Favorite Musical Scene Theatre: On A Clear Day You Can See Forever (1970)
Since the planets are now in Sagittarius’s zestful orbit, you deserve to start the week with the promise of bloom and regeneration. What better way than the opening number “Hurry! It’s Lovely Up Here” from Barbara Streisand’s truncated Road Show from 1970, ON A CLEAR DAY YOU CAN SEE FOREVER. Directed by Vincent Minnelli in archetypal ponderous big studio fashion, the film attempted to straddle the wonky ground between the elephantine musicals that were bankrupting Hollywood and the raw, ragged New Cinema that was confounding the executives. As Pauline Kael pointed out of those grasping for THE SOUND OF MUSIC success in her brilliant review of PAINT YOUR WAGON (1967), “the studios are being crushed under their own weight.” Yet Streisand was a genuine star, a multi-talented phenomenon who shared a 1968 Best Actress win for FUNNY GIRL along with Katherine Hepburn’s for A LION IN WINTER. Even after the bloated excess of HELLO DOLLY — which cost as much as TITANIC would have in 1969 — Streisand gave the ol’ Broadway Show Tunes one final bow in this adaptation of the 1965 musical starring Barbara Harris (who should have reprised) about a kooky woman with ESP and the ability to make plants grow. I know, I know. But I like the songs. And this version updates the story for “now” with a college protest and yes, Jack Nicholson in his first big Hollywood film as a hippie with a sitar, whose duet with Barabara Streisand was cut! Paramount got cold feet at the last minute and shortened the film from its Road Show status. While OACDYCSF doesn’t work and Yves Montand might be the most miscast lead in movie musical history, Streisand is at the height of her smokin’ 60’s style and where else can you see Nicholson, Bob Newhart, Simon Oakland and Roy Kinnear in the same film with psychedelic credits?