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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is a very charming romance from director Billy Wilder. Much of its
charm is due to the excellent acting of its leads--Audrey Hepburn, Gary
Cooper and Maurice Chevalier. Much of the charm was due to the lovely
script. And the whole thing was tied together nicely by exceptional
direction and music. They just don't make them like this anymore.
Gary Cooper plays an aging playboy and from what I have read about his personal life, this wasn't any sort of a stretch. Oddly, Maurice Chavalier plays a French private detective who investigates unfaithful spouses--a serious departure from his role in GIGI! And Audrey Hepburn, who is certainly luminous and the star of this film, plays Chavalier's young daughter. Audrey is fascinated by her father's business and ultimately comes to meet playboy Cooper as a result of this odd obsession. However, she knows he cannot love her or care about her--as he is afraid of commitment and loves the carefree life. But, at the same time, given her sheltered life, he is most fascinating, so Audrey creates a false persona and convinces Cooper that she's been with lots and lots of men--and is sort of a younger female equivalent of him! Eventually, however, he is smitten and their romance becomes more serious--causing complications for both--he IS a playboy and she IS a naive young lady who certainly deserves better. How this is all wrapped up is where the movie really, really excels--and the ending is one that is sure to bring a tear to almost anyone's eye. A marvelous romance that is greatly underrated and practically forgotten. You've got to see this movie!
PS--Although the people from PETA would definitely not think it was funny, the scenes where the owner of the Yorkie keeps smacking it are hilarious. You've gotta see it to believe it!
PPS--John McGiver is terrific in a small supporting role--he's so gosh darn cute and contributed a lot of color to this film.
Love in the Afternoon is a delicious treat for lovers of the classic black and white romantic comedy. Audrey Hepburn is enchantingly chic as the innocent doe-eyed girl love struck by the older, worldly Cooper. Apart from humour the movie does reflect a depth of sensitivity mainly attributed to Audrey's screen presence and a wonderful musical score.
Billy Wilder has the ability to write and direct movies that are funny and emotionally complex at the same time. This movie reaches towards depths while never betraying the comedic situations it creates. If only there were more writer/directors doing the same thing these days (although Cameron Crowe's "Jerry Maguire" and David O. Russell's "Flirting With Disaster" are good examples of recent films). The acting is superb across the board, Hepburn is luminous and acts with complicated simplicity (only way I can think of putting it) as always. A very well-written (beautifully structured) script as well. Almost as good as Wilder's "The Apartment."
This is a very fine and sophisticated romantic comedy. It has wonderful
improbabilities and charming humor. The story is "tight". The acting is
superb. There are many captivating touches --- for example, the gypsy
musicians. It is definitely a "10".
As to Gary Cooper as the romantic lead opposite the winsome Audrey Hepburn, I think that we must consider that this film was made in a different age, one in which an older man can be seen as a sexual and romantic person (consider Cary Grant in "An Affair to Remember") and in which an older man with a complex background can be won over by an innocent.
The last scene is one of the greatest and most suspenseful of all scenes in romance movies. Completely satisfying.
