She has one of the most famous noses in the world: a honker, a schnoz; an unmistakeable profile that provokes love/hate reactions from her fans and detractors. But Barbra Streisand was surely in on the big nasal joke when she took on the role of Hillary Kramer in the 1979 comedy romance film ‘The Main Event’.
The story of a ‘nose’, director of her own successful perfume house, the film begins with Kramer ecstatically inhaling a new team-effort formula created by her in-house perfumers, a revolutionary unisex number that she is convinced will be a super-hit, the camera honing in woozily on that proud Cleopatran nez as she swoons heartily with approval:
” Smooth…….high quality….
There is an orgy going on right here in my nose!!”
Soon though, despite my delight that here at last there was a movie about a perfumer (I had had no idea that the film was going to touch on this theme : this was just a DVD I picked up for next to nothing knowing zilch about it in advance: I had never even heard of it, just fancied some easeful trash for a Saturday night at home), although the groaning pun of the tagline ” ….a glove story” should have nevertheless told me what the film is actually about : boxing. Yes, to her great chagrin, and ours, very soon the perfumer is unfortunately forced to abandon the beloved fragrance house she has spent so many years building up due to the fact that her rascal accountant has gone off and absconded with all of her money. Facing financial ruin she is forced to resort to……umm, training up a boxer (????!!!); get him off his lazy ass, and turn him into a champion in order to make them both some dough and save the day. Which, Barbra being Barbra with her barking, Nu Yoik chutzpah, she obviously manages to do, while just happening simultaneously to fall in love with her handsome scoundrel boxing protegé to boot.
It is a pretty awful film, to be honest – nigh unwatchable ( I got through it, eventually, in two or three sittings – Duncan refusing to join me), full of zany, unfunny clunkers and entirely unconvincing dialogue; zero chemistry between her and the hunky Ryan O Neal (maybe that’s what made me buy it come to think of it, the thought of our Ryan in his boxing shorts……) Nevertheless, I must admit that it did provide some amusement: the woman is an icon, and I suppose I have always had a bit of a soft spot for her.
Yes, Barbra Streisand is an icon of the highest order for deviants of the western hemisphere: we all had mothers who blasted out The Way We Were, You Don’t Bring Me Flowers, and Evergreen in the 70’s and 80’s, felt the dark surging drama of A Woman In Love as it stormed to the top of the charts at the start of the decade…………. Duncan, in fact, along with his brother and dad, was compelled by his mother to listen to the Guilty album so many times, hundreds – even thousands he swears – several times on practically a daily basis, that he now has a strange Pavlovian response whenever he happens to hear a song from that Barry Gibb-produced opus; you can see something happening internally; his features twitching in traumatized recognition, the eyes going a bit distant, rich and strange, for he knows every single bit of instrumentation on that record, every last strum of wah wah and drum, every last curlicue of backing vocal; all details in such painstaking intensity, the album having permeated the walls of his parents’ home for so many years, that it practically constituted a form of head-mangling, pop-record brainwashing.
Duncan can’t stand Barbra Streisand, actually, and I can understand why after having undergone such auditory torture (although I must say that I did do exactly the same thing to my own family with Blondie’s ‘Rapture’ single, which I bought at the age of 9, and which I twirled and gyrated endlessly to upstairs in my room, all day, every day, on full blast until the point when my parents could tolerate no more and literally confiscated the single). But in our household too, Streisand, that warbling, high-pitched songstress was beloved by my mother too, though to a lesser degree; she wasn’t liked by my father, and, unsurprisingly was hated by Duncan’s dad as well (” ……that bloody, beaky woman…”), but in any case, she formed such a towering and undeniable diva-drenched presence though our childhoods, that just seeing that face, that nose (especially when it is inhaling perfume!) gives me a certain, calming, nostalgic pleasure.
Watching her also recently in 1975’s Funny Lady, which I also picked up at a Tokyo secondhand DVD shop for a dime (perhaps I am drawn to her more than I am letting on? I do find her beautiful)I realize that as an actress, Streisand’s comic timing is spot on; she has the saucy, finger-snapping repartee of Mae West; the full, screen-eating presence that only stars of the highest calibre can muster. In essence, as much as you may want to, you can’t take your eyes off her.
I must say that the singer/actress is a quite believable perfumer in The Main Event. Just look at the way she inhales; the concentration; the exaggerated, eye-rolling, facial expressions of indulgent olfactory orgasm we are all prone to. Seeing that same expression on screen, in a film, I must say was a pleasing, and amusing, parody of we crazed perfumistas. You know you have also made that same face in the presence of olfactory greatness, gone a touch doolally, on more than one occasion.
