Actors Birthdays

Remembering Audrey Hepburn

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On this day in 1929, Audrey Hepburn was born in Belgium. Audrey would go on to become one of the most beloved of all the classic era film stars. Audrey would also become famous as a fashion icon, and for the great deal of charity work she undertook.

I like Audrey as an actress, but I like her more for who she was in real life; by all accounts(I have never heard or read a bad word about her)she was a kind, gentle and classy woman who treated everyone the same. There was nothing phoney about Audrey and it showed, she truly was someone who was beautiful inside and out.

If you want to know more about Audrey’s life, I highly recommend that you read this biography: Audrey Her Real Story by Alexander Walker. It is a thorough and moving account of her life and career, and features some beautiful personal and studio photos of Audrey.Photo0092

Despite her talent and fame, Audrey actually made very few films during her career, and I do find that a shame because she was a very good actress.

Here are my top five Audrey Hepburn film performances.

                              1- Sister Luke in The Nun’s Story.

                                 2- Holly in Breakfast At Tiffany’s .

                                 3-Princess Ann in Roman Holiday.

                   4- Suzy in Wait Until Dark.

          5- Sabrina in Sabrina.

Audrey passed away in 1993, following a battle with cancer. Happy Birthday, and R.I.P Audrey. Thank you for so many wonderful film memories.

Please share your thoughts on Audrey and her films below.

Romance

Charade (1963)

Charade is one of the most enjoyable films of the 1960’s. This film has everything. There’s two of the classic eras greatest stars at their best, thrills, romance, twists, deception, interesting and likeable characters, a cracking score and plenty of comedy.

Charade is directed by Stanley Donen, the man who brought us what is possibly the greatest musical, Singin’ In The Rain.)If you only know Donen from that film, then I think you will be in for quite a surprise with this one.

A perfect blend of romance, thrills, suspense and comedy, Charade has some dark moments too(two of the murders are pretty disturbing, despite not being overly graphic)and a suspenseful rooftop fight sequence. It also keeps you guessing until the last few minutes as to the identity/allegiance of two key characters.

Reggie Lambert(Audrey Hepburn)is in the process of divorcing her husband Charles. Reggie is dismayed to learn he has been killed and all their money is gone. Five men soon enter her life who all want something that Charles had in his possession when he died. They all claim it is worth a lot of money and it is vital that it is found. Reggie also learns quite a few things about her husband that she had previously not known.

George Kennedy, Ned Glass and James Coburn play Scobie, Tex and Gideion, three former friends of Charles, who are all convinced Reggie has what they are after. Walter Matthau is Bartholomew, an American agent who is also after the mysterious item claiming it is vital that the US government gets it before the other three men(who only want it for the money it will bring.)

Cary Grant is Peter Joshua, a mysterious man of many aliases who appears to be Reggie’s only friend and hope in all of this, but is he who he claims to be? Just who is telling the truth, and can Reggie trust any of them?Peter and Reggie find themselves falling in love which further complicates matters.

I wish Grant and Hepburn had made more films together after this, they make such a terrific screen team. Their romantic scenes are tender, funny and believable, they make you feel for their characters and look like they are having a great deal of fun. They also make their characters quite emotionally vulnerable at times, especially during scenes where their mutual attraction is developing.

This is one of my favourite films and is one I return to quite often. It cheers me up if I’m feeling down. The twists and turns are still effective even though I know what’s coming. There is some great location work too. Does anyone know the location of the ski resort?

My favourite scenes are the following. Peter taking a shower fully dressed, the scene on the boat between Peter and Reggie after she gets suspicious of him, the opening at the ski resort, the orange game at the club, Reggie and Bartholomew discussing her skill as a potential spy, Reggie trying to follow Peter and not get noticed and pretty much every scene featuring Cary and Audrey together.

Grant is at his most suave and funny here, and despite the age gap between him and Audrey you don’t really notice it as you do with Audrey and Gary Cooper(in Love In The Afternoon). Audrey gets a mix of comic and serious moments in this and excels at each, she really makes you feel for her character.

The rest of the cast are all superb, George Kennedy is extremely menacing, Glass is seemingly unthreatening, when his character is anything but, and Coburn is like a deadly snake waiting to strike. We get to see Matthau in a rare serious role and he has a brilliant serious expression during comic scenes.

Henry Mancini’s music is the perfect accompaniment to the action and romance on screen.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I think the park(with the market and Punch and Judy show)looks like the one featured in How To Steal A Million, has anyone noticed the similarity? Does anyone know the real location used?

Any other fans? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this one. If you’ve never seen it, I highly recommend it.

Romance

Roman Holiday (1953) My Favourite Audrey Hepburn Film

This romantic comedy is one I return to again,again, and (oh, yes)again. Funny, poignant, romantic and very moving, this film is one of those rare ones that has something in it for everyone.

Princess Ann(Audrey Hepburn)is the heir to her (never named) countries throne. During a state visit to Italy, Ann stops off in Rome, and one night she sneaks out of the embassy she is staying in, desperate for a few hours of freedom. She is discovered by American reporter Joe Bradley(Gregory Peck)sleeping on a street bench, he takes her back to his apartment and it begins to dawn on him just who she is. Will he use her to create the story of his career or not?

