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#169. Audrey Hepburn

There’s no doubt that movie stars are influential. The trick seems to be not only where they are influential, but why as well. Some stars are influential in that they are tales of caution: what you shouldn’t do with your life. However, there are many who are trying to force their influence, which sometimes backfires. Those stars who are the most influential are the ones who make it look easy. Many have chosen humanitarian causes, which is admirable. Others influence style and fashion, while still others influence the political landscape. Audrey Hepburn is just such an influential star. While her resume of films isn’t particularly extensive, she managed to influence the world through her humanitarian work, but also the world of fashion and style. This week’s two films examine Audrey Hepburn’s influence on the world of film.

CharadeCharade
Year: 1963
Rating: Not Rated
Length: 113 minutes / 1.88 hours

One of the most iconic performances Audrey Hepburn gave was that of Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961). Considering how many dormitory rooms have a picture of her in the “little black dress” holding a cigarette holder, it’s clear to see that this influence is timeless and speaks to those of us reaching out into adulthood and independence. As such, Hepburn’s fashion and style were a definite force behind many of her film roles. In fact, many were set in Europe, which is often considered the fashion capitol of the world. Destinations like Paris, Rome, and London have all been backdrops to show off Hepburn’s beauty and sophistication. Charade is no exception, with the film being set in beautiful French ski resorts as well as the center of European fashion: Paris. Of course, the real challenge is to look fashionable while on the run.

Known as “the best Hitchcock movie that Hitchcock never made”, Charade pairs Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant in a plot filled with suspense and intrigue. Regina “Reggie” Lampert (Hepburn) soon finds herself on the run from not only the CIA, but also the men who killed her husband, all because a shipment of $250,000 in gold went missing. Peter Joshua (Grant) helps her escape, but keeps changing his story on who he is and what his motives are. Even though Reggie doesn’t know where the money is, everyone seems to think she does, so the chase continues until most of the men involved in her husband’s murder are killed. What’s curious about the whole situation is the few items that Reggie received from her husband upon his death. While they seem innocuous enough, one of them is the key to the missing riches.

My Fair LadyMy Fair Lady
Year: 1964
Rating: G
Length: 170 minutes / 2.83 hours

While Audrey Hepburn was nominated for Best Actress for the aforementioned Breakfast at Tiffany’s, this was preceded by two other nominations for The Nun’s Story (1959) and Sabrina (1954). The role that earned her the Oscar for Best Actress was that of Princess Ann in Roman Holiday (1953). It seems that the key to some of these roles is that of mistaken identity. For instance, in Roman Holiday, Gregory Peck’s character doesn’t realize she’s a princess. Similarly, Sabrina was unnoticed by William Holden’s character until she became sophisticated and unrecognizable to the man she loved, at which point he starts pursuing her. In fact, this transformative plot device was also used in My Fair Lady, although to a much more extreme level than that of Sabrina. At least in Sabrina she lived in some amount of luxury.

Eliza Doolittle (Audrey Hepburn) is a flower girl with a terrible Cockney accent. Seeing this as a challenge, Professor Henry Higgins (Rex Harrison) bets his friend that he can pass Eliza off as a duchess by merely teaching her to speak in an elegant manner. Because changing Eliza’s elocution is a difficult task, Professor Higgins pulls out all of his tricks, but they seem to get her nowhere. That is, until she suddenly breaks through and everything comes together. Unfortunately, while she may speak like a lady, an outing at the racetrack reveals that she still doesn’t have the appropriate lexicon to mix in with upper society. Once this is fixed, Higgins takes her to an embassy ball, where he wins the bet with his friend. The only downside now is that Eliza feels used and unappreciated and can no longer return to her previous life. Did all that time together mean nothing to Higgins, or will he realize he now has feelings for her?

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 awesome Audrey Hepburn movies

Bacon #: 2 (Charade / Walter Matthau -> JFK / Kevin Bacon)

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One response to “#169. Audrey Hepburn

  1. Pingback: End of Act Four | Cinema Connections

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