Directed by Stanley Donen
Written by Leonard Gershe
Starring: Audrey Hepburn, Fred Astaire, Kay Thompson
Maggie Prescott and Dick Avery have just taken over a small New York bookstore for an impromptu fashion photo shoot. While bookstore employee Jo Stockton looks on, the photography crew does their best to capture the modern woman. When Jo becomes part of the shoot she soon becomes the focus of attention for Avery. Now Prescott and Avery are doing their best to pull Jo into the world of high fashion. As Jo and Avery get to know one another, an unexpected relationship forms. This relationship is soon tested in the conflicting worlds that they live in.
Stanley Donen (Singin’ in the Rain) is one of my favorite directors when it comes to musicals. He also happens to have had great success with Audrey Hepburn. The two of them would later work together on Charade, another wonderful film, in 1963. This time the story came from Leonard Gershe (Silk Stockings). The film has a wonderful and talented cast that includes Hepburn (Roman Holiday), Fred Astaire (Top Hat), and Kay Thompson (The Kid From Brooklyn). This film found minimal box office success, but still earned nominations for four Academy Awards. The nominations included Best Writing (Gershe), Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, and Best Set Decoration. Later, the film was re-released after the success of My Fair Lady and became much more commercially successful.
The film features wonderful music, composed by Roger Edens (Singin’ in the Rain). This score was combined nicely with dance routines choreographed by Fred Astaire and Eugene Loring. Like some of the best musicals, the dancing and the music work together perfectly. The combination in this film includes some of the best visuals I’ve seen in any musical. This is also due to the wonderful set designs which utilize color and lighting perfectly. Overall, this movie is a visual and audio treasure that is worth every minute. For fans of the stage play, this might be a different experience since many of the original songs were not used in the movie version.
The acting in this one is also wonderful. The film features a nice trio of talented actors who make the whole movie worth while. Audrey Hepburn might not have had the singing and dancing abilities of Fred Astaire, but she pulled her own weight in this one. Her performance is charming and energetic, capturing everything you might hope for from her. Fred Astaire also does a great job in this one. His ability to perform just seems effortless as he dances and sings his way through this whole movie. One of the best aspects of the film was Kay Thompson’s performance. She’s able to carry much of the film with her bold and confident performance. In many ways I think she laid the groundwork for Meryl Streep‘s performance in The Devil Wears Prada. While it’s not entirely the same role, it works on many of the same ideas of strong women. On another interesting note, Kay Thompson is mainly remembered for her books series Eloise. She only took on a small number of roles, preferring to work behind the scenes throughout her career. Overall, this is a wonderfully acted film from all the people involved.
The story for this film is simple and straightforward. This leaves the movie very predictable, but enjoyable nonetheless. Mainly, the film seems to be written as a vehicle for the musical numbers and the visual splendor of it all. I do enjoy the unique nature of the characters. Fred Astaire’s character was loosely based on the work of Richard Avedon, one of my favorite photographers. Overall, this is a good story that does what it needs to, but takes a back seat to the other elements of the movie.
I love musicals, especially ones with strong visuals and a good story. This seemed to have all three. The story comes in third for me, but not in any way that should discourage people from seeing the film. I would recommend this to fans of musicals, as well as fans of romance. This is also a must-see for fans of the stars in the film. For fans of photography this is worth checking out also. The opening credits were designed by the legendary fashion photographer, Richard Avedon. The work he did is wonderful, and the credits are a nice taste of his talent. I give this one 4.5 out of 5 stars.