The Failed Fox Studios Film That Barbra Streisand Tried To Escape – SlashFilm


In the years that followed “The Sound of Music,” several studios continued to release outsize, big-budget movie musicals in the roadshow format; that is: a major production would open only in major cities, and then the prints would spend the rest of the year “touring” smaller and smaller cities, sometimes taking months or even a year to reach the end of the circuit. This release format made sure certain movies not only built up a lot of buzz but remained profitable for extended periods. Nationwide releases wouldn’t become fashionable until the release of “Jaws” in 1975. In that post-“Sound of Music” glut, studios released multiple not-very-well-received “prestige” musicals like “The Happiest Millionaire,” “Camelot,” “Finnian’s Rainbow,” “Man of La Mancha,” “Star!,” “Paint Your Wagon,” and the entirely misguided “Doctor Doolittle.” The market was flooded.

The biggest flop of them all was director Gene Kelly’s “Hello, Dolly!” a musical that was released in 1969 and cost a then-unprecedented $25 million. The 25-year-old Streisand was miscast as a middle-aged woman, a choice that was considered risible, even at the time. What’s more, Walter Matthau was cast as her love interest, and he was in his mid-40s at the time. The trend was dying and Streisand knew it. She was quoted in The Hollywood Reporter as saying:

“I thought I was too young to play Dolly. (…) I thought they should’ve used an older woman, and I talked to (my manager) Marty (Erlichman) and said, ‘Can I get out of this? ‘Cause I don’t even understand the pairing of me and Walter Matthau. It’s not romantic. Nobody’s gonna root for us to be together.'”

Indeed they didn’t. “Hello, Dolly!” landed with a wet thud at the box office. 

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