Filmed in Paris at the Studios de Boulogne, the Opera, the Chateau de Vitry, and in various suburban settings, there's no question that LOVE IN THE AFTERNOON had great locations going for it. It also had the winsome charm of Hepburn, the elfin puckishness of Chevalier, a literate script by
Wilder and Diamond, and an airy feeling that wafted the audience along. What it didn't have going for it was a leading man--Gary Cooper could be many things, but as the lead in a romantic comedy, he fell short. Not that he'd never done it before. Cooper had made several pictures in which he
handled comedy lines with aplomb, but he was pushing 56 at the time and looking too long in the tooth to be playing opposite the gamine Hepburn. Chevalier is a Parisian private eye who uses a long lens to espy that Cooper, a rich American, is cavorting with Bourdin, who is married to McGiver.
Chevalier imparts that information to the outraged husband as Hepburn, Chevalier's daughter, is listening outside the door. She is fascinated by Cooper's activities, so she rushes to his hotel to alert him that an irate man is about to shoot him. Cooper is amused by Hepburn, who is masquerading as
a woman with a past. Thus begins a series of afternoon meetings in which Hepburn regales him with imaginary tales of her many lovers. Then she slips away and he doesn't know where or how to find her. As the film continues, Cooper is falling for Hepburn and desperately wants to know more about her.
He's in a steam room one day and meets Chevalier, who hears Cooper's tale of love and offers his services, not knowing that the woman in question is his daughter. After a bit of investigating and putting two and two together, Chevalier realizes that the girl is Hepburn, and he prevails on Cooper
to forget her and leave Paris as soon as possible before any further emotional damage is done. Cooper goes to the railway station in preparation for a holiday when Hepburn arrives to bid him adieu. It's then that they both understand that May and December can work, and he takes her with him as the
With little competition from the wooden Cooper, the picture is stolen by Chevalier's bravura turn. Reportedly, Chevalier's good humor was just as evident off screen, and he kept both cast and crew happy and content throughout the shooting while Cooper withdrew. Cooper was on foreign territory, in
his first film away from the States, and his discomfort was discernible. Wilder saw that and deliberately shot Cooper in shadows, keeping him elusive most of the time and choosing odd angles to accomplish this. For old radio fans, look at the maid in the Ritz hotel and see if you can tell who she
is from her voice. It's Minerva Pious, the lady who played "Mrs. Nussbaum" on Fred Allen's radio feature "Allen's Alley." The brunette with Cooper at the opera was Wilder's wife, the former Audrey Young. LOVE IN THE AFTERNOON had many faults and yet, as the song goes, "with all it's faults, we
love it still." There are a few tunes to spice up the romance: "Fascination" (F.D. Marchetti, Maurice de Feraudy), "L'Ame des Poetes" (Charles Trenet), "C'est Si Bon" (Henri Betti, Andre Hornez), "Love in the Afternoon," "Ariane," and "Hot Paprika" (Marty Malneck).
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