Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Preview: Audrey Hepburn, Icon

In this time of marketing when any damn reality star can become "a star," it seems celebrity has lost a bit of it luster. Heck, twice a year a collection of people I hardly know are trotted out and on "Dancing with the Stars." And even those I am familiar with are just headliners from 80s movies. I mean, come on. Jennifer Grey? Ralph Macchio? Sure, they may have headlined one successful movie, but... stars? Really? Really?

Harder still is to label someone as an "icon." I'll come right out and say it, but no one is worthy of that mantle in the present day. To find a real icon of cinema, you have to go back a while. I'm talking Humphrey Bogart, Liz Taylor, James Stewart, Marilyn Monroe. Those are icons. They are the standard that often have people compared to them, but no one ever truly comes close.

Take for instance, Audrey Hepburn (a definite icon). She's a distinctive actress with an iconic image and persona. A renown humanitarian, talented actress and a fashion icon. Not everyone can be the muse to Hubert de Givenchy, after all. She is, quite simply, incomparable.

Without question, the enduring image of Hepburn is of her character Holly Golightly from Breakfast at Tiffany's. I could say many words about this 1961 comedy directed by Blake Edwards. In fact, I have (after last year's screening). When it comes to romantic comedy, an adaptation of a Truman Capote book does not strike me as an ideal recipe for success. However, for all its darker nuances about loneliness, it remains a thoroughly charming film. It's like a pre-Sex and the City, revealing a deep sadness while masquerading as glamour.

But the ingredients in this Breakfast are all quite delicious. The chemistry between Hepburn and George Peppard is complicated, yet light and honest. Blake Edward's balance of melodrama, charm and slapstick get extra mileage with the talented supporting cast assembled here. And as far as the iconic imagery and sounds go... it really is hard to top the combination of 1960s cosmopolitan New York, "Moon River," Audrey Hepburn, Tiffany's, and that little black dress.

Charade, on the other hand, displays Audrey Hepburn's charm and style in an entirely different kind of film. An excellent thriller starring Hepburn and Cary Grant, it surprisingly was directed by Stanley Donen, best known for Hollywood musicals (On The Town, Singin' in the Rain, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Funny Face). Tense, fun and full of twists, Charade is very Hitchcockian in its plot and in its sense of showmanship. Hepburn plays a woman who is prepared to leave her husband but finds him dead. She learns he was hiding a fortune, and different men show up wanting to claim the riches. Dealing with the blow of a sudden loss and the pursuit by strangers, she finds herself questioning all she knew about her late spouse. Why the charade? And does she trust now... if anyone?

A classic and memorable thriller, Charade was remade in 2002 as The Truth about Charlie, directed by Jonathan Demme and starring Thandie Newton and Marky Mark Mark Wahlberg. Less a remake and more of a tribute to French New Wave cinema by Demme, it failed to resonate with audiences. Then again, attempting to recreate Grant and Hepburn in a remake leave is no small task. Those are some mighty big shoes to fill. They practically are the embodiment of class and dignity, making their shoe one large glass slipper. Alas, by comparison Thandie and Wahlberg were more of a pair of Crocs.

So there you have it. Two films by a legend, a superstar, an icon of the silver screen. Despite what the Natalie Portman supporters say, there will never be another Audrey Hepburn. Her natural grace and elegance unfortunately reflect a time long gone in Hollywood. Audrey Hepburn helps embody the very definition of being glamourous, metropolitan, chic, and regal. A true legend from Hollywood's golden era, her image is often imitated but can never be eclipsed. Luckily for us, we still have her cinematic performances to help us remember a time when icons weren't just those tiny images on our desktop computers.

Showtimes for the films:

Breakfast at Tiffany's
Saturday, Jun 25th
2:00 6:40
Sunday, Jun 26th
2:00 6:40

Saturday, Jun 25th
4:20 9:00
Sunday, Jun 26th
4:20 9:00

Final Notes about the screening

Special "Martinis and Manicures" Events before the 2 p.m. screenings of Breakfast at Tiffany's. See the Paramount Theatre page for details.

Double Features:
"When two movies are grouped together under the same thematic heading, one ticket is good for both features when viewed back-to-back on the same day." (cha-ching!)

"Hassle-free downtown parking available for $6 at the One American Center for all summer films! Since you’re also supporting the theatre when you buy parking, they're giving you a free small soda each time you park there for a film. Buy online with your film tix and print out your confirmation e-mail or buy directly from the garage attendant (cash only). Attendant will have your soda ticket as well."

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