“Funny Girl,” the smash hit that cemented Barbra Streisand’s place in Hollywood at the ripe age of 26, ended with her protagonist, Fanny Brice, separating from her husband after he was released from prison.
Fifty-five years later, Streisand, 81, is working on a new ending for the film “because it didn’t make sense,” re-editing it and redoing the color, according to her husband, the legendary-in-his-own-right James Brolin.
Streisand had a hit on her hands with her first starring film role in “Funny Girl,” an adaptation of the stage musical she also starred in that ran on Broadway and London’s West End and was revived in 2022. The film, which costarred Omar Sharif as Nick Arnstein, grossed more than $52 million on a $14 million budget. Streisand would win the Oscar for Best Actress for the role.
“She’s colorizing it and adding the scenes back in that — because it didn’t make sense, that movie,” Brolin said in an appearance on Bill Maher’s “Club Random” podcast. “In the end, it didn’t make sense why they split, and she’s putting it all back together for the 50th anniversary.”
TheWrap has reached out to Sony Pictures, parent company of “Funny Girl” production company Columbia Pictures, for clarity on Streisand’s efforts on a potential re-release of the film.
It was uncertain why Brolin, 83, was referring to the 50-year anniversary of the film. But the cloudy recollection paralleled much of the rest of his conversation with Maher.
“So that was 1973?” Maher asked.
“Well, count back,” Brolin replied. “Yeah, it must have been ’73.”
“Are we talking about ‘Funny Girl?’ That’s the one with Walter Matthau,” Maher interjected.
“Yeah,” Brolin replied.
“No, that’s ‘Hello Dolly,’” Maher said, correcting both of them regarding Streisand’s second film. “Because she famously said…”
“I’m just going to say, ‘Yeah,” Brolin interrupted.
“Because she famously said to him, when they had a fight, ‘Have you noticed the movie’s not called ‘Hello Walter?’ Which is one of the all-time great lines,” Maher said.
“She didn’t get along with him too well,” Brolin said as the tangent continued.
“I don’t think anybody did,” Maher said. “Walter Matthau was kind of like the Bill Murray of his day. The audience loved him and nobody who worked with him did.”
Brolin then told a story about how when he was on a contract at Fox Studios in his mid-20s he once had lunch with Matthau at the Beverly Hills Tennis Club.
“I never laughed so much in my life,” Brolin said. “And I thought, ‘This guy is one of the boring, overhyped guys in history.’ I never laughed so much. What did I learn? ‘What do you know?’”
“But you’re saying in real life he was very funny?” Maher asked.
“That day he was,” Brolin replied. “Maybe it was the fried chicken. Who knows?”
Maher and Brolin were not yet multiple tequilas into the interview but well into their firsts (Maher was well into his first joint, or perhaps second but who’s counting) when they broached the topic of “Funny Girl” after Maher, as he apparently often does, went into an impression of Clark Gable in “Gone With the Wind.”
Brolin played Gable in the 1976 film “Gable and Lombard,” about the actor and actress Carole Lombard’s Golden Age love affair.
“When Sidney Furie came to me, they were looking at Steve McQueen and Ali MacGraw to play Gable and Lombard at Universal,” Brolin said. “You know, this was one of their bigger…”
“And who played Lombard? I forget,” Maher replied.
“Uhm, uhm, uhm,” Brolin said, searching his memory again.
“Judy Davis?” Maher incorrectly offered, referring to the Australian actress.
“No, no, no. Oh my God,” Brolin said.
“That was Reagan,” Maher interjected, clarifying that Davis and Brolin had costarred together in the 2003 TV movie “The Reagans.”
“Jill Clayburgh!” Brolin finally said, recalling his “Gable and Lombard” costar.
“I knew that,” Maher said. “Jill Clayburgh.”
“How awful, that it’s not right there,” Brolin said. “Age does that.”
“Oh, please,” Maher said, asking what year the movie was made, to which Brolin replied 1975.
“OK, I think you can be forgiven,” Maher said. “That movie’s 48 years old?”
Brolin then brought up Streisand and “Funny Girl.”
You can watch video of the rest of Maher’s 1 hour, 22 minute conversation with Brolin at the top of this post.
Kristen Lopez contributed to this report.