Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

Barbra Meets Her Match in Montand

Cleveland Press August 20, 1970

What Omar Sharif couldn't do in "Funny Girl," what Walter Matthau was barely able to do in "Hello, Dolly," Yves Montand has managed in "On A Clear Day You Can See Forever."

He has co-starred in a Barbra Streisand musical and has held his own.

It isn't that Miss Streisand is bad. She isn't, she's just fine. And it isn't that the moviemakers haven't done everything possible to make the picture another Streisand special. They have. A couple of extra songs have been added to the score of the Broadway show and they are just for her. One that didn't belong to the heroine has been transferred to her.

It doesn't matter. Montand, in a rather thankless role as a psychiatrist who breaks into song, has the skill, the presence and the ability to hang on. All of this is much better for Miss Streisand as well because with the Gallic charmer shouldering part of the load the entire burden of the picture does not rest on her.

"CLEAR DAY" has had a curious history and it gets even more curious in its transfer to the screen. Writer and Iyricist Alan Jay Lerner has continually rewritten the script, trying to make it work.

After it closed in New York and reopened on the road (the first engagement was here at the Hanna) Lerner wrote a new version. For the screen he has worked up a story that resembles the old in outline only.

"Clear Day" is about a girl with extrasensory perception and the ability to make flowers grow by talking to them. She breaks in on a psychiatrist's class at a nearby university, asks him to hypnotize her into stopping smoking.

She's an easy subject and while under hypnosis talks about a previous existence, her birth, life, marriage and death in 19th Century England.

THE MOVIE slips back and forth from the present to the world of Cecil Beaton sets and costumes, from Miss Streisand's portrayal of Daisy Gamble who is essentially Miss Streisand -- New Yorkese, fluttery hands and all -- to the English Melinda Tentrees in accent British clipped and campy.

Is Daisy a reincarnation of Melinda? Where Lerner may have been vague in previous versions he comes out foursquare in favor of a reincarnation theory in the film.

Curiously all the music has been dropped from the English sequences, where they would have fit better. The character of Melinda has been turned into a scheming con-woman, the whole sequence a combination of "Oliver" (Streisand a hungry child in an orphanage) and "My Fair Lady."

THE RESULT is a character it is difficult to imagine Montand being attracted to.

"Clear Day" is a pleasant show with more than just a title tune going for it. "Melinda" and "Come Back to Me" are fine and memorable songs, some of the best Burton Lane has composed. A couple of numbers new to the show and sounding tailor-made for Miss Streisand are neither memorable nor do they add much.

Leaving them out and trimming the film accordingly would have improved matters mightily.

What "Clear Day" is is a modest and enjoyable musical and a modest length would have been more fitting.

IT'S WORTH seeing, none the less. The music is good, the portrayals are excellent and Lerner -- in spite of a script that is badly haunted by "Berkely Square" while never coming up to it---can write some fairly witty dialog.

"Oh, God," intones Montand in a moment of exasperation that many men will understand," why didn't you make woman first, while you were fresh?"