Roman Holiday 1953 Directed by William Wyler. Utterly enchanting. On a state visit to Rome, young crown princess Ann (Audrey Hepburn) from an unnamed country, manages to slip out of her embassy hoping to explore. Expatriate reporter Joe Bradley (Gregory Peck) finds her sleeping on a bench and assumes she’s drunk. He tucks her into his bed and spends the night elsewhere. In the morning Joe learns all Rome is looking for a missing royal. A photo reveals the identity of his guest.
Anxious for an exclusive, he calls photographer buddy Irving Radovich (Eddie Albert) and arranges to have him secretly shoot them as he shows Ann the city. Modest adventures follow. Joe and Ann grow close until a bittersweet parting. The next morning…
The role of Joe was first offered to Cary Grant who felt he was too old to play her love interest, yet did so ten years later in Charade. Peck’s contract gave him solo star billing with newcomer Hepburn listed less prominently in the credits. Halfway through filming, the actor generously suggested to Wyler that he give her equal billing. In her first major film role, Hepburn won the Academy Award for Best Actress. Free with Amazon Prime.
Sabrina 1954 Based on Samuel L. Taylor’s play Sabrina Fair. Directed by Billy Wilder. Simply lovely. Sabrina (Audrey Hepburn) is the daughter of widower chauffeur, Thomas Fairchild (John Williams). She grows up over a garage at the posh Long Island estate of the Larrabee family besotted with younger son, playboy David (William Holden). When Sabrina attempts suicide for unrequited love, Thomas sends her to Paris to attend Le Cordon Bleu cooking school hoping to provide a profession. She returns stylish and confident, immediately catching David’s eye.
David, however, is engaged to the daughter of a Larrabee business associate primed to merge with them. Conservative, type-A, older brother Linus (Humphrey Bogart) cleverly incapacitates his sibling, temporarily filling in with Sabrina in hopes of stalling and ultimately preventing romance he equates with business disaster. Awkward love unexpectedly finds them both.
During production, Hepburn and Holden had a brief, passionate, much-publicized love affair. Cary Grant had turned down the role of Linus. Humphrey Bogart felt miscast but ultimately made his character more credible. This film marked the beginning of Hepburn’s lifelong relationship with Hubert de Givenchy. Rent on Amazon Prime. (Skip the remake)
Love in the Afternoon 1957 Based on the Claude Anet novel “Ariane, jeune fille russe” (Ariane, Young Russian Girl). Directed by Billy Wilder. Completely enchanting. Widowed private detective Claude Chavasse (Maurice Chevalier) specializes in tracking unfaithful husbands and wives. His daughter Ariane (Audrey Hepburn) is more than a little conversant with papa’s files.
The infamous subject of his latest client’s complaint, American Frank Flanagan (Gary Cooper), seems particularly exciting. When Ariane overhears the client threaten to shoot his wife and Flanagan, she rushes out of cello rehearsal and warns him just in time.
Ariane then becomes a woman of mystery to the playboy businessman many years her senior. She makes up provocative stories of endless lovers. He’s increasingly, maddeningly attracted to her, and knows better, but…With a pitch-perfect John McGiver as a suspicious, cuckolded husband. Both Yul Brynner and Cary Grant were first offered the role of Flanagan. Wilder chose Cooper because he thought the actor would be good company on location. He was. Rent on Amazon Prime.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s 1961 Adapted from the novella by Truman Capote. Directed by Blake Edwards. Naïve, eccentric Holly Golightly (Audrey Hepburn) lives gaily hand to mouth ostensibly looking for a rich husband, but carries deep sadness from her secret past. Visiting Tiffany’s windows after a late night, with coffee and pastry in a bag keeps her spirits up.
Paul Varjak (George Peppard), a writer kept by wealthy Mrs. Emily Eustace Failenson (Patricia Neal), moves into the building and falls in love with Holly. She’s drawn to him as well, but won’t give up her plan. Doc Golightly – Holly’s former husband (Buddy Ebsen) shows up. The truth comes out. Tragedy occurs. Holly must decide. Lovely.
“Marilyn (Monroe) was always my first choice to play the girl, Holly Golightly.” (Truman Capote) Screenwriter Axelrod was hired to “tailor the screenplay for Monroe.” Lee Strasburg then advised Monroe that playing a “lady of the evening” would be bad for her image. She turned it down for The Misfits. “Completely unbelievable but wholly captivating flight into fancy composed of unequal dollops of comedy, romance, poignancy, funny colloquialisms and Manhattan’s swankiest East Side areas captured in the loveliest of colors” (The New York Times) Rent on Amazon Prime.
Charade 1963 Directed by Stanley Donen. A romantic comedy mystery known for sparkling repartee. Expatriate American interpreter Regina “Reggie” Lampert (Audrey Hepburn) decides to divorce her husband, but before she can, he’s murdered and the apartment torn apart. Three men go to the wake: Herman Scobie (George Kennedy), Leopold W. Gideon (Ned Glass), and Tex Panthollow (James Coburn). The men were army buddies of her husband and jointly stole considerable money. With one gone, the others are looking for it.
Also enmeshed in the search are handsome stranger Brian Cruikshank (Cary Grant) and Hamilton Bartholomew (Walter Matthau) of The American Embassy. Murders and chases occur side by side with Reggie’s falling in love with the resistant Peter Joshua.
As a screenplay called The Unsuspecting Wife, this story was rejected. Turned into a novel, however, it caught the eye of studio executives and circled back to become Charade. When the film was released in 1963, Hepburn’s line, “at any moment we could be assassinated,” was dubbed over to become “at any moment we could be eliminated” due to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The title song by Henry Mancini was nominated for an Academy Award. Free with Amazon Prime.
Two for the Road 1967 Directed by Stanley Donen. Twelve years in the lives of Mark and Joanna Wallace (Albert Finney and Audrey Hepburn) as they meet, part, marry, and fall in and out of love sometimes in the same place more than once. Poignant and real despite the pretty pictures. Also with Eleanor Bron, William Daniels, and Claude Dauphin. The film was considered experimental because it evolved in a non-linear fashion. Rent on Amazon Prime.
Robin and Marian 1976 Directed by Richard Lester. Many years after leaving England to fight for Richard the Lionhearted in France, late middle-aged Robin of Loxley i.e. Robin Hood returns with Little John to find himself a legend and his former love, Lady Marian (Audrey Hepburn), an abbess. The Sheriff of Nottingham (Robert Shaw) still a nemesis, has ordered her arrested. Myriad battles and wonderful private conversations ensue as he attempts to shelter her. Love and its impossibility are palpable. The actors are wonderful together. Rent on Amazon Prime.
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