I suppose I should be embarrassed after going off on director Billy Wilder last week over his overrated 1957 film Witness for the Prosecution, because I absolutely loved his other 1957 film, Love in the Afternoon. I guess when he gets it right, he gets it right, because the direction here is fantastic. This is one of the most romantic romances, and one of the funniest comedies I've seen in a while, told with such a sense of style and wit that I enjoyed it more than I believed possible. Audrey Hepburn stars as a young student of the cello. Her father (Maurice Chevalier) is a private detective, and she loves to follow his sordid cases. One particular character appears in many of his cases as a cuckold, Gary Cooper. When one of Chevalier's clients plans to shoot Cooper, Hepurn overhears and sets out to warn him. Afterwards, they begin a romance. She's very inexperienced, and obviously a little afraid that he'll so thoroughly outclass and manipulate her that she decides to play some head games with him, telling him that she has had many lovers. By driving him to insane jealousy, she thinks she can see if he can possibly be in love for real. The biggest fault of the film, one that everyone agrees on no matter at what degree they love the movie, is that Gary Cooper is horrendously miscast. This has got to be one of the worst cases of casting in history. He's a thousand years older than Hepburn. Well, a lot of Hepburn's co-stars were far too old for her, and it harms any number of her films. Weren't there any actors in their 20s, 30s, or, heck, even 40s who were good enough to match Audrey? Why did directors and producers of her films think she would rather sleep with someone 30 years her senior? Has it something to do with her as a person? You know, this might have been the perfect opportunity to put Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn together again for a reunion. Fortunately, Cooper's presence (or poor performance) doesn't hurt the film anywhere near as much as you would suppose, or as some have suggested. I guess Cooper is such a blank actor that you can more or less ignore him. The movie is, after all, about Audrey; Audrey is everything to the film. And she is perfect. She plays it so subtly and wonderfully; it's really one of her greatest performances. The humor is very good. I love the picnic scene, the way that chicken leg is used as a prop. And those gypsies are great. I might have been annoyed at them in a lesser movie, but they are always used very well. The scene where Cooper is becoming obsessed with a recording that Audrey has made, which lists all of her love affairs, is a highlight, with Cooper and the gypsies rolling a cart full of alcoholic drinks on it back and forth in his hotel room. This is a gem, one of the best romances ever. 9/10.
Maurice Chevalier is the detective keeping his eyes on spouses of clients who may be fooling around. Audrey Hepburn is his daughter who is a musician who dreams of Gary Cooper who is a celebrity playboy. There's also a nice supporting turn by a John McGiver as a client of Chevalier and some musicians called The Gypsies. Despite the vast age differences, I liked the romance between Coop and Ms. Hepburn what with her lies and his falling for her despite them. This marked the first collaboration between director/writer Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond who eventually teamed up for classics Some Like It Hot and The Apartment, among others in later years. I really liked Love in the Afternoon so on that note, it's recommended.
Billy Wilder himself called this - his own movie - "a pleasant movie in
a minor key." In other words, it's not his very best, in his own
Yet it's eminently worth watching. And I argue that the final 10 per cent of the film contains every bit the Wilder genius we've thrilled over in other films. In find, in the final scene, we find Wilder, Gary Cooper and Audrey Hepburn at the their classic best (and could Hepburn be any more lovable than we find her here?). The gypsy musician scene, the PI scene and the final train station scene are some of the funniest and most moving scenes you will ever see. And the ending will bring a tear to your eye. Here you'll find a classic romantic comedy brilliance at a level only a great director and writer like Wilder and great actors like Cooper and Hepburn could pull off.
Overall, this is an entertaining film and an amusing way to spend an evening. It's a light romantic comedy featuring the creative input of many movie heavyweights (including a writing assist from Iz Diamond - with whom Wilder would later write the great comedy Some Like It Hot and a very charming Maurice Chevalier).
A 27-year old Hepburn is very endearing and inspired in a this movie. This is one of her finest performances ever and she absolutely puts this film over the top.
Great as Cooper was (and I'm a Gary Cooper fan) - Hepburn could have used a different male romantic lead. Cooper himself had misgivings of playing this part because he felt he was too old. It's not that he's old - it's that the evidence (to those who are aware of it) of his painful fatal illness (he died only four years later) diminished his presence here (he appears ill and lacking in a certain characteristic energy) and it made him less than perfect for this film. Still, you will see notable flashes of Cooper's charm and brilliance here.
Chevalier - though although miscast (he was arguably too old to play Hepburn's father) - makes the most of his part and is highly charming. In fact, like Hepburn, he is at his best here as an actor and comic straight man. And in many ways his strong performance keeps this film afloat. In fact, his contribution to the final scene - though small in measured time - is priceless. You'll know what I mean when you see it. He puts the humor in this most touching scene. And he puts the "period" on this film - endorsing and making "nice" the rocky romance that was developing, as only Chevalier could do. With Chevalier's final contributions, we feel super good. It doesn't get any better than this.
