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Not having seen this film before, I always felt it might be a sombre
melodrama about late-years romance, such as in the serious "Ten North
Frederick", but it was a pleasant surprise to find so much wit and
charm as Gary Cooper plays the nonchalant Casanova type, Frank
Flannagan, with l'amour flowing off his debonair shoulders like a
waterfall and nothing sticks.
Those serenading musicians certainly add some lovely music to the film and they are a fixture for whenever Frank is in the mood for a romantic conquest, usually in the afternoon. It was a very funny scene to see them dutifully playing their instruments while a steam bath is ongoing for Frank! I like Maurice Chevalier in this film as it gives him more space for character development and not just a bland light type with little depth as in most of his other roles. He's the detective father of young Ariane who plays the cello, and he avoids talking to her about his work which is supposed to be secretive anyways and in this case it involves spying on a wayward wife - so what else is new in Paris? As the story unfolds, Ariane meets and falls for Frank, then endeavours to get some serious attention and commitment from carefree Frank who probably doesn't know the meaning of commitment, but she tries by using a rather indirect ploy and eventually finds he can get jealous of her fabricated other loves in her life while he's away - a ruse she uses to good effect.
I suppose you might say Gary Cooper was rather too old for this role as he lacks a certain spontaneity for such light comedy but I'm happy with his presence nonetheless. Don't laugh, but I can just picture Bob Hope playing this role to the hilt, of being a lady's man, such as he's done in so many movies of the past. But that's falling into broad comedy, which this film is not.
It's a nicely put together comedy of errors and mistaken identities, and I plan to see it again as one showing can't do it justice.
This delightful light romantic comedy is worth viewing just for Audrey Hepburn's darling performance as the innocent ingénue pretending to be a woman of the world. Gary Cooper is sadly miscast as the international playboy who is the target of Hepburn's affections, a role that Cary Grant could have walked through in his sleep. Ewan McGregor played a similar role to nice effect in the recent Down With Love, but McGregor, regrettably, is no Cary Grant. Who is? <sigh> But back to Love in the Afternoon... Maurice Chevalier is charming in his role as Hepburn's private detective father and John McGiver is funny as a befuddled cuckold. Billy Wilder's direction is naturally impeccable. But the movie is all Audrey after all, and isn't that enough?
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Rich American womanizers wandering the globe, nubile wives eager to cheat,
supposedly naive young girls falling in love with someone based on a
photograph? My wife fell asleep for the middle hour of this film and I
her she didn't miss a thing!
(Possible spoilers from here on) I guess it's supposed to be ironic that a detective doesn't even know what shenanigans his own daughter is up to, but really now - Audrey suddenly decides to try and beat this guy at his own game, but why? If there was some explanation, it didn't make the final cut. Is she desperate? Competitive? Mentally unstable? And while Cooper might have been a babe magnet in real life, there's no evidence of it in the movie. We just know from humourous newspaper clippings that he's a cad and a bounder, but it sure doesn't show when he's on screen. I kept thinking that this was a perfect role for William Holden, who did such a good job of womanizing in Sabrina. Gary was too old ("Funny Face" all over again) and too, well, bland. Nice enough guy, but not someone that women would obsess and thrill over.
And this is a happy ending? A women tricks a cad into marrying her? Oh yes, there's a marriage bound to last. I really felt disappointed that such A-level talent could only write about one-third of a movie. Yes, there are funny bits like the gypsies and the drink tray, but they do not a two-hour-plus movie make.
Time not well spent.
This film has aged badly. Actually, it must have looked outdated even
in 1957. The story might have worked under Lubitsch, some 25 years
earlier, but this time the effort comes across as forcibly cute, with
dainty situations and precious giggles crammed into the boring and
predictable narrative, all drowned under a syrupy score of soaring
violins. The pretentious sweetness is often nauseating. Chevalier is
too old to be a young girl's father; he (over)employs his famous
bedroom smile, but what was sexy 25 years earlier opposite Jeanette
McDonald, is now downright creepy, especially since the girl is
supposed to be his own daughter. Cooper is too old too and knows it,
appearing very uncomfortable and letting some rather embarrassing
moments slip in (I've never actually seen him act badly before).
Hepburn is the only one to enjoy, but she doesn't really have very much
There are so many better romantic comedies... if you feel like saluting Lubitsch, just watch a Lubitsch instead.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I expected to like this film...Gary Cooper, Audrey Hepburn, Billy
Wilder, Paris...But I was disappointed by its cynical manipulation and
totally contrived ending.
The great age difference between Cooper and Hepburn, made even more so by the fact that she's supposed to be a young student in this film (making him more like her grandfather), was remarked on, I believe, in some contemporary reviews. But this is not a reason to find fault with the relationship. It's more that it is difficult to understand how an intelligent young woman, albeit one who is somewhat naive and romantic, could be infatuated by, continue to be beguiled by, and eventually fall in love with the unpleasant lecher played by Cooper. Despite the charm that Gary Cooper has shown in many of his films, here he seems...well, tired and not really acting as though he at all believes in the rancid character he's playing, and he's right.
The premise of the film is sour and cynical and the farce doesn't work. The ending injects a jarring sentimental note that only confirms the earlier implausibility of the "relationship" that the script would have you believe the two leads have. Doesn't work.
Audrey Hepburn is her usual magical self, but even she can't make me believe in her character. She is certainly worth watching, however, for the moments when she is, indeed, someone who might appeal to the Cooper character as more than a one-night stand.
