Sunday 1 April 2012

Funny Face

A friend and I are (slowly, too slowly) working our way through all of Audrey Hepburn's oevre. Last year we watched Breakfast at Tiffanys. Oh dear, it was over a year ago! We'll have to step up the pace....

Last night we watched Funny Face (1957). A movie that neither of us really knew anything about. We picked it as it was short (99 minutes) and Audrey was wearing a killer suit and hat on the back cover. Sadly it only made a brief appearance in the film, but I discovered that Hepburn formed a lasting relationship, and personal friendship with Hubert de Givenchy starting with Sabrina in 1954. Miss Hepburn's Paris Wardrobe got it's own credit at the start- naturally it was by Givenchy.

Picture credit

Paris was an unexpected but delightful character in Funny Face. Audrey Hepburn plays Jo Stockton who is discovered as the face of Quality Magazine whilst working in an intellectual, philosophical bookshop (Embryo Concepts) in Grenwich Village, New York. She is whisked away to Paris to showcase Givenchy's designs and Paris itself. Audrey and her major costars- Fred Astaire and Kay Thompson all burst into song on arriving in Paris. A response I can fully understand.

But I was quite astonished how dark and dirty Paris looked! Her iconic buildings are grimy. The Opera Garnier and the Statue of Joan of Arc are not shiny with gilt. She has clearly been cleaned up in the intervening decades, and looks the better for it I think.

Most of the locations are instantly recognisable to anyone who is familiar with Paris. Opera Garnier. The Winged Victory of Samothrace- I shall think of Audrey in that stunning red dress next visit, when I'm on those very stairs with 460 other people.

Picture credit

The Eiffel Tower of course. Arc du Triomphe, and the Arc du Triomphe du Carrousel. One location had me stumped. A lovely little chateau, that forms a backdrop for the final scene. Naturally enough someone has done all the detective work for me. It is the Chateau de la Reine Blanche in the Coye-la-Foret, north of Paris, near Chantilly. A day trip to Chantilly is on the cards for the next visit to Paris actually, so you never know, I might visit here too.

Another discomforting aspect was the 30 year age difference between the major stars. Hepburn's Jo, is a sweet young ingenue, is courted by Fred Astaire's photographer Dick Avery. Hepburn here is 28, Astaire 58. The third main star was also a surprise to me, Kay Thompson, more famous to me for writing her series of Eloise books, it was great to see in action as the editor of Quality magazine, a fashion editor ruling things long before Anna Wintour and any devils wearing Prada.

The story itself is all a bit silly, but it was a great backdrop to a lovely evening. Homemade pumpkin soup. A bottle of Moscato. And some Fancypants Magic Bars. Lots of laughs. Great stuff.


Satia said...

You mean Fred Astaire, right? I mean, Gene Kelly was a wonderful dancer but Fred Astaire was in the movie.

It's so funny because my daughter is coming over today and my back-up plan, if all else fails, is to watch either Funny Face with her or another movie I think she'll like.

Louise said...

OMG Satia. How embarrassment! I checked everything -except that quite obviously! I shall fix it right away. Let me know if you watch the movie. I'll be interested to hear what you think of it.

bermudaonion said...

It sounds like that would be worth watching just to see Paris. We lived in France in the 1990s and it was dirty back then. It sounds like I need to go back and revisit the cleaned up version.

Louise said...

I'm a great fan of most movies set in Paris Kathy. To me it's always worth it to watch Paris. And I think it's always time to go back.

Virginia said...

Bonjour Paris! Loved it. Thank you for this. Hope you won't mind if I share it on my blog one day soon. I'll of course link to your blog. And like you, I feel like bursting into song when I arrive in Paris as well!

Brona said...

I can't wait for you to see the movie Audrey does with Peter O'Toole called How to Steal a Million. There is a close up of O'Toole's blue eyes early in the movie that completely bowled me over..and of course, Paris and Audrey's wardrobe....ahhhhh.

Louise said...

@Virginia- of course I'd be honoured.

@Dragonfly Daydreams- that sounds wonderful. Quite a few of her movies seem to be set in Paris. I'm looking forward to them. I haven't heard of that one, I'll look out for it.