Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Audrey, in a class of her own

Harley of Dreaming in Black and White has posted some really lovely things about Audrey Hepburn on the anniversary of her passing. You can view it here. It's inspired me to put in some thoughts on Audrey and why she was and still is wonderful.

"A great lady. It's quite an achievement to spend that long in Hollywood and not become a Hollywood product. She always maneuvered around that -- and that takes intelligence. She was always her own person." {David Niven

One of the first things that drew me to Audrey Hepburn, some years before I was into classic films, was how she presented herself. With one glance at a photo of hers, you could see she was poised and well-mannered. When you see a few of her films, you also notice her smile and quirky sense of humour, all while maintaining class. She reflected who she was - from the way she conducted herself to her fashion sense - and didn't compromise that.

It's interesting because when Audrey made it big with the success of Roman Holiday, she wasn't like other Hollywood actresses of the time. When I think of Audrey, I don't usually think of her as side-by-side of her contemporaries, she stuck out among other upcoming starlets of the 50s and I think that's why she was able to have such a distinguished career with star vehicle after star vehicle.

But she wasn't only a lady with a delightful screen presence, she could stretch herself in her acting. It's easy to turn to her signature role in Breakfast at Tiffany's, but I really think it was a triumphant performance. She herself said - sorry, adlibbing here - that the part called for an extrovert when she was an introvert. Audrey was also in fine form as Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady. Even though Audrey didn't sing her own songs, she gave a convincing stretch as a cockney girl. Then there's the straight drama parts in The Nun's Story and Two For the Road where Audrey abandoned the Givenchy and exposed her deep sadness and vulnerability to the camera.

Perhaps, though, the most admirable quality of Audrey was her kindness. She gave back to UNICEF for their aid to her during world war 2 and travelled to Africa. Footage and images show the true caring nature of Audrey. She was that rarity, a sweetheart on screen and in reality.

R.I.P Audrey Hepburn.

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