This odd combination of story, characters, and cast could easily have fallen apart irretrievably in the first few minutes. That it holds together is due primarily to Audrey Hepburn's unsurpassed charm and Billy Wilder's resourceful story-telling technique. It ends up being enjoyable most of the time, sometimes very much so, in spite of itself.
The story is rather strange - for it to "work" you have to buy into a number of unlikely possibilities, and even then, you have to accept the main characters as sympathetic even when they don't deserve it. It's the kind of hollow concept that you see much more often in present-day movies, which are made for audiences who don't care about plausibility, and who are easily persuaded that a shallow, pseudo-romantic attraction between two characters automatically makes them sympathetic.
None of that is to imply anything against the stars. Audrey Hepburn is so engaging as Ariane that it makes you want her to be happy, even though much of her behavior is fatuous. Maurice Chevalier is enjoyable and is obviously well-cast, and John McGiver also adds some good moments. Gary Cooper's character doesn't work very well, but that should not be blamed at all on Cooper. The character just is not as appealing as the scriptwriters presume him to be, and Cooper should actually be commended for making him as likable (or as un-unlikable) as possible.
Wilder's skill made some strange stories work pretty well in his time, and he also deserves much of the credit for keeping this one afloat. There are also some very good sequences in the screenplay, for all that it was uneven in general. The odd thing about "Love in the Afternoon" is that if you can tolerate the poor setup and get past the obvious flaws, you can really enjoy most of the movie, because it does have several positive things to offer.
Love in the Afternoon was conceived and brought to the screen by Billy Wilder as a homage to his friend and mentor in Hollywood, Ernest Lubitsch. This French novel Ariane had been filmed before in fact, by the Germans just before the Nazis took over and had starred Elizabeth Bergner.
Audrey Hepburn proved to be a worthy successor to Bergner. Whatever success Love in the Afternoon has is due to her performance. She radiates beauty and charm and no wonder Gary Cooper is so fascinated by her. Wilder would consider no one else for the lead and waited for Hepburn to be free while she was on a lengthy location shooting for War and Peace.
But it's Cooper who's the weak one here. He was not Billy Wilder's first choice. Cary Grant for the third and final time missed out on being in a Billy Wilder film having previously turned down Five Graves to Cairo and Sabrina. The part was offered to Yul Brynner also. But Gary Cooper turned out to be available when Hepburn was and he got the role. Wilder later admitted the bad casting, but he also said that it was his ill luck to get Cooper at the start of the health problems that would eventually kill him. He said Cooper got old overnight. In fact he looks as old as Maurice Chevalier and Chevalier as Hepburn's father was 13 years older than Cooper.
Maurice is a detective who specializes in tracking down and confirming spousal infidelities. He's been hired by John McGiver to find out if his wife has been seeing millionaire playboy Cooper. Daughter Hepburn however is crushing out on Gary big time and unbeknownst to Maurice she takes it upon herself to warn him.
The old popular standard Fascination is heard through out the film and in the same year it came out, the 20+ year old standard was revived in a million selling hit by Pat Boone.
It was not an easy shoot despite those familiar Parisian location. In a recent biography of Wilder, the story is told that he had tremendous difficulty in shooting the picnic and row boat scenes. It seems as though the location was a breeding ground for mosquitoes and they were unmerciful to cast and crew. Wilder took several takes just to get enough usable footage.
Audrey Hepburn fans will be mad for Love in the Afternoon, Gary Cooper's though might wince when seeing it.
The first thing I noticed about this lilting romance (on the widescreen DVD) was the beautiful, shimmering, black and white photography. Set in Paris, with some scenes filmed there, Director Billy Wilder weaves a captivating, simple tale of a 20ish woman (Hepburn), who lives with her father (Maurice Chevalier), who schemes to snag a 50ish cad (Cooper). At first the age difference is very apparent, with Cooper seemingly mis-cast as a womanizer, but he grows on you, with a sweet, gentle, quiet, attractive performance. Hepburn is stunning and spunky in one of her best performances. The song "Fascination" is used to great effect. Filmed in 1957, the only way to show the title occurrence is to have a camera shot following Hepburn's dis-robed fur coat falling to the hotel room's floor, as she embraces Cooper. The ending is suspenseful, with cute narration epilogue by Chevalier. A wonderful film.
