Tag Archives: Audrey Hepburn

They All Laughed (1981)

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 4 out of 10

4-Word Review: Audrey Hepburn’s last movie.

Three male detectives (Ben Gazzara, John Ritter, Blaine Novak) follow around two beautiful ladies (Dorothy Stratten, Audrey Hepburn) whose husbands think are being unfaithful. The detectives have been hired to keep tabs on them, but in the process end up falling for them and then try to somehow get their attention without giving away why they are there.

The film has a nice casual pace that helps bring out its rather eccentric tone. The on-location shooting of New York is outstanding. It’s one thing to show the viewer a bird’s eye view of the skyline, but another to take them onto the city streets and inside all the different shops, from bookstores to museums, while giving them a very real sense that they are going inside these places along with the characters as it picks up the inside ambience quite nicely.

The problem though is that there is no story. The first thirty minutes deals with these men following the women around, but it is not clear why they are doing it and the script’s evasiveness becomes off-putting. There’s no beginning, middle or end, or even any conflict. Just a flat, breezy tale of some cardboard characters having brief flings and that’s it. 2-hours of your time have now just been saved.

The interesting cast allows for some diversion, but even that’s not enough. This is mostly known as being Dorothy Stratten’s last movie as she was murdered before the film was released. However, I was much more impressed with Patti Hansen, who plays a cab driver and has since 1983 been the wife of Keith Richards. I was taken in not only by her stunning beauty, but her relaxed composure in front of the camera. She displays a wonderfully effervescent smile and a laid back persona that doesn’t get intimidated at all by the big name stars around her. If there was one person I wanted the film to be built around it was her and was disappointed it wasn’t.

Stratten on the other hand is not as good-looking and displays all the expected qualities of a model that has no formal acting training as she conveys stiffness as well as a one-note delivery. Her character seems too young to be married to the man that she is and overall I felt the only reason she got cast is because director Peter Bogdanovich was thinking through his penis instead of his head.

Gazzara and Ritter are weak too. They’ve done some good work in other projects, but not here. Gazzara is particularly annoying as his face seems frozen with this leering grinning expression that just never goes away. Ritter plays a bumbling version of his Jack Tripper character and while some of those antics were amusing on ‘Three’s a Company, here they quickly become stale.

Hepburn is the film’s only bright spot and this is considered to be her last theatrical feature as she had just a cameo appearance in Always, but she doesn’t really appear until the second hour and most of the time is seen wearing big bulky dark glasses that almost completely cover-up her face.

Colleen Camp has a few enjoyable snarky moments in a part that was apparently written expressly for her, but she says the name of Ritter’s character, which is Charles, way too much. Most screenwriting instructors will tell you not to have dialogue that reiterates the names of the characters as people normally don’t speak that way in their regular everyday conversations and yet here Camp says ‘Charles’ in an almost repetitive fashion to the point that it gets distracting. I didn’t count how many times she said it during her conversation with him inside a store, but I did start counting when she brought him back to her apartment and during that brief four minutes she says it 29 times. If this was meant to be some sort of joke then it’s a pointless one and if not then Bogdanovich needs to take a course in screenwriting or at least learn how to write a script where something actually happens in it and not just filled with redundant dialogue.

My Rating: 4 out of 10

Released: November 20, 1981

Runtime: 1 Hour 55 Minutes

Rated PG

Director: Peter Bogdanovich

Studio: Moon Pictures

Available: DVD

The Children’s Hour (1961)

childrens hour

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 4 out of 10

4-Word Review: Ruined by a lie.

Martha and Karen (Shirley Maclaine, Audrey Hepburn) are two single young women running an all-girl’s school. They have the respect of the community and the parents, but that suddenly changes when one of the students named Mary (Karen Balkin) decides to spread a rumor that Martha and Karen are lovers. This sends everything into an uproar. All the students are moved out and the two women find themselves fighting desperately for their reputations and livelihoods. Karen’s boyfriend Joe (James Garner) remains their staunch supporter, but eventually even he begins to have his suspicions.

The film is based on the landmark play written by Lillian Hellman which ran for 691 performances in 1934 and was based on a true incident that happened in Scotland in 1810. The original film version of the play was made in 1936 and entitled These Three that was also directed by William Wyler and starred Miriam Hopkins as Martha who in this film plays Martha’s Aunt Lily. That film was heavily watered down with the lesbian element completely taken out and instead has the rumor revolve around the two teachers being in love with the same man.

