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November 29, 1987|Pat H. Broeske and FO

"Nuts" is another situation in which La Streisand has done almost everything--produce, star, write music, even (as some stories go) help Martin Ritt direct and edit.

The Washington Post's Desson Howe put it into a new verb--"Streisanded."

Many critics predict she's headed for a date with Oscar (for her role as the high-priced call girl who's got to prove her sanity before she can stand trial for the murder of a client). Plus Oscar possibilities for the picture itself and co-stars.

We've been scanning the reviews. First, Oscar watching:

"Raises Streisand to a new level of acting and surely qualifies her for Academy Award consideration"--Rex Reed.

"Academy voters are sure to go nuts over Streisand's performance"--KNBC's David Sheehan.

"With Streisand and (Richard) Dreyfuss leading the way, 'Nuts' makes a strong Oscar bid. . . . You'd have to be nuts to miss it"--UPI Radio Network's Steve Arvin.

"Certifiable, as a hit and as a Best Pic nominee"--Hollywood Reporter's Duane Byrge.

"Streisand gives a riveting performance--full of passion, poignance, fire and sardonic wit. Warm up another Oscar for Streisand and a couple more for the others"--Cleveland Plain Dealer's Roxanne T. Mueller.

"Though her performance is obvious Oscar bait--the academy loves actresses who play drunks and dementos--there is nothing obvious about Streisand's acting"--Philly Inquirer's Carrie Rickey.

Oscar votes for Babs/the pic also came from the Phoenix Gazette's Bill Jones, the Ft. Lauderdale Sentinel's Candice Russell, WCBS Radio's Jeffrey Lyons, KABC's Gary Franklin (who gave the film a "10-plus" on his legendary scale), KFWB Radio's Hettie Lynne Hurtes. . . .

Well, not everyone's nuts over "Nuts":

"A classic example of A-list liberal Hollywood turning out what it thinks is Important Entertainment"--Newsweek's David Ansen. (Nor was Ansen convinced by Streisand: "You can see her delight in trashing her star image. But she never lets you forget that image, either . . . even when she's down and out in the psycho ward, her makeup remains impeccable."

"There are richer pleasures than watching (Streisand) prop up a dinky, self-congratulatory exercise like 'Nuts.' Like Marlon Brando in his potboilers, hers is a case of a powerhouse talent putting the half nelson on modest material"--USA Today's Mike Clark.

"Exemplifies one kind of Hollywood high-mindedness: the 'I'm OK Because Society Says I'm Not OK' movie. . . . This is no-risk psychodrama"--Time's Richard Corliss. (He didn't think Streisand took risks, either, accusing her of "straining to create another movie metaphor for her own fettered Hollywood eminence."

"A premise weighted down by portentous performances . . . for all its histrionics, film is remarkably unengaging"--Daily Variety's James Greenburg.

"Streisand plays the fearless but troubled prostitute as a big-mouth with a chip on her shoulder; there's no vulnerability, no hint at the darker side of her life . . . that lack of believability essentially ruins the tension"--UPI's Cathy Burke.

Some critics took shots and applauded:

"How is Streisand? Very good. Is she in every frame of every picture of the film? No, sometimes there's a shot of somebody talking to her"--WABC-TV's Joel Silver.

"Streisand, in her off hours, also managed to find time to compose the sound track"--People's Peter Travers, seemingly tongue in cheek. Then he admitted: "It's hard not to like Streisand in 'Nuts.' With disarming candor and wit, she has actually made a hymn to herself as a pain in the butt."

"We get to see her in close up more often than any actress since Falconetti played Joan of Arc"--Her-Ex's Peter Rainer, who also noted that Babs' character was super-heroic ("You expect to see a statue of her in the lobby as you file out of the theater"). But he also hailed Streisand's "ferociously willed, all-out performance" and surmised "she's earned the right to her ego."

"From the first glimpse of one tawny, sun-streaked (albeit unwashed) coiffure in the crowd at the Women's House of Detention, it's clear that the sanity issue is never even in question, and that this is less a believable drama than a one-woman show. . . . Still, Streisand, even in a ragged hospital gown, even taunting Dreyfuss with as much nastiness and raunch as she can muster, manages to be every inch the star"--NY Times' Janet Maslin.

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