years.  


Barbra Streisand and I have been living together for some time now.
I arrived late to the Barbra Streisand party (she was off my radar until I saw What's Up Doc? in 1972), but when I fell, I fell hard. 


I'm always disappointed when a film personality writes a memoir and then skims over their movies like they're a footnote. Streisand proves to be the answer to this cinephile's prayers. She backs up her asserted belief that the creative process is more enjoyable than the result with marvelously detailed, chapter-by-chapter descriptions of the making of her films. The passages Streisand devotes to describing her methods of working are like taking a Master Class on Film and the Performing Arts. (A particular favorite is Chapter 40: detailing how Streisand's well-intentioned respectability politics clashed with the confrontational queerness of playwright Larry Kramer in her desire to turn his AIDS crisis drama The Normal Heart into a film.)
Happily, they're lessons from an instructor with a great sense of humor and considerable tea to spill when the subject calls for it. 

Barbra Streisand commenting on her films: 
FUNNY GIRL (1968)
Page 243: (Commenting on the film's opening sequence shot at The Pantages Theater in Los Angeles) "God, my nails were way too long. It's ridiculous."

HELLO, DOLLY!  (1969)
Page 282: "But I still thought the huge production numbers overwhelmed a flimsy story. So I'm always surprised when people come up to tell me how much they liked the movie. I'm glad someone had a good time."

ON A CLEAR DAY YOU CAN SEE FOREVER  (1970)
Page 307: "Daisy is supposed to be attracted to him [actor Yves Montand as Dr. Marc Chabot], and that was a challenge, because there was no chemistry between us. None." 

THE OWL AND THE PUSSYCAT (1970)
Page 317: (Joking about the price of movie tickets in 1970 and a topless scene she filmed and later "killed") "We'd have to charge much more if they're gonna see my breasts!"

WHAT'S UP, DOC?  (1972)
Page 346: "It was sort of amusing. I could tell Peter [Bogdanovich] was aching to play my part…not to mention all the other parts as well!!"

UP THE SANDBOX  (1972)
Page 363: "Rewatching the movie now, there are things I would do differently. I would fight harder to keep the moment where Margaret and her Black revolutionary boyfriend [Conrad Roberts] kiss. That was in a fantasy sequence where they're blowing up the Statue of Liberty. The Studio made us cut the kiss but they kept the explosion, which says a lot about our world."

THE WAY WE WERE  (1973)
Page 378: "And now, all I can think of is, Why do I keep holding that handkerchief in front of my face? I was probably self-conscious about my nose running. This is painful to watch. I can't believe how long my hand is in front of my face. You can't see the eyes. You can hear the emotion but you can't see it. This is where I needed [director Sydney Pollack] to say, 'Barbra, I want to try it without the handkerchief this time. Or pick it up but then put it down. I don't care if your nose runs!'  I wish I could do it over."

FOR PETE'S SAKE  (1974)
Page 410: "I was so disengaged from that movie that I barely remember making it. It's such a blank in my life that it's like a movie I've never seen before …only I'm in it!

FUNNY LADY  (1975)
Page 426: "So I liked the clothes…I liked the funny and serious relationship between Fanny and Billy,  …but I still don't get some of the musical numbers, like 'Great Day.' The set was over the top, the costumes for the chorus were ridiculous, and it went on way too long."

A STAR IS BORN  (1976)
Page 450: "When [negotiations with Elvis Presley to co-star] fell through, Jon [boyfriend-turned-producer, Jon Peters] actually said, 'Maybe I should play the part myself!' He wasn't joking. He was ready to make his debut. I said, 'Jon, who the hell do you think you are? You're not a star. I hate to tell you, but you're only a legend in your own mind.'"

THE MAIN EVENT  (1979)
Page 509: “Why am I making this lightweight comedy? I'm not wasting my life on this kind of fluff. I've got to do something I believe in… something I feel passionate about. I’m going to do Yentl.”