Love in the Afternoon is a late 50s Wilder classic. At least semi-classic. The story is about a French girl who falls in love with a swinger from Paris. The girl is Audrey Hepburn and the man is Gary Cooper. The first act lags. The only thing keeping me glued to the screen is Hepburn, who has such a screen presence (she's pretty).
Recent comments have also noted Gary Cooper's miscasting. I'm not sure. I agree it's hard to believe Hepburn's character falls for him. The movie just doesn't work in his favor in the first act. It does begin to work eventually. The turning point would have to be at the picnic where he obviously starts to fall for her. Cooper falling for Hepburn: more realistic. From that point everything takes off. Cary Grant could have pulled off the attraction, but I don't think he could have pulled off the 2nd and 3rd act, and Cooper did. When he's sad (dictaphone/wine cart/sauna scenes) he's a top form comic actor. Anyways - I digress.
No one can produce the feeling of heartache with so much sadness and glee as Wilder can. The gypsy band should have earned a best supporting actors nomination.
This film by Billy Wilder features beautiful B&W photography. Gary Cooper stars as a supposedly smooth womanizer (Frank Flannagan) who cares little for the women he beds. Audrey Hepburn plays a younger woman (Ariane Chavasse) who is intrigued by his intrigues and becomes personally involved.
Shot in France, the film conveys a cosmopolitan air that almost sells the idea that these two might connect emotionally. But Cooper is not smooth enough to pull if off (no surprise) and the relationship between the two does not convince. It's not an issue of age; it's about chemistry and personality. Bogart in "Sabrina" offered the same problem, though less so. As an example of another pairing that worked well despite a sizable age difference, consider Stewart and Kelly in "Rear Window".
Frankly, I'm surprised that such obviously poor pairings plague numerous films, but apparently some believe that box office draws can overcome such issues.
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.
This has always has been my all time favorite romantic comedy. Thanks to Billy Wilder's creative genius this film works despite Gary Cooper being miscast as the leading man. Regrettably, Gary Cooper was not only too old, but lacked the charm and suaveness needed for the role. Cooper was also in the twilight of his career and was suffering from health problems when the film was made. Cary Grant or Gregory Peck would have been more appropriate for the role of Frank Flannagan, the womanizing jet setter who falls madly in love with the daughter of a detective who has been investigating him. Nevertheless even with a miscast Gary Cooper the film works ....thanks to the marvelous performances of Audrey Hepburn and Maurice Chevalier, who play the young innocent musician daughter and her snooping, pooping private detective father. The title song "Fascination" with original music by F.D. Marchetti and Franz Waxman serve as a romantic thread that runs tightly through out the entire cinematic heart throbbing experience. Billy Wilder's more noted films such as "The Apartment" and "Some Like It Hot" may have garnered more recognition than this film over the years, but in my opinion none of them have the charm that this film has to offer. In fact if one is willing to "What if?", and trade off Gary Cooper for Gary Grant for the role of Frank Flannagan, I suspect that that this film would have been right up there with the best romantic comedy of all time, "It Happened One Night".
Ariane Chavasse, daughter of a French detective, loves to read her father's private dossiers... She becomes fascinated with the file concerning American playboy millionaire Frank Flannagan and a certain Madame X... She soon learns that Monsieur X has sworn to kill the American, so she goes to his hotel suite to warn him... Flannagan, intrigued by the attractive mysterious girl, dates her for the following afternoon... Ariane is captured by his sophistication, and a succession of many 'afternoon rendezvous' follows...
Concealing her identity, Ariane tells Frank of the many lovers in her past... He now becomes concerned about her... One day, in a steam bath, Flannagan meets Monsieur X, who advises him to consult detective Chavasse... He does, asking the detective to find out about the mysterious girl...
Reunited with Billy Wilder, Audrey Hepburn once again finds herself cast opposite a father figure in the person of Gary Cooper... Their vehicle is a gay comedy that derived from a Claude Anet novel called 'Ariane,' and it had been filmed twice before... Both adaptations clung to the novel's concept of an innocent young girl's winning over a middle-aged Don Juan by pretending a romantic past of her own to equal his, and eventually reforming him altogether...