In The Main Event, the character that Barbra Streisand plays really knows her stuff; oh she sure does love the excitement of a good perfume. But the woman, now semi-retired, in real life, also clearly has good scent taste. Barbra Streisand’s signature scent is said to be Guerlain’s profound and quizzical masterpiece Vol De Nuit, a green, narcissus, spiced oriental perfume I also adore; a scent that hovers about you like deep, soft intrigue, that keeps you at civilized distance while simultaneously drawing you in like a moth to the flame. The woman’s nose (oh, that nose!) is obviously as good off-screen as it is on, because, you know, perfume, in my opinion, really doesn’t get much better than that.
47 responses to “BARBRA STREISAND’S NOSE”
You make me laugh out loud. That Guilty album was beloved by Mum, Sister and I and Dad hated it. We played it incessantly.
Seriously, when we come down under, and that is going to happen, that album must be playing in the background.
rry up. I just bought it on iTunes in case.
The eye roliing picture is scary…
I am impressed that you managed to watch that to the end.
It had to be done.
You provide a public service in proferring the stills of the ecstacy induced by this orgy in The Nose without suffering the agony of this entire DVD.
I thank you.
Given her love of fragrance, I wonder if Babs became involved with this questionable film merely to enact that scene.
I like to think so!
My husband, like Duncan absolutely cannot stand Barbara. I just loved her in Funny Girl with Omar Shariff! She was so darn like able, and hilarious. I also loved he in The Fockers movie. Quite a stretch having her be a sex therapist, but it worked.
No I agree: she was a real laugh in that, with that tight perm…..
(although she was apparently nominated for a Razzie award for it…)
My father told me that he once had the misfortune to be seated at a table in a nightclub, close to the stage, where a relatively unknown singer, our Barbra, was in performance. He said that he was nearly desperate to escape to the back of the room just to save his eardrums. Like Tora, I loved her in Funny Girl, too. Otherwise, I have no fond memories of hearing her albums in our house when I was a child. Maybe my mother simply didn’t like Barbra, but maybe she was deferring to my dad. Who knows? But, since the radio was often playing, I am certain we heard her singing in the background throughout the 1970’s since she was popular and powerful during that time. My auditory nemesis is Elvis, especially songs from a certain Christmas album that I was forced to hear on a daily basis in a store where I worked years ago during the holiday season.
Good lord, can you imagine BS’s voice up that close? So strident….
I mean I think she has a beautiful voice in a way; impressive musically, but it is often just so……nasal.
Martha, were your ears tortured by Bab’s overly hysterical take on Christmas music? The music in the store over the Holidays would have Bab’s, the almost equally dreadful Buble, and Brittney Spears in heavy rotation interspersed with the sublime Julie Andrews, Louis Armstrong, Tony Bennett and Frank Sinatra. Just one of the many small wounds to be found in working retail…….
I have always felt very sorry for people who have to listen to the dreadful soundtracks of Yule for such extended periods of time, as I am the kind of person who can’t take repetition of sounds: I am an auditory hypersensitive. I honestly think it would all just end in a bloodbath.
No, Katy, I was spared. Who is Buble? I’ll have to google that name. And Brittney Spears? Puhleez! But, I could go with everybody else you mentioned except for Sinatra. I can handle him in small doses, but I prefer Tony Bennett, even Mel Torme, to Frank Sinatra. I no longer work retail, but I am certain that one needs nerves of steel to endure the inane marketing and merchandising that is part of the landscape in most stores.
I am referring to the redoubtable Michael Buble who erroneously believes he is in the same league as Tony Bennett and Mel Torme. Overly dramatic phrasing, with no genuine emotion, terrible orchestration, the whole “look Ma, I’m singing!”…….dreadful, makes one want to stick pointy things in ones ears to make it stop.
Couldn’t agree more. Or just point a cannon in his slippery, shiny direction.
OR just a lobotomy.
” We scoop it out on arrival, to ensure your pleasant stay!”
I am so happy you loath him too, my dear Ginza.
Can’t be doing with that middle ground dross, me.
That was funny. I’m not a fan of Barbra’s music (even though she has a beautiful voice) NOR her diva image, but I’ve always been fascinated by her looks. I LOVE that nose, those elongated eyes, that Cleopatra profile. She looks sultry and sexy. I’m not surprised she loves perfume.
It’s so good to read here again, Mr. Ginza. I have so much catching up to do! xoxo :-*
It was a bizarre post for sure, but I also love that profile. Glad to have you back!
Ah, Babs! The ex-husband of a friend was the CFO of a major studio. She relayed a story from way back when. One day, my friend decided to visit hubby at the office and when she arrived, she heard yelling, screaming and cussing coming from hubby’s office. This went on for over an hour and then it stopped. A minute later, out walked Babs with her head (and nose) held up high, swept through reception and then pouff! My friend found out later on that the whole kerfuffle was on account of a contract that was PENNIES lower than expected…mind you, this was not pennies on royalties (which could amount to millions) but pennies on the entire value of the contract! Apparently, what the Babs wants, the Babs gets!
