Seven Reasons to Watch 'Love in the Afternoon'


The Olympics may be in London this go-around, but I'd be lying if I said this international get-together didn't have me dreaming about the great cities of the world hosting meet-ups between people of different cultures. And not just meet-ups but also hook-ups.

Oh. Did I say that out loud?

Okay, all due respect for athletic feats and all that, but let's not kid around: There's a full-on United Nations of lovemaking happening in the Olympic Village right now, and that's why Billy Wilder's "Love in the Afternoon" is the perfect movie to watch this weekend. It's all about different cultures meeting, falling in love and then falling into bed. And in case that alone isn't motivation to tune in this Sunday at 9 p.m., here are seven more reasons to do so.

The opening scene. Keep in mind that this Audrey Hepburn romantic comedy debuted in theaters in 1957, when cinema was prohibited from the clothes-free, parts-dangling that it enjoys today. That's why the sly suggestions of sex jump out at you. Take the opening sequence, in which a woman pulls down the blind on a window overlooking midday Paris. Why would someone do this? Probably for the act named in the film's title. This suggestion of sex is also reflected in the film's stylish poster.

The Double Life of Audrey Hepburn. Hepburn, reputedly the only actress considered for this role, was fortunate to play Ariane -- a chaste maiden type of character. Despite being 28 at the time she filmed "Love," Hepburn ably exudes a gawky, girlish glee in playing this character who's just learning the ways of love. However, once she charms her way into the life of Gary Cooper's character, she adopts a been-around-the-block femme fatale persona, which Hepburn also pulls off with aplomb. The take-away? Hepburn was just that awesome.

Amaze your friends with casting trivia! Given how much older Gary Cooper was than Audrey Hepburn, you have to wonder: How, exactly did he land this role? According to Charlotte Chandler's biography of director Billy Wilder (and as cited by Wikipedia), Cooper won the role because he and Wilder had similar tastes and Cooper would be "good company" during scene shoots in Paris. So there you go. Chandler, meanwhile, reports that Maurice Chevalier was delighted to join on to the film. A quote: "I would give the secret recipe for my grandmother's bouillabaisse to be in a Billy Wilder picture."

The age difference. At the time "Love" hit theaters, Gary Cooper was 56 years old. Just four years later, he'd be dead. In many reviews for "Love," critics noted the age difference between Cooper and Hepburn -- who, again, was 28 at the time -- as a major impediment to enjoying the film, and subsequently -- perhaps consequently -- the film was not a box office success. What do you think: Is Cooper being twice Hepburn's age that problematic for you? It apparently was for Cooper, at the bery least. According to IMDb, the box office failure of "Love," ultimately prompted Cooper to get a facelift. This was also deemed a failure. Vanity, thy name isn't "woman." It's "actor."

Pepe le Pew. Is the famous Looney Tunes skunk based on Maurice Chevalier, who in this film plays Hepburn's detective father? Officially, no. But listening to the introduction to "Love in the Afternoon," you will find it difficult not to hear the famous French skunk explaining the nature of lovemaking in Paris. According to Wikipedia, the inspiration for Pepe's voice is the actor Charles Boyer from the 1938 film "Algiers." Nonetheless, the rumor persists that Pepe's amorous French accent was actually inspired by Chevalier. Listen while you're watching the movie.

Pardon my French, but this is family film. As I said before, "Love in the Afternoon" only hints at hanky-panky between its lead characters. And that's weird, considering that the film establishes Cooper's character as a bit of a cad and ladies' man. Are we meant to believe that he didn't immediately get her into bed? Actually, yes. According to IMDb, Cooper's line "I can't even get to first base with her" was even dubbed into the film to assure audiences that Hepburn wasn't having sex. And in a purported effort to appease the National Legion of Decency, Chevalier dubbed in an additional line for his closing narration that explained the lovers got married -- you know, just so you didn't have to worry about these fictional characters living in sin.

"Hot Paprika." The soundtrack features a composition named this. Irrespective of anything in the actual film, wouldn't that be a great band name?

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