Director Billy Wilder salutes his idol, Ernst Lubitsch, with this comedy about a middle-aged playboy fascinated by the daughter of a private detective who has been hired to entrap him with the wife of a client.
In 1930, in Belgium, Gabrielle van der Mal is the stubborn daughter of the prominent surgeon Dr. Pascin Van Der Mal that decides to leave her the upper-class family to enter to a convent, ... See full summary »
In Paris, detective Claude Chavasse is hired to follow a wife suspected of infidelity with the notorious American libertine Frank Flannagan. When the husband learns that his suspicions are accurate, he tells Claude of his plan to kill Flannagan. Claude's daughter Ariane overhears the threat and warns Frank of the coming trouble. She then plays the part of a worldly socialite with a list of conquests as long as Flannagan's. The bemused ladies' man returns to America the next day and Ariane, completely in love, follows his romantic escapades in the news. She sees him again in Paris the following year, and resumes her worldly guise, telling tales of former lovers when they meet at his hotel in the afternoon. Frank, amazed by the mystery girl and surprised to find himself jealous of her past, hires Claude to uncover more information about her. When the detective realizes what has happened, he asks Frank not to break his daughter's heart. Written by
The original ending of the film just showed the two lovers departing together on a train, which threatened to land the film on the Catholic Legion of Decency's "Condemned List." As a result, Maurice Chevalier was called back to do the voice-over heard at the close of the film, in which he reports that the couple are "now married and serving a life sentence in New York City." See more »
Ariane washes her hair and is rubbing it with a towel just after Frank Flannagan leaves her apartment. Moments later, her hair is completely dry and perfectly styled. See more »
This is the city - Paris, France. It is just like any other big city - London, New York, Tokyo - except for two little things. In Paris, people eat better. And in Paris, people make love - well, perhaps not better, but certainly more often. They do it any time, any place. On the left bank, on the right bank, and in between! They do it by day, and they do it by night. The butcher, the baker, and the friendly undertaker. They do it in motion, they do it sitting absolutely ...
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Love in the Afternoon was conceived and brought to the screen by Billy Wilder as a homage to his friend and mentor in Hollywood, Ernest Lubitsch. This French novel Ariane had been filmed before in fact, by the Germans just before the Nazis took over and had starred Elizabeth Bergner.
Audrey Hepburn proved to be a worthy successor to Bergner. Whatever success Love in the Afternoon has is due to her performance. She radiates beauty and charm and no wonder Gary Cooper is so fascinated by her. Wilder would consider no one else for the lead and waited for Hepburn to be free while she was on a lengthy location shooting for War and Peace.
But it's Cooper who's the weak one here. He was not Billy Wilder's first choice. Cary Grant for the third and final time missed out on being in a Billy Wilder film having previously turned down Five Graves to Cairo and Sabrina. The part was offered to Yul Brynner also. But Gary Cooper turned out to be available when Hepburn was and he got the role. Wilder later admitted the bad casting, but he also said that it was his ill luck to get Cooper at the start of the health problems that would eventually kill him. He said Cooper got old overnight. In fact he looks as old as Maurice Chevalier and Chevalier as Hepburn's father was 13 years older than Cooper.
Maurice is a detective who specializes in tracking down and confirming spousal infidelities. He's been hired by John McGiver to find out if his wife has been seeing millionaire playboy Cooper. Daughter Hepburn however is crushing out on Gary big time and unbeknownst to Maurice she takes it upon herself to warn him.
The old popular standard Fascination is heard through out the film and in the same year it came out, the 20+ year old standard was revived in a million selling hit by Pat Boone.
It was not an easy shoot despite those familiar Parisian location. In a recent biography of Wilder, the story is told that he had tremendous difficulty in shooting the picnic and row boat scenes. It seems as though the location was a breeding ground for mosquitoes and they were unmerciful to cast and crew. Wilder took several takes just to get enough usable footage.
Audrey Hepburn fans will be mad for Love in the Afternoon, Gary Cooper's though might wince when seeing it.
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