Welcome to day two of TMP’s coverage of the TCM Greatest Classic Films: Romance DVD set! As you’ll know if you saw yesterday’s review, the four films in this set are re-watches for me, and I’m reviewing them in the order in which they appear in the set. Yesterday’s film: Splendor in the Grass
FILM #2: Love in the Afternoon (1957)
Directed by Billy Wilder
Written by Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond
Based on a novel by Claude Anet
Starring Audrey Hepburn and Gary Cooper
Claude Chavasse (Maurice Chevalier) is a Paris detective who has been hired to follow a wife suspected of being unfaithful. The woman’s husband thinks she’s cheating on him with an American millionaire named Frank Flannagan (Gary Cooper), and when those suspicious turn out to be right on the money, the husband reveals his plan to kill Frank.
Claude’s daughter Ariane (Audrey Hepburn), a music student, overhears this conversation and decides to warn Frank that he’s in danger. She falls under the spell of his charms, just in time for him to leave for America, where he will be safe from the jealous husband who’s out for blood. But their paths will cross again when Frank returns to Paris.
Love in the Afternoon is a fun and light film that begins with a charming opening. Chavasse describes just how full of love the city of Paris is, over a montage of smooching couples.
Like most Wilder films, this one has a quick pace and brings quite a few laughs. Many of the laughs come from small moments, like Ariane sticking a piece of chicken in Frank’s pocket or bopping him over the head with her shoe. These scenes are pulled off so well by the cast that it’s impossible not to smile while watching them.
And speaking of the cast, what a wonderful collection of players. Hepburn and Chevalier have a few great scenes together as father and daughter, dishing up a late-’50s version of Veronica and Keith Mars with their friendly banter. (Ariane is, of course, quite a bit less snoopy than Veronica, though she does like to read her father’s files.) Hepburn and Cooper also make a nice pair.
Audrey is the star of the show here, stealing the whole film with her delightful performance. Though she isn’t the only thing the film has going for it, she certainly helps make it well worth watching.
As much as I enjoy this film, had I been curating the Romances DVD set, I would have chosen to feature Roman Holiday from Audrey’s filmography. Roman Holiday is, in my opinion, her best romantic comedy and my personal favorite film of hers. Still, Love in the Afternoon is a nice fit with the other films included in the set, and is incredibly enjoyable.
Special feature: Cast & crew biographies
There is no cartoon or musical short to accompany this film, but the disc does offer a “Cast & Crew” feature which lists career highlights from some of the films players.
I’m a big, BIG fan of Billy Wilder, and I watched this one years ago (and I do mean, YEARS ago), and I didn’t care for it much…but I don’t remember why. It would seem that all the right ingredients are there for a fun film…maybe I was having a bad day. Anyway, I’ll give it another try…I just hope all these films I’m promising to watch are available at my library!