As the title would suggest, Audrey Hepburn in the Movies by film critic Timothy Knight (Metro Books, 2009) is a retrospective of the Hollywood career of the legendary Audrey Hepburn. Included with the beautiful, full-color hardcover book is a DVD of a documentary. Today, I’ll be reviewing both the book and the accompanying doc.
The book clocks in at only 176 pages, but Knight makes great use of that short page length, packing his book with stunning photographs and film stills, as well as information about each of Audrey’s films and analyses of her performances in them.
After a short introduction in which Knight lists what he considers to be Hepburn’s greatest performances,* the content is split into four chronological sections (1948 – ’52, 1953 – ’59, 1960 – ’67 and 1976 – ’89). It’s wrapped up with a simple “Filmography” list on the final page.
*Knight’s favorites: Princess Ann in Roman Holiday (1953), Sabrina Fairchild in Sabrina (1954), Sister Luke in The Nun’s Story (1959), Holly Golighty in Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961), Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady (1964) and Jo Wallace in Two for the Road (1967)
The 1948 – ’52 section is understandably the shortest in the book, at four pages in length. This section tracks both stage and film roles for the young Ms. Hepburn, explaining how she got her start as an actress. Knight shares his own commentary and also includes quotes from contemporary reviewers.
The next three sections are much more substantial in length, each beginning with an overview of that period of Audrey’s career before launching into a film-by-film breakdown. A bottom bar in each of these section introductions provides information about the leading men Audrey worked with and the roles that they played alongside her. Throughout the 1953 – ’59, 1960 – ’67 and 1976 – ’89 sections, Knight weaves in behind-the-scenes stories and information about Audrey’s personal life (such as her marriage to Mel Ferrer), as well as historical context to the films (such as the parallel between Roman Holiday and Princess Margaret’s romance with commoner Peter Townsend).
The documentary which accompanies the book runs at about 40 minutes and is narrated by the book’s author, Timothy Knight. It contains some of the same information that is included in the book, providing an overview of Audrey’s life an career. The documentary adds to the enjoyable experience of the book through the incorporation of film clips and trailers. The DVD does not provide an in-depth look at her career and contains no interviews, but it’s a fun and quick watch that complements the book well.
Well-researched and written with great respect for the subject, I would definitely consider Audrey Hepburn in the Movies by Timothy Knight to be a must-have for fans of the actress. Though it didn’t provide me with much information that I didn’t already know about Audrey, and I don’t completely agree with Knight’s picks for her greatest performances,* the book is beautifully designed and a nice read for an overview of her amazing career.
*My favorite Audrey films: Roman Holiday (1953), Sabrina (1954), Funny Face (1957), Charade (1963), Two for the Road (1967)