There have been ups, there have been downs, there have even been periods where I didn’t write on this blog for long stretches of time, and for that, I apologize. I have been extremely busy with school work, my new newspaper job, and life in general.
Unfortunately, I haven’t been attending to this blog like I would have liked to, I miss watching classic films and writing about them, and I hate to say it but, this year I was not able to do it as much as I liked.
Lucklily, this upcoming year, my schedule will clear up signifcantly and I have the opportunity to get to doing what I love – exploring the world of vintage films.
So, I’d like to thank everyone who read my work this year, and I hope you look forward to a big 2019.
Is it really a true classic Hollywood film unless your two leads have an affair?
From Bogart and Bacall, Crawford and Gable, Kelly and well, just about everyone (allegedly), having an affair with your co-star is as common as putting cereal before milk.
One tryst that I’ve always liked was the short-lived relationship between Audrey Hepburn and William Holden.
Let’s travel back to 1954.
The Korean war has ended, Eisenhower was president, and Audrey Hepburn was Hollywood’s hottest commodity.
Coming off an Oscar win for 1953’s Roman Holiday, Hepburn threw herself into her work, starting with the Billy Wilder romantic dramedy Sabrina.
It’s on this set where she meets and subsequently falls in love with Hollywood’s ‘Golden Boy’ William Holden.
Sabrina was Holden‘s third film with Wilder, making him a mediator whenever there were disagreements between Bogart and Hepburn on set. Since Holden was notorious for having on set affairs, it was only a matter of time until Hepburn fell for his charms.
One thing led to another and Hepburn eventually caved in. Their on-set rendezvous, however, caused frustration among the crew – particularly Bogart who was still bitter about his wife Lauren Bacall being passed over the title role of Sabrina.
Their heated affair lasted until the end of filming.
According to multiple biographies, Audrey ultimately wanted Holden to divorce his wife and move in with him, inevitably having his children.
Holden unintentionally ruined their future together when he had an impromptu vasectomy after his two sons were born. This left Audrey rather distressed and heartbroken. She finally ended their relationship when Holden admitted he wouldn’t divorce his wife for her.
Luckily, filming was completed relatively swiftly, leaving Hepburn with time to mend her shattered hopes and dreams.
The next time Holden and Hepburn crossed paths was in 1964, 10 years after the filming of Sabrina when they co-starred in the romantic comedy Paris When It Sizzles.
The movie wasn’t too great, but what it lacked in the on-screen plot was more than made up in the crazy behind the scenes drama involving their relationship and Holden‘s rampant alcoholism.
Director Richard Quine commented on this, saying that Holden “was like a punch-drunk fighter, walking on his heels, listing slightly, talking punchy. He didn’t know he was drunk.”
This downfall was partly due to Hepburn‘s presence.
Holden fell for Hepburn – hard.
Apparently, every so often, Holden would send letters and flowers to Hepburn even though she’d been married to fellow actor Mel Ferrer for 10 years.
Holden would later recall his first time seeing Audrey after 10 years, saying, “I could hear my footsteps echoing against the walls of the transit corridor, just like a condemned man walking the last mile. I realized that I had to face Audrey and I had to deal with my drinking. And I didn’t think I could handle either situation.”
I suppose that’s the saddest part of this entire ordeal. If wasn’t for Holden‘s ‘surprise’ vasectomy and his alcoholism, he probably would’ve married Hepburn.
Who knows what they would’ve become? The next Newman and Woodward or Burton and Taylor? Would he have cheated on her like he did with his wife or would he treat her differently?
I’d like to think so, considering how deeply affected he was after seeing her again after 10 years.
In the end, Holden and Hepburn went their separate ways. Hepburn with Mel Ferrer and Holden with Brenda Marshall until their divorce in 1971.
When I’m not watching classic films or laughing hysterically at What’s My Line? clips on YouTube, I spend my spare time reading.
Back in the day, I wasn’t a huge fan of reading; I would’ve much rather been working with my hands in some, unique, creative way, whether that may have been cooking, writing or playing an annoying soccer simulator on my phone that refused to let me win for some, frustrating, reason.
This toxic mindset of mine did a complete 180° when I discovered the love I have for classic movies my freshman year of high school. As I explained in a previous post, I was introduced to a number of classics through a very informative (and transformative) Film Appreciation class. It taught me that there’s more to movies than explosions, random sex scenes and lazy directing that were so prevalent in modern films.