True - Wilder's comic genius is not at its height especially at the start of this film - but as it goes along, you'll discover so many little classically funny and amusing vignettes - scenes created by a master, scenes you'll remember forever - that you'll be glad you stuck with this film to the very end.
This tribute to Lubitsch from Wilder, collaborating for the first time with co-writer Diamond, is a charming romantic comedy beautifully filmed on location in Paris. Hepburn is delightful as a young Parisian who falls in love with rich, American playboy Cooper. Chevalier is wonderful as her father. Cooper was not the first choice for the role and it is obvious why. He was 56 at the time but, due to illness, looked about 10 years older, whereas Hepburn was 28 but looked younger, magnifying the age difference. Even if he were younger, Cooper would have been unconvincing as a smooth-talking playboy. However, the effervescent script and Wilder's masterful direction more than makes up for the miscasting of Cooper.
"Love in the Afternoon" combines the excellent comic craftsmanship you
expect from Billy Wilder with the captivating romanticism you expect
from Audrey Hepburn. From the first frames, which wittily evoke Paris's
reputation as the City of Love, it's a great piece of light, classy
Lovely young Ariane (Hepburn) has developed a schoolgirl crush on international playboy Frank Flannagan (Gary Cooper) from reading about him in her detective father's (Maurice Chevalier) case files. When she finally meets him (in the course of trying to protect him from an angry cuckold) she becomes determined to make him fall in love with her. For the rest of the movie, she adopts a sophisticated, blasé persona to beat him at his own game.
This summary, though, does not do justice to the script, which is an object lesson in how to set up jokes and keep them running. A throwaway reference from an earlier scene will return in an extremely clever way. Even better, not all of the jokes are dialogue-baseda lot of humor comes from the visuals and the music. (Flannagan hires a funny quartet of gypsy musicians whenever he's brought a girl up to his suite.) This combination of sophisticated dialogue, witty images, and clever use of sounds is Wilder's successful homage to director Ernst Lubitsch. It is also the first collaboration between Wilder and longtime screen writing partner I.A.L. Diamond, which produced many more classic comedies.
The role of Arianea well-brought-up young girl full of innocent curiosity and playful humor feels tailor-made for Hepburn, so of course she's charming in it. She also has a nice rapport with Chevalier. Gary Cooper is more problematic: not only is he too old for Hepburn, but also he is not an innately humorous actor. The witty script requires a light touch, but Cooper tends to bellow his lines. And if he's intended as a satire of a gauche American millionaire among European sophisticates, the movie doesn't go far enough in that direction to justify his performance.
Considering that "Love in the Afternoon" has very few characters, it's a little too longsome of the scenes involving Ariane's pursuit of Flannagan could have been trimmed. But for the most part, the superb screenplay, and Hepburn's delightful personality, keep everything bubbling along.
Hepburn at her best-Chevalier too-need say no more. Cooper miscast? Not
so fast. This is 1957 and the strong, silent American is still in
vogue- especially with impressionable young French women who remember
these supermen dispatching the Nazis. Does he seem tired? Yes-he's
aging, unhappy and has turned to a desperate hedonism with dubious
success. He doesn't really like himself but doesn't know what else to
do. He meets Audrey and is reborn (who wouldn't be?). And yes-he is
very much a father figure-the tall, impregnable father Audrey never
had-oh Maurice was kind, knowing and lovable, but hardly heroic.Connery
and Eastwood would have worked as well but they weren't around yet.
Peck?-too "good"- Grant?-too charming and glib. O'Tool?-too flip.
Bogart?-not exactly heroic.
It's a classic and perfect for its time. Only weakness-no "happily ever after" could ever live up to the departing train scene-his facial expressions were Oscar worthy and Wilder knew enough to keep him mute.An Oscar for that too.
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