Friday, October 17, 2008

the Princess

Hepburn. Audrey Hepburn. Audrey Gorgeous Hepburn. Beautiful and sensational Audrey Hepburn!!!
I was pretty ignorant about the Hollywood side up till a certain age. We did not have the cable connection. There was no Internet at my place and things could not have been better because life was simpler. And with just a PC and a CD slot in it, i looked for movies at times, and my father suggested Roman Holiday. "Some flick", I thought "about a trip in Rome. Same old romantic bullshit". Yet i got hold of the CD, (I was in class 11 at that time, with knowledge of movies about nil and only aware of Ray and his movies as the trademark of good films, and totally ignorant and skeptical about mushy romance stuff). I watch all movies alone, if I am watching them at home and refer those to my parents if I like them. This one was no exception. A lazy afternoon permitted the screening of Roman Holiday in my bedroom and the rest is history. I have always admired Vivien Leigh. I was head over heels in love with her as Scarlett O'Hara. Brutish beauty Leigh was NOT a princess. Hepburn was. In fact, i wondered if they had shipped a real blue blood heiress to play the part. I-don't-care-I'm-just-happy-this-moment. That about sums her up. I loved her. She wasn't one of those airy fairy gorgeous women who seem so out of reach. She seemed a commoner AND a princess. And you cannot build that up. Some people are just born with it.

The next one i stumbled upon was Breakfast at Tiffany's. Honestly as a movie I did not like it. And for people who started their journey with Roman Holiday, the expectation from a movie is real high if Hepburn happens to be in it. But again one had to give her a ten on ten if not more. The insane, erratic and impulsive girl, who dares to do whatever she likes because she isn't weighed down by any worry in the world. The princess plays it to perfection. Yes she still seems more than human and yet very human. She is no princess in this one, but Alas! I can see her only as a princess even if she dresses like the poorest commoner around. The movie , unfortunately, takes the clichéd turn of is she really a free spirit? and brings her back into the arms of the hero in the end. However she plays the free spirit with élan and if the film didn't force me to, I would never question the genuine lack of worry in her character.

My Fair Lady happened a little after the two movies i mentioned. I am not quite fond of musicals. I have tried a few and sometimes have fast forwarded certain songs (which is a tragedy, because songs are the main things in those films). I have managed to sit through The Sound of Music and Chicago and liked them both in fact. My Fair Lady turned out to be the third musical I wouldn't mind. Hepburn just comes undone. She bursts out with all her skills. There is absolutely no ladylike demeanor expected from the flower girl, and the Princess plays the waif with such beauty that i had no words of praise left. I just listened to the distorted accent that flowed out of her mouth. She chirped, almost literally. "Eeow! I'm A Good Girl, I am!" she repeats and I don't doubt her for a second. I laugh at her and hold hands with her and say "yeah, lets go sell 'em flowers and do hell with the rest of the world". Then the movie takes its turn and Miss Waif gets a chance to learn how to be a lady etc etc. I shall not go into that, because we know she is a lady and that she belongs up there. Its playing the waif so convincingly that matters.

The last one i watched was Sabrina. A friend highly recommended it and i finally decided to get through with it. I did not want another romantic comedy so fast, but honestly I had no idea what this one was about. And again, there she was, as the chauffeur's lovestruck daughter, almost a waif but not quite so, and doomed to eternal depression by the looks of it. This movie is good. Unlike Tiffany's this one is a good movie in its entirety and does not rely fully on Hepburn's charm for its success. And when a movie does not depend on an actor to succeed, i guess the actor gets more opportunity to flaunt herself. And the princess did it once more. She fit into the rags-to-riches fairytale perfectly. This movie lives up to the standards of Roman Holiday, but i still think the latter wins the race.

Gregory Peck had seen Audrey act and asked the producers to spell her name in bold letters and big fonts in the credits of Roman Holiday, instead of fitting her name below his , as had been planned. Peck hadn't failed in recognizing pure talent. And here we have Audrey - beautiful waif and princess - to live in our hearts forever.