From that point on, I found a new hobby – collecting, and reading, books about classic movies.
The more I watched these pictures, the more information I wanted to know about them. This lead me to seek out every and any book printed about that specific moment in time. I combed over a multitude of books that would help me get a better understanding of an era of movie history that I held so dearly.
The following are a list of books that I’ve read over the years. If you’re so inclined, I strongly suggest you pick up a couple. You’ll have a better understanding of the world of classic cinema and will certainly deepen your love and admiration for them.
5. By Myself and Then Some by Lauren Bacall
Written without the help of a ghostwriter, By Myself and Then Some is Lauren Bacall – unfiltered.
Ms. Bacall goes through each portion of her life with extraordinary detail.
It starts off with her birth in The Bronx, talking about her absentee father and being raised by her mother, then takes you through how she got her first job working as a theatre usher and how that lead her to be discovered by Howard Hawks‘ wife Silm thanks to a Harper’s Bazaar cover. Eventually, she takes us through the courtship, marriage and eventual death of Bogart, heartbreakingly describing the terrible night he passed away in 1957.
This sounds somber, yes, but there are quite a few upbeat moments as well. There several behind the scenes stories of rowdy on-set antics of some of Bacall‘s favorite films. The African Queen, How to Marry a Millionaire and To Have and Have Not are some of the many films that Bacall writes about in this book.
Since she wrote this herself, the book does run a little long, 500+ pages to be exact. But, it does provide a fascinating insight into what it must’ve been like living during the Golden age of Hollywood.
ISBN 10: 0061127914
ISBN 13: 978-0061127915
4. Grace by Robert Lacey
Much has been written about Grace Kelly, so much, in fact, that it’s hard to separate fact from fiction.
Thank the Lord for Robert Lacey.
For a long time, I was trying to find a definitive Grace Kelly biography. I would search Amazon Books, Barnes & Noble, and Goodreads to no avail.
Until I stumbled upon Grace by Robert Lacey.
Perhaps, the most lengthy biography of her, Grace covers every single aspect of Kelly‘s life. Now, the reason why I said I was searching so heavily for something like this is that there have been various, let’s just say – rumors, about Grace that no one would confirm or deny. I wanted a book that would clear up some of the stories that I’ve so often heard surrounding the Grace Kelly “legend.”
Lacey goes in-depth into Grace‘s life, from the highs (winning an Academy Award) to the lows (her overbearing parents rejecting every man she brought home to marry) and everything in between. If you always wanted to see the other side to Grace Kelly, this book is for you.
ISBN 10: 0399138722
ISBN 13: 978-0399138720
3. Ava Gardner: The Secret Conversations by Peter Evans
I always wondered what it would be like to have a drink with Ava Gardner, luckily this book gave me the chance.
Written by Peter Evans, The Secret Conversations is a wild ride. Devilishly candid and wildly witty Ava Gardner sounds off on her life, loves and career in this recently released ‘memoir.’
The book is a hilarious look at Ava Gardner‘s stream of consciousness. With Peter Evans visiting her during her wine-fueled late night rants, this book is filled to the brim with juicy tidbits about Frank Sinatra, Mickey Rooney, Howard Hughes, and quite frankly, any person Ava came in contact with during her days in Hollywood.
It makes you feel like you’re eavesdropping into to a conversation between two friends, I think that’s what makes this book feel so…intimate. It feels real and down to earth, just like Ava.
I have to warn you, however, the book does get fairly explicit, and you may be shocked at some of the stuff you read, but, if you read it through the lens of modern-day Hollywood, I promise you, it’s less ‘pearl-clutching’ than you think.
ISBN 10: 145162770X
ISBN 13: 978-1451627701
2. Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M.: Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany’s and the Dawn of the Modern Woman.
Everyone loves Audrey Hepburn.
Everyone loves Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
Why not combine the two?
That’s exactly what Sam Wasson does in Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M.: Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and the Dawn of the Modern Woman. My favorite piece of in-flight reading material, 5 A.M, reads like a warm cup of tea.
In the book, Wasson tells the behind the scenes history of the production of Breakfast at Tiffany’s against the backdrop of the personal lives of everyone involved. Truman Capote, Blake Edwards, and Audrey Hepburn all had a hand in making ‘BaT’ the cultural icon as we know it today. Sam Wasson compartmentalizes their lives in a fun read that every fan of this 1961 classic should have on their nightstand.
