Love in the Afternoon
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A Note Regarding Spoilers

The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags have been used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.

Yes. Love in the Afternoon is based on the 1920 novel Ariane, jeune fille russe (trans., Ariane, Young Russian Girl), by Swiss/French tennis player and writer Jean Shopfer, writing under the pseudonym Claude Anet. The screenplay was written by I.A.L. Diamond and Billy Wilder, who also directed the movie. The novel was previously filmed as Scampolo in 1928 and again in 1931 as Ariane. Wilder was inspired by the 1931 adaptation and co-wrote the screenplay for a third adaptation, Scampolo, ein Kind der Straße (Scampolo, a Child of the Street) (1932).

Parisian private investigator Claude Chavasse (Maurice Chevalier) has been hired by 'Monsieur X' (John McGiver) to follow his wife (Lise Bourdin), whom he suspects of having an affair with Frank Flannagan (Gary Cooper), a wealthy American businessman. When Chavasse provides proof of Madame X's indiscretion, Monsieur X announces that he plans to shoot Flannagan. Neither Chavasse nor X realize that Chavasse's young daughter Ariane (Audrey Hepburn) has overheard X's threat and decides to warn him. In doing so, Ariane assumes the role of Flannagan's mistress (who has made her escape through the window), and X leaves embarrassed and contrite. However, Flannagan is fascinated by the mysterious girl, who refuses to tell him even her name, and she is equally fascinated by the suave, international playboy. They continue to see each other, while she regales him with her long list of romantic escapades, all garnered from her father's surveillance files. After a year of this, Flannagan decides to track down the elusive femme fatale and hires P.I. Claude Chavasse to find her.

How does the movie end?

Ariane arrives at Flannagan's suite to find the Gypsy band leaving and Frank packing his bags. He's going off to Cannes with the twins from Stockholm and then on to Athens, he tells her. He mentions that he listened to her recording of all her previous 'lovers' and thanks her for having the right idea: 'It's bonjour and adieu, and in between a little amour." Trying to keep from crying, Ariane helps him close his suitcase and asks whether she can accompany him to the train station. As they leave the hotel, her father follows behind and picks up her cello. As Ariane and Frank walk down the train platform together, Ariane says that she'll check once in a while at the Ritz to see if he's come back to Paris. He notices the tears in her eyes, but she explains that it's due to the soot. The conductor calls out to board the train, and Ariane asks to keep the carnation in Frank's label. Frank boards the train, and as it begins to pull out of the station, Ariane runs alongside assuring him that she will be all right and counting off all the men she's going to see while he's traveling around. She tells him that he was #20 on her list and, with tears welling up, assures him that she will always remember him. Suddenly, Frank reaches out with his arm and swoops her up into the train with him. As they embrace, her father stands on the train platform smiling. In a voiceover, he says, 'On Monday, August 24th of this year, the case of Frank Flannagan and Ariane Chavasse came up before the superior judge in Cannes. They are now married, serving a life sentence in New York, the state of New York, U.S.A.' In the final scene, the Gypsy band, standing on the train platform, play Fascination.

Those who have both seen the movie and read the book say that the movie is quite different from the novel. For one thing, the novel is set in Russia apparently several years before the Russian Revolution [1917]. Second, she doesn't live with her father, who is a traveling salesman, not a detective. Instead, she lives with her aunt. One of the biggest differences is that the book Ariane is not the innocent she appears in the movie. In the movie, the stories that Ariane makes up are obvious fabrications on her part, which is what makes the movie amusing. In the book, however, she does come across as having a sexual history. In fact, she is eventually expelled from her aunt's house and sent away to university after she decides to sleep with her aunt's married boyfriend. There are some similarities, however, e.g., the age difference between Ariane and Frank (in the book, his name is Konstantin). Konstantin is about 62, while Ariane is about to turn 18. She does drive him crazy with her stories about her past, some of which are true, some of which are false, and neither Konstantin nor the reader can keep track of which is which. Also like in the movie, Ariane and Konstantin do stay together in the end.

Chavasse's statement at the end of the movie...that Ariane and Frank are 'serving a life sentence in New York'...is not a reference to them going to jail. In the context of the movie, Chavasse tends to see everything through the eyes of a detective, e.g., he's constantly questioning Ariane throughout the movie and recording clues about her (the number of times she washes her hair, the blister on her hand, etc). 'Serving a life sentence' is just Chavasse making a joking reference to the fact that Frank and Ariane are now married.

Page last updated by bj_kuehl, 2 years ago
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