Audrey Hepburn

Hidden Gems: Audrey Hepburn

We are back again and this month we’re making Hidden Gems even more special. You see I started Hidden Gems because I wasn’t doing great with Blind Spot and I wanted something to excel at. So with my Hidden Gems challenge  going well I thought I’d push myself a little further this year and combine the two. So Hidden Gems meets Blind Spot – the almost perfect duo. And what better way to marry those two together than to explore the filmography of Audrey Hepburn!?

WHY AUDREY HEPBURN?

When I decided to make Hidden Gems 2021 all about British actors and actresses I had no idea I’d be going with Audrey Hepburn. I actually had no idea she was British in the first place. But like many Hollywood stars back then she came from Europe and she took the entertainment industry by storm. I read she never considered herself to be the best actress and yet she is considered one of the best of her time.

I’ve always known of her but I must admit, I had little to no experience with her movies. Knowing is not the same as experiencing and so I thought why not experience her filmography now. With so much to pick from I was at first hesitant of the outcome. So instead of going in and picking three Audrey Hepburn movies randomly I made a more conscious decision that almost worked out perfectly.

STATISTICS

Letterboxd has 52 projects under Audrey Hepburn of which I took out 18 (many released after her death, some being tributes) and was left with 34 movies. Unfortunately I had only seen one prior to this month. Yes, I know, shame on me on many levels!

So the one I had seen and quite enjoyed was: Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

My picks for the Hidden Gems challenge were, as I said, hand picked and I ended up watching: Funny Face (1957), Roman Holiday (1953) and My Fair Lady (1964).

Minor spoilers ahead as always.

FUNNY FACE

audrey hepburn in funny face

My first thought when Funny Face started was The Devil Wears Prada. There’s a scene that was clearly an inspiration for the latter and it’s hard not to notice some other similarities as well. Funny Face also has most likely inspired Down With Love, a very underrated musical with Renee Zellweger and Ewan McGregor. Anyway with those two movies in mind the Funny Face experience started off joyfully.

What surprised me a lot here was of course Audrey’s pairing with Fred Astaire. Their age difference was almost 30 years and their first onscreen kiss took me off guard. I guess I didn’t expect it to be a romance and part of me wished it wasn’t. Because without the romance angle Funny Face could have been this strange yet comforting story of a normal (funny faced) girl becoming a model. She was able to be somebody else for a little while and it had this wonderful escapism kind of feel. Anyway, while I enjoyed it, especially the fashion shoot freeze frame moments, the movie lacked something for me.

ROMAN HOLIDAY

Again, as it was common for Audrey Hepburn, her onscreen partner is a bit older here. But where Astaire felt off, Gregory Peck feels more natural. They had so much great chemistry and I’d like to think it was the joy of being there together, experiencing and exploring Italy. It felt like an adventure on many levels.

audrey hepburn and greory peck in roman holiday

What I love about Roman Holiday, and I truly think I love it, was the joy of it. We have this princess wanting to escape her hectic life, finding a way out and meeting this lovely gentlemen who is there to help her. While he has his own motivation for doing this she soon woos her with her wit, passion and the ability to find joy in the little things. The ending surprised me in a way because I didn’t expect to be so invested. When she faces him, and his sidekick photographer, she is filled with fear. That she had this wonderful time as somebody else and now she will be exposed for it. But it of course doesn’t happen and the mutual respect in that moment is just so pure.

I have no idea why Roman Holiday managed to crawl into my heart in such a way. Part of me was actually angry at how the movie ended because I wanted them to be together. But I guess that’s part of life, you can’t have it all. Roman Holiday is also a very good movie for being surprisingly current. It’s almost 70 years old but the nature of Roman Holiday remains as familiar as ever. Celebrity culture, fame, the pressure of being always and constantly switched on is something that is part of society. And not just for celebrities, the royal families, maybe just the British one though, is no different.

audrey hepburn and greory peck in roman holiday

What definitely elevates this is the performances. While this is Audrey’s first huge role, it never feels as such! She shines and feels effortlessly glamorous. I guess Peck’s own words are best here “She can do anything, without effort.” And how can she not when it’s clear Peck supports her throughout. Not with charm, while there is of course a sense of romance but with something more profound.

There’s something much deeper between these two that makes Roman Holiday more than a romance movie. It might be Peck’s experience and Audrey’s willingness to learn, as if reflecting the characters they are playing. It might simply be the mutual respect between them. What I’m saying is that it’s no wonder they became good friends after this, they were in a way, a perfect pair.

Anyway, I can’t believe I had so much to say about this movie. Honestly, this really surprised me and it truly took a piece of my heart with it. I read that there were thoughts of making a sequel and now I’m disappointed we don’t have one. But I also think it’s probably for the best we don’t have it… because even with its bittersweet ending, Roman Holiday is a perfect gem.

 

 

 

SURPRISE!

Before I get to my final pick I’m here to share another Hidden Gems movie challenge participator, Allie from Often Off Topic! Allie’s March was all about the yummy Keanu Reeves. Read about her month RIGHT HERE.

 

MY FAIR LADY

audrey hepburn in my fair lady

Finally I finished watching My Fair Lady. And by finished watching I mean I get to finally cross it off my list after seeing pieces of it many times. There are scenes here that I know very well, there are bits I had no idea about – you get the point. Here we have another musical and this time my dislike towards musicals kicked in. I had very little care for this movie and this might hurt many. I’m sorry, I did not not like it on purpose.

