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STREISAND COLLECTION, THE

Barbra Streisand writes, acts, sings, directs, produces, composes – a major talent and adored by millions, she is the epitome of schutzpah. Some of her best films are now packaged as part of a new video collection by Columbia TriStar in time for Mother's Day. You don’t have to BE a mother to enjoy them. (But you do have to have one….) Paul Fischer flips through the Streisand filmography album. . . .

FUNNY GIRL (1968)
Barbra Streisand, Omar Sharif, Kay Medford, Anne Francis, Walter Pidgeon. Directed by William Wyler. Running Time: 145 minutes; Rated G.

"Hello, gorgeous!" was Barbra Streisand's first comment to the Oscar statuette which she won for her performance in Funny Girl. This was also her first line in the film itself, the catalyst for a movie-long flashback. Repeating her Broadway role, Streisand stars as legendary comedienne Fanny Bryce (1891-1951), whose life up until the mid-1920s is romanticised herein. This was Streisand's first film, and she made it her own. Apart from the songs taken from the Broadway hit, including her signature song, People, this lavishly directed gem by William Wyler is a joy; a funny, poignant and rousing star vehicle for a great talent whose star has never waned since.

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THE OWL AND THE PUSSYCAT (1970)
Barbra Streisand, George Segal. Directed by Herbert Ross. Running Time: 96 minutes; Rated M 15+.

Based on a two-hander stage play, this film caused something of a furore, what with Streisand as a foul-mouthed prostitute. But it doesn't matter, for it's one of her most irreverent vehicles, a snappily-paced comic gem, which co-stars George Segal as the bookish neighbour, whose interplay with the vulgar Streisand (as a hooker with a unique dress sense) is the stuff of great screen comedy. Though a little loud, it's still a fiery hoot of a film, directed with sharp observation by Herbert Ross.

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THE WAY WE WERE (1973)
Barbra Streisand, Robert Redford, Bradford Dillman, Viveca Lindfors, Herb Edelman. Directed by Ray Stark. Running Time: 113 minutes. Rating PG.

One of the biggest moneyspinners of the 1970s, The Way We Were charts the bumpy progress of an oil-and-water romance from 1937 to the early 1960s. While attending college, WASPish aspiring writer Robert Redford meets Jewish political activist Barbra Streisand. . Several years pass before they see one another again. Despite their profound ideological differences (not to mention the fact that he is prettier than she is), Redford and Streisand fall in love. It’s the 1940s: Redford is in uniform, Streisand is a radical radio commentator. By the time they meet again, he's a best-selling author; ignoring his snooty friends, he rekindles his relationship with Barbra, culminating in marriage. Comes the 1950s: spearheading a campaign against the House of un-American Activities witch-hunt, Barbra bemoans the fact that Redford has "sold out" to Hollywood. Their relationship is strained further when Redford indulges in an extramarital affair. Undoubtedly this was the all-time great love story, funny, moving, schmaltzy but irresistible. These two lit up the screen as few screen couples would ever do again.

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FOR PETE'S SAKE (1974)
Barbra Streisand, Michael Sarrazin, Estelle Parsons.
Directed by Peter Yates. Running Time: 87 minutes; Rating: PG.
Streisand returns to the screwball-comedy milieu of What's Up Doc? in the lightweight, For Pete's Sake, as a Brooklyn hausfrau named Henry. She will do anything to help her cabdriver husband Pete (Michael Sarrazin) get ahead. When Pete begins to play the stock market, Henry borrows three grand from a loan shark, thereby setting off a series of comic catastrophes. Molly Picon is perfect as a money-savvy madam who holds the key to Pete and Henry's happiness and well-being. Not as audacious as either Owl and the Pussycat or the gorgeous What's Up Doc, the film is amiable but forgettable. It was a strange film to be directed by action aficionado Peter Yates.

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FUNNY LADY (1975)
Barbra Streisand, James Caan, Omar Sharif. Directed by Herbert Ross. Running Time: 132 minutes. Rating: PG.