With the most popular French entertainer of the last century Maurice Chevalier as the loving father, and John McGiver as the jealous husband, and considering its slight plot, 'Love in the Afternoon' maintains an atmosphere of sly charm and amusing details that almost sustains the film's length...
Director Wilder is helped immensely by the luminous black-and-white photography of William Mellor and by musical composer Franz Waxman, whose various arrangements of the movie's long-playing leitmotif 'Fascination' lend so much to the resulting effect...
This charming romance restores ones belief that the improbable, no matter how unlikely, has, to paraphrase Conan Doyle, the ring of a singular truth and beauty. The author and director clearly knew a lot about love. I guess my admiration for this film proves that after 30 years in a single blissful relationship, I am still an unabashed romantic. This film is what it's all about. I feel sorry for those art-film historians who fail to be overwhelmed by the depth and charm of this piece and would rather pick it apart with their overly dissecting, maddeningly analytic tweezers, missing the point entirely. Their lives must be rather cold and empty.
This film works. Wilder's genius pulls it off. How many among us know of numerous life-long loves where the age difference between the lovers would appear prohibitive but proves to be only a minor obstacle to a lasting relationship. In my experience life imitates art. In this work it is the very difference in their ages and the differing circumstances of their lives that attract Gary Cooper and Audrey Hepburn's characters. It is the differences that are extra-normal that make this story so believable. He is attracted to her utterly captivating refined insouciance and she to his masculine-straight forward worldly charm. He is the best of the fantasies she has constructed from her father's (Maurice Chevalier's) detective business files, and she is precisely the down home girl with her wits about her who knows his world and his past and loves him anyway.
Why is it the desire of all those incapable of suspending disbelief even a smidgen to turn every work of art into a highly predictable, formulaic mouthful of insipid pre-stamped pabulum. How shallow. Or perhaps I am not only overly romantic but additionally overly democratic. I am proud to see that at least the positive vote count for this film, that is the large number of 9 and 10 votes, more accurately reflects the quality of this timeless vignette, than do the rather sour comments that I have just read. If you have half a heart you will laugh and cry and truly love this film!
I am not a fan of romantic movies but there are a small handful that I love and by far the one I love most (of the less bigger scale types like "Gone With the Wind") is "Love in the Afternoon". I love the story, the camerawork and especially the lead players...Gary Cooper and Audrey Hepburn. I love these two so much that it's hard to put another great screen couple above them. They make the whole story come alive in their own way. Coop with his dry but lovable wit and charming good looks, and Audrey with her universal charm, wholesomeness and great beauty. I have read in the book "The Complete Films of Audrey Hepburn" that Cary Grant and Yul Brynner were the first two choices to play Coop's part. Thank God that neither were able to. Coop as the character of Frank Flannagan makes the film more romantic and his ever-popular sweet-guy, no-airs-of-any-kind persona makes the film less stuffy than it would with Grant or Brynner. Audrey of course is the perfect Ariane and they shine together in each other's arms. Call it a cliche but that comment fits this film perfectly. See it if you're in the mood for good, romantic farce.
While Billy Wilder idolised Ernst Lubitsch (he worked on the script for that director's Ninotchka), he did not have his tenderness and romantic charm. Audrey Hepburn is lovely in this movie, but it is painful to see her opposite Gary Cooper, who was nearly 30 years older than she and looks in bad shape for his age.
When Hepburn began her career, the Hollywood studios had a lot of male stars in their forties and fifties and sixties who had been popular before World War II but had not developed young male stars. So Hepburn was paired with these much older men--Humphrey Bogart in the so-so Sabrina, Fred Astaire in the charming Funny Face. This movie is distasteful and unpleasant, not just because Cooper's character is so much older but because he is an immature, vulgar boor. He shows up at the opera with another woman and, when his date goes to the ladies' room, sees Hepburn in the lobby and makes a date with her, and tells her that he is at Tristan and Isolde by mistake--he thought he was getting tickets to the Folies Bergere! (If he meant this, he is an idiot; if he meant it as a joke, he has a puerile sense of humour.) When his date returns, he winks at Hepburn behind the woman's back.
