Why it’s famous:
This explosion of musical colour and pizazz is one of the most classic satires of the fashion editorial world and is inspiration for Beyoncé’s music video, “Countdown.” Most associate Audrey Hepburn with the classic black turtleneck, cropped pants, and ballet flats seen in this film. Pitch-perfect performances by Hepburn, Fred Astaire, and a delightful Kay Thompson enchanted moviegoers of its time amidst quirky music and an almost grotesque image of Paris as most Americans in 1957 would have stereotyped it.
Maggie Prescott: The quality woman must have grace, elegance, and pizazz.
Dick Avery: Well, every girl on every page of quality has grace, elegance, and pizazz. Now, what’s wrong with bringing out a girl who has character, spirit, and intelligence?
Dovitch: That certainly would be novel in a fashion magazine.
Maggie Prescott: Duval, please! I can’t hear myself think, and I’m trying to think in French!
Why you haven’t seen it:
You’ve seen so many shots of Audrey Hepburn from this film, you are hesitant to see it for a full 103 minutes. It’s one of those films that’s referenced all the time and almost feels unnecessary to watch from overexposure.
Why it might be tough to get through:
Like most musical romantic comedies from the ‘50s, everything is exaggerated, such as the huge number of musical numbers and the goofy situational comedy tropes that lend a hand to the unexplained plot lines to the film. (You fell in love with the guy? When? I think I blinked and missed it.) As far as satire goes, it’s pretty thin, as it works off the typical “beauty versus brains” logic we’re all pretty tired of nowadays.
Why you should see it anyway:
This movie does feature brilliant performances by its starring cast. Hepburn demonstrates her absolute charm in her role as Jo Stockton, and if Fred Astaire doesn’t make you smile, I think you’re entitled to get your money back. At the end of the day, it’s a funny, colourful, feel-good classic that’s perfect for a rainy day.
Ditzy model character Marion’s interest in comic books was inserted into the film to reflect actress-model Dovima’s (later known as Dorothy Horan) real-life passion for them. Audrey Hepburn’s terrier appeared as the dog in the basket during the Anna Karenina train shot.
In order to secure Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire on the cast, producers told each the other was already signed, figuring they would not pass up the opportunity to work together.