ISBN 13: 9780061774164
1. Conversations With Joan Crawford by Roy Newquist
The first and final book on this list is one that I enjoyed the most.
Joanie, Joanie, Joanie, what have you done?
Maybe the funniest and most enlightening on this list, Conversations with Joan Crawford left me in tears – the good kind.
I absolutely adored this book.
It made me see a side of Joan Crawford that I never knew she had. Printed in 1979, it took me a while to find a copy of this book in circulation, but when I did, I never looked back.
‘Conversations’ is basically 179 pages of a collection of interviews Joan has done talking about her career, lovers, children and anything else that may have been bothering her at the time. Boozier than a bar the night prohibition was implemented, Joan confesses to a lot of things that normal Crawford biographies wouldn’t touch.
Raucously funny, and at times very emotional, Conversations with Joan Crawford is an intriguing look at the last days of a Hollywood legend, and a fitting end to this list of books that would fill any classic movie fan with glee.
We went from the high & tight haircuts and skinny suits that were all too prevalent throughout the Kennedy Administration to the loose-fitting bell bottoms, civil unrest, and free-love that most people have come to associate with the decade.
The 1960s also saw Audrey Hepburn break out of stereotype that had plagued her for years.
The Eyes Wide Shut of its day, Two For the Roadmarked the beginning of the end of Hepburn‘s acting career. With a young son and a crumbling marriage (she and Mel would divorce a year after this film was released), Audrey would take an extended leave of absence from Hollywood in order to be a more present figure in her son’s life.
Much like the social and cultural shift that the decade experienced, Hepburn‘s film career in the 60s would be a reflection of the society that was quickly changing around her.
Arguably starting in 1961 with Breakfast at Tiffany‘s, the film roles Audrey would go on to star in betrayed the ‘waif-like’, ingénue typecast that she was known for earlier in her career.
Films like The Children’s Hour, How to Steal a Million and Wait Until Dark – all staples of Hepburn‘s later career – have a surprising amount of depth and feeling to their plot compared to the rather ‘superficial’ (I use that word lightly) characters that Hepburn has previously portrayed.
One of these movies, with more emotional depth than the Grand Canyon, is the aforementioned romantic drama Two For the Road.
Directed by the legendary Stanley Donen, Two For the Road or “TFTR” stars Audrey Hepburn and everyone’s favorite movie boyfriend Albert Finney as the bickering married pair of Mark and Joanna Wallace. Told in a non-linear format, Donen fabulously uses Joanna and Mark as an allegory for what can happen after 12 years of marriage.
In order to do that, Donen uses this format to present the couple at different stages of their marriage: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.
The Good (Newlyweds – Year 1)
The film starts in France – the world’s most romantic country (or so they say.)
Current day Mark and Joanna are flying their white 1965 Mercedes 230SL up to the North of France, then down to St. Tropez in celebration of Mark’s latest architecture creation being completed. Right away, the tension between the couple is palpable and it escalates from there.
Before they even board their flight, there are already clear signs of contempt for one another. She asks for a box of cigarettes – he snaps back at her. He asks for his passport – she gives him the cold shoulder. He threatens her with divorce – she laughs in response.
As an audience member, this is hard to watch, but, it also makes you wonder.
What made them grow to hate each other so viciously?
Why don’t they get a divorce?
If they have them, what must their children think?
Just as I was asking myself these questions, Stanley Donen dives us head first into the Wallace’s tumultuous backstory.
It was the summer of 1954; Mark was a struggling, ‘down on his luck’ architect looking to catch a break and Joanna was a shy, rather witty member of an all-girls choir group.
They first meet on a ferry crossing post. Mark, furiously rummaging through his backpack, is desperately searching for his passport. This would be a major problem because the crossing guard would refuse him entry into another country if he failed to identify himself.
Looking defeated and on the verge of tears, a dainty wrist draped in a red sweater reaches over his shoulder to return, what appears to be, his passport.
When Mark gets up to thank this good Samaritan, he turns around and is face to face with the future mother of his child.
Joanna was otherwise known as ‘Jo,’ was about to start a conversation with this handsome stranger, but Mark had other ideas. He swiftly gives his thanks and continues on his journey to self-discovery.