Love it! I don’t doubt a word of it. I would love to see her storm out of a building.
She’s wonderful. Even when she’s not she’s wonderful. A recent gift was discovering this very talented group of young men: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FF7068L20_M
The above incoporates the melody from one of my favorite compositions from Camille Saint-Saens from a work titled “Carnival des Animaux” of which “Le Cygne” is the only published work. He was afraid the public would find him frivolous if he published the rest. How said. Where would we be without frivolity? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OCHqXuuWI8E
I prefer the Aquarium myself, but get ya drift. I even have her Barbra Classical album, which is kind of dreadful but strangely appealing.
The Guilty album was loved by ME, not my mother, so I guess I must be old enough to be your father (a fit, handsome one, of course!).
Marvellous. It has a good atmosphere, that disc, although being forced to hear it as much as D was must have been hard on the spirit.
The Hague Convention recommends that a child should not be compelled to listen to any Barbra Streisand album more than twice a week.
well, better barbra than celine dion, in my opinion. and that reminds me of the duet they sang about 10 years ago. barbra played the mother giving love advice to celine, the “daughter.” the song culminated in shouts, whoops, wails, & general caterwauling that left both divas breathless and lying in a steaming heap on the studio floor, no doubt.
I forbid you to even mention them in the same breath.
It was like Mariah and Whitney’s godforsaken Disney duet from the 90’s; overproduced, shimmering excrement. I haven’t heard B and C’s duet though: I might try avoiding it. Is is just swimming in insincerity?
The song was titled “Tell Him,” sample lyrics-“teeeellllll hiim, tell him that the sun and moon rise in his eyes, be goooooood to him!” It was released as a single with high expectations, but flopped instantly. Critics hated it, and yes, it was accused of “swimming in insincerity.” Actually, I thought Celine Dion messed it up, not Barbra Streisand, & I must admit that I find the song oddly compelling.
By the way, Barbra’s 40-something year old lookalike son, Jason Gould, is recording an album, and he has a very nice voice, not bombastic, but strong. He comes across as a very unassuming guy who said that his favorite Streisand song is “My Man!” Love it.
I think an evening of private youtubing is on the cards!
As far as loving (or hating) Barbra is concerned, we go nothin’ to be guilty of.
Those swirling hypnotic late disco numbers were cultural black holes into which a whole generation of mothers and their ‘sensitive’ young sons were willingly, hopelessly drawn. Disappearing to emerge in a topsy turvy Alice-like wonderland of billowing dolman sleeves and upside down white trousers too tight at the top too loose at the bottom.
Your comparison with Mae West is, of course acute, for were they not two of the only women ever to make it in Hollywood on something approaching their own terms.
Mae of course is immortalised in perfume in quite a different way: the curves of the flacon of Rochas’ Femme are hers.
The Perfumed Dandy
….which I also do, obviously, adore. Duncan has taken to playing Mae West excerpts recently; he even did a strange performance piece using one of her saucy numbers. When I saw Funny Lady (for the first time, incidentally), I instantly was reminded of her delivery.
Incidentally, we listened to the whole Guilty album this evening and it was rather enjoyable. I think Duncan quite enjoyed it, though the Spanish wine definitely helped……
There’s a wonderful excerpt from the end of a film where she sprays herself, douses would be more accurate, with a perfume before performing the final number…. something about being no good at anything other than landing the man (the usual thing). The material is actually rather better than tosh, quite possibly her own, but the delivery, well, it is near perfection, and all her own from the direction down!
Spanish wine and the BeeGees surely go together like Ms Streisand and a Democratic Party fundraiser! They were made for one and other….
The Perfumed Dandy
And I need to see that excerpt!
I will try to find the link… I’m sure Lanier posted it over at my place once. I will let you know when it surfaces!
The Perfumed Dandy
Perhaps not so much perfume as I recalled, but a rather plaintive tune and not one but two immortal one-liners in this clip….
I’m sure you might already have seen it!
The Perfumed Dandy
Reblogged this on The Black Narcissus and commented:
D’s mum and dad are here and we are listening to Barbra…
I was never a big fan of her music or acting, but I admire “quirky” beauty like hers. I think her nose and the her eyes are what make her face uniquely beautiful and I’m glad that she was secure enough within her own skin to not bow to the pressure to have it “done” over the years. The French can appreciate her jolie laide (I think that’s how you spell it) beauty. But Americans don’t have that concept and it’s a pity.
We watched Funny Lady tonight and I found her truly quite stunning. Mesmerising.
I am a fan of Barbra music and think she is also a good actress. The fact that she is a perfumista as well completes the picture. Happy New Year!
You too. All the best.