Hello, everybody. Joe Morella and Frank Segers, your classic movie guys, here today to reveal that — mirabile dictu — we do NOT always agree about the merits of a particular movie or a particular star. (Gadzooks! Can that be true?)
For example, we are fully in accord about Audrey Hepburn — big fans, we are — but part ways on which of her some 25 to 30 movies is her best. Joe leans towards director Blake Edwards’ Breakfast At Tiffany’s, calling the 1961 comedy “everything a Hollywood film of that era should be — Glossy, Romantic, Magical, and Uplifting.”
Frank, on the other hand, maintains that “this piece of fluff,” based on a Truman Capote story about a girl from the sticks conquering New York City, is spared only by excellent musical contributions composed by Henry Mancini, including the song “Moon River.” The music is unforgettable, as is Hepburn. The picture less so.
Adding insult to injury, Frank goes on to note Breakfast At Tiffany’s whore-with-a-heart-of-gold sub theme and claims that Barbara Stanwyck could get away with this conceit, not the cultivated charmer that was Audrey Hepburn. Even her character’s name, Holly Golightly, reeks of pseudo-literary preciousness.
Ok, I think we get the point. Well, then, what IS Audrey Hepburn’s best movie?
Was it director George Cukor’s 1964 adaptation of My Fair Lady (with Audrey spelling Julie Andrews as Eliza Doolittle)? How about Billy Wilder’s agreeable romantic comedy, 1954’s Sabrina, with the actress being pursued by both William Holden and Humphrey Bogart?
The less-remembered title The Unforgiven, a 1960 western from director John Huston, presented Hepburn opposite Burt Lancaster as an Indian girl kidnapped by white settlers.
Author-critic David Thomson believes this is her most interesting performance. The picture was not an easy one to make. (Huston revealed that while we were shooting in Durango in Mexico, Audrey Hepburn fell off a horse and fractured a vertebra in her back…It delayed shooting for three weeks.)
We must not forget to mention Audrey’s turns in 1957’s Funny Face from director Stanley Donen, as well as in the same director’s Charade in 1963. And what about the still scary Wait Until Dark in 1967 with Audrey playing a helpless blind woman beset by Alan Arkin and Richard Crenna? Later in her career, when she was approaching 50, Hepburn costarred with Sean Connery in 1976’s Robin and Marian.
Hepburn’s personal favorite was 1959’s The Nun’s Story, directed by Fred Zinneman and costarring Peter Finch. The “prestige” title really resonated with Audrey and won her a New York Film Critics best-actress award. Her character was born in Belgium, was determined to lead her own life from an early age, and possessed spiritual depth — all aspects that applied to Hepburn herself. To top it all off, the movie was made in her favorite city, Rome.
Well, Frank begs to differ not only with Joe but Audrey herself.
His pick as her best movie? Director William Wyler’s 1953 classic, Roman Holiday. Not only was it made in Rome but it featured Audrey as a princess in disguise let loose on a romantic lark in the Eternal City in the company of a journalist (Gregory Peck) and news photographer (Eddie Albert.)
Roman Holiday drew the best from a young Audrey (24 at the time she made the picture). And she actually transformed the usually wooden Peck (pictured with Audrey above) into an actor of emotional depth. Audrey was the complete charmer. She won the Academy Award. Frank thinks this is her best film. And Joe somewhat agrees. For him it’s a toss up between Roman Holiday, Charade and Breakfast at Tiffany’s. What’s your pick?