Barbra Streisand was outstanding as the younger Fanny Brice in Funny Girl, and in Funny Lady she’s even better. Ray Stark’s extremely handsome period production also stars James Caan in an excellent characterization of Billy Rose, the second major influence in Brice’s personal life.
The story [by Arnold Schulman] picks up Brice in 1930, an established Ziegfeld star in a career lull as her mentor has trouble finding depression-era backing. Enter Rose, the brash comer who learns some showmanship savvy from her and marries her, after which the two drift apart as public careers and personal attachments diverge.
The plot is partially fictionalized in its apparent main thrust of showing how Brice finally purged her first love, for gambler Nick Arnstein (Omar Sharif), but in the process lost Rose as well. Thereafter, she was prepared to go it alone, a perfect hook for firstrate dramatic climax.
More than half a dozen older songs, on which Billy Rose’s name appears as one of the authors, are used to good advantage. [Music and lyrics of new songs are by John Kander and Fred Ebb.]
The film cost about $8.5 million to which Columbia contributed about $4.9 million and the rest from one of those tax shelter consortia.
1975: Nominations: Best Cinematography, Costume Design, Adapted Score, Song (‘How Lucky Can You Get’), Sound