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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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