55 of 56 people found the following review helpful
E. A Solinas
- Published on Amazon.com
Audrey Hepburn was -- and remains -- the perfect illustration of elegance and sophistication in Hollywood. A lot of actresses have tried to imitate her look, but they couldn't manage the same grace and skill, both onscreen and off.
And the "Audrey Hepburn Five Pac" brings together five of the films that helped shape that image, including her three top starmaking roles. Okay, they're not her most impressive. But even when they're uneven ("Paris When It Sizzles"), her movies are charming, sweet and just a little bit quirky.
Bored young Princess Ann (Hepburn) goes on a "Roman Holiday," when she has a bad reaction to a sedative. She wanders straight into struggling American journalist Joe Bradley (Gregory Peck). When he realizes she's the missing princess, he takes her on a fun vacation in Rome, with his pal taking photos for a hit article. Yet he's also falling in love with Ann... and she's torn between love and duty.
"Sabrina" (Hepburn) is the daughter of the chauffeur at the palatial Larabee estate, and is in love with the ne'er-do-well second son, David (William Holden). After a stint at a cooking school, where she gains sophistication and confidence, she returns to enthrall David. But since his brother Linus (Humphrey Bogart) has arranged a business marriage for David, Linus starts to woo Sabrina instead... and falls for her as well.
"Breakfast at Tiffany's" is a daily ritual for Holly Golightly, a social butterfly. When kept man Paul Varjak (George Peppard) moves into a nearby apartment, he is instantly enchanted by the ditzy, sweet-natured Holly. But for all Holly's fun, Paul starts to realize that all is not well with her. As Holly's life starts to deteriorate, Paul sets out to show her what her life will be like without real love.
"Funny Face" becomes a concern for a fashion photographer Dick Avery (Fred Astaire) who is assisting a fashion queen with the new "pink" look and the intellectual model look. After a disastrous shoot at a boho bookstore, Avery is struck by the owner Jo's (Hepburn) look, and convinces her to become their newest model -- and she only agrees to get to Paris so she can meet her favorite philosopher. But she's also falling in love with Dick and her modelling career.
"Paris When It Sizzles" features Richard Benson (William Holden), a laconic playboy screenwriter, who procrastinated on his forthcoming script until just a few days before the deadline. So he hurriedly hires a secretary, Gabrielle (Hepburn) to help him come up with an idea and write it -- except that all they can come up with, as they fall in love, are all sorts of completely bizarre scenarios.
Yes, they are all romantic comedies, completely unrelated except that all of them have Audrey Hepburn. But all three are fun, well-written ("You can't live here! I live here!" "Hi, neighbor!"), and taking place in chic apartments, palatial mansions, Parisian runways, and the streets of Rome. And each has a theme: love that doesn't come easy, whether the problem is one of the people involved, parents or just different personalities.
There's also slapstick comedy (David injuring his butt on champagne glasses), and more sophisticated comedy (like when Anna and Joe pretend that they were speeding on their way to get married). And Hepburn provides plenty of it, such as her crazy club dance or her encounter with a vampire.
Unlike many actresses, Hepburn's best-known roles were NOT all alike, nor were they all carbon copies of her -- we have wistful bohemians, party girls, timid teens, and chained-back princesses. Even when we shouldn't really like the characters, she gave them warmth, sensitivity and likability that can't be faked. And she could be very funny too -- it's hard not to laugh when Holly yells "Timber!", as a drunken guest keels over.
The Audrey Hepburn Five Pack clusters five of Hepburn's most chic, charming movies, for those are just falling in love, or who appreciate a good romantic comedy. Charming, cute and sweet.
40 of 42 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
Only Audrey Hepburn retains the level of cache that would justify the constant repackaging of her films, and here are five films - three of which have already been presented as a set, the Audrey Hepburn Collection - presented in yet another DVD package. Her natural charm and grace are pervasive throughout - even when the vehicles themselves sometimes fail to engage - but all provide proof positive that she was among the most consistently affecting of actresses.
In a beautifully restored print, 1953's Roman Holiday (*****) provides a most enchanting introduction to the then-24 year old actress thanks mainly to director William Wyler's expert direction and Dalton Trumbo's sweetly observant script. In hindsight, it is a modest performance compared to Hepburn's later work, but Wyler knew enough to let her natural breeding serve its purpose in conveying the carriage of a princess who experiences her first glimpse into the world outside her hermetically sealed world. The revelation here is really Gregory Peck, handsome and stalwart as always but in this movie quite relaxed with a surprising light comedy touch. It is actually his Joe Bradley that goes through the dramatic character arc that makes the ending so bittersweet. Wyler's humanistic touch is everywhere - from the comic haircutting scene with the smitten barber to the famous Mouth of Truth scene where Peck pretends to lose his hand to the concluding press conference, which turns into a dance of acting nuance and unspoken feelings. The 2002 DVD has a robust set of extras, including an excellent documentary on the production itself (watch for Hepburn's first Hollywood screen test) and other short films on the film's restoration process and Edith Head's contribution to Hollywood costuming.
