Saturday, March 7, 2009

Love in the Afternoon (1957) or Seduction Techniques on Your School Girl Crush

Love in the afternoon 1957-1
I guess it is the week of Audrey Hepburn here in the classic film blog community.  Graciebird posted her take on Roman Holiday on Monday, while Dex at Hollywood Dreamland posted his Audrey Hepburn poll results on Wednesday.

The movie I voted for came in 4th out of the five possible choices of favorite Audrey Hepburn performance during the fifties.

Okay, I have to agree that Audrey may not have delivered her best performance in this film, but it is the one film that affected me personally. It scares me to think that many Audrey Hepburn fans may overlook this gem.

I saw it when I was just fourteen. A bad case of insomnia caused me to turn on the television.  Love in the Afternoon was playing, already 1/4 of the way through.  I did not know who Gary Cooper was nor cared that Billy Wilder directed it.  But I was entranced forever.

Love in the afternoon 1957-9
Set in Paris, Love in the Afternoon tells the story of Ariane Chevasse, the daughter of a private investigator, played by Maurice Chevalier.  Ariane’s mother is dead and the two seem to rely on each other. Ariane has her cello and is very eager to find out more about her father’s line of work.  Her father refuses to tell her any details about his sordid job.

Love in the afternoon 1957-8
Enter a paranoid client who thinks his wife is having an affair.  His suspicions are confirmed by Monsieur Chevasse.  The client’s wife is having an affair with a wealthy American playboy named Mr. Flannagan (Gary Copper with a bad facelift). Upon hearing this distressing news, the client sets out on a vendetta to shoot Mr. Flannagan. Ariane overhears this conversation.

Love in the afternoon 1957
Ariane tries desperately to warn Mr. Flannagan, to no avail since he’s too busy seducing married women to answer the phone.  Ariane must go to the Hotel Ritz Paris and save him herself.  Needing to avoid the murderous jealous husband in the hallway, she has to climb through a window in one hotel room to get to the Mr.Flannagan’s room.

Love in the afternoon 1957-7
She saves his life and he is forever indebted. Of course, Ariane falls in love with Flannagan.

Love in the afternoon 1957-6 
Now act two is the magical part. Since Ariane is the daughter of a private investigator, she utilizes all her resources to get her an unfair advantage over the man she is in love with.  Armed with the confidential dirt her father has dug up on Flannagan, Ariane goes back to him in secret.

Love in the afternoon 1957-5Love in the afternoon 1957-4
And the conflict with her attraction to Flannagan gets clearer.  She is merely a naive little girl whose never been in a relationship, whereas Flannagan is an experienced heart breaker.  In order to balance the scales, she peddles fabricated love affairs to him.

Love in the afternoon 1957-3
At the impressionable age in which I watched this movie, I just thought that Ariane was such a genius.  She actually tamed this wild man. She got him to fall in love with her, only to string him along like a puppy dog.

I guess one could say that this movie is the bridge between Sabrina and Breakfast and Tiffany's.  Sabrina was all about the fairy tale fantasy about romance, while Breakfast at Tiffany’s was about the reality of romance and how with experience comes heartbreak.

In between Sabrina’s idealism and Holly Golightly’s pessimism is Ariane.  Ariane is where we see that Audrey Hepburn romantic persona develop into maturity.

In Sabrina, she goes to Paris to Culinary School and to try and get over David.  Well, I always wished that we got to stay in Paris a little longer and see Sabrina develop from an ugly duckling into a swan.  Well, Love in the Afternoon is set all in Paris and I’d like to think that this is what Sabrina’s time there might have been like.

Audrey Hepburn filmed this movie at the same time she was filming Funny Face (1957).  I cant help but think how exhausting this must have been to film this movie while filming a musical.

Love in the afternoon 1957-2
Although not the best Billy Wilder movie, or Audrey Hepburn’s,  I think it should be given a chance.

I wish Gary Cooper’s plastic surgery could have gone better or have never happened.  He is such a dreamboat.  I strongly feel that his work is affected by this facelift.  He seems insecure and through out much of the movie, he is kept under dark lighting.  Damn the people who made him think he was an actor who has to rely on his looks.  I always thought he had talent. I wish he didn’t listen to the person who suggested the facelift.

For me, Love in the Afternoon encapsulates the magic that Wilder and Hepburn began with Sabrina.


Kate Gabrielle said...

Wow, I just discovered your blog and adore it! I love this post. I agree that Love in the Afternoon is often overlooked by Audrey Hepburn fans; but it's one of my favorites.

Sergei Itzam Coiot said...

ugh. I am tired of waiting for you to get your light on. let me keep posting, so I can contribute, yo. what is going on kiddo?