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Popcorn & Prejudice: A Movie Blog

Seattle Times writer Moira Macdonald muses on moviegoing. Email Moira: mmacdonald@seattletimes.com.

April 24, 2009 at 10:10 AM

A day for divas

Babs.jpg
If today is your birthday, congratulations: you share it with two of the great movie-musical divas. Barbra Streisand (1942) and Shirley MacLaine (1934) were born on April 24, so clearly that day has some sort of fabulous belt-it-out mojo attached to it. And this means that, for the weekend, it’s time for a couple of songs.
A few years back, I watched “Funny Girl” in 70mm at Cinerama and it was a glorious, colorful thrill. Streisand bursts onto the screen in her film debut, funny and fast-talking and singing like there’s no tomorrow. She won an Academy Award for the role (shared with Katharine Hepburn, in one of Oscar’s very few ties), and it’s well-deserved. Watch her in my favorite song from the film (ignore the French subtitles) — and imagine how terrific this camera work looked on Cinerama’s screen:

Shirley MacLaine actually didn’t make very many movie musicals, but she began her career as a singer/dancer on the Broadway stage in the early ’50s, getting her big break in “The Pajama Game” when star Carol Haney broke a leg and MacLaine, her understudy, took over the part. You get a taste of what she might have been like on stage in her film work in “Sweet Charity” (complete with fabulous Bob Fosse choreography), and in this perfect bit from “Postcards from the Edge”:

Happy birthday, ladies, and happy weekend, everyone. May the sun be shining like a ball of buttah.

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