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"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.
*** 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.
Definitely a classic, this late fifties scandalous romantic comedy about may december love is -almost fifty years later -still pretty scandalous. But it doesn't keep the pace of other Billy Wilder films like, Some Like It Hot and Sabrina. I
Nine pluses to this film: 1. The most enchanting Audrey you will ever
see, even more so than in "Breakfat at Tiffany's," "Roman Holiday," "My
Fair Lady" or "Sabrina;" 2. A funny and clever script with a neat
conclusion; 3. Immaculate direction by Billy Wilder; 4. The best
performance I ever saw from Maurice Chevalier; 5. Great photography; 6.
Great music; 7. Outstanding recurring touches such as the little dog,
the cello case, the ineffectual Michel, and the jilted hubby; 8. Paris;
9. They don't make movies like that any more. Even if the Pepsi-Cola
publicity bits probably paid for the movie it still has an aura of
charm and innocence that today's special effects, cardboard characters
and general crudeness have lost.
I am not overly fond of love stories but "Love in the Afternoon" might just rate my most favorite movie love tale. Ever.
For me, Wilder is more interesting when he keeps his hard boiled and cynical side at least in check and allows his softer side to show - in many of his best films it's the balance between the romance and cynicism that makes the movie work. I watched this a few nights after watching One, Two, Three - which I hated - and I was enchanted by it. Sure, an obviously ageing and, I believe ill Gary Cooper is not the obvious love match - the age gap makes the match a little creepy - and yet Cooper adds pathos as the playboy who, if he didn't lose it to Audrey, would surely be on the brink of losing it anyway. It makes for an entirely different, and much more interesting, movie than if the obvious choice of Cary Grant had been cast. Cooper, after all, had been the biggest movie star (and the most handsome) in the world in his youth, but was looking haggard and old beyond his years by the time he appeared in this. Hepburn, of course, is simply bewitching and enchanting, as she was in all but the biggest turkeys (even she fails to light up the tedious Paris When it Sizzles). The parallels with Sabrina Fair are obvious, and so is the charm of this unlikely but lovely tale.
I must agree with an earlier comment on this page. Although Gary Cooper is one of my favorite actors, he is completely miscast in the role of an international playboy. And even if he did look more like a gigolo and less like a farmer, I'd still have qualms over the fact that he appears to be at least twice Hepburn's age. Hepburn looks luminous, as always, but her character is too young to have conceivably carried on all those affairs. Someone as experienced as Cooper's character should have immediate doubts. When was she supposed to have started cavorting with all those men, at the age of 10?
Audrey Hepburn is Ariane, the teenage daughter of a private detective
(Maurice Chevalier) who specialises in tracking down errant wives and
husbands. On such a case a befuddled husband (John McGiver, also
familiar as the man who works in Tiffany's in another of Hepburn's
films) threatens the life of Frank Flannagan (a crinkly Gary Cooper).
Now Ariane can't bear to see the hunky Coop shot down, so she goes to warn him - and so a May-December romance begins. The age gap is noticeable, but because she is Audrey and he is Cooper, it doesn't really matter. And she is French, and she is the daughter of Chevalier, so ...
'Love in the Afternoon' is as charming as Paris, and about as real. File under 'this could never happen' and then sit back and enjoy. It' funny, clever, and cute. Rom-com as it should be done.
One of Audrey Hepburn's lesser romantic entries, a well-coiffed valentine in which she's improbably paired with wooden Gary Cooper, a star-combo gambit which fails to pay off. Hepburn, playing a French detective's daughter, is in love with an American smoothie, a playboy who wants this new girlfriend investigated and unwittingly hires her father to do so. Maurice Chevalier was a good choice for Hepburn's dad, but he's much too hammy and overbearing with this genteel material. Audrey looks wonderful (with the slight exception of her cumbersome hairdo) and is dressed to the nines, but her Ariane is far from the sharp cookie of Sabrina Fair. Handsome attempt at sophisticated comedy from director Billy Wilder (who also co-produced and co-wrote the screenplay with writing partner I.A.L. Diamond, from Claude Anet's novel) sadly lacks the master's trademark snap. ** from ****
I'll admit that a 56-year-old Gary Cooper -- and he looks even older in
film -- was a bit on the implausible side to play a heartthrob; Audrey
Hepburn was only 27 but could have passed for 17. But the film works
Billy Wilder's screenplay had the sort of sharp, intelligent wit that sits on par with writer-directors Woody Allen, David Mamet and Aaron Sorkin.
Audrey Hepburn shows more naive charm than "Roman Holiday," one of her more heralded and better known roles. I can't think an actress today that could have been as convincingly in love with the old man.
The set-up is a stretch, but the film works in spite of itself.
When you get to see the movie for the first time, it seems that everything looks to be perfectly right... until the leading man appears. The lovely and graceful Audrey Hepburn and the fatherly Maurice Chevalier makes a great father-and-daughter team, but ... I've no choice but to agree w/ other users "condemning" the choice of way too-old Gary Cooper as Hepburn's love interest. Apart from that, the movie's truly worth watching for any die-hard lovers of old-fashioned romance. With the amazing black-and-white cinematography from the master of it, Billy Wilder, and the eternal beauty of Audrey Hepburn, this film is a 'hard to miss'.
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