There was just so much rudeness here that it irked me and rubbed me the wrong way. A different time, a different way of thinking I guess. One thing is for certain though, the fashion here is amazing! The entire horse racing sequence is perfection in terms of the fashion. So much glamour and the dresses Audrey wears! My god, they could all be something that the models wear to the runway in Paris right now.

FINAL THOUGHTS

What a hell of a journey March was for me. It is no secret I guess that I found one of my gems already and I’m probably more surprised than anyone. I’m not a fan of classics and when I end up loving one I’m a little shaken (it has happened a few times). Roman Holiday stood out from this month and I think part of my dislike for My Fair Lady was the sudden change. One was a lot more intimate, a lot more heartfelt than the other.

What I truly realised this month was that while I have always adamantly believed that I’m not one to love classics there are still some that can change my mind. Maybe it was faith, maybe everything just aligned but I truly and thoroughly enjoyed a two hour black and white movie! Don’t expect me to go off and venture into classic Hollywood now but I mean… one can assume that I might find myself traveling back in time more often now than I had before.


Previously on Hidden Gems – TOM HARDY

Next up on Hidden Gems – KEIRA KNIGHTLEY

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9 Comments

  • I still need to watch My Fair Lady and Funny Face. But I adored Roman Holiday. I am not ashamed to say I ugly cried at the end. It took me by surprise! That long walk of Peck’s… away from the room and from Hepburn. Ugh, my heart couldn’t take it.

    • MettelRay

      It was… I didn’t expect to have such strong feelings about it myself. I raged to Nik and Sofia about it right after like: THAT’S HOW IT ENDS!? Clearly bothered by it all too. That just shows how well these characters were written.

  • Joel

    Glad you had the chance to explore some of Audrey’s work!

    Of the three you discussed Roman Holiday is my favorite as well. Peck is older than she but not an unseemly amount of years and they look right together. It has a lowkey charm that is strengthened all the more by Eddie Albert’s terrific work (rightly Oscar nominated) as loyal sidekick Irving. I can understand your frustration with the ending, it would have been lovely if unrealistic if they had run away, but it’s the right one which grounds the picture, makes it more accessible and in a way adds a sweetness to it.

    Funny Face has lovely music and a great look plus scene stealer Kay Thompson (Think Pink is a fabulous number) but as magnetic as both she and Astaire are separately they don’t make sense together and it drags the film down somewhat.

    My Fair Lady has problems to modern eyes but it is what it is and has to be viewed in that aspect. I agree about the fashions-Amazing. Harrison’s Henry Higgins is an intolerable ass but he plays him to perfection and Audrey does well by Eliza. I just wish Julie Andrews had been able to recreate her legendary stage performance.

    I’m an Audrey fan and through the years have managed to see all her films. I know you are not the biggest older movie fan but she made some real gems that are worth exploring. I’ll list my top 10 favorites of hers and perhaps you’ll see something else that might intrigue you. However like all great stars she has some lemons in her filmography-avoid Green Mansions, Bloodline and War & Peace at all costs!

    In order of preference:

    Breakfast at Tiffany’s
    Sabrina
    Two for the Road
    Roman Holiday
    My Fair Lady
    How to Steal a Million
    The Nun’s Story
    Wait Until Dark
    Charade
    The Children’s Hour

    • MettelRay

      Yes, the happy run-away ending would have been unrealistic and I liked that it did feel real for them to part as they did. It just hurt way too much. And it shocked me because I didn’t expect to care that much in the first place.

      Thank you for that list! I’ve seen Breakfast at Tiffany’s and I do only have good memories of that. I wrote down Sabrina and How to Steal a Million when I was looking through her filmography so I might end up watching them sooner rather than later.

      Avoiding the lemons! 😀

  • I’m ashamed to say I looked up Audrey Hepburn on Letterboxd and I have seen a grand total of zero of her movies. I’ll just leave my movie blogger badge on my way out!
    I struggle with classic movies too although every now and again I find one I really love (12 Angry Men!). I’ve heard lots of good things about Roman Holiday though so that’s going to be the next classic I try.
    Although, my 18-year-old brother who loves twisty movies scoffed when I suggested he watch Fight Club because it was ‘too old’!
    That Keanu GIF is perfection <3

    • MettelRay

      Oh wow, that’s… well I’m sure I have classic actors who are totally unknown to me. 12 Angry Men was so good!! Roman Holiday also was really good. And this is coming from somebody who doesn’t watch a lot of classics. Fight Club too old?!!? Oh man.. he gonna miss out some true gems if he only watches movies 00+ 😀

  • Awwww… the way you described Roman Holiday made me fall in love w/ it all over again. It’s one of my all time faves as I adore both Audrey and Gregory, who like you said are so perfectly matched here. I cried every time I watched that finale… in fact, I loved that ending of the heartbroken Joe walking slowly towards the camera that it inspired the final scene of my short film (though the roles were reversed). I like bittersweet endings and Roman Holiday’s one of the best. A gem indeed!

    • MettelRay

      That’s amazing! I find it difficult to write about things I liked/loved so if this made you fall in love with it again makes me happy. That finale is truly sad… like it makes sense but you don’t want it to make sense so like it hurts even more. Inspirational truly, yes!

      Ugh… I must admit, don’t tell anyone, that I think it’s going to be hard to beat this one…. hihihi.

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