TCM Greatest Classic Films Collection: Romance (Splendor in the Grass / Love in the Afternoon / Mogambo / Now Voyager)
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Fairy-tale Paris doesn't get more enchanting than Billy Wilder's Love in the Afternoon, an ode to picnics on the grass and champagne at the Ritz. Audrey Hepburn (who had already made Sabrina with Wilder) is at her best as the inexperienced cellist with a fascination for millionaire American playboy Gary Cooper. Maurice Chevalier (who else?) is Hepburn's father, a private detective with ample evidence of Cooper's crowded history of l'amour. Alongside the sheen of the romance is Wilder's unerring sense of craftsmanship; watch how inanimate objects such as a liquor tray, a white carnation, or the little dog in the suite next door are developed into sublime running gags. The age difference between the two leads has often been questioned, but perhaps this is what gives the gossamer material the whiff of welcome melancholy. The final three minutes leave no doubt that Wilder hatched the best endings in Hollywood history. --Robert Horton
This remake of the 1932 Red Dust is famous for using the very same romantic leading man--21 years after the fact. But when that leading man is Clark Gable, what's a little gray hair in the temples? Gable was certainly still the great strutting rooster of American movies in 1953, when Mogambo made him a safari guide juggling two much younger women. First up is good-time girl Ava Gardner, who's game for a little harmless romp with Gable after she gets stood up by a playboy in the African jungle. But when Grace Kelly--the proper wife of a visiting anthropologist (Donald Sinden)--arrives on the scene, a new affair begins. The location shooting is much in the vein of King Solomon's Mines, although the story is much more intimate. This feels like a bit of a holiday for Hollywood's top director, John Ford, and not one of his most committed pictures. Still, Ford's unparalleled eye for backlit exteriors and for the way people move around in rooms is on display, even when the script wobbles. People always joke about Gable being too old for this movie, but that doesn't take into account his durable movie-star appeal--he certainly looks every inch the Hemingwayesque hunter, and it's not that big a stretch to imagine Gardner or Kelly in the clinches with him. Indeed, he and Grace Kelly had an offscreen affair during shooting, graying temples or not. --Robert Horton
Top Customer Reviews
Audrey Hepburn is enchanting as the spunky "Thin Girl", a cello student who falls in love with a millionaire playboy bachelor, played with grace and charm (and quite a bit of humor) by Gary Cooper. Hepburn was 28 at the time, and looked younger, Cooper was 56, and looked perhaps older, but despite the age difference, their chemistry together sparkles and sizzles.
The romantic cat and mouse game played by Hepburn to intrigue and win Cooper's heart is all very innocent and sweet, and I always shed a few tears at the magical ending.
Maurice Chevalier as Hepburn's father, a private detective specializing in matters of love and deception is fabulous, and gets most of the funny lines, and John McGiver, as one of Chevalier's jealous husband clients, is also very amusing.
The b & w cinematography by William Mellor is exceptional, and how the camera loves Audrey, looking exquisite in an array of beautiful gowns. There is also a quartet called "The Gypsies", who serenade the lovers throughout the film with some terrific czardas, and the melodic song "Fascination".
Light, frothy, and thoroughly enjoyable, this is one of Billy Wilder's most delightful films, and it's a treasure for Hepburn and Cooper fans.
Total running time is 130 minutes.
Coop and Hepburn's scenes together are all marvelous, especially the famous film-ending train scene, this one still makes one's toes curl, even after 20+ viewings over the years. Maurice Chevalier is also charming in his role as Audrey's father. The music, script and stellar direction by Billy Wilder make this an essential movie to watch, to own, and to treasure.
Splendor in the Grass (****1/2): Director Elia Kazan was able to extract a searing performance from Natalie Wood in this classic 1961 melodrama about youthful sexual repression in rural 1920's Kansas. She has never been more affecting then she is here as Deanie Loomis, the local butcher's daughter deeply in love with Bud Stamper, the son of an oil scion and the high school football hero. They are the senior sweethearts everyone expects to marry, but both have to battle constantly with their sexual longing and their grasping parents.
While the whole film is beautifully executed thanks to Kazan's sure hand and William Inge's screenplay (his first directly for the screen), it's the last fifteen minutes that really resonate with the characters expressing their emotions with a minimum of dialogue. At her most youthfully beautiful, Wood is wondrous as she moves fluidly from innocently infatuated to obsessive to resigned. As the none-too-bright Bud, Warren Beatty is charismatic in his film debut and makes Deanie's powerful fixation completely understandable. The classic Wordsworth poem from which the film's title is derived makes a fitting coda for this movie, and I still feel the intractable sense of longing in the two lead characters every time I see this movie.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Although Audrey Hepburn is charming, Gary Cooper is not convincing as the American playboy.Published 11 hours ago by AlisaLee
It was a very cute movie. I was interested in it because someone was basing their fan fiction story on it so I wanted to understand that more. Read morePublished 9 days ago by Donna J Dowling
Classic movies that I don't think will every be remade because they couldn't do them justice.Published 17 days ago by acompassinlife
Too little is say about this fantastic film. Glad I finally purchased a copy!!Published 26 days ago by james nelson
Was surprised to find it boring. Think Gary Cooper was miscast in his part. Chevalier and Hepburn terrific. Of course, having the Paris Ritz as background is always superb.Published 28 days ago by Evelyn Reading
Gary Cooper is too old in this role to be the believable boyfriend of a much younger woman, otherwise it's fun if you enjoy old movies!Published 2 months ago by Robert D. Stumpf
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