ALL NIGHT LONG  (1981)
Page 534: “Put it this way, it was a mistake to take this part, and I was very disappointed in [Sue Mengers, her agent]. I had a lot of problems with the script and had given the writer notes, which he seemed to agree with, but the rewrites Sue promised were never done.”

YENTL  (1983)
*No spoilers, but it's Chapter 36, it features the phrase "Tough titty," 
and here's a likely depiction of Mandy Patinkin after reading it. 

NUTS  (1987)
Page 663: “When [Leslie Neilsen] was pretending to strangle me, he got a little carried away and was actually choking me too hard. It really spooked me and that’s what you see on-screen. I played it scared because I was scared."

THE PRINCE OF TIDES (1991)
Page 714: " I had a hard time letting go. Maybe that’s where my limitations as an actress come in. Would I be a better actress if I was less in control?  Probably. But no use worrying about it now."

THE MIRROR HAS TWO FACES  (1996)
Page 847: "I just wanted to make a movie with a happy ending. Too many characters I’ve played…Fanny, Katie, Yentl, Lowenstein…wound up alone in the last reel. It was finally time for the girl to get the guy."

MEET THE FOCKERS (2004)
Page 904: “Dustin and I had so much fun. We treated the script as a starting point and then improvised a lot, just like we used to do in acting class. We knew each other when we were hardly 'star material'… he was a janitor and I was a babysitter. Strange to think that was 40 years ago, since it felt like yesterday.”

LITTLE FOCKERS (2010)
Page  917: "Oh, I see I passed right over Little Fockers, which I can’t say much about because I barely remember it..."

THE GUILT TRIP  (2012)
Page 917: "But the scene I liked best was a quiet moment, where I tell [Seth Rogen, playing her son] about this one man I loved and lost, while we’re eating ice cream at the kitchen table."

April 28, 1965  -  Newspaper ad apparently inspired by a kidnap ransom note 

The breezily conversational style of My Name Is Barbra resulted in my zipping through this voluminous and surpassingly entertaining memoir far more quickly than I would have liked. It turns out that the story of Streisand’s life was one rabbit hole I had no inclination I’d take so much delight in descending into, so despite its 970 pages, I wasn’t quite ready to stop reading at the point Streisand ultimately decided to stop writing.

Upon completing the final chapter ("and so, we bid a reluctant farewell to…”), I was aware of feeling a kind of exhilarated exhaustion…you know, the sort of thing one usually associates with having accomplished some heroic task or Herculean feat. I must admit that part of me DID feel as though I were an armchair adventurer who’d just been on an extensive expedition to the uncharted territory of La Streisandland, so perhaps there was indeed a trace of Indiana Jones in the way I closed the hefty hardback, stared again at that gorgeous Steve Shapiro cover photo, and settled back onto the sofa to give my thoughts on all I’d read some time to marinate a little. 
My first thought was that I would most definitely be purchasing the My Name Is Barbra audiobook. The second thing to pop into my head was (of all things) I Love Lucy.
Specifically, the "Lucy Writes a Novel" episode and the scene where Ricky, Fred, and Ethel are reading aloud from Lucy's thinly disguised roman à clef, "Real Gone With The Wind" (for any youngsters out there, "real gone" is archaic slang for "outrageously cool"), and they come across this hilariously cryptic passage pertaining to the Mertzes: "The best thing about Fred was that when you met him, you understood why Ethel was like she was." 

And there it was. I'd arrived…albeit by way of a curiously non sequitur route…at the most concise, succinct, and clumsily worded paraphrase to sum up my overall impression of Barbra Streisand's singularly sensational autobiography: The best thing about My Name Is Barbra was that after I read it, I understood why Barbra Streisand was like she was. 
Behind that sentence's comical lack of nuance is me expressing that I’ve always admired Streisand for her talent and accomplishments, but after reading about her life--which she writes about with remarkable humor, candor, and introspection--I now respect her in a way I never had before. 
And I felt empathy, for the memoir reveals a traceable path from all Streisand lacked growing up (a father, love, validation, safety, permanence, encouragement) to all she had to develop within herself in order to protect Barbara Joan Streisand... the little girl dreaming in the dark at the Loew’s Kings Theater in Brooklyn.