At another point in the movie, he is caressing Hepburn in his hotel suite when the phone rings and it is twins with whom he has been sexually involved in the past. In front of Hepburn, he makes a date with them, causing her to leave the room in distress.
One could go on and on, but I think this is enough to establish the point. Treating any woman like this is disgusting. Treating Audrey Hepburn like this--the most exquisite, delicate woman ever to have become a film star--is unbelievable. It is like watching someone kick a puppy. The rave review for this film in the NY Times when it first appeared is an illustration of the male chauvinism of the time, and the comments here from people who think it is a delightful romantic film show that this condescension to women and contempt for their feelings is still with us.
Wilder had some talent for romantic comedy, but his heart was really in the sordid and nasty, as in such masterpieces as Ace in the Hole or Sunset Boulevard. The ending of this film might have been intended as a homage to the ending of Lubitsch's film Cluny Brown, but is in fact a clumsy imitation of it. Both films end with the same device for bringing the hero and heroine together at the very last moment, but in Cluny Brown (with Jennifer Jones and Charles Boyer) the device was extravagantly romantic, and you felt thrilled that the two of them were together. In this film, the scene feels completely phony and you think, oh, dear, poor Audrey is letting herself in for a lot more mistreatment and humiliation.
Now this is a remarkable movie. Very funny, very romantic - and with an absolutely lovely performance by Audrey Hepburn. I don't understand the bullshit about the miscasting of the male lead. Gary Cooper might be too old for Audrey Hepburn, but he plays this role in his usual underplaying manner, and this works much, much better than most other actors would have been in his role. And because of his charisma the Hepburn-Cooper teaming is not a mismatch. Other greats of that era couldn't have been better: Cary Grant would have been too cool, Peck has never been the Frank Flannagan-type. Younger stars would've been totally outplayed by Audrey. One of Billy Wilder's best films, and if you know his filmography, that means something. Chevalier is very good and sympathetic in the supporting role. And this is one of many films you would ruin with color! I hope the days of those lunatics are over who computer-colored some of the beautiful b/w classics.
The plot is very cute and romantic. A private detective's innocent young daughter lives vicariously through her father's case files. Predominate among them is millionaire jet-setting Frank Flannagan, stealer of women's hearts. The detective gets involved when the stolen hearts belong to married women. One day the daughter overhears a jealous husband swear blood vengeance against Flannagan. The daughter devises a plan to thwart the killing, and in the process falls heads-over-heels in love with him. At first she's just another fling to him...but then love blossoms in his heart too.
Shot on location in Paris, Maurice Chevalier plays the detective, and John McGiver the jealous husband. They are both great. Audrey Hepburn is wonderful as the daughter, but.....a Gary Cooper looking every one of his 56 years is cast as the the playboy!
This miscasting is just too much to overcome. There are only four characters in the movie which runs over 2 hours. When one is so unbelievable as Cooper the movie is irreparably damaged. It's a crying shame.
This movie sickened me. I've always liked Gary Cooper, but he is horribly miscast as the aging, corrupt Don Juan, Flanagan. The sight of him pawing Audrey Hepburn, who doesn't look a day over 16 is not appealing.
Maurice Chevalier, who plays Audrey's father,(who I have never liked) actually does an adequate job.
The movie takes place in France, but Chevalier is the only one who has a French accent.
I think this movie was supposed to make us laugh. It just made me disgusted.
I was going through the movie channels and saw this coming on so I turned on the old VCR and taped it. After it was over, I erased it.
What a waste of film and talented actors!! What were they thinking?? Who would ever think that Audrey Hepburn would fall in love with Gary Cooper's character. He is a slimeball. She is so cute and sweet. I know that love knows no boundries, but please, love would run and hide in this situation.
Gary Cooper is miscasted here. He just is unbelievable as this creepy casanova. He may have been this way in real life, but in the movies we all knew him for, he was never like this. I remember him for his Meet John Doe and Sargent York roles.
