LOVE IN THE AFTERNOON (1957) B/W widescreen 126m dir: Billy Wilder
w/Audrey Hepburn, Gary Cooper, Maurice Chevalier, Van Doude, John McGiver, Lise Bourdin, Bonifas, Claude Ariel, Jack Ary, Charles Bouillaud, Marcelle Broc, Odette Charblay, Jeanne Charblay, Olivia Chevalier, George Cocos, Gilbert Constant, Leila Croft, Valerie Croft, Janine Dard, Richard Flagy, Victor Gazzoli, Giadon, Grégoire Gromoff, Gyula Kokas, Michel Kokas, Anne Laurent, Moustache, Bernard Musson, Jeanne Papir, Marcelle Praince, Jacques Préboist, André Priez, Annie Roudier, Monique Saintey, Solon Smith, Sylvain, Alexandre Trauner, Olga Valéry, Simone Vanlancker, Audrey Young (Wilder, wife of Billy, as the brunette at the Opéra)
From Variety's contemporary review of the film: "Title-wise, Love in the Afternoon is fitting, being far more communicative of the film's content than the original [Claude Anet novel] Ariane. It's all about romance before nightfall in Paris, with Audrey Hepburn and Gary Cooper as the participants. Under Billy Wilder's alternately sensitive, mirthful, and loving-care direction, and with Maurice Chevalier turning in a captivating performance as a private detective specializing in cases of amour, the production holds enchantment and delight in substantial quantity.
"Love in the Afternoon, though, is long and the casting of Cooper as the eager beaver Romeo is curious. Consider this wealthy American businessman (Cooper) constantly as the woo merchant in his lavish Parisian hotel suite, first with Madame X and then Ariane (Hepburn). Several scenes spill out before Cooper comes on camera, and from then on it's love in the afternoon.
"It's in Chevalier's files that his daughter, the lovely, wistful Hepburn, comes upon knowledge of Cooper's international conquests, runs to him with the warning that his current passion (Madame X) has a husband (Mr. X) bent on murder, and finds herself soon to become a candidate for one of her own father's file cards.
"Mr. X is John McGiver, suitably frenzied as the husband suspecting his mate has taken to play with another. It's a floating-in-air kind of story. And being innocent of earthiness there is no offensiveness in the content."
From Billy Wilder by Axel Madsen: "Love in the Afternoon is a dreamy love-story as balmy as a summer afternoon in Paris, in the tradition of witty and sophisticated [director Ernst] Lubitsch screenfare. Even Gary Cooper in the role of an American Casanova is a re-enactment of the genre which first brought him fame --- such blithe Lubitsch comedies as Desire with Marlene Dietrich, Bluebeard's Eighth Wife with Claudette Colbert, and Design for Living with Miriam Hopkins.
"Cooper had wanted to do a film with Audrey Hepburn since he saw her in Roman Holiday, and things fell into place when Wilder found Claude Anet's little book Ariane. * [* By court order the Love in the Afternoon title in France.] Writing together with I.A.L. Diamond for the first time, Wilder turned the book into an insubstantial soap-bubble glinting with humor and romance. 'I had a chance of getting Audrey Hepburn and I thought the picture could be good, with feelings, humor and everything,' he told a Paris news conference when shooting started at the Studios Boulogne. [Art director Alexandre] Trauner had built the most lavish sets ever on a French sound-stage, including a full-scale replica of the second floor of the Ritz Hotel with corridors and working elevators, the entire first floor of the Paris Conservatoire, and a luxury suite.
"As the cello-playing music student, Audrey Hepburn was required to learn the finger-movements for the cello part of Haydn's Eighty-eighth Symphony. One of the more spectacular scenes took place in the Opéra, where Wilder had 960 extras in evening gowns and white tie and tails fill the orchestra and boxes for a gala performance of Tristan and Isolde. Wilder paid tribute to a favourite song of his Viennese student days, 'Fascination,' by making the haunting waltz serve as the background theme melody for the love scenes between Ariane Chevasse and Frank Flannagan. Bad weather marred exterior shooting and drove the cost up, particularly a picnic on a lake scene shot at Chateau de Vitry, forty miles from Paris.
"Love in the Afternoon, with its Wilderian double-meaning title of romance between a very young girl and a mature man, has the flimsiest of plot-lines and the most sophisticated of mises en scène, complete with sensual and insinuating camera movements, soft focus for romantic compositions and sharp for the brighter comedy."