Paris is the city of everyone’s dreams. At least, it has always been the city of my dreams. It maintains an air of mystique and magic framed in the soft light of romanticism.
The city of Paris has never had a more loving cinematic portrayal than in the films of Audrey Hepburn. Hepburn herself was a little bit of magic and as chic as the city itself. She starred opposite many famous male costars in her films, Humphrey Bogart, Fred Astaire, Gary Cooper, Cary Grant, Gregory Peck, names which are synonymous with cinema’s most romantic leading men. But perhaps her best and most compatible co-star is the city of Paris itself.
Of course, this alternative romantic pairing was enhanced by its’ very own fairy godmother in the form of Givenchy and his fashionable film wardrobe which perfectly suited Audrey and Paris. In fact, his contribution elevated and immortalized their match.
Of Hepburn’s thirty four films, seven of them were set in or featured Paris in some way. Of those seven Givenchy’s wonderful wardrobe lovingly presents Audrey to Paris in four of those films.
Hepburn wasn’t born in Paris and had no personal legitimate connection, but thanks to these films, the two will always be irrevocably linked in my mind. And Paris will always be my favorite Audrey Hepburn co-star.
Paris serves as the setting for this early Hepburn film in which she has a supporting role. Unfortunately this was filmed on a studio set and not in the City of Love. Still it bears mentioning. Hepburn and her sister flee their home country when their father is killed, to settle in Paris with a family friend. Hepburn has a memorable scene as a dancer who gets to use her real life dance skills.
Although Sabrina is set on Long Island, it is Paris which transforms Hepburn’s title character. It is also Paris which provides the magic for her reunion with unlikely love match Linus Larabee. The City of Light rescues both main characters. Sabrina is the savior in the myth, but Paris is the savior of the film. Sabrina is also the first pairing of Hepburn and Givenchy.
Oh, but Paris isn’t for changing planes, it’s… it’s for changing your outlook, for… for throwing open the windows and letting in… letting in la vie en rose.
Hepburn plays a philosophizing book seller transformed into a fashion model by photographer Fred Astaire. Paris is held out as the bait for Hepburn to agree to a career change which goes against her convictions. Many famous Parisian landmarks are highlighted during the song, Bonjour, Paris! as well as some of the modeling scenes. And of course, what can be more Parisian than fashion and philosophy?
Set in Paris, Hepburn is a naive young musician who becomes enamored of an aging playboy played by Gary Cooper. Her father is a private investigator portrayed by none other than Maurice Chevalier, a famous French actor of both French and American films. Although Love in the Afternoon is filmed in black and white with many indoor scenes, there are still some familiar Parisian locales which are highlighted. To see some of these locales take a look at this post from the blog Movie Tourist.
One of my favorite films starring both Hepburn and Cary Grant. Hepburn is a young widow caught up in a mystery of stolen money with Grant acting as her potential love interest. Charade makes great use of Paris’ scenery, particularly the park, the Seine and the Palais Royale. Givenchy’s wardrobe only heightens the sense of French chic which defines the film. Play tourist with Movie Tourist and visit the Paris of Charade.
Also starring William Holden as an author with writer’s block, Hepburn is hired as his typist to help him finish a book which is way past deadline. Once again a Hepburn film is set in Paris and the two main characters run around the city while imagining scenarios at different locations. Though nowhere near Hebpurn’s best film, the Givenchy costumes do make it more watchable.
A wonderful comedy which stars Hepburn as the daughter of an art forger who mistakenly hires an investigator to help her steal her father’s work from a museum before it is discovered as a phony. People familiar with Paris will recognize several of the buildings used as exteriors. Not to mention her role as an artist’s daughter is very believable since she runs around Paris in Givenchy. Once again Movie Tourist highlights familiar Parisian scenes from this film.
Although the following two films were not filmed or set in Paris, they were filmed in other parts of France. Given Audrey Hepburn’s indelible connection with Paris, I would be remiss not to mention these two films as part of her French themed endeavors.
One of Hepburn’s earliest films, she has a small role as a film star whose decision to hide her son from her estranged husband leads to the child being misplaced. This is filmed in French and has English subtitles.
A married couple travel to the south of France for business. While there they relive the memories of their relationship and travels through the French countryside. This one features Hebpurn in very mod 1960’s ensembles.
What is your favorite film set in Paris?