If I'm being honest, I think this book made me fall a little bit in love with Barbra Streisand. 
All over again. 
Francesco Scavullo photo shoot
Streisand set my gay heart aflutter when she got on the disco bandwagon (a tad late) in 1979. First with the movie theme "The Main Event/Fight" in June, then in October of that same year, a collaboration with disco's reigning queen, Donna Summer, for "Enough is Enough (No More Tears)." Both songs composed by Oscar winner Paul Jabara and Bruce Roberts.

MAD MAGAZINE - June 1971 (click on image to enlarge)
On a Clear Day You Can See A Funny Girl Singing "Hello Dolly" Forever

KEN'S  
BARBRA STREISAND TOP TEN

1. Favorite Comedy   -  What’s Up, Doc?   (1972)
2. Favorite Musical  -  On a Clear Day You Can See Forever  (1970)
3. Favorite Drama  -  The Way We Were (1973)
4. Favorite Studio Album  -  Stoney End (1971)
5. Favorite Single -  The Best Thing You’ve Ever Done 1970 (M. Charnin) released 1974
6. Favorite Album Cover - Classical Barbra  / Francesco Scavullo  1976
7. Guaranteed Waterworks  - You Don’t Bring Me Flowers  1979 (Diamond, Bergman)
8. Favorite Guilty Pleasure Song - I Ain't Gonna Cry Tonight  1979  (Alan Gordon)

9. Restored Footage Wish -  “Wait Till We’re 65” from On a Clear Day     
    
10. Favorite Underappreciated Performance -  The Guilt Trip (2012)


AUDIOBOOK NOTES   (Purchased less than a week after I finished the hardback)
I've always been crazy about Streisand's speaking voice, and it's such a treat to hear her swear so much and say "motherfucker" (Chapter 41) with such aplomb. But I especially love that she refuses to say the word "fart" (quoting Walter Matthau) and has to spell it out instead.

Reading about the Funny Lady biplane episode is amusing.
Listening to her telling it is priceless.  

Given how much it annoys Streisand to have her last name mispronounced (to the point of contacting the head of Apple and getting Siri to say it correctly), actress Jacqueline Bisset might want to give Streisand a call after Barbra mispronounces Bisset (which rhymes with "Kiss it") as Biss-ette.

Streisand's favorite quotes and credos
Never assume.

"He who tells too much truth is sure to be hanged."   George Bernard Shaw  - Saint Joan

"We're all mad. You're mad. I'm mad. The only difference is I respect my madness." - Her therapist

"At the moment of commitment, the universe conspires to assist you" -  Gothe.

Copyright © Ken Anderson    2009 - 2024

12 comments:

  1. loulou de la falaiseMarch 30, 2024 at 11:48 PM

    Hi Ken, I've looked through the book and loved the pictures and am so glad to hear your take on it. I'm not her biggest fan and didn't think I could get through it, honestly, and star's books are my thing. I've read hundreds. My favorite part of this blog was counting up the number of movies she has made (I wish Gypsy was on the list) and "now I know understand why she is like she is". What a gift to convey. Once again, thanks for the great and insightful read.

