29 April 2012


Coming in at number eight is Audrey Hepburn. An actress who is remembered more so for being an icon than an actress, a la Marilyn Monroe. But if you ask me, Audrey Hepburn was a hell of an actress and too bad people don't quite know that. Of course she was beautiful, and glamorous, and stylish, and her speaking voice could melt your heart, but above all else, she was a real actress.

Her most famous film is of course 1961's Breakfast at Tiffany's. In this film, Audrey plays the free-spirited and (seemingly) carefree Holly Golightly, a young call girl living in New York City. Always on the lookout for a nice millionaire to marry, she doesn't notice that her downstairs neighbor is absolutely crazy about her.
Originally, the character was written with Marilyn Monroe in mind, and author Truman Capote apparently threw a fit when Audrey was cast instead. But it was for the best. Audrey took a character who was originally hard-bitten and honestly, quite unlikable, and gave her a softer, more vulnerable core surrounded by a tough shell. She tries her best to act like everything is wonderful when, quite frankly, it isn't. I'm not as sure that Marilyn Monroe would have been able to give Holly more complex layers as Audrey was able to.

In 1964, Audrey beat out all other competition for the role of Eliza Doolittle in the film version of My Fair Lady. (Competition included Elizabeth Taylor and Julie Andrews). Directed by George Cukor, Audrey deftly played the ultimate ugly duckling role with sympathy and a bit more depth than originally written.

But  the movie that I remember Audrey Hepburn most for is 1953's Roman Holiday. She plays a princess on the lam who falls in love with newspaperman Gregory Peck. Since I don't believe in spoilers, I won't give anything away, except that Roman Holiday has one of my favorite movie endings ever.

When Roman Holiday was being made, Audrey Hepburn was not a big star. As such, her original credit was supposed to come after the title of the film. However, Gregory Peck realized that she was absolute magic and insisted that her name come above the title, after his. After Roman Holiday was released, the whole world realized Audrey's magic and fell under her spell. She would be awarded with film's highest honor for her performance in the film, the Academy Award as Best Actress of the year.

But above all the movies and the great style, the beautiful, quiet speaking voice, the elegance and poise, what made Audrey Hepburn so special was her heart. She retired and joined forces with UNICEF to help children in poverty and war ravaged areas that nobody else dared go near. Long before it was fahionable for celebrities to champoin a cause, Audrey Hepburn brought awareness and spoke for those who couldn't help or speak for themselves. Even today, nearly twenty years after her death, the Audrey Hepburn Children's Fund continues to aid those in need. She was also posthumusly awarded the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award in recognition of her outstanding charity work and in honor of a remarkable woman.

27 April 2012

You're a rank sentimentalist

As you may or may not know, last evening, I attended a special 70th Anniversary screening of Casablanca. Upon entering the theater, I was instantly struck by how many people there were. I mean, the theater looked just about full, and even after my friend and I took our seats, people were still filing in. And the best part about it all was the range of ages that were in attendance. I noticed that some people had brought along their kids, which made me want to high-five them. Hell, I wanted to high-five everybody that was there.

The lights dimmed, the room hushed, and the audience was treated to an introduction to the film by none other than the host of Turner Classic Movies, Robert Osborne. The introduction included some background information about the film, reminiscences by those who worked on it, and some famous faces discussing what Casablanca means to them.

And so the movie began. Watching it, I felt almost as if I was seeing it for the first time. And at the end, I felt so satisfied. It's been a long time since I've felt that way after seeing a movie. My favorite part was the collective applause (and I may or may not have spotted a standing ovation out of the corner of my eye) when the picture ended. Although I was kind of hoping for some applause at the beginning, when the title came upon the screen,  some applause for Humprey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman's first appearances, and for Victor Laszlo's rousing rendition of La Marseillaise, alas, there was none.

The only setback was when some asshat's telephone rang...and he actually answered it and had a conversation! However, there was basically nothing that could have went down during that screening that would have dampened my spirits. I paid $11.50 for my ticket, but honestly, and I don't really give a damn how lame this sounds, it was a totally priceless experience. What a night.

Next week, they are screening the 1927 silent classic Wings, starring Clara Bow. I may or may not be going.

25 April 2012

Here's looking at you, kid

I am very excited. Tomorrow night, I am going to have the immense pleasure of seeing one of my favorite  movies on the big screen. In celebration of its 70th anniversary, Casablanca is returning to the screen for a special, one night only event. The official anniversary was in March, but due to popular demand, Fathom Events, in partnership with Turner Classic Movies, is rescreening the film. Good news for me, since I didn't make it to the first one.

This is the second time that I am aware of that a classic film is returning for a one night only engagement. A few months back, West Side Story was re -released, but unfortunately the closest participating theater was all the way in Harrisburg, so I didn't get to make it to that. Needless to say, I still brood over that one.

For those of you keeping score at home, you may or may not remember that over the summer I had my very first experience seeing a classic film on the big screen with Diabolique. http://im-into-leather.blogspot.com/2011/08/out-and-about-film-viewings.html  Being from Smalltown, Pennsylvania, there arent't that many chances to get out and catch a screening of an old, beloved classic (L.A-ers, how I envy you). And, unfortunately for me, most of the chances I have had to see classic films in public have usually managed to be thwarted some way or another. (I was supposed to see West Side Story at the park outside, and they couldn't get the sound working. I was supposed to see Some Like it Hot in the courtyard of the Sun Inn, and got the times mixed up). So this is huge for me, and come tomorrow afternoon at work, I know I'm going to be bursting at the seams. 

There's nothing like seeing a movie that you love on the big screen, the way it's supposed to be seen, and I'm very glad to add Casablanca to the list of beloved films that I have been lucky enough to see again in a theater.

Stay tuned for a follow-up!