I can't see Audrey Hepburn's character falling for him, knowing that he is this creep. Her father should have bought a gun and run him out of town! Out of 10, I must give this film a 4. Sorry Audrey.....
The only reason I could watch this movie was the incredible cinematography by William C. Mellor. The black and white photography is so beautiful, the lighting so dramatic that I couldn't take my eyes off it until the bitter end. To suspend disbelief to this extent was as bad as "As Good As it Gets" was, with a nearly dead, nasty old man and a woman 20-30 years younger than he who, inexplicably, is madly in love with him. Somehow I can't not think of the flabby skin, the sagging jowls and the bad behavior, to top it off, as rather unattractive. I guess we are to suppose money makes a man sexy. To me, that means the woman is a prostitute. Ah, Hollyweird. Audry Hepburn was exquisitely photographed and looked like a work of art in this film.
It seems so many of the responses are hung up on Gary Cooper's age, forgetting that in his time (late silent era through to the late 1950s), Gary Cooper was widely regarded as one of the most attractive movie stars to grace the silver screen. To be sure, he was in ill health at the time of filming "Love in the Afternoon" and looked, indeed, older than 56 or 57. But he brought with him nearly 30 years' worth of outstanding leading man movie credits, and so it was the aura of his romantic film star reputation that he brought to his role as the devil-may-care American businessman playboy who is brought to heel by the naive charms of the ineffably beautiful Ms. Hepburn. Yes, it was clearly a role intended for Gary Grant (that would have to wait for "Charade"), but Cooper brings his own plain homespun American style to the role, which plays awfully well against Hepburn's dreamy child-woman European sophisticate-in-training. And "Love in the Afternoon" has simply one of the most romantic train station scenes ever filmed. When, at the last possible moment, Cooper scoops Hepburn up off the platform and Wilder shoots that close up of their kiss in the train's cabin, with Coop's big hand tenderly embracing Hepburn's stunning teary-eyed face -- well, folks, that's romantic film-making par excellence.
The story for LOVE IN THE AFTERNOON goes like this: a private detective (Chevalier) is hired by British man who suspects wife is cheating in Paris with another man. Daughter of detective (Hepburn) overhears this. The wronged Husband vows to kill Wife. The Daughter, a romantic at heart, decides to warn Wife and her lover about this set of events. When the Daughter arrives at the Ritz, the angry Husband is staking the hotel room where the Wife is, with visible gun in hand. Fortunately, the Daughter is able to sneak in the hotel room next door and walks on the ledge outside of the hotel to the room where the lovers are and warns them about the Husband outside. When the Husband finally enters the lovers' room, he finds the Lover (Cooper) in the arms of the Daughter, who, incidentally, is wearing a chic givency black dress (the Daughter was performing at a concert just before going to the Ritz).
From there, the sleazy Lover starts a romantic affair with the Daughter, who knows well that the man is not to be trusted. How's that for a romance?
The story could have worked if the tone had been sorta goofy fun but it wasn't, the credibility of the story is stretched to the max that I just couldn't get into it. The set up I just explained takes a big chunk of the movie and by the time we finally see the Lover, I didn't care for anything. The set-up was the most convoluted set-up I've ever seen in a movie, with not a single laugh in it. But the set-up is filled with so many improbabilities that once the story finally got going, I didn't buy.
1 - The Husband staking the room at the Ritz with gun in hand. What hotel would leave a man staking a room for minutes on end without rousing any suspicion? What kind of security was there at the Ritz?
2 - The woman with the dog leaving the key to her hotel room. Amazing coincidence.
3 - The Daughter who happens to wear the same kind of dress as the cheating Wife. Couldn't they have Audrey and the Wife swap dress before the Husband entered the room? It would have made more sense than having the Daughter walk the ledge in that dress. Just ludicrous.
4 - Even though set in Paris, almost everyone is English: the couple is British, the Lover is American and the Daughter who also sounds British, why set the story in Paris? Only Chevalier was authentic to the setting. Couldn't the Lover had been at least French and not American? As much as I like Cooper, hiring him for the Lover was wrong. They should have gotten someone who was not only younger but also French, like Louis Jourdan?
5 - The age disparity between Cooper and Hepburn was ridiculous.