A couple of hours later while hitchhiking on a potato truck, Mark sees ‘Jo’ and a number of other girls stuck on the side of the road looking for a repairman. At first, his intention was to proceed on with his journey, but eventually, he slows down and helps them get back on the road.
Now hitchhiking with this girl’s choir, Joanna and Mark get an infinite amount of time to learn about each other.
As darkness night falls, Mark and the choir group spend the night in a dilapidated, centuries old, French inn. The next morning, something terrible has happened.
All of the girls, except for Mark and Joanna, have come down with chickenpox. Instead of advancing to their destination, the choir’s director (played by Jacqueline Bisset) instructs the two to keep going without them.
So, they did.
The couple spent the rest of their time hitchhiking around the old cobblestone cities of France, stealing fruit from vendors and making love til dawn. Inevitably, Joanna believes that they should get married. After much trepidation, Mark excitedly agrees.
The Bad (Recent Past – Year 6)
Giving us their backstory, Donen cleverly switches the timeline to 1960 – about 6 years into their marriage.
Skinny ties, cardigans and dark-rimmed glasses – galore!
The Wallaces have conformed.
Now with a child (this will come back to haunt the couple, later) Mark and Joanna have begun to lose the magnetism that initially attracted them towards one another in the first place.
This lack of attraction manifests itself in a carpool alongside Mark’s ex-girlfriend (played by Eleanor Bron) her husband (played by William Daniels) and their 5-year-old daughter Ruth (played by Gabrielle Middleton.) Normally laid back and agreeable folk, the Wallaces are more than happy to put up with a bratty 5-year-old for a few hours.
It isn’t until Ruth refuses to give up the location of her father’s missing car keys (which she threw out of the window out of spite) that Mark and Joanna reach their wit’s end.
After spending 12 hours in a car with a whiny toddler, Joanna has had enough. With nighttime imminent and hunger pains growing louder, Mrs. Wallace twists the little girl’s arm, forcing her to give up the location of the key.
She ultimately does, and before her parents can apologize Joanna and Mark decide to travel alone.
This is the moment where Mark and Joanna (Mark, especially) decide not to have children. But, little did he know that wouldn’t be the case.
The Ugly (Current – Year 12)
When we return to the present day, Donen intercuts several different, defining, moments (all ones pertaining to the downfall of their marriage) during this current timeline.
Current day Mark and Joanna have reached their destination of St. Tropez and it appears that all hope is lost for their relationship.
“What kind of people can sit there without saying a word to each other?” Joanna asks. Mark replies, “Married people.”
As this scene ends, Donen turns our attention to another period where – again – we see Mark and Joanna on a trip to, somewhere. Donen doesn’t specify where, but, looking at the scenery, it resembles the French countryside, the same countryside where they originally fell in love.
It’s implied that Joanna chose this location specifically because it holds such a memorable place in her heart.
It’s also the place where ‘Jo’ tells Mark she’s pregnant. Mark is hesitant to become a father but is happy nonetheless. This announcement happens to coincide with Mark getting a job offer from a very wealthy Frenchman named Maurice Dalbert (played by Claude Dauphin.)
For the next few months, the Wallaces live in France while Mark makes a sizeable income as an architect for a rather demanding client.
Everything seems to be going well for them until Mark confesses to stepping on her while on a business trip. Understandably hurt about his revelation, Donen cuts back to the present day before we could see her response.
The next story is perhaps the most emotionally heavy in the film. In another timeline shift, Donen shows Mark, Joanna, and their child Caroline in a hotel room after – what looks to be – another road trip of sorts.
While sleeping comfortably in her crib a few feet away from them, Caroline’s parents have heated discussion about whether or not that should’ve had her. This “conversation” (more like a shouting match leaves Joanna in tears and Mark in frustration.
For the last and final time in the movie, Donen cuts back to the modern day with Mark and Joanna on the verge of divorce.
Joanna’s *ahem* extracurricular activities with taller, skinnier, richer Frenchmen named David (played to perfection by Georges Descrières) leaves Mark a broken man.
What started as a fling, has now turned into a full-fledged affair that threatens the state of their marriage.
Mark concedes defeat and starts his journey back home.
As this is happening, David and Joanna have a meal by the beachside.
Ironically, this time it’s her lover David that asks the question,”what kind of people can sit there without a word to say to each other?”
Joanna emphatically responds,”Married people!” realizing she truly does love Mark.
