Earlier this year I was lent some DVDs, and I have gradually been getting through them. In the collection were four Audrey Hepburn films, so I had a little marathon. Here is what I thought of them, in order of my watching.
Director: Billy Wilder
Cast: Audrey Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart and William Holden.
Australian Rating: PG
Sabrina (Hepburn) is the daughter of the Larrabee family’s chauffeur, and she has been infatuated with David Larrabee (Holden) almost her entire life. In part to give his daughter the best cooking training possible and in part to get her away from David (who is carefree and liberal, and has been married and divorced three times), her father sends her to Paris for two years. While David never really paid her any attention when she was younger, this changes once she returns a sophisticated woman. However, due to a convenient business merger based wedding arranged for David, his older and more responsible brother Linus (Bogart) courts her “on behalf of David”, to ensure that the marriage goes ahead for the sake of the business venture he has on the line.
Long story short, this results in a rather involved love triangle. No prize for guessing the ending, but how they get to that ending is not as straightforward as you would initially expect.
I have no strong feelings either way for this film. It very much had the feel and personality of a film of that era, but it wasn’t anything spectacular. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it. There were even quite a few amusing points that I recognised as being referred to by popular culture, such as the “that’s good…. that’s bad…” conversation about Sabrina’s letter from Paris to her father, that reminded me of a scene from The Simpsons (when Homer is buying the evil Krusty doll for Bart).
What I did like about this film, though, were the characters. Although they were stereotypical, by the end of the film they had a sense of dimension to them. This could very well be to the merit of the actors. So too could the naturally paced love that grows between Sabrina and Linus as you see her struggle with the fact that she has only ever known herself to ‘love’ David. Most of the character development is internal, so they do a good job of showing that without screaming it.
All in all, an ok film.
Director: Richard Quine
Cast: Audrey Hepburn and William Holden.
Australian Rating: PG
Gabrielle (Hepburn) is hired by Richard (Holden) as an assistant/typist to help him finish his film script that is due in two days, which he should have been working on for months already. That pretty much sums it up.
The fun part about his film is how they combat Richard’s writer’s block. They just go with whatever idea they have at the time, and see where it leads. This in turn leads to multiple storylines and characters played by both actors. It is reminiscent of times when we were kids making up stories and playing them out. They use themselves as the main characters in the script, at times getting deeply involved in what their character is going through. Those moments are usually after they have had a bit to drink.
Each plot is quirky and over acted, especially the spy plot and the horror plot. But seeing them go through so much emotionally as they act out each storyline makes it seem like it has been more than two days by the end of the film. I guess being stuck in a room with only one other person for two days can lead to such feelings, especially when they get so attached to the characters they create of each other.
Once again, this film is nothing spectacular, but simply fun to watch. Like most of these films, I would only really recommend it if you are a fan of older films, especially in the romance genre.
Director: Stanley Donen
Cast: Audrey Hepburn, Fred Astaire and Kay Thompson.
Australian Rating: G
Fashion photographer Dick Avery (Astaire) happens across Jo Stockton (Hepburn), a book salesgirl who is as much against the fashion industry as she is for philosophy. He is intrigued by her unique appearance and convinces the magazine editor, Maggie Prescott (Thompson), that she is the girl to revamp the image of the magazine. They offer Jo a modelling contract, which she reluctantly accepts, only because it includes a trip to Paris, which is where she hopes to see a famous philosopher’s lectures. But of course, things don’t go as smoothly as either party expected.
I must say, I never knew Audrey Hepburn could sing. Or make as much fun of herself as she did in this film. I like this one the most out of the four reviewed here because of the fact that it surprised me. Whatever I expected wasn’t what happened, and the characters often reacted in what I would consider odd fashions, though not out of context with who they were. One scene in particular that demonstrates each of these points is where Jo, in response to a disagreement, gets up and does a very….. let’s say ‘interesting’ interpretive dance number in the middle of a café.
If you don’t like musicals, don’t bother. Although Fred Astaire is amazing to watch dance, that is not used in this film. He is a photographer, not a dancer. However, it is still evident in how gracefully he executes even the simplest of moves. Like most musicals, large chunks of story and character development are done through song, displaying innermost feelings and all. I enjoy musicals more than most people, so that is perhaps why I enjoyed this film more than the others. But I can definitely understand why that would put some people off.
Director: Blake Edwards
Cast: Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard.
Australian Rating: PG
Paul Varjak (Peppard), a writer with one book under his belt, moves into a New York apartment building only to become intrigued by his pretty, quirky neighbour Holly Golightly (Hepburn). Holly confuses and fascinates Paul as she switches between two personas: in public a sophisticated socialite, and in private a vulnerable and slightly neurotic girl too far from home. Underneath it all though, it turns out they only really have each other, and ‘Cat’ of course.
It’s hard to review a movie that so many people love, but due to the hype created by those people, let down your expectations. I was confused about what it was meant to be about for so long. Nothing seemed to be confirmed throughout most of the movie (and some things not at all). I guess the purpose of that was to make the focus about not what they do, but who they are as people. This role had more depth of character and showed off more talent than any of the other Audrey Hepburn films I have seen to date, and it highlights some important concepts for life: live in the moment, love trumps money, sometimes all we have is each other, and so forth. The scene I enjoyed the most was the montage of things they had never done before. There was such a sense of fun and excitement. It really pulled you in.
While the latter half was much more enjoyable than the first (significantly so), my score reflects more my enjoyment of the film as a whole. I didn’t like the characters, any of them, and the story bored me. If you haven’t seen this film before, go into it with a neutral mind. Perhaps you will then be pleasantly surprised.
Audrey Hepburn was a talented actor of her time, and this sample of films shows a range of style, but ultimately, she always falls in love. While they may not be my prefered choice in movie genre, I can see why she is a celebrated actor.