The cinema language is indeed a product of its times. And, just like some things weather out thousands of years barely changing and some flex and bend every now and then, so do the aspects of how movies tell their stories. The stories that remain clear and true through the decades we call classic, while some once-actual films look as if the only place they belong to today is some dusty shelf in a museum. And Love in the Afternoon seems like the latter type, no matter how I had wished it to be otherwise.
I'll be honest, I quit watching this film halfway through - because of its total ugliness. No, not because it was black-and-white and with a "mere" stereo - the technical aspects hardly bothered me. It's the language the film used that was absolutely unbearable. The language of telling the love stories.
Can't say it's totally this film's fault. I've seen other films from that era, for instance, My Fair Lady also featuring Audrey Hepburn. And all the films of that time are ugly when it comes to the portrayal of the interaction of two sexes. Women are always dumb as a door knob, easily falling for the most ridiculously rude men, while men are either ridiculously rude and abusive (and proud of it of course) or ridiculously weak and thoughtless. Either way, a man is always the boss while a woman is always to follow and to adapt.
Yet at least My Fair Lady had a certain competition between the gender archetypes, with the woman not brilliant but at least streetwise and boisterous, and with the man conceited but also ridiculed for that. That allowed for a much more realistic composition, resulting in the story that stands relevant till the days of now. On the other hand, Love in the Afternoon looks like a classic 50's flick where women still have no right to have brains or dream of anything but some guy. What makes it even worse is that here Hepburn is just 28 and her heroine seemingly even younger, but the film postulates as her love idol a totally narcissist jackass pushing 60, and that jackass being Gary Cooper doesn't help a bit. The man is, by the film's own decree, utterly no good, yet he seems to skim all the cream off the life and what it can offer, women included.
I have no idea if that abhorrent premise is to be reversed in the second act of the film. If it is, well, maybe my rating should go one or two points up. However, from what I've seen, it seemed that the only direction this film could go is to legitimize that no-good person yet again. Which might even have some outer gloss, Audrey Hepburn being cute and all, but an absolute absence of any balance between the gender roles and a total predictability of the characters turn Love in the Afternoon from a romantic flick it once was into a travesty and a caricature of the topic. Maybe this is how the guys and girls were supposed to act back then, but nowadays the only way one can view this film is as an educational material on who NOT to be and how NOT to behave. Both in the afternoon and in any other time of day.
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.
In Paris, teenage cellist Audrey Hepburn (as Ariane Chavasse) goes for grandfatherly playboy Gary Cooper (as Frank Flannagan). Detective father Maurice Chevalier (as Claude Chavasse) does not approve. This is supposed to be one of those "May/December" romances, but it looks more like "January/December". Appearing even older than his actual age, Mr. Cooper should have declared himself done with these roles. For several reasons, he has no on-screen rapport with Ms. Hepburn. Writer/director Billy Wilder had previously paired youthful Hepburn with Humphrey Bogart and William Holden.
The dog is poorly dubbed.
*** Love in the Afternoon (5/29/57) Billy Wilder ~ Audrey Hepburn, Gary Cooper, Maurice Chevalier, John McGiver
Rich American womanizers wandering the globe, nubile wives eager to cheat, supposedly naive young girls falling in love with someone based on a blurry photograph? My wife fell asleep for the middle hour of this film and I told 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.
The first time and only time Billy Wilder and Gary Cooper worked together, and the second time Wilder worked with Audrey Hepburn after 1954's Sabrina. I liked this film much better than Sabrina, which i thought was sort of overrated anyway. Some people have said Cooper was miscast in this film but i thought he did a good job. Humphrey Bogart was miscast in Sabrina and Cary Grant would of done a better Job. The plot of this movie has to do with Cooper being watched by a private investigator and the husband of the wife Cooper is with is going to kill Cooper. Audrey Hepburn is the daughter of the private dick and wants to save him so he goes to the hotel to warn him. Hepburn falls in love with Cooper but he runs away every time a girl gets serious. There's more to the plot but just watch the movie.
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.
The first time you taste brie, or even champagne, you may not like it. It isn't what you are used to; it isn't what you expect. You educate your palette, and, eventually, you learn to appreciate not just good wine or good cheese, but the very best.