In the film’s finale, Mark and Joanna have a heart to heart about their relationship and agree that they should stay together. As they cross the border of France into Italy, not only does it signal a change in scenery and clientele for Mark but, it also symbolically signals a new start for their relationship.
Why This Film is a ‘Hidden Gem.’
Two for The Road is an impeccably directed, acted, and presented movie, unfortunately not too many people know about it.
When people discuss Hepburn‘s filmography, they usually speak about her more popular films.
You know the ones.
Roman Holiday, Sabrina, Funny Face, Charade, Breakfast at Tiffany‘s et cetera et cetera. Sadly, Two For the Road never makes the list and it should. This movie shows a different side to Audrey, and I have Stanley Donen to thank.
Donen created a film that showed the unglamorous side of marriage. His depictions of love, lust, and heartbreak were flawless. The pairing of Albert Finney and Audrey Hepburn worked perfectly (too perfectly.) What Stanely Donen did was unprecedented, he created a movie that portrayed the realities of marriage using the (under-rated) technique of non-linear formatting.
With this method, he was showed the exact moments where the marriage went south, and how it could – possibly – be prevented.
I don’t think another movie like this could be made – and I don’t want it to be.
It’s no surprise that his movies have made such a lasting impact on the film industry. From comedies, romantic dramas and even musicals, Stanley Donen was the renaissance man of the golden age. In no other film does this exemplify his versatility than 1963’s Charade, starring Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant.
I think this movie showcases the best of Donen as a director, and that’s the main reason why I chose this film for the Favorite Director Blogathon. Starring Audrey Hepburn (at her loveliest), Cary Grant and Walter Matthau, Charadehas one of the funniest and most intriguing plots of any Donen film I’ve ever watched. Often times, I hear a lot of classic movie fans say that this is the most ‘Hitchcockian‘ movie they’ve seen without it being directed by ‘Hitch‘ himself.
So, without further ado, let’s explore why this movie is a perfect example of Stanley Donen‘s talents.
The plot of the movie revolves around Regina ‘Reggie’ Lambert, played by Audrey Hepburn. While on a skiing trip in the east of France, she tells her best friend Sylvie Gaudel, played by Dominique Minot that she’s divorcing her husband. Shocked and dismayed at this decision, Sylvie tries to argue against this- to no avail.
Suddenly, a handsome stranger approaches the table where the two are sitting and introduces himself. This man, played by Cary Grant, is Peter Joshua. After a bit of back and forth, he eventually leaves the two women alone.
Cut to the next scene.
We see Reggie back in Paris, only to find out that her apartment has been completely emptied. The police inspector that was in her apartment investigating what happened tells Reggie that her husband has been murdered.
Before he met his demise, he sold off all of their belongs which are now missing. As if this couldn’t get any more strange, her husband left behind a duffle bag containing some passports in different names, some stamps, a ticket to Venezuela and letter that’s addressed to her. A few days later, she attends his funeral. As she’s sitting there mourning the loss of her husband, 3 rather unfamiliar men walk in.
She brushes this off, merely believing that these men were just old friends until she meets with a CIA administrator named Hamilton Bartholomew, played by Walter Matthau. He tells her that three men that showed up were survivors of a failed OSS operation in World War II.
Their mission (including a man named Carson Dyle and her husband) was to deliver $250,000 in gold to the French Resistance, but instead of doing the right thing, they stole it
This leaves Reggie in a predicament.
Now that her husband is dead, these 3 men were searching for the missing loot. Not only do these louts want the money, the US Government is also looking for it also. Perplexed at what she does next, Regina refuses all help.
This changes quickly as soon as Peter Joshua, coincidentally, tracks Reggie down in Paris and helps her move into a hotel. On three separate occasions, these men individually come to Reggie’s hotel room, demanding that they tell her where the money is.
Now, the next part is a bit tricky.
One of the criminals, named Scobie, tells Reggie that this ‘Peter Joshua’ fellow was one of the men alongside them during the attempted heist.
Caught in a lie, ‘Peter Joshua’ confesses that he really isn’t ‘Peter Joshua’, but a man named Alexander, the brother of the heist member Carson Dyle. According to “Alexander”, he’s convinced that one of these 3 men killed his brother. Despite this little bump in the road, the five continue their search for this missing ‘treasure.’
The plot thickens.