This 1975 sequel to Streisand's Oscar-winning Funny Girl may have lacked the comic spark of the original, but it's still a lively and mature work, directed by Streisand’s pal, Herbert Ross. The film chronicles Fanny Brice's relationship with impresario Billy Rose, played to perfection by James Caan. Musically, the film has some nice moments, and it's a fascinating look at a different Streisand, far less rambunctious here. Well worth a look.

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THE PRINCE OF TIDES (1991)
Barbra Streisand, Nick Nolte, Blythe Danner, Kate Nelligan, Jeroen Krabbe, Jason Gould. Directed by Barbra Streisand. Running Time: 113 minutes; Rating: M15+.

Nick Nolte stars as Tom Wingo, a football coach grappling with his family's tragic history with the help of psychiatrist Susan Lowenstein (Streisand, who also produced) in this melodramatic adaptation of the Pat Conroy novel. Beautifully shot, as with much of Streisand's later work, the film is plagued by her own self-indulgent style. Nolte is terrific, though, and the film has some strong moments exploring the uneven relationship between these two complex characters.

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THE MIRROR HAS TWO FACES (1996)
Barbra Streisand, Jeff Bridges, Pierce Brosnan, George Segal, Lauren Bacall. Directed by Barbra Streisand. Running Time: 126 minutes. Rating: M15+.

Written, directed and produced by Streisand and somewhat based on a 1958 French film, this romantic comedy follows the love that blossoms between a plain and ageing woman and a handsome, confused fellow. Middle-aged English professor Rose Morgan (Streisand) is homely, shy and lives at home with her mother. When not working, she is trying to ignore the ever-present spectre of spinsterhood that haunts her. Her sister Claire (Mimi Rogers) is as beautiful as Rose is plain and is about to marry the gorgeous Alex (Pierce Brosnan), whom Rose secretly adores, and this does nothing to make Rose feel better. Professor Gregory Larkin (Jeff Bridges) has had one failed romance too many and blames sex for his rotten luck with relationships. Still he wants companionship and so places a personal ad looking for a new lover willing to have a romance without physical entanglement. When Gregory overhears Rose expounding the glories of chaste and courtly love to her class, he thinks he has finally found the perfect girl. They begin to date and have many wonderful moments. Three months later Gregory proposes, but his offer of marriage has one catch: no sex. The business-like proposal does not fulfil Rose's romantic dreams, but it is better than continued loneliness so she accepts. Not long after her wedding, she launches an all out campaign to seduce her husband. Definitely Streisand's weakest film to date, somewhat funny, but extremely self-indulgent.

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CRITIC’S CHOICE


Funny Girl

FUNNY GIRL
"Who could forget Funny Girl? In this, her film debut, Streisand showcases her many talents as Fanny, the rollerskating chorus girl who becomes a Ziegfried Girl and then a star. Fanny eventually gets her man, the debonair gambler Nick, played by heart-throb and sometimes bridge player, Omar Sharif. The songs are classics, and Streisand is at her very best, claiming an Academy Award for Best Actress. Streisand zings with charisma in this role, which really suits her perfectly - it is without doubt a once-in-a-lifetime role. Naivety coupled with cocky confidence makes Fanny complex and interesting, and Streisand manages every nuance expertly. An all-time-favourite, Funny Girl is an Ugly Duckling, rags to riches story that shouldn’t be missed; it is delightful, amusing, touching and haunting."
Louise Keller

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WIN the Barbra Streisand Collection!

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The Owl and the Pussycat


For Pete's Sake


The Prince of Tides

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Rumoured to be touring Australia in September this year, Streisand is described by critics as a "spontaneous comedienne, a big voiced, belting singer with a brass gong of personality, she sets an audience tingling time after time."

At the age of 20, Streisand was one of the brightest names in showbusiness; three decades later, Streisand is still appealing in films.

Her first starring performance was in the one-woman CBS television network special My Name is Barbra, which was a smash, winning her an Emmy Award for Excellence. Since then her records and films have reached best seller lists all over the world, with 19 of her 39 albums going gold with another 8 going platinum.

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