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 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
Gary Cooper was very pleased with his performance and was very disappointed that the majority of critics thought him miscast due to his age. Indeed, the film's box office failure was largely attributed to him being considered too old to play Audrey Hepburn's lover. In April 1958 he had a full facelift, but the procedure was largely unsuccessful. 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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Sparkling if a Bit Overlong Boulevard Comedy Shows Wilder and Hepburn in Top Form
There is likely no more romantic ending to a Hollywood movie than the one in this soufflé-light 1957 romantic comedy, where Audrey Hepburn tries to keep up with a departing train upon which Gary Cooper stands and listens intently to her babbling about her fictitious sexual conquests. Hepburn plays Ariane, a young cellist and the daughter of a Parisian private investigator named Claude Chevasse. She has an unbridled interest in her father's often tawdry cases, chief among them the affairs of Frank Flannagan, a millionaire industrialist and aging playboy who finds himself in various trysts with married women around the world. A certain Monsieur X has come to Chevasse to catch his wife in a suspected extramarital fling with Flannagan. Overhearing Monsieur X's intention to kill his wife and her lover, Ariane decides to warn Flannagan, and they embark on an afternoons-only affair under the pretense that she is as much a worldly bon vivant as he is. Things come to a head when Flannagan becomes infatuated with this mysterious "thin girl" and recruits Crevasse to find out who she is.
Master filmmaker Billy Wilder leaves his unmistakable stamp on this confection with a clever, ironic script co-written with his long-time partner I.A.L. Diamond in their first collaboration. The dialogue is full of their trademark sparkling banter, and leave it to Wilder to use a Gypsy string quartet to act as a chorus for Flannagan's sexual shenanigans. Hepburn is her usual impeccable self as Ariane and especially good fun when she layers the deceptions about her checkered past. Cooper played this type of boulevardier role in the 1930's under masters like Ernst Lubitsch, and it is quite enjoyable to see him come back to this milieu two decades later as an aging lothario. Looking weather-beaten after years of Westerns and adventure pictures, he was given a lot of grief because of the age difference between him and Hepburn, but I actually find the gap quite touching and Cooper surprisingly game. Maurice Chevalier is ideally cast as Crevasse even if has to play down his naturally effervescent manner. Granted the film runs a little too long at 126 minutes, but it is fine, light entertainment similar to Wilder and Hepburn's previous collaboration, the classic 1954 "Sabrina". The print transfer on the 2005 DVD is fine though not outstanding. Unfortunately there are no extras included.
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