    0why

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    1. Hi Loulou –
      Thanks for reading and commenting on this post so swiftly. I appreciate it.
      It’s no surprise that I found the film-related aspects of “My Name Is Barbra” to be the most fascinating, and your reference to the unmade GYPSY reminded me of how surprised I was to read the chapters releated to the films she strugged for years to get made, and those that never were (The Normal Heart). I suspect I’m not the only one who assumed Streisand to have so much Hollywood clout and influence that she could get any film made that she wanted. Especially if it was known she was going to sing in it. Which makes the loss of GYPSY more painful for fans like me.
      Despite not being a fan yourself, I’m pleased you enjoyed this review all the same. Being somewhat addicted to celebrity bios/autobiographies myself, I’ve read so many over the years (always tough if you’re not an admirer or fan) and I think “My Name Is Barbra” is almost in a class by itself. Among some of the best, like Sally Fields’ and Jane Fonda.

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  2. "The best thing about My Name Is Barbra was that after I read it, I understood why Barbra Streisand was like she was."

    EXACTLY how I feel.

    Like you, I too fell hard way back when. The very hip & cool grandmother of my friend brought us to Funny Girl and I can still experience the feelings I had sitting there, not believing what I seeing & hearing. It was then that I began collecting the albums from the 60s that I'd been aware of, but never paid much attention to. (I could never choose a best song, album, etc., but I've always been very partial to "What About Today.")

    Sorry, I strayed.

    Never cared for Barbra's aloofness (especially when she walked by my table at a restaurant & nodded as if she'd been told she had to), but I felt I had to give her the benefit of the doubt. It can't be easy to be her out in public. What turned me against her, not her talents, but her person, was when she did Rosie O'Donnell's chat show. As Rosie sat there and gushed to Babs about how much she'd meant to her when she was a miserable kid on Long Island, Barbra responded unsympathetically, claiming to not understand her sentiments, not understand fandom.

    That kind of personal gushing may have gone over Bab's head or she may have been embarrassed by it, but . . . BUT, and here's where I wanted to sit Barbra down and get in her face, reminding her that she's an actress! Sure she's a human being like the rest of us, but her iconography demands she acknowledge what's reality. And if her compassion wasn't there for her, ACT! Be nice!

    Reading her book helped me to understand her & her quirkiness. Helped me understand her aloofness.

    All is forgiven.

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    1. Hi there, normadesmond!
      I think the very issue you have with Streisand (her seeming aloofness) is one of the more remarkable things cleared up for me by this memoir. In a way, I think she always puzzled her fans because her songs and concert performing style were so expansive, emotional, funny, and warm. Yet, in personal appearances, she often came across as self-serious, cool, and guarded. Certainly, symptoms of shyness, but who would believe that a big star like her could also be cripplingly shy?
      Knowing that Streisand felt awkward about gushing fandom even in the early stages of her career (and that she was aware of disappointing interviewers who expected a more giddily excited response from her) proved very informative. A testament to how well Streisand explains her vulnerability and shyness in the book is when I revisited that Rosie O'Donnell episode after completing the memoir, I wound up feeling somewhat sorry for Streisand!
      I know that it meant a great deal emotionally to O'Donnell, but I don't think she had a clue as to how overwhelming such a waterfall of devotion can be when you’re the subject of it. I felt a little bad for both of them. O'Donnell was having her own experience and was unaware of how uncomfortable Streisand was becoming. Streisand seemed unable to give O'Donnell what she needed in the face of an almost scary level of fandom.
      In the end, I think Streisand's stubborn honesty (which she often references in the book as coming across as bluntness or appearing removed) in that situation stopped her from "acting" nice or compassionate when she didn't really feel it.
      This perspective I throughly attribute to what I gleaned about Streisand in "My Name Is Barbra." I think she does a great job of getting the reader to see what might be behind behavior that doesn't meet fan expectations.

      By the way, I love that she passed by your table in a restaurant! I've never seen her in person , ever (came close, once) and have always wanted to.
      But can you imagine the damned-if-you-do/damned-if-you-don't paradox of celebrity? If a big star walks in a restaurant and minds her own business and heads straight for her table, she's called a stuck-up diva. If she nods to the people she passes, she's acting like she's doing a PR lap. When Streisand says she likes to stay home, I get it.
      It's great if you finished the book, as I did, with a sense of Streisandom from her perspective. It doesn't excuse rudeness and doesn't instantly make her a warm-and-fuzzy person, it just makes her more human and prone to the same errors, vulnerabilities, and myopia of her fans.
      Thank you very much for your terrific comment contribution!

