Sunday, March 12, 2017

Tonight's Movie: Love in the Afternoon (1957) - A Warner Archive Blu-ray Review

Gary Cooper and Audrey Hepburn star in LOVE IN THE AFTERNOON (1957), available on Blu-ray from the Warner Archive.

Billy Wilder directed and also cowrote the screenplay with I.A.L. Diamond, based on a book by Claude Anet.

The film tells the story of young Ariane (Hepburn), a cellist whose father (Maurice Chevalier) is a private detective. Through her father's work, in a roundabout way, Ariane meets American businessman Frank Flannagan (Cooper). Flannagan is an inveterate ladies' man, yet he finds himself increasingly fascinated with Ariane, and vice versa.

It's thus rather fitting that Flannagan's habit when wooing ladies is to hire violinists play "Fascination." Although the music begins as something of a joke, as the movie goes on "Fascination" begins to cast on a spell on the audience, too.

LOVE IN THE AFTERNOON seems to evoke strong emotions in viewers; some have trouble with the significant age difference between Cooper and Hepburn.

For my part, the age difference is a key reason the film is so moving; at the end of the film Flannagan realizes that Ariane is his very last chance for something lasting, and the suspense and his ultimate decision are all the more moving seen in that light.

There's something magical about a film which can take a rather disreputable character like Flannagan and make him so appealing; in the wrong hands the film would have been tasteless, yet somehow the director and actors pull it off with a light touch. Cooper's appeal and Hepburn's yearning are both completely believable, and they keep the viewer engrossed for the film's longish running time of 130 minutes.

Just a few days ago I saw Cooper in one of his early starring films, I TAKE THIS WOMAN (1931), so it was particularly interesting to revisit this film from the last years of his career. The films were made over a quarter century apart, but he owns the screen in both, and in each film he's teamed with a leading lady with enough star power to more than hold her own opposite him.

The Warner Archive widescreen Blu-ray looks terrific. (The film was shot by William Mellor.) The disc includes the trailer.

I loved LOVE IN THE AFTERNOON when I first saw it in 2009, and I deeply enjoyed it all over again thanks to the Warner Archive. Recommended.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray. Warner Archive Blu-rays may be ordered from the WBShop.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Haven't seen this in a long time. Your review makes me want to catch it again.
By the way,Laura, I wish you had a 'Like' button so that I could link to posts.

12:28 AM  
Blogger phillyrich said...

I think the problem is that Cooper looks tired and sickly. He was dead in two years. If the lead had been, say-- Cary Grant-- few would have had an age problem with him.
This film has a truly witty script of the kind we just don't see any more.

1:24 PM  
Blogger barrylane said...

The picture was prepared with Cary Grant in mind, but he disagreed -- as he did several times with Billy Wilder, who hoped to have him in The Major and The Minor, Lost Weekend, Sabrina, and this thing. Apparently, while the men were friendly, Grant simply did not want to be presented by Wilder.

3:20 PM  
Blogger Bill O said...

Wilder was a notorious "Stick to the script" kinda guy. Think Grant required some breathing room for improv.

2:11 AM  
Blogger barrylane said...

A follow up to my observation relative to Grant and Wilder, and why no Grant.

The girl's part was much stronger in The Major and The Minor. Grant of course did work with Ginger Rogers several times so that was not an issue, but the part was.

The Lost Weekend was about an unattractive alcoholic homosexual, with that last angle played down in the picture. He would never play that.

Sabrina -- again he did work with Audrey Hepburn, but he wasn't ready to play the older man.

Love In The Afternoon -- whether you like the film or not, Flanagan is not a right guy. In fact, no matter how 'sweetly' played, the man's character is negative. Ergo, no Cary Grant.

8:06 AM  
Blogger Bill O said...

Think you're being too simplistic on Grant's concern for his own image. He was, after all, a suspected murderer in Suspicion even tho it doesn't carry out its premise. There's no gay element in Lost Weekend. He did want Milland's role in Dial M for Murder, and a decade later considered Phantom of The Opera (!).

The fact that he NEVER worked for Wilder, I still attribute to Wilder protection of his scripts. Grant was perfectly OK with being emasculated for Howard Hawks, who would incorporate on-set improv into his scripts.Grant's "Archie Leach" reference sounds like his, as does the "I just went GAY all of a sudden!" Even in the non-Hawks Mr. Lucky, he does a riff on Cockney slang, which he could've added in. None of these seem compatible with Wilder's approach to his scripts.

1:25 PM  
Blogger barrylane said...

I am never simplistic about careers and this is not a debate. The Lost Weekend was written as I said it was by Charles Jackson. Totally gay. He did not want Milland's role in Dial M and I know something about that because a good friend of mine was offered Anthony Dawson's part, also declined, but reading about how some famous actor considered a part is press agent stuff. Grant is attached to dozens of things. As for Phantom of the Opera, never heard about that one. Which production? I did not mean that he was humorless about himself. The line about being 'Gay' in Bringing Up Baby indicates nothing other than an actor wearing a housecoat. As for Cockney slang in Mr. Lucky, nothing negative about that. Once Grant became Grant, which was about the time of The awful truth certain fundamental principles were laid out. Cary Grant always gets the girl and never dies. Exactly. Everyone did not have the same outlook. But after Parnell, Gable took a similar position. John Wayne did not. Different perspectives.

2:38 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Vienna, thanks so much for wanting to link to my posts! I'm using an ancient Blogger template -- I actually tried to figure out coding for a "share" button a couple years ago and gave up in frustration. At some point I should probably look at migrating to a newer platform with "bells and whistles" such as like buttons but I'm a bit timid about doing so -- an attempt I made, also a couple years ago, ended up being a real challenge... Still, I've been using this template since 2005 and at some point I'm going to need to move on! LOL.

Although it doesn't work like a share button, if you click on the time at the bottom left of a post it will pop a "copyable" link into the browser bar. Thanks again for your loyal readership and wanting to link here!

Best wishes,

12:49 AM  
Blogger Bill O said...

So much to correct. The novel The Lost Weekend has a gay subtext, which didn't survive to the screenplay. Nor could it. Grant's wanting Dial M is referred to in several biographies - Hitchcock fearing rightly that, ironically, Grant's casting would kill it at the box office. Particularly among women. This is not "press agent stuff", since it involved a star getting rejected. I didn't imply there was anything negative about his using Cockney slang. Rather, it was to point out that with other directors, Grant was afforded the chance to contributed personal aspects to the scripts. A freedom that Wilder, so proud of his screenplays, would never allow. If you think Grant's "gay" joke was just a reference to the situation, then you don't understand a "meta" joke. Nor the difference between Hawks and Wilder, and Grant's clear preference for the former. A collaborative relationship of actor and director - my point.

Grant commissioned the Phantom script from Hammer Films in the sixties. After he rejected it, it starred Herbert Lom. Grant was prescient in seeing, as LLoyd-Webber would much later, that the Phantom was a deeply tragic, romantic role, and such be played by a leading man.

1:26 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Who knew that a 60-year-old film would be the impetus for such energetic discussion? :) I appreciate both Barrylane and Bill O. offering their knowledge and points of view, which have each provided plenty of info which readers can use as the starting point for further research if desired, and I think we'll close this particular discussion at this point. Thanks to all for reading and contributing!

Best wishes,

8:32 AM  

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