Gregory Peck is terrific as Joe Bradley, the reporter out for a story when he finds the runaway Princess Ann. At first he is only interested in her because of the story her presence would generate, but as he spends more time with her he finds himself wanting to protect her; the pair slowly realise they are falling in love, but can either of them give up the lives they at currently living(the answer to this may well surprise new viewers who think they know how it will end)Peck is at his most handsome and likeable here, and his performance is one of my favourites of his.

Not only an enjoyable film, Roman Holiday is also responsible for making Audrey Hepburn a big film star. Audrey had featured in a small number of film roles when she was cast in the lead role of Princess Ann(a role originally intended for British actress Jean Simmons). Audiences took Audrey to their hearts and she became an instant star. The Academy gave her the Best Actress Oscar for her enchanting performance. I still find it hard to believe that she had done so little acting before this, as Audrey is so natural on screen and is superb in a very emotional scene(that farewell hug in the car). She perfectly conveys the strength, charm, innocence, vulnerability and enthusiasm of her character.

William Wyler’s film does a good job of conveying how constricted and lonely a royals life must be. Yes they live in luxury, travel far and wide and have great wealth, but they are expected to devote their lives in service of others and often can’t marry who they choose, and are under constant scrutiny. An extremely unenviable lifestyle, and it is from this life that Ann wishes to find some respite from.

Filmed in and around Rome, the film always makes me long to visit Italy, but in a way makes me feel like I have done so. I also always get a craving for ice cream after the scene of Ann and Joe meeting on the steps.

Eddie Albert provides solid support as Irving, Joe’s friend and cameraman. Irving takes many photos of Ann on her Roman Holiday, any one of which would be perfect for the front page, but will he ever let them see the light of day?

I love this film so much, it can move me and make me laugh like no other, the characters are likeable and the ending is far from predictable. I think it is the ending that helped make it so special, it wasn’t another regular fairytale, the realism throughout helps make it believable.

My favourite scenes are that farewell hug in the car(gets me every single time, and I firmly believe it always will), the mouth of truth sequence(improvised by Gregory to get a genuine reaction from Audrey), the “sorry honey, but I haven’t worn a nightgown in years” scene, and the scene where Ann reminds her staff that she is more than aware of her duty.

I want to give a shout out to screenwriter Dalton Trumbo for his beautiful story. Sadly due to the fact that he was blacklisted in the 50’s, he was never credited on the opening titles of this for many more years.

Another shoutout goes to Edith Head for her stunning costumes. Ann’s royal evening gown deserves particular praise.

I also like that Gregory and Audrey became lifelong friends during the making of this, they made me believe so much that they cared for one another on screen, and it’s nice to think that they became special to each other off screen. Gregory also met his future wife Veronique during the making of this, the couple remained married until his death in 2003.

As ever, if you’re a fan please share your thoughts below. If you’ve never seen this, then I hope you’ll check it out soon.

 

Romance, Unsung Classics

Unsung Classics 1: Paris When It Sizzles (1963)

I’d like to start a series of posts about classic films that I think deserve some more attention. I’m starting with this romantic comedy starring William Holden and Audrey Hepburn.

Quite simply, this is one of the best (and funniest)films out there about filmmaking. Focusing this time on the screenwriting process, this is a very funny look at film clichés, how quickly plot ideas can change, and how such ideas come to be in the first place. A clever mix of genres (at one point it is a thriller, whilst another scene finds us firmly in horror territory)and featuring an hysterical cameo from Tony Curtis, as a young method actor featuring in several of the film scenarios.

Featuring some gorgeous photography in and around Paris, lots of humour and romance, and Holden and Hepburn clearly having a great deal of fun, what’s not to like?

Richard Benson (William Holden)is a cynical Hollywood screenwriter, a ladies man, who loves a drink or two, and is living in a Paris apartment. Hired months ago to write a new screenplay, he has in fact been spending his time having fun and hasn’t written a word! With his deadline fast approaching he hires secretary Gabrielle(Audrey Hepburn)to help him begin and finish on time. As he comes up with possible scenarios we actually see his ideas as film scenes on screen, featuring Holden and Hepburn as the various main characters. While all this is going on, Benson is finding himself falling in love with Gabrielle, but does she return his feeling?

Holden has a ball playing various fictional adventurous leading men, and even a charming vampire! Hepburn shows a real gift for comedy as the secretary caught up in imagination, and as various fictional leading ladies.

The vampire grotto sequence is one of my favourites, as a romantic afternoon lunch suddenly takes a turn into the realms of darkness, when Holden’s charming playboy is revealed to be a vampire. It’s funny and ridiculous at the same time and just where is that beautiful waterfall/park they go into? It looks gorgeous, I also like the fountains featured in the final scene.

I also love the scene in the film studio featuring Audrey as a sexy woman of the streets taking a bubble bath on an exotic set.

Great fun, and highly recommended to fans of Holden and Hepburn. This flick deserves to be better known. Spread the word, folks!

If you’re already a fan of this one, please share your thoughts on the film.