This second film version was supposed to be more like the play, but hardly seems worth the effort. Although Wyler makes some attempts to make it seem more cinematic it still comes off very much like a filmed stage play and a static one at that. Lots and lots of talk with a narrative that is quite plodding and predictable. Having the story work more in a fragmented style might have helped, but either way it is never very engrossing or compelling. It also completely skips over the libel trial, which I thought could’ve given some added drama and it never completely explains why the Aunt Lily character avoided testifying. She comes up with the lame excuse that she was touring with her show, but I felt it was more because she secretly knew Martha was a closet lesbian and didn’t want to have to confront that and the film should’ve made this more clear.

It is also unintentionally funny at times especially the part where actress Fay Bainter’s eyes get bigger and bigger as Mary whispers her ‘shocking’ secret into her ear. Balkin also overdoes the facial expressions, which was probably due to too much coaching on the part of Wyler, but with that said her presence in the film is fun and gives the proceedings a liveliness that is otherwise stagnant.

The film really isn’t all that groundbreaking either and handles the delicate issue in too much of a timid way. For instance there is a scene where Martha admits to her homosexual feelings and states that she feels ‘ashamed’ for having them and Karen counsels her by stating that ‘you did nothing wrong’ because ‘nothing happened’, but what if it had then would it have been wrong? I tend to lean towards the latter making the production seem as stale and prejudicial as the public at the time. I was also confused as to how the two women could remain living at the school when all the students had moved out and they no longer had any income, or how they were still able to have groceries delivered to them.

My Rating: 4 out of 10

Released: December 19, 1961

Runtime: 1Hour 47Minutes

Not Rated

Director: William Wyler

Studio: United Artists

Available: DVD, Blu-ray, Amazon Instant Video

How to Steal a Million (1966)

how to steal a million 2

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 8 out of 10

4-Word Review: They steal a statue.

Bonnet (Hugh Griffith) is a successful art forger who lends his Cellini Venus statue to a Paris Museum. He also has it insured, but doesn’t realize that for the coverage to take effect it would have to go through a test by the insurance company to make sure it is authentic, which sends him into a panic. His daughter Nicole (Audrey Hepburn) decides to help him by enlisting the help of Simon (Peter O’Toole) who she thinks is a professional burglar. Simon though is actually an investigator who is on to Bonnet’s racket, but decides to play along and steal the statue back despite the place being under tight security simply because he has fallen for Nicole and she for him.

Directed by William Wyler this film is engaging from beginning to end and perfectly blends the comedy with the caper. The story itself has limited action and a moderately slow pace, but I was never bored and enjoyed the plush sets and wide array of supporting characters making this a perfect tonic for those looking for light forget-your-troubles entertainment.

O’Toole’s detached manner works well with the character who allows Nicole to take charge or at least think she is while still secretly holding all the cards. The chemistry between the two is good, but I felt the romantic angle got played out too quickly. Sometimes it is more interesting not knowing if they are going to fall in love or not until the end and having them get all romantic with each other while trapped in a cramped janitor’s closet at the museum and during the tension of the robbery seemed a bit of a stretch.

Hepburn is elegant as ever and as usual it is her chic outfits that become almost as fun as her performance and the one that she wears to a restaurant when she meets Simon to set-up their plan has to be seen to be believed. The funniest one though is when she dresses in a very frumpy un-Hepburn-like dress and hat and then gets down on her hands and knees to pretend to be a cleaning lady.

Griffith hams it up marvelously as the crazy father and makes the most of every scene he is in. His cross-eyed stare makes him look almost like the twin brother of character actor Jack Elam.

Eli Wallach is underused in a supporting role that really doesn’t offer much and there is never any explanation of why he becomes so infatuated with the statue like he does. However, the way he describes his love for the statue in an aroused type of way is funny.

The robbery itself features some interestingly intricate moments. The best is when the couple is locked in a closet and Simon uses a magnet to take the key, which is hanging on the other side of the wall off of its hook and along the wall and into the lock, which I found to be totally cool.

how to steal a million 1

My Rating: 8 out of 10

Released: July 13, 1966

Runtime: 2Hours 3Minutes

Not Rated

Director: William Wyler

Studio: 20th Century Fox

Available: VHS, DVD, Amazon Instant Video