"Love in the Afternoon" is one of the very best films ever made. As comments here reveal, though, uneducated viewers may not appreciate it.
It is problematic, primarily, in that Gary Cooper, obviously in his late fifties here, is cast opposite a dewy Audrey Hepburn.
The eyeballs of the average viewer are offended, and they want to turn away.
Too, the movie, like a great lover, takes its time to achieve its delicious effects. Viewers trained on the rapid-fire vapidity of TV sitcoms can't sit through this movie.
Connoisseurs, though, will watch "Love in the Afternoon" again and again, and find new aspects of it to love every time.
First, yes, Gary Cooper *is* old here. His eyes are baggy, his hair is receding, and Wilder does his best to camouflage this by shooting Cooper in shadow, or even in reflection. In one scene he is talking to Hepburn, and we see her, but see him only in his reflection in the surface behind Hepburn.
I wonder if this was at all humiliating to Cooper, who was, in his prime, one of the most beautiful -- not just handsome, but truly *beautiful,* with his long eyelashes and lush lips -- men on earth.
Too, Cooper did always tend to be more of a reactor than an actor, best cast against live wires like Barbara Stanwyk in "Meet John Doe" and Jean Arthur in "Mr. Deeds Goes to Town."
It is hard to believe that he would be able to sweep women off their feet.
Cary Grant would have been more believable.
But, do Cooper's "flaws" weaken the film, or, rather, strengthen it?
Cary Grant could have been simply too brutal in this part. He was still astounding looking, and he did have an irresistable allure.
Had Grant, not Cooper, mouthed Frank Flanagan's callous line, "I believe we should all act as if we are between planes. No connections. No complications," Had Grant, not Cooper, callously dismissed the woman who attempted suicide over him, Grant might have sounded like Mack the Knife.
Coop, on the other hand, as an aging, inept Lothario, says these lines with a real poignancy. That "Time's Winged Chariot" can no longer be kept at bay in his life, that Cooper so clearly shows what such a life does to a man's face, and maybe his soul, makes Cooper poignant as well as powerful here. Unlike Grant, Cooper's face did show the wear and tear of his highly glamorous life. No "Dorian Gray" he.
Audrey Hepburn / Ariane's love for obviously aging Cooper/Flanagan becomes not just her powerless surrender to his machine-perfect seduction, complete with his own Gypsy orchestra, but also her *empowered* rescue of him.
Hepburn's empowered Ariane shows Cooper's Flanagan real love before it is too late for him ever to experience it.
Cary Grant would not have been able to carry off this aspect of the movie as is, and Hepburn would not have achieved the stature opposite Grant that she does achieve opposite Cooper.
Now, as for the movie's pace.
Wilder is a craftsmen and real movie lovers will drool over every frame of every scene. Wilder delivers sight gags, throwaway lines, fully developed secondary characters. I've seen this movie perhaps a dozen times and every time I see it I see something new, it is that rich, that packed with evidence of Wilder's craftsmanship, and his determination to produce a worthy tribute to his own master, Ernest Lubitsch.
Wilder is wildly successful. Tiny bits reward me for returning to this movie. Maurice Chevalier's hand gestures. The black and white cinematography of Paris. The lovers who kiss through street sweepers.
"The Gypsies," as they are listed in the title credits. The moment when one Gypsy stands out from his orchestra and steps forward, sensing a heightening of romance, and begins to play from his very soul. Watch his face. It says so much. How many times has he stepped forward like that during one of Flanagan's seductions? And yet he, no less than Flanagan's latest lover, is fully in thrall to the True Romance of the moment.
And, and ... Audrey Hepburn. She is a goddess here, no more, no less. Gamine like, and radiating the wisdom of the ages. I don't think Hepburn shines any brighter, or hotter, in any other movie, and, again, it is exactly Cooper's obviously ravagement by time that makes Hepburn so strong here.
This movie is funny. It is romantic. It is a salute by one master filmmaker to another. It is a rich display of craftsmanship. It is one of the very best.
I'm grateful to Wilder for "Love in the Afternoon."