On a Clear Day You Can See Forever
- Barbra Streisand as Daisy Gamble/ Lady Melinda Tentrees
- Yves Montand as Dr. Marc Chabot
- Larry Blyden as Warren
- Jack Nicholson as Tad
An unusual and visually opulent musical/ romantic fantasy, On a Clear Day You Can See Forever is an oddity, but a visually entrancing one that has a dream like effect and Barbra Streisand to boot.
Daisy Gamble is a scatterbrained, kooky New Yorker who seems to possess strange gifts. For example, she can tell when a phone is about to ring and can cause flowers to grow wildly. Though because she is more than a bit absent-minded, she puts these powers down to nothing and doesn’t give them much thought. While Daisy is slightly zany, she has a priggish fiancée named Warren who always wants to make an impression and chides Daisy for some of her behaviour, particularly her chain-smoking. He suggests she find someone to help curb her habit before an important party they must attend. One day she wanders into a lecture on hypnosis by Dr. Marc Chabot and is herself briefly put under it. Chabot grows curious about Daisy and is interested when she comes to him to help with her habit. He organizes to see Daisy but what he finds while she in under hypnosis is more than he bargained for. Daisy regresses back to what appears to be a past life of hers; Lady Melinda Tentrees, a coquette in 18th Century England who used her charms to climb the ladder and was later put on trial for her supposed misdeeds. At first, Marc thinks that these talks of a past life are fabricated, but soon begins to come around to the idea. Marc doesn’t tell her about what she has said and due to his skill with hypnosis makes sure she doesn’t know about her talks of this past life. Could Daisy genuinely be a reincarnation of Melinda? And what about the complicated feelings that both Marc and Daisy develop? These emotions are given added strangeness by the fact that has been bewitched by Melinda and Daisy becoming attracted to.
Vincente Minnelli exudes his customary and exceptional meticulousness in the director’s chair, particularly when it comes to the dreamlike fantasy aspects of this movie. He’s a director whose work comes alive with colourful plushness from every angle. Minnelli excels best in the regression sequences, accentuating colour with expressive camerawork and eye-catching movements. It’s impossible not to watch open-mouthed at the decorative splendour, embodied through luscious lighting and beautiful costume design. One special costume deserves considerable mention; a lovely bejeweled gown with a matching headdress that is captured in splendid beauty by the cameras and direction. And the film is given a boost by the fact that Minnelli having had experience in musicals before, is a natural when it comes to the music numbers, which are done with pleasing panache. The standouts are the title song played over psychedelic visuals, the alluring ‘Love With all the Trimmings’ sung by Streisand in her marvellous voice and ‘Come Back to Me’ which Marc sings when he finds his worlds merging with Daisy’s and her past lives. On a Clear Day You Can See Forever has its fair share of flaws though. Some of the techniques used seriously date the film and become jarring as it progresses. The film could have been could a bit more coherent and sharper as the second half gets very bogged down with explanations, too much finery and needless scenes that fail to give a grasp to the blooming romances. Also, the sub plot of Marc’s talks with Daisy getting public notice and provoking controversy is a pretty needless avenue to go down. Despite these flaws, On a Clear Day has enough unusualness and style to appreciate it and forgive the sometimes wayward editing and choppy pacing that show the film’s age .
Barbra Streisand showcases her talents for both singing and acting here, and boy does she know how to put a show on. In this film, she really displays her gifts for entertaining with a set of performances that are funny, charming and kooky. And the fact that Streisand plays two distinctly different characters( a free-spirited and strangely dressed young woman and an elegant, beguiling flirt who rose through English society) so well, is a big sign of her undeniable talents as a performer and actress. Streisand is one of On a Clear Day’s biggest attributes and she is hard to forget. Yves Montand has the necessary bewilderment and curiosity for his role as he finds his views on reincarnation altered drastically. Yet Larry Blyden is introduced to late as Daisy’s pushy fiancée to really make a mark on the story. Movie buffs should look out for a young Jack Nicholson as Daisy’s laid-back step brother. It’s a small role, but any Jack Nicholson is better than none.
Flaws aside regarding the pacing and slow second half, On a Clear Day You Can See Forever has plenty of flourishes from director Vincente Minnelli and delightful energy from the indomitable Barbra Streisand to make it a strange but intoxicating musical fantasy.