While walking around the hotel, one of the men dies, leaving only two left. Naturally, per usual in films like this, Reggie ends up falling in love with Alexander. But, before the two get all ‘lovey-dovey’, one of the two remaining criminals admits that, once again, Alexander isn’t who he says he is.
Stuck in a bit of a pickle, he admits that he’s not any of the men he said he was. In actuality, he’s a man named Adam Canfield and he’s only here to steal the money for himself. Even though he admits this, Reggie still finds him attractive.
Anyway, the two go to an outdoor market where Reggie’s husband had one last ‘appointment’ before he died. Adam sees stamps traders and realizes that her deceased husband must have purchased some rare stamps that were now in Reggie’s possession.
The only problem is that these stamps are now missing and Reggie is the only person who knows where they are. She accidentally gave those stamps away to her best friend’s nephew while on vacation in France and a few days earlier.
Ironically Sylvie and her nephew, named Jean-Louis, happen to be at the same stamp collectors that Adam and Reggie were at a few minutes earlier. Before Jean-Louis could trade in his stamps, thankfully, Reggie stops him.
Exhausted, Reggie returns to the hotel room where she finds ANOTHER one of the henchmen murdered. Chillingly, before the man died, he wrote in blood on the floor of his hotel room the name ‘Dyle.’ Reggie, understanding who that is, calls Hamilton Bartholomew, who wishes to meet with her.
While on her way to meet the CIA administrator, ‘Peter/Alexander/Adam’ spots her and proceeds to chase her through the streets of Paris. She manages to evade him and finds Bartholomew at the spot where they’re supposed to meet up.
Before she could actually talk to him, she gets stopped by Adam, who tells her that Bartholomew is actually Carson Dyle. He claims that he wasn’t killed in the heist only wounded. Reggie doesn’t understand how this could be possible, seeing that they met in his office only days before.
Adam tells her that he cleverly scheduled their appointments so that when the real Bartholomew was on his lunch break, they could meet uninterrupted.
The chase continues through an empty theatre where ultimately Bartholomew is shot and killed by Adam. After that whole ordeal, the two go to the US Embassy the next morning to return the stamps. Inside, they’re escorted to the office of Brian Cruikshank, a Treasury official who is responsible for stolen items.
They go inside the office and Reggie finds out that Adam is actually Brian Cruikshank. Reggie, who still isn’t dismayed that this guy lied to her throughout this whole entire ordeal, wants to marry him. Finally, the movie ends with Brian relenting, while Reggie sits on his lap, promising him that they’ll have four kids based on the four names that he used during their escapades.
Why This Perfectly Captures Stanley Donen’s Career
Stanley Donen really outdid himself on this one.
Charade is one of the most interesting, funny and exhilarating films I’ve ever seen. It definitely pays to watch this film without any spoilers. I know that the first time I watched it, I wanted more, and I think that’s a testament to Stanley Donen as a director.
From cheery movies likeSingin’ In The Rain, and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers to more grounded ones like, Indiscreetand Two For the Road, Charade is that happy medium. With a perfect blend of drama, sex and comedy, Stanley Donen took a script that could’ve been a Hitchcock copy and turned it into his own. This is why Stanley Donen is my favorite director. He isn’t some knock-off of a director that came before him, he’s unique in his own right, and for that, I thank him.
Where do I begin with Ms. Audrey Hepburn? Class personified, and a role model to all women and an ideal woman to all men. A veteran of over 30 movies Audrey Hepburn is the quintessential classic Hollywood figure. In order to properly get a sense of who Audrey was, I’ll pick a few of her movies to get a complete understanding of why she’s so revered as not only a fashion icon but also as a tremendous actress.
If I’m ever introducing someone to classic films, this is the movie I make sure to put on the top of my list. I mean, how could someone be disappointed when they’re watching Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck frolic through Rome? Directed by William Wyler, Roman Holiday tells the story of Princess Ann and her struggles with feeling increasingly isolated in her royal life.
While on a scheduled trip to Rome, she decides to neglect her royal duties and escape the embassy that she’s staying at. The only problem is, her family gave her a sleeping pill to help ease her ‘anxieties.’ This causes her to sleepwalk throughout the city of Rome and eventually into the arms (and apartment) of journalist Joe Bradley, played by Gregory Peck.