Maurice Chevalier is surprisingly appealing here and doesn't lay on the French accent and mannerisms that he continued to polish over the years. But, again, he's done in by the script. In his very last scene in the film, he does a total flip-flop in point of view, again demonstrating the screen writers' (Wilder and Diamond) manipulation to ensure a romantically satisfying and totally unbelievable ending.
So...nice musical score, lovely black and white cinematography, a charming Hepburn, an appealing Chevalier...but a Wilder misfire, big-time.
This film is irritating and tedious to watch. It's an old man's wet dream, specifically, Billy Wilder's. In short, a beautiful young woman finds a much older man improbably irresistible. Whatever charm Gary Cooper had as a leading man was spent by the time he made this picture. In fact, he was suffering with undiagnosed cancer and it shows. He seems exhausted, pale and flabby. That Audrey Hepburn makes her enchantment with him at all believable is a tribute to her determination as an actress. In an interview, she said that it was Chevalier who wouldn't stop ogling her and that he might have been better cast as her suitor than her father. The whole thing is very squeamish and gives you the idea of how invincible men believed themselves to be and how subjugated women were to them. They held all the cards so to speak, especially if Wilder could make a smug, distasteful film like this without having people walk out on it.
I agree with most of the IMDb reviewers in their appreciation for "Love
in the Afternoon." It is a charming love story, made especially
touching by the beautiful performance of Audrey Hepburn. A fine actress
throughout her career, Hepburn's golden age was clearly the 1950s when
her youthful innocence and eager, expectant face made the vulnerability
of her characters seem entirely believable and very sympathetic. Having
the aging Maurice Chevalier as her father in "Love in the Afternoon"
was an inspired bit of casting, and the two of them seemed to fit
perfectly as father and daughter.
But, of the major actors of the late fifties, Gary Cooper was probably the worst possible choice to play the young Hepburn's first great love, Mr. Flannagan. It is not so much that Cooper was too old a man to be the love interest of Hepburn's character, Ariane, although Cooper certainly looked very old and tired in the movie. Because Ariane is shown to be both innocent and impressionable, one could imagine her falling in love with an older and more sophisticated gentleman. In the movie "Funny Face," Hepburn plays a character like Ariane who falls in love with the equally aged Fred Astaire, and that relationship seems quite believable.
The problem with casting Cooper in "Love in the Afternoon" is that Mr. Flannagan is supposed to be a rather heartless, love-'em-and-leave-'em kind of guy, while Cooper's entire career in later life was devoted to playing honest, honorable, loyal men of strong and unshakable convictions. Perhaps the definitive Cooper role in the 1950s was the sheriff in "High Noon." To have him play an aging, indifferent roué was an almost absurd bit of miscasting which, for me, did not seem believable for a minute.
"Love in the Afternoon" is a beautiful love story often touching and, thanks to the gypsies, sometimes very funny. What a shame that Cary Grant, Tyrone Power, and Fred Astaire himself were not available to play the movie's leading man.
You can tell that Billy Wilder loved Audrey Hepburn, and how it could
wind up into a lifetime friendship. But then again most directors that
she worked with were bowled over by her charm and relative good
behavior. She is this particular film, so romantic (seemingly without
the sappiness),and very touching. It was a great vehicle for her when
she first came around, and it stands the test of time as being one of
my all-time favorites.The classic ending is Hepburn at her best.
Many have said that Gary Cooper, in his role as the globe trotting playboy and love interest for Hepburn's Ariane was too old for the part. I cannot envision anyone else playing the part now that it is immortalized on film with him in the lead. Among Hepburn's leading men throughout her career I chose Peck, O'Toole, Finney, Connery and Coop as the most romantic pairings.
This film is one you don't want to miss if you are a Wilder or Hepburn fan. I only wish they had made more movies together, but Hepburn wanted to expand her roles from the 'Cinderella like' stories, which is understandable.
Whenever this movie is discussed, the matter of Gary Cooper's casting
is almost always discussed, and usually in a negative vein.
I will confess that when I first viewed the movie I also was taken aback by the difference in ages between Hepburn and Cooper. But if you watch this movie carefully and pay attention to where Arianne's character is coming from, it isn't odd at all. Michel, the young man her father would like her to marry, IS young. But he is also immature and fussy. Arianne's father, on the other hand, is of course an older man . . . but has an ebullient spirit. Arianne sees that same ebullience in Frank Flannigan, although it is obviously going in a dangerous direction since by romancing other men's lives Flannigan is putting his own life in danger.
Arianne is also drawn to Flannigan's "exotic" American ruggedness--"like Abraham Lincoln," he is tall, rough-hewn, and even a bit shy. (i.e., He employs the gypsy band to help him romance women since he's often at a loss for words.) That he is at this stage in his life too old to behaving like a young roue also does not escape her notice.
The more I watch this film, the more I realize that Arianne would HAVE to fall in love with an older man, like her father, but whom she finds sexually attractive. That Flannigan has proved himself to be an international playboy, albeit very long in the tooth, brings out the rescuer in Arianne . . . and, as she continues to see him, she not only falls in love with him; she learns to care for him deeply.
"Love in the Afternoon" is one of my favorite Billy Wilder movies. It's
funny, romantic, and can even bring tears to your eyes. Audrey Hepburn
gives one of her best performances as does Gary Cooper. And yes, there is a
big age difference. But who could resist Gary Cooper or Audrey Hepburn, so
naturally they can't resist each other. And the both of them are perfect in
their roles, so I can't even imagine any one else playing those
If you're a Billy Wilder, Audrey Hepburn, or Gary Cooper fan, you definitely can't miss this movie. Even if you're not a fan of any of them, it's still an enjoyable classic that hasn't lost its charm after 40 years. I give "Love in the Afternoon" a very enthusiastic 10 out of 10!
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