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    2. loulou de la falaiseApril 5, 2024 at 4:01 PM

      Speaking of running into her, I had a friend who stayed at the same hotel she did when she was filming "what's up doc" just so he could see her. And he did. He said she is petite (ok, small).

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    3. Ha! That sounds like something my high school friend would have done...or indeed DID do! (He lived and breathed Streisand and lived in San Francisco).
      And Streisand - particularly in that terrifically sleek white bellbottomed pantsuit - does look like she'd be petite to small.

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  3. Hi Ken! I have had such a monstrously busy few months i haven’t started reading Barbra’s biography because I want to “binge” read it. I don’t want to nibble on a chapter here or a chapter there.

    Your essay has certainly whetted my appetite for it! To think of all she has accomplished creatively, all the people she’s met and worked with, all the ups and downs in her life, it would be near impossible not to be interesting. That it is inspired makes me so happy!

    For so many young women and teens of the ‘60s and ‘70s (like me), Barbra was revelatory. She was original - we drooled over her hip wardrobe while our parents called her a “kook”. But like us, our parents had to acknowledge THAT TALENT. A once in a generation voice given to a woman who was with an “old soul” of entertainers past, present, and future.

    I was a skinny, pimpled, teen with a mouth full of braces and couldn’t relate to the candy box prettiness of Charlie’s Angels or other starlets. No one was ever going to mistake me for Candice Bergen. But along came Barbra - with flawless milky skin, smoky blue eyes, a crooked smile and that unapologetically magnificent nose! And she lit up the screen! She was confident, funny, smart, smart-alecky, gorgeous, sexy, and rightfully the star of the show.

    Couple that with seeing her seduce actors like Omar Sharif, Ryan O’Neal, and Robert Redford on the screen and I felt the earth’s axis tilt.

    I had a whole new definition of what beauty was; what talent was; what being a woman was. It’s sounds like I’m exaggerating but I’m not. And I have many girlfriends who concur. We’ve each admitted to singing Don’t Rain on My Parade in our heads as we faced challenges - it was our anthem reminding us that we had what it took.

    At this stage of my life, perhaps The Way We Were would be a better anthem - in the last third of my life the goodbyes are starting to accumulate. But the Barbra I hear most in my head today is her exquisite On a Clear Day. She builds from that delicate opening to that unbelievably long final note, and I’m reminded that I am, still, seeing who I am. And, she, still, is the guide star getting me there.

    “My Name Is Barbra” here I am!!

    Roberta

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    1. Hi Roberta-
      How great to hear from you! I'm glad if my review whetted your appetite for the book. It feels so much like a legacy memoir- a book Streisand wrote to be more or less her final work on her life and career- that I don't think a sense of urgency surrounds the reading of it. You should wait until you have the time to savor it. If you're at all like me, you'll start it thinking you'll pick it up and take your time reading it over the course of weeks, only to get so caught up in her prose that you whisk through it at breakneck speed.
      It's great reading a woman's perspective on how influential Streisand was to young women. When it comes to certain gay icons in the entertainment industry, there can be gaps in my understanding of what appeal they hold for straights (for example, I've longed to, but have never in my life spoken to a heterosexual male who has a celebrity crush on Barbra Streisand. There have to be many, but they don't get a lot of print space).
      Your highlighting of what Streisand represented to women during a time when the standards of beauty were so rigid and the notions of what a woman could be were so narrow, is a perspective that's clear to me. It's nice to read how she resonated with you in so many ways beyond just her obvious talent.
      In the book, Streisand laments at not having made more films and even wonders if she realized her potential as an actress. But by your comment, I sense time will show that Streisand’s influence far transcends her nothing-to-be ashamed-of resume (except for those Focker films).
      Thanks for sharing and expressing so eloquently what Streisand has meant to you. I particularly love the allusions to the impact of her songs. You and I feel the same about “On a Clear Day”…as I’ve stated in the past, it’s my “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Cheers, Roberta!