When she wakes up the next morning, naturally, she’s utterly confused. Bradley quickly realizes who she is and wants to write a story on her. Ann, or Anya as she would later be called, rebuffs his advances and is hell-bent on exploring Rome by herself. Perturbed at her rejection, Bradley follows her around until they coincidentally meet up at a Roman cafe. For the rest of the film, we see Bradley shed his journalistic instincts while ultimately ending up falling in love with Anya as the two explore Rome together.
I will refrain from posting spoilers on this post because I want people who’ve never seen these films to enjoy the endings as they are. However, to those who have seen Roman Holiday, it’s one of the most touching and romantic movies in Hepburn’s filmography.
The fact that Hepburn won her first and only Academy Award is a testament to how wonderful and heartwarming this movie is. The chemistry between Hepburn and Peck adds to the movie’s already poignant nature, and the ending definitely capitalizes on that.
Funny Face (1957)
The next film on this list is a complete departure from the warm and fuzzy feelings of Roman Holiday. From the cobbled streets of Rome to the slick sophistication of Paris, Funny Face is a romantic-musical-comedy directed by Stanley Donen.
In the film, Hepburn plays a shy and rather homely bookkeeper named Jo Stockton who’s accidentally photographed by a fashion photographer during a photo shoot at her bookstore. Astonished at how beautiful this “random girl” was in the background of his photo, the man who photographed Jo invites her to model for him in Paris.
As they get to know each other better while snapping photos in front of iconic Parisienne landmarks, they eventually fall in love. Unfortunately, the pair face a plethora of obstacles that hinder them from actually consummating their relationship.
Also starring Fred Astaire and Kay Thompson, Funny Face is yourarchetypal classic Hollywood musical. With gorgeous scenic shots of Paris, a marvelous soundtrack and killer musical numbers (my favorite, in particular, is ‘Bonjour Paris‘) Funny Face rivals any MGM musical from that year; and the best part about that is, it stars Audrey Hepburn.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1960)
Fun Fact about this movie: Marilyn Monroe was Truman Capote‘s first choice to play Holly Golightly.
This ‘fun fact’ probably doesn’t come as too much of a surprise though. Being that the original version Capote intended to put on the screen was much more scandalous for 1960s audiences, the movie had to be toned down significantly in order to appease the censors. The tonal shift meant another, less sexual version of Holly Golightly had to be cast.
This is where AudreyHepburn steps in.
Directed by Blake Edwards, Breakfast at Tiffany’s also stars George Peppard, Patricia Neal and Mickey Rooney in supporting roles. ‘BAT’ is a story about Holly Golightly’s relationship with writer Paul Varjak, played by Peppard, and the ups and downs that the couple goes through.
I have a special relationship with Breakfast at Tiffany‘s. It surely isn’t my favorite Hepburn film, but, I think it symbolizes a change in film roles that Hepburn would take from that point on in her career. You see, as the 1960s progressed, Hepburn’s filmography would increasingly feature a number of movies where the subject matter wasn’t as ‘lighthearted’ as her previous films.
Breakfast at Tiffany‘s was the first pillar, then rest came falling down in films like, TheChildren’s Hour, Two for The Road, Wait Unitil Dark and Charade. The movies I listed are a complete departure from the jovial and romantic movies of Hepburn’s earlier roles, and because of that is the reason why Breakfast at Tiffany‘s is a must see. Not only is the film an iconic piece of movie history, it also signifies a shift in Hepburn’s career.
How to Steal a Million (1966)
The last film on this list is apart of those later movies Hepburn would go on to do.
How to Steal a Millionis a superb example of a 1960s era romantic-comedy. Directed by William Wyler and starring Peter O’Toole as burglar Simon Bonnet and Hepburn as Nicole Bonnet (the daughter of an art collector,) the movie follows Hepburn and O’Toole‘s character’s as they seek to steal back a piece of art that accidentally got loaned to a local museum.
Why are they stealing the art back? Well, it’s because Nicole’s father is an art forger, and if they allow his ‘art’ to be displayed for all to see, it most certainly wouldn’t bode well for his business.
What ensues is a massively funny and endearing rom-com that had me laughing and swooning (over Peter O’Toole) during its 2 hours and 7-minute runtime. I thoroughly enjoyed watching this movie and I hope all of reading this will have the privilege of watching it one day.
Audrey Hepburn is one of my favorite actresses. The fact that she had such a large imprint on movies in such a short amount of time is a testament to her charisma. I can only hope that you love the movies on this list as much as I do!