Barbra Streisand: A Happening in Central Park (1967)

Genres - Music  |   Sub-Genres - Concerts, Vocal Music  |   Run Time - 60 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Craig Butler

Fans of Barbra Streisand will adore Barbra Streisand: A Happening in Central Park; there are those who simply cannot abide her, but it's quite possible that even these detractors may find themselves drawn in by Happening. This special concert, filmed in front of an audience estimated to be as large as 150,000 people, captures the singer at an important juncture in her career. It's essentially the last time that she will still have an edge of rawness to her, when she will still really be a girl from Brooklyn rather than a Hollywood star -- and that is why her detractors may actually enjoy this offering. Her self deprecation works, she's a little silly, and why one can't say that she really lets her guard down, she's more free spirited and open than one is accustomed to. She also sounds marvelous; there's a slight edge to her upper notes that lends them excitement, an edge that would very soon get honed away. There are flaws to the show, of course: the "folk song" monologue, like almost all of her comic monologues of this sort, simply doesn't work. The comic songs, such as "Values" and "Marty the Martian," while entertaining enough, are just a little too lightweight. But for the most part she delivers the goods, whether on the more obscure "Natural Sounds" and "Love is Like a Newborn Child" or the traditional "People," "He Touched Me" and "Cry Me a River." From the opening beautiful tracking shot of the Manhattan skyline at night to the final pull-away crane during "Happy Days Are Here Again," this Happening presents a rare talent in great form.