Yentl (1983): Streisand’s Charming, Oscar Nominated Gender-Bender Fable from Isaac Bashevis Singer

Yentl, the charming gender-bending fable, produced and directed by Barbra Streisand, is based on Nobel Prize winner Isaac Bashevis Singer’s story, which Streisand adapted to the screen with Jack Rosenthal.
Streisand is well cast in the lead as a bright ambitious Jewish girl, who disguises herself as a boy named Anshel in a nineteenth century Polish shtetl so that she can study the Torah as women were forbidden from doing so.
The tale is structured as a romantic triangle between Yentl, Avigdor (Mandy Patinkin), an orthodox Yehsiva boy, and his beautiful and feminine fiancée Hadass (Amy Irving).
After the death of Yentl’s father (Nehemiah Persoff), complications arise, when Hadass’s father breaks off the engagement and Avigdor persuades Anshel to marry Hadass.
With the exception of a few songs, the music is not distinguished and the whole production is too elaborate for a rather simple story, which had worked better on the stage (as a straight play).
Even so, Streisand and her cohorts are good, and the gender-bending saga is both playful, poignant, and ironic.
Oscar Nominations: 5
Supporting Actress: Amy Irving
Art Direction-Set Decoration: Roy Walker and Leslie Tomkins; Tessa Davies
Original Song Score or Adaptation Score: Michel Legrand, Alan Bergman, Marilyn Bergman
Song: Papa, Can You Hear Me? Music by Michel Legrand, lyrics by Alan Bergman and Marilyn Bergman
Song: The Way He Makes Me Feel, music by Michel Legrand, lyrics by Alan Bergman and Marilyn Bergman
Oscar Awards: 1
Original Song Score or Adaptation Score
Oscar Context
Michel Legrand, Alan Bergman and Marilyn Bergman, each received the third Oscar. The trio often collaborated.
The winner of the Supporting Actress Oscar was Linda Hunt for “The Year of Living Dangerously.”