Charade (1963)

A viewer’s delight. This movie had two of the great movie stars seen on screen, which marked the first time they starred together. This is Stanley Donen’s romantic-suspense drama ‘Charade.’ A movie that could have been a Hitchcock thriller or a James Bond movie.

The first time when I heard about this movie was in a local quiz competition. Our team didn’t get the answer to the introduction scene of this movie. The movie title always fascinated me. That was just one of many reasons to watch this movie. Little did I know then, it would star Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn?

Cary Grant was 59 and hence wasn’t convinced about romancing Audrey Hepburn, who was just 33 at that time. He did refuse the offers made to him because of the age difference.

Finally, Cary Grant did agree because of Peter Stone’s script’s specific change, the writer. It was decided that Audrey Hepburn would be pursuing him, and promptly the romantically aggressive lines were shifted to Audrey Hepburn’s character.

This film also reiterated the fact of Cary Grant playing action roles with ease. He refused James Bond owing to age. Apart from these legendary actors, Walter Matthau plays a pivotal character.

Audrey Hepburn plays the character of Regina Lampert, who would lose her husband through murder. Many of his friends would come to take the money, which was stolen in gold from US Government during WW II. She is ignorant about his past, and the plot continues when three of her husband’s ex-partners in crime, the US Government, all chase her in search of money. The screen name of Cary Grant changes every 20-minutes in the movie, who has a protective and selfish motive in the film. The film is shot mainly in Paris and Switzerland.

This movie, made in 1963, was a box office hit, and this movie happened to be the only time Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn appeared together on screen. Cary Grant had refused ‘Roman Holiday’ earlier, which ended up being listed in Time’s 100 Greatest Movies.

Apart from Audrey Hepburn’s lines, I love the last scene where Cary Grant chases Audrey Hepburn. Why does he pursue? Watch the movie and find it out yourself.

Sabrina (1954)

The aura doesn’t diminish, and Sabrina Fairchild’s role will be an all-time favourite character of mine. Surprisingly, this was the first Humphrey Bogart movie I saw. Well, the well-known films of his were all before this movie.

Audrey Hepburn overnight became one of my favourite actresses is because of this movie. The role of Sabrina has such innocence that one would fall in love with her immediately.

The story goes this way, as narrated by Sabrina.

Once upon a time, on the north shore of Long Island, some 30 miles from New York, there lived a small girl on a large estate. The estate was very large indeed and had many servants. There were gardeners to take care of the gardens and a tree surgeon on a retainer. There was a boatman to take care of the boats: to put them in the water in the spring and scrape their bottoms in the winter. There were specialists to take care of the grounds: the outdoor tennis court and the indoor tennis court, the outdoor swimming pool, and the indoor swimming pool. And there was a man of no particular title who took care of a small pool in the garden for a goldfish named George. On the estate, there was a chauffeur named Fairchild, who had been imported from England, years ago, together with a new Rolls Royce.

Fairchild was a fine chauffeur of considerable polish, like the eight cars in his care, and he had a daughter by the name of Sabrina. It was the eve of the annual six-meter yacht races, and as had been a tradition on Long Island for the past 30 years, the Larrabees were giving a party. It never rained on the night of the Larrabee party; the Larrabees wouldn’t have stood for it. There were four Larrabees in all: father, mother, and two sons.

Maude and Oliver Larrabee were married in nineteen hundred and six and among their many wedding presents was a townhouse in New York and this estate for weekends. The townhouse has since been converted into Saks Fifth Avenue. The elder son, Linus Larrabee, graduated from Yale, where his classmates voted him the man Most Likely to leave his Alma Mater Fifty Million Dollars. His brother, David, went through several of the best eastern colleges for short periods and several marriages for an even shorter time. He is now a successful six-goal polo player and is listed on Linus’s tax return as a six hundred dollar deduction. Life was pleasant among the Larrabees, for this was as close to heaven as one could get on Long Island.

Sabrina, since childhood, was fascinated with David (played by William Holden). He hardly notices her but still cannot keep an eye off him.

When things hardly seem to move, she is sent to Paris to a cooking school to take her mom’s place as a cook in the estate. In Paris, she undergoes many changes intellectually, and when she is back to Long Island, she returns as a gorgeous lady. That’s the magic of Paris!

One scene that attracts is when Sabrina, while she waits for a cab, is noticed by David and offers her to give a lift without realizing she was Sabrina, the chauffeur’s daughter.

Oh, Hello… How are you??? asks Sabrina

Hello…. I am fine… How are you? I mean, who are you? David replies….

All this time, Sabrina was warned that she was trying to reach the moon. She believed the moon was trying to get her after her transformation.

The rich and poor status quo comes in between, and this is when Linus (Humphrey Bogart), brother of David, steps in to resolve it.

