Audrey Hepburn is the TCM Star of the Month…and I can’t even accurately express my excitement!
Every Monday during the month of June, TCM will air a block of Audrey Hepburn films. The lineup is a great mix of beloved favorites and rarely seen gems (War and Peace!). You’ll notice two films noticeably absent: Sabrina, Charade, and Two for the Road. Sabrina airs a lot on TCM so I’m okay with letting that one go and I feel like Charade is very well known due to the fact that it’s Audrey and Cary Grant but I will say I was bummed to see Two for the Road left out. The film is one of my favorites of her dramatic performances. Stanley Donen’s comedy/drama told in a nonlinear style is a vivid portrait of the ups and downs of a complex 12-year marriage. Audrey is beautiful and heartbreaking as Joanna Wallace. It’s a much different Audrey Hepburn than Princess Anne or Holly Golightly. This is a film that has grown on me over time and as I’ve gotten older myself. Anyway, TCM’s lineup is still great but if you’re interested in Audrey Hepburn, you should seek that one out as well.
As an Audrey Hepburn-phile, here are the films you should tune into during this special month that aren’t Breakfast at Tiffany’s. No offense to the film, it’s fun even though it’s problematic but Audrey was so much more than that. Really, you should just watch all of the films airing but if you can’t these are the ones you MUST NOT MISS!
We Go to Monte Carlo (1951, Dir. John Boyer, Lester Fuller)
In this British-French comedy, Audrey plays a spoiled actress in a small role. One of her meltdowns is hilarious. The movie as a whole isn’t the best but it’s a great glimpse at a star in the making. The film is rarely seen and very hard to track down. Audrey was only 22 and she speaks French in it. Thanks to TCM for finding it and airing it. Quite the feat!
We Go to Monte Carlo airs at 2:45 AM on June 6th
Roman Holiday (1954, Dir. William Wyler)
Audrey Hepburn had success on Broadway in Gigi and only a handful of bit parts in small European films but Roman Holiday would change her life forever. As Princess Anne, Audrey is gracious and ethereal, every bit the princess you’d expect her to be. She and Gregory Peck are magnetic. The film was a huge hit overseas and won her the Oscar for Best Actress.
Roman Holiday airs Monday, June 5th at 8 PM.
Love in the Afternoon (1957, Dir. Billy Wilder)
Love in the Afternoon gets a bad rep because it’s another film in which Audrey is paired with a love interest who is much older than her but here it’s an important plot point. Billy Wilder directed this charming tale about a playboy who falls in love with the daughter of a private investigator who has been hired to dig up dirt on him. The story sounds convoluted but it all works because when you have Billy Wilder and Audrey, what can go wrong?
Love in the Afternoon airs at 10:15 PM on June 5th.
Funny Face (1957, Dir. Stanley Donen)
Audrey, Fred Astaire, and Paris? A match made in heaven if you ask me. Audrey’s character Jo Stockton is one of my favorite performances. A hipster bookworm who is discovered as a model but would rather continue her life as an amateur philosopher. Shot on location in France, this film fills all my francophile sweet spots. The luscious photography, closeups of Audrey, and lovely musical numbers make it an ‘S’wonderful, s’marvelous’ watch.
Funny Face airs at 10 PM on June 26th.
The Nun’s Story (1959, Dir. Fred Zinneman)
After a number of ingenue roles, Audrey needed a film that would show the world she was much more than a fashion plate princess. The Nun’s Story was the answer. This film is a deeply moving story about a young nun who struggles with her life living with obedience to the church and her faith when she faces the horrors of WW II. Audrey’s performance as Sister Luke is a powerful mix of expressive work using just her face and an internal struggle to bring her character’s journey to the screen. It is fascinating portrait of the struggle of humanity and spirituality that is not to be missed.
The Nun’s Story airs at 1:30 AM on June 12th
War and Peace (1956, Dir. King Vidor)
This adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s novel is the first and only time Audrey and husband, Mel Ferrer, share the screen. Admittedly, I’ve never cared for Ferrer much as an actor, he always came off as super bland to me but it’s nice to see him and Audrey onscreen together. The casting is a bit inspired in this picture with Henry Fonda portraying the Russian Pierre Bezhukov but under King Vidor’s direction it is a valiant effort at a period piece. Audrey is charming and radiant as Natasha. Her performance alone makes up for the short comings in this 3 and a 1/2 hour epic.
War and Peace airs at 2:15 AM on June 26th
How to Steal a Million (1966, Dir. William Wyler)
60s Audrey is one of my favorite Audreys. She could wear mod and couture like no one else and How to Steal a Million is a perfect fashion show but it’s also a highly enjoyable comedy with Peter O’Toole. Audrey reteams with director William Wyler for this witty comedy about a woman who must steal a statue from a Paris museum before anyone realizes it’s a fake made by her father. Audrey and O’Toole make a great pair oozing sophistication in ever frame. But they’re not just beautiful people parading around Paris, the film is a delightfully funny ride.
How to Steal a Million airs June 19th at 8 PM.
Paris When it Sizzles (1964, Dir. Richard Quine)
With a troubled production history and a script that goes off the rails many times, Paris When it Sizzles has gained a reputation as a cult favorite in recent years. This film should be so much better than it is when you’ve got Audrey, William Holden, and Paris but it requires the viewer to suspend disbelief and be prepared to go on a wild ride.Audrey and Bill still have the charming chemistry you saw in Sabrina and when the material calls for some outlandish moments, they go all in. With many tongue in cheek references and high profile cameos, the film is meant for you to have fun even if the people making it didn’t necessarily have a good time.
Paris When it Sizzles airs June 26th at 8 PM.
Wait Until Dark (1967, Dir. Terence Young)
If anyone tells you Audrey Hepburn isn’t a great actress after The Nun’s Story, show them Wait Until Dark. Audrey plays a blind woman who is terrorized by a group of thugs in search of a doll filled with heroin they believe is in her apartment, unbeknownst to her. Audrey received her fifth and final Oscar nomination for her portrayal of Susy Hendrix. Audrey attended a school for the blind to learn mannerisms and is very believable in the role. You sense her struggle and desperation. Alan Arkin is terrifying in his breakout performance. The film’s final act will have you on the edge of your seat.
Wait Until Dark airs June 19th at 10:15 PM.
Robin and Marian (1976, Dir. Richard Lester)
This is a different approach to telling the story of Robin Hood. Sean Connery and Audrey are the much older version of Robin and Marian in a subversive take on the tried and true tale. The result is a moving story of a man who knows he is aging but must fulfill his duties as a hero. Audrey came out of retirement to take the part. According to a biography, her sons begged her to take the part because they wanted her to work with James Bond. The film may not be one of the most exciting of the Robin Hood films, but with the work of Connery and Audrey it’s an exploration of heroism that will leave you inspired.
Robin and Marian airs June 27th at 6 AM.
Always (1989, Dir. Steven Spielberg)
Audrey makes her final film performance as an angel in Steven Spielberg’s Always. It’s a small role but more than appropriate for a legend who inspired us all. The film is a beautiful sendoff for a woman who gave us so much.
Always airs June 26th at 12 AM.
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