When Roman Holiday initially came out, despite playing the title character, Audrey Hepburn was a relative unknown in the film industry. But based on her fine acting Gregory Peck demanded she receive top billing because he was positive that she was bound to be a big star one day and then he’ll look like an idiot. She went on to win an Oscar for her performance in 1953.
There are so many charming actresses out there, but Audrey is on a whole another level, and attempts to capture her likeness and mannerisms only results in hackneyed imitations. Known best for her Cinderella-esque roles in romantic comedies, Hepburn was also a great dramatic actress as noted in one of my picks below, but of course, there are just some iconic films that cannot be left off this list, films which made Audrey into Audrey Hepburn.
(5) My Fair Lady
“The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain.” –Eliza Doolittle
Based on Bernard Shaw’s play, Pygmalion, Eliza Dolittle captures the attention of a phonetics professor who believes he can turn her into a lady of society. Their professional relationship quickly becomes compromised when they find themselves falling for each other. Hepburn’s cockney accent is a bit much at times, but she’s also incredible charming and the elaborate costume designs makes the film a visual delight.
“How do you say my brother has a lovely girl?”–Linus Larrabee
“Mon frère a une gentille petite amie.” –Sabrina Fairchild
“And how do you say I wish I were my brother?”—Linus Larrabee
Sabrina Fairchild returns to Long Island after spending her adolescence in Paris learning how to be a lady and bake soufflés. When she returns home she catches the eye of David Larrabee, a rich playboy. The problem is she’s the family chauffeur’s daughter and as a way to divert attention from their budding romance, David makes Sabrina spend time with his older brother Linus (Humphrey Bogart), the solemn businessman, who also finds himself falling for her much to his own surprise.
(3) The Children’s Hour
“It’s funny. It’s all mixed up. There’s something in you, and you don’t know anything about it because you don’t know it’s there. And then suddenly, one night a little girl gets bored and tells a lie, and there, for the first time, you see it. Then you say to yourself, did she see it? Did she sense it?”—Martha
Karen Wright and Martha Dobie (Shirley MacLaine) are two teachers who run a private school for girls. After a petty student accuses her two teachers of being in a romantic relationship they receive immediate backlash from the parents and the rest of the community. Karen is determined to fight against malicious gossip, but the lie has Martha distraught and she begins to doubt her own sexuality. A very daring topic for a 60s film. Shirley MacLaine was especially wonderful in this.
(2) Breakfast at Tiffany’s
“I’m not going to let anyone put me in a cage.”—Holly Golightly
Arguably, Hepburn’s most famous role as Holly Golightly, the day-dreaming, fast talking socialite who is also a kept woman. She finds her male equivalent in Paul, a writer who is financially looked after by a wealthy older woman. In a role meant for Marilyn Monroe, Hepburn is charming and vulnerable enough to prevent from seeming too two dimensional. Worth it just to see Hepburn singing Moon River.
(1) Roman Holiday
“Which of the cities visited did Your Highness enjoy the most?”–Reporter
“Each, in its own way, was unforgettable. It would be difficult to – Rome! By all means, Rome. I will cherish my visit here in memory as long as I live.“–Princess Ann
I don’t think Hepburn has ever given a bad performance, but this one is by far my favourite. Hepburn plays a bored princess who gets her first taste of freedom when she sneaks out of her room one night in Rome. She finds lodging at Joe Bradley’s (Gregory Peck) apartment. He’s an American reporter who pretends to not know who she is, even though he’s secretly planning to run an exclusive on her. Love the beautiful scenic shots, Gregory Peck in a grey suit and the bittersweet ending.
Honorable Mentions: How To Steal A Million, Funny Face, Charade
What are your favorite Audrey films?
[Cover photo via telegraph]