Rest is something; I would love the movie to narrate because some of the best dialogues and scenes are reserved for Sabrina and Linus.

Linus Larrabee: [while slow dancing with Sabrina] How do you say my sister has a yellow pencil in French?
Sabrina Fairchild: Ma soeur a un crayon jaune.
Linus Larrabee: How do you say my brother has a lovely girl?
Sabrina Fairchild: Mon frere a une gentille petite amie.
Linus Larrabee: And how do you say I wish I were my brother?

Sabrina was the first movie I watched of Audrey Hepburn. Cary Grant refused the role, and Bogie was a late replacement for him.

This movie was later made in 1995 with the same name, starring Harrison Ford playing Linus, Julia Ormond playing Sabrina, and Greg Kinnear playing David.

This is not all; the 1994 Bollywood movie “Yeh Dillagi” was inspired by the 1954 film. Scene to scene, one can see the resemblance. Kajol, playing the title role of Sabrina, while Saif Ali Khan plays David and Akshay Kumar playing Linus.

Directed by Billy Wilder, this 1954 movie earned Audrey Hepburn an Oscar nomination for best actress. Her haircut became a sensation. This movie managed to bag the Best Costume design (B/W) Oscar nevertheless.

Roman Holiday (1953)

Many movies were made in the 1950s; I enjoyed watching the lead actors and mainly actresses of that era essaying the roles with their screen brilliance. One that comes to my mind is “Audrey Hepburn.” I had watched Sabrina and Charade before I could get a grab on “Roman Holiday.”

Her portrayal of Princess Ann was picture perfect. Her boredom of being the princess and not getting a chance to lead the life she wanted made her uncomfortable almost every time. She decides Rome to be the place to escape from the monotonous routine and get a breather.

The princess happens to bump into Joe Bradley (Gregory Peck), a press reporter who is in serious need of a story. His discovery of Princess Ann makes him interested all the more than just be captured by beauty. And she was unaware of his motives.

Princess Ann: I could do some of the things I’ve always wanted to.
Joe Bradley: Like what?
Princess Ann: Oh, you can’t imagine. I-I’d do just whatever I liked all day long.
Joe Bradley: Tell you what. Why don’t we do all those things together?
Princess Ann: But don’t you have to work?
Joe Bradley: Work? No. Today’s going to be a holiday.
Princess Ann: But you want to do a lot of silly things?
Joe Bradley: [He takes her hand] … First wish? One sidewalk cafe, coming’ right up. I know just the place—Rocca’s.

She wants to tour Rome. Smokes her first cigarette, Dance, have a haircut, ride a Vespa, swim, and whatnot. She wanted to have a holiday just the way she would have preferred.

Photos were clicked; most of them would have been an embarrassment for the princess but a fortune for Joe and his photographer friend. As the day comes to an end, Romance does creep in. At the same time, she realizes it is just about time to get back; she asks Joe to drop her back. Joe knew, and he didn’t try to stop her. Suddenly the motive of using photographs didn’t seem to be the way to go.

Princess Ann: I have to leave you now. I’m going to that corner there and turn. You must stay in the car and drive away. Promise not to watch me go beyond the corner. Just drive away and leave me as I leave you.
Joe Bradley: All right.
Princess Ann: I don’t know how to say goodbye. I can’t think of any words.
Joe Bradley: Don’t try.
Princess Ann: At midnight, I’ll turn into a pumpkin and drive away in my glass slipper.
Joe Bradley: And that will be the end of the fairy tale.

The last part, when Princess Anne comes to terms with her responsibility, openly faces Rome’s press. She gets to see Joe and his photographer friend.

Reporter: And what, in the opinion of Your Highness, is the outlook for friendship among nations?
Princess Ann: I have every faith in it, as I have faith in relations between people.
Joe Bradley: May I say, speaking for my press service: we believe Your Highness’s faith will not be unjustified.
Princess Ann: I am so glad to hear you say it.
Another reporter: Which of the cities visited did Your Highness enjoy the most?
Princess Ann: Each, in its own way, was unforgettable. It would be difficult to – Rome! By all means, Rome. I will cherish my visit here in memory as long as I live.

This movie’s highlight is a scene’ Mouth of Truth’: Such beautiful improvisation by Gregory Peck towards the end. A lot has been expressed in this scene, And this, to me, is my favorite scene in the movie.

Rather than narrating, it’s worth watching this classic.

Released in 1953, the Roman holiday was the biggest grosser and an all-time classic. Starring: Audrey Hepburn (debut as a leading actress, and eventually won Best Actress Oscar), Gregory Peck, whose expressions and resonant voice is simply breathtaking.

Watch out for the Vespa adventure. And this film was entirely shot in Rome, Italy.