May 4th is best known as National Star Wars Day, but it’s also an important day in film history for another reason. It was on this day in 1929 that Audrey Hepburn was born. Actress, fashion icon, and humanitarian, Audrey was many things to many people, and her legacy lives on through her timeless movies that remain popular decades after their original releases.
Even if you know very little of Audrey Hepburn, you can probably conjure at least one image of her to mind—an a-line black dress, a chic and neat up-do, and a long cigarette holder perched in her hand. This portrayal of Audrey as Holly Golightly has been cemented in pop culture through countless posters, greeting cards, and internet memes.
While Breakfast at Tiffany’s is a classic, it’s important to acknowledge that Audrey’s portrayal of Holly is just one of the dozens of diverse roles she played during her lifetime. So, in honor of her 87th birthday, it’s time to pop the champagne, pull out the petite fours, curl up with your favorite cat (who may or may not have a name), and watch these 10 movies that are not Breakfast at Tiffany’s:
Audrey plays Nicole, the daughter of an art forger who makes his living selling imitation masterpieces that he passes off as originals. When one of his sculptures is accepted into an important Parisian museum, Nicole vows to steal it back before its authenticity is questioned. To do it, she teams up with expert thief and charismatic charmer, Simon Dermott (played by Peter O’Toole). This movie is Audrey at her comedic best with plenty of quirky dialogue, slapstick humor, and lighted-hearted romance.
“Oh Sabrina, Sabrina, where have you been all my life?” gushes rich playboy David Larrabee. If you’ve never seen this movie before, you’ll find yourself wondering the same thing. Audrey is enchanting as the chauffeur’s daughter who goes to Paris for culinary school and comes home ready to fall in love. She soon finds herself stuck in a love triangle with both of her employer’s sons, played by William Holden and Humphrey Bogart, respectively. Will she get everything she dreamed of or just a broken heart?
3. Funny Face:
Yet another Audrey movie that takes place in France, Funny Face is about a mousy bookstore clerk who gets whisked away to Paris by a fashion photographer (Fred Astaire) looking for a fresh face for his new magazine shoot. He wants her to be a fashion model, and she wants to be a French philosopher. Will either get what they want? Part romance and part musical comedy, this movie is a rare glimpse of Audrey singing, twirling, and even tap dancing in some of the most gorgeous costuming of her career.
If you crave your romance with a side of murder mystery, you’ll love the thrills of Charade. Soon after falling for a handsome stranger (Cary Grant) at a ski resort, Regina Lampert (Audrey Hepburn) returns home to find her husband has been murdered. Worse, the murderer might be after her and her new lover next. From mistaken identities to stolen millions, this movie has it all, and Audrey steers the show just north of creepy Hitchcock territory with a happy ending and comedic dialogue in spades.
5. My Fair Lady:
In this musical based on the George Bernard Shaw play Pygmalion, Audrey plays Eliza Doolittle, a Cockney street urchin that phoneticist Henry Higgins decides to pluck from the lower classes and transform into a lady. Unfortunately, despite months of vocal training, Audrey’s singing voice was not left in the final cut of the movie. However, her Eliza still shines as she transforms from flower girl to socialite, all while putting bossy Henry Higgins in his place.
6. Roman Holiday:
This movie stars Audrey in what is considered her breakout role, and it’s not hard to see why America fell in love with her. Audrey plays her character of Princess Anne so well, you won’t believe she isn’t royalty in real life. In this simple and sweet story, we follow Anne on a day in Italy where she attempts to be an ordinary girl. Tailed by American reporter Joe Bradley (Gregory Peck) she eats gelato, drives a vespa, and chops off her hair into what would become Audrey’s signature pixie cut.
7. Two for the Road:
This serious relationship drama is the antithesis of the light-hearted love affairs in Audrey’s early movies, such as Roman Holiday, but that doesn’t make it any less romantic. Audrey plays opposite Albert Finney, as a husband and wife asking the eternal question: Can love last? Their story is told through flashbacks over the course of 10 years of marriage, leading up to the final decision of whether they should stay together or go their separate ways.
8. Wait Until Dark:
In one of the final films of Audrey’s career, she plays a blind woman whose husband is out of town while two criminals are on the loose. As fate would have it, she has something they want—a doll that her husband innocently found and gave to his wife, not knowing it was stuffed with heroin. Without the comedic relief of Charade, this is one of Audrey’s most serious and suspenseful roles, and the acting chops she displays while playing a blind woman shouldn’t be overlooked. A subtle thriller with a climatic ending, this may not be one of Audrey’s most famous roles, but once viewed you won’t forget it.
Karen (Audrey Hepburn) and Martha (Shirley MacLaine) are best friends. They do everything together. They work together, live together, and run a boarding school for girls together. Their lives are perfectly peaceful until a troublemaking student accuses them of being lesbians. As the reputation of their school and their entire lives crumble around them, they begin to question everything, including their formerly platonic relationship.
Once again Audrey teams up with her real life lover William Holden to create a frothy romantic comedy. Like Sabrina, you might also say this movie involves a love triangle, only this time the third party is the screenplay Holden’s character is working on. Audrey is the assistant desperately trying to keep him on task, which would be much easier if he didn’t keep asking her to act out different romantic scenarios for the script. Full of silly screwball antics, this film is the perfect ending to a hardcore Hepburn binge.
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