Movie and music legend receives a 24-hour ‘Summer Under the Stars’ salute
When it comes to unique and singular careers in entertainment, Barbra Streisand surely has had one.
One of relatively few EGOTs in award history (if one includes her special Tony Award), the singer-actress-filmmaker has made her mark in every area of show business. Lately, she’s had more of a home-screen role through Netflix’s offerings of several of her early music specials and an extended cut of her version of “A Star Is Born.” Streisand also will have a 24-hour presence Friday, Aug. 17, on Turner Classic Movies as that day’s featured “Summer Under the Stars” performer.
Though it’s not impossible, it’s improbable to do such a tribute to Streisand’s film work without including the picture that established her immediately as a big-screen force: “Funny Girl,” in which she reprised her Broadway role as professionally successful, personally troubled talent Fanny Brice. It earned Streisand a best actress Oscar for her movie debut (sharing the honor with “The Lion in Winter’s” Katharine Hepburn), and that picture and its sequel “Funny Lady” will comprise much of the afternoon of TCM’s Streisand salute.
Much of the day’s lineup is drawn from the 1970s, easily the busiest acting decade Streisand has had. For a while after her initial film triumph, Hollywood seemed unsure what to do with her, as evidenced by the comedies “The Owl and the Pussycat” and “Up the Sandbox.” Those also are included by TCM, as are two major hits she had during that early-’70s period.
One was the Peter Bogdanovich-directed “screwball” comedy “What’s Up, Doc?,” and just listen to how the star rattles off much of her dialogue at an intentionally, amusingly speedy clip. The other was “The Way We Were,” unfailingly cited as one of movie history’s great romances, thanks to Streisand’s somewhat unlikely pairing with Robert Redford – though their clearly different styles are exactly what makes the movie work. (It also earned an Academy Award for the Streisand-performed title song.)
Very notably, TCM gives the primetime portion of its Streisand retrospective to two of the films she shepherded as a producer and director as well as a star: “Yentl” and “The Prince of Tides.” The first project is the emotionally powerful story of a Jewish woman who is denied the right to study the Torah, so she poses as a male to accomplish that goal. Adapted from Pat Conroy’s best seller, “The Prince of Tides” casts Streisand as a psychiatrist who becomes involved with the brother (Nick Nolte) of one of her patients (Melinda Dillon).
That is quite a body of work, and collectively, it’s one that only Barbra Streisand could have accomplished. Certainly, it qualifies her for her own day in a “Summer Under the Stars.”