Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Little Bit of Audrey

Roman Holiday, Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Sabrina: The Audrey Hepburn trifecta. The films everybody talks about. The crown jewels in Audrey’s sparkling career. What about the lesser-known gems? Here are a few of Audrey’s other films that I think deserve a chance to shine.

Wait Until Dark (1967)

In this suspenseful thriller, Hepburn plays a blind woman who finds herself trapped in her apartment with a couple of killers. Alan Arkin (yes, the grandpa from Little Miss Sunshine) is deliciously psychopathic in one of his early major roles. As a way to heighten the suspense on screen, movie theaters dimmed their lights to their legal limit during the movie’s climax, which takes place in almost total darkness. Why don’t they do things like that anymore?

The Children’s Hour (1961)

Bet you didn’t know Hepburn was in a movie about lesbians in 1961, let alone that they actually made a movie about lesbians in 1961! Well, ok, certain things are veiled in subtlety but you get the drift. Hepburn and Shirley MacLaine play best friends and teachers who run a school together in New England. When a bratty student is reprimanded, she spreads a vicious rumor around school that the two teachers are lovers. The ensuing scandal destroys both of their lives. It’s a departure for Hepburn. She’s neither a fashion plate, an ingénue nor an ugly duckling-turned-swan in this film, but the role proves a risk worth taking. Both actresses turn in wonderful, haunting performances.

Paris When it Sizzles (1964)

A frothy, frivolous romp that re-teams Hepburn with her Sabrina co-star, William Holden. This time she plays a typist hired to help Holden write a movie script. As Holden thinks his ideas out loud, we see the fantasy sequences play out with the two of them in the lead roles. This same concept was reworked in the 2003 film Alex & Emma, starring Luke Wilson and Kate Hudson. Both films were panned by critics at the time of their release and were far from hits at the box office. However, I think Paris When it Sizzles is good, plain, silly fun—and worth a look!

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