Audrey Hepburn charms as bookshop clerk Jo Stockton, whose life is turned upside down when fashion magazine editor Maggie Prescott (the fabulous Kay Thompson) bursts into her shop with photographer Dick Avery (Fred Astaire) and a passel of models and makeup artists in tow. Before Jo knows what hit her, books are thrown all over the floor (to add character), and poor Jo finds herself being used as a prop in a photo with a supermodel.
You see, Jo is an intellectual, and a spitfire to boot. All this fashion nonsense goes against everything she believes in. But when Maggie and Dick come calling for Jo, proclaiming her to be the next fresh face of Quality fashion magazine, she reconsiders her position when a trip to Paris is thrown into the bargain. After all, the intellectual that she most adores in the entire world, Professor Flostre lives and lectures in Paris! But not only that, apparently a peck on the lips from Dick in the bookstore has gotten Jo all a-swoon. (ew.)
The romp then goes to gay Paris, opening with perhaps the most delightful ode to unabashed tourism I’ve ever seen: the song and dance number “Bonjour Paris” (with the screen split in three, showing Jo, Maggie, and Dick frolicking about at famous sights). With big smiles, they sing “We’re strictly tourists / You can titter and jeer / All we want to say is / La Fayette, we are here / On a spree / Bonjour, Paris! / Bonjour!”—Delightful!
The film cavorts through the fashion world of Paris, toward the climax of Maggie introducing Quality’s new face (Jo) to the world, which would be easy if Jo weren’t such a free spirit. In the meantime, Jo has to don black leggings and a black turtleneck to do an interpretive jazz dance with the beatniks on the Left Bank, Dick has to dance with his trenchcoat as though it were a bullfighter’s cape, and the two have to get into one lover’s spat after another. (The romance subplot between Astaire and Hepburn is a bit icky. He looks like he is thirty years older than her, because, well, he IS.)
Funny Face is a sunny confection, pleasing to the eye with all of the color and fashion. Audrey Hepburn is adorable, and Fred Astaire (depsite being an awkward romantic match with the young lass) shines in his song and dance numbers. But Kay Thompson, whom I’d never heard of before, seals the deal as editrix Maggie, getting many of the best songs, including the classic opening number “Think Pink!”. She is simply fabulous. With the city of Paris as a prominent co-star, Funny Face is a delightful charmer, the perfect movie to watch while snuggled under a cozy blanket, enjoying a bowl of ice cream.
In this case, the 50th Anniversary Edition means simply that: It is 50 years since Funny Face was released. The opportunity for packing this release with goodies is totally wasted. This film, however, looks great, completely restored in its full Technicolor and VistaVision glory. The scraps of extras include a retrospective of the Paramount Studio’s big hits of the 1950s, a goofy short piece “Parisian Dreams” featuring people talking about how important Paris is to the film, and a somewhat interesting featurette “The Fashion Designer & His Muse” about the fashions in Funny Face, particularly the longtime partnership between Audrey Hepburn and designer Hubert de Givenchy. There is also a photo gallery, but surprisingly there is otherwise no commentary, or even profiles of Hepburn or Astaire. Pretty skimpy, if you ask me!