With its cynical humor and the European-based sensibilities around different classes, 1954's Sabrina (*****) is most definitely a Billy Wilder picture. The film is not quite in the same league of other Wilder classics like Sunset Boulevard, Some Like It Hot or The Apartment, but on its own, it's an airy soufflé of a comedy served on a perfectly lovely warming dish. What I like most about this movie is that Wilder keeps the fairy tale trappings of the story grounded in mordant wit and shrewd observations about business mergers, bribery and class snobbery. This is what keeps this movie surprisingly fresh. Torn between the characters played by her leading men, Humphrey Bogart and William Holden, Hepburn as a chauffeur's daughter is charming. This was her first introduction to Givenchy fashion onscreen, and the difference in her appearance between "Roman Holiday" and "Sabrina" is actually more startling than the one in the movie itself. It is no wonder she became such a style icon from that point forward. While Bogart is too dour in his role of older brother Linus (a role pegged for Cary Grant who canceled at the last minute, damn the luck), Holden is hilarious as shallow, ne'er-do-well younger brother David. The ending is inevitable, but leave it to Wilder to mix sweet and sour better than a Cantonese restaurant. There is a brief making-of documentary on the 2001 DVD.
Presented in a new 50th Anniversary Edition DVD, 1957's Funny Face (****) is a Hollywood confection teaming Hepburn with an effortlessly debonair Fred Astaire set to George and Ira Gershwin's memorable music. The elegantly mounted numbers provide the ideal complement to the featherweight plot centered on Dick Avery, a world-renowned, Richard Avedon-like fashion photographer who discovers his next superstar model in Jo Stockton, a bookshop clerk and aspiring philosopher, in time for a major runway event in Paris. Starting with the photography provided by Avedon himself, the film is stylish to the nth degree with a bold color palette that director Stanley Donen and cinematographer Ray June bring to vibrant life. This level of contrivance will not sit well with some contemporary film viewers, and the opposites-attract storyline seems particularly forced here by the thirty years that separate the co-stars' ages. Regardless, several individual elements work well beginning with Astaire who epitomizes class and artistic drive as Avery, and his dancing and singing remain undiminished by the years. Hepburn is certainly picture-perfect as Jo, looking particularly spectacular in the fashion shoot sequence. With her ballet training, Hepburn moves well in the dance numbers, though she is not a natural and seems oddly flat-footed when paired with the lithe Astaire. A couple of shorts are offered on the 2007 DVD, as well as a photo gallery and a disposable extra about Paramount movies in the 1950's.
1961's Breakfast at Tiffany's (****) still tells a provocative story, yet the film has a dated feel perhaps because director Blake Edwards tries so hard to capture the upscale bohemian atmosphere of early sixties New York. In a role that author Truman Capote wanted to cast Marilyn Monroe, Hepburn is delightful as the aptly named Holly Golightly and somehow dances around the fact that her character is a high-priced call girl through her sense of style, fun and vulnerability. Holly's fear of commitment is the crux of this story, even though she is hopelessly drawn to a failed writer played by George Peppard, who is kept in fine style by a wealthy matron played with conniving sophistication by Patricia Neal. Peppard is the weak link here as he doesn't have the light touch required to keep up with Holly's shenanigans. The rest of the cast can be best described as eccentric, in particular, Buddy Ebsen as Holly's backwoods first husband and an inappropriately cast Mickey Rooney as the Japanese neighbor upstairs. Henry Mancini's romantic music provides the perfect accompaniment, and Hepburn's plaintive, ukulele-strummed version of "Moon River" is still the most definitive. The rain-soaked kiss in the alley is just about as lovely a scene as you are likely to see in movies. One improvement over the Audrey Hepburn Collection is the inclusion of the 45th Anniversary DVD package released in 2006, which includes commentary from producer Richard Shepherd, a making-of retrospective featurette, a short about Hepburn's fashion sense and two other shorts focused on Tiffany's the store.
The least of the movies here, 1964's Paris When It Sizzles (***) is a heavy-handed concoction that reunites Hepburn and Holden under the direction of Richard Quine. Working with an overly contrived, intermittently funny screenplay by George Axelrod, the overlong result feels like the old-style French farce upon which it is based but with the artificial veneer of 1960's Hollywood studio product. The frothy plot centers on aging Hollywood screenwriter Richard Benson, who is holed up in Paris attempting to beat the deadline set forth by big-time producer Alexander Meyerheim to finish his latest screenplay. Benson has to hand in the completed script in two days, but the problem is that he hasn't even started since he has been busy boozing and womanizing in typical alpha-male fashion. He hires impressionable Gabrielle Simpson as his live-in secretary and becomes inspired to write the aptly named "The Girl Who Stole the Eiffel Tower". The rest of the movie goes back and forth between the reality of the impending deadline at Richard's apartment and the fantasy scenes of the screenplay coming to life. It does have its charms with some silly spy-caper turns and cameo appearances by Marlene Dietrich in a walk-on, Noel Coward as Meyerheim, and a particularly amusing Tony Curtis as Gabrielle's Method-style actor boyfriend. Hepburn is never less than charming here, while Holden keeps his innate hamminess in check. However, neither seems especially challenged by the comic proceedings. The only extra on the 2001 DVD is the original theatrical trailer.