"The message of 'Funny Girl,' " famously wrote Pauline Kael about the movie debut of Barbra Streisand, "is that talent is beauty." And the message of "Yentl" (1983), which marked the filmaking debut of the singer/actress/polarizier? That brains is beauty.
Loosely based on the Isaac Bashevis Singer story about the girl who poses as a boy in order to pursue Talmudic studies at a time when such intellectual pursuits were for men only, "Yentl" is being released in a silver anniversary two-disc DVD this week about a year late.
Released on the high heels of "Tootsie" and "Victor/Victoria," "Yentl," like them, is a genderbending comedy with serious repercussions, an adventure in which the hero/heroine explores the prerogatives and burdens of the opposite sex. At the time, Streisand was slammed for her chutzpah in wanting to star and direct (no one ever criticized Charlie Chaplin or Clint Eastwood for wearing two hats). I love "Yentl" both for its broad comedy and supercharged intensity. In the guise of a man, Yentl falls for a man (Mandy Patinkin) and agrees to marry his girlfriend (Amy Irving) in a plot that's both farcical and highly emotional.
Any thoughts about "Yentl"? Streisand? Favorite Babs movie? Any insight about why the singer/actress is such a polarizing figure? Or why some feel their manhood will shrivel if they watch a Streisand movie?