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  4. I'm not the kind of Barbra fan that you are but I've definitely enjoyed her music and acting (well, most of the time). I liked "Funny Girl" and "Hello, Dolly" (didn't love them though). I agree with Barbra's assessment of "On a Clear Day", the two principal actors never really clicked. ("Love with All The Trimmings" is my favorite song from that film.) I enjoyed "What's Up Doc?" as I have fond memories of watching that as a kid when it came on TV. I've never gotten around to seeing "Yentl" though I want to. "The Mirror has Two Faces" is probably my favorite Streisand movie.
    Her voice is one of a kind and she just has so much charisma that even in lesser films, she shines. I've read enough to know that Streisand can be difficult and demanding and even a bit off-putting in real life (but hey, few people are consistently warm and cuddly) but that's why I have no desire to meet stars I admire. I'm pretty sure that no matter who or what they are, they will fall short of the "Image" they put out there. But Barbra Streisand will always shine bright even for a more casual fan like myself.

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    1. Hi Ron –
      I know there are some fans for whom Streisand can do no wrong (for me, such leniency is only accorded Julie Christie), but for the most part, I think most of us fall somewhere very close to what Streisand reveals herself to be in her book: appreciative of her overall talents, yet able to admit that she can be more effective in some vehicles than others.
      But I’m with you when you say she is such a unique and charismatic screen presence that she tends to shine even when not given much to work with.
      She's so terrific in "On a Clear Day" and so wonderful in Love With All the Trimmings sequence, that it came as a bit of a shock when she describes having so little attraction to the actor who played Robert Tentrees that she had to conjure up something else to fantasize about.

      I love that you're a fan of THE MIRROR HAS TWO FACES, largely because that has always been the Streisand film I've always had the hardest time warming up to. I told myself after reading this I'd give the film another chance.

      The older I get, the more I think it makes sense that there should be a distinct separation between art and artist. It seems neither reasonable or fair to expect professional pretenders to "Be" the illusion they work so hard in creating.
      The magic is enough. Why put so much pressure on artists to keep up the front 24/7?
      But then, of course, there are those artists who can't tell the difference themselves...but that's a topic for another essay.
      Thanks a heap for reading this and sharing your comments, Ron!

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  5. Streisand 's book is so insightful! In "Up the Sandbox" the studio allowed the explosion but not the kiss between a black man and white woman. Which does and continues to say a lot about our world! Even though she felt disconnected to "For Pete's Sake", I think it's one of her best comedy films! But I do agree that musical production numbers in " Hello, Dolly'! were way overblown considering the flimsy story! And I suspect that a lot of male directors ( both gay and straight ) secretly would like to trade places with their female stars and are aching to play their parts!

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    1. Hello, K Jenkins -
      Yes! I, too, found Streisand’s autobiography to be a an enjoyably insightful read. In fact, one of the reasons my review includes so many quotes where she’s self-critical of her films is because they reveal Streisand's refreshingly clear-eyed objectivity about both her work and herself. Something that contrasts and contradicts her public image of being a tad myopically self-enamoured.
      In many ways, she actually a good deal more even-handed and realistic about herself than her fans. She accepts that some of the films she’s most proud of were not great successes (UP THE SANDBOX), while comfortable with knowing that some movies she’s not overly fond of (HELLO, DOLLY) are beloved by her fan base.
      MY NAME IS BARBRA reads like the memoirs of a woman who has not only lived her life but has learned, grown, and thought a great deal about it. I’m with you in feeling that what Streisand shares about her 60+ years in show business is loaded with insight (not to mention, wit and wisdom).
      Thank you very much for commenting!

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