Audrey Hepburn was among the most iconic and successful stars of the golden age of Hollywood. An elfin, delicate beauty with a shy smile and perfect bone structure, the Belgian-born actress played opposite the great leading men of her day in comedies, romances, dramas and thrillers. Here are seven must-see Audrey Hepburn movies.
Hepburn won her only Academy Award in her first starring role, as a princess who wants to escape the duties of royalty and goes AWOL in Italy. Gregory Peck costars as a reporter who at first does not recognize her, but then realizes he’s got a big story on his hands if he’s willing to betray the runaway princess. The pair made dashing about the streets of Rome on a Vespa seem like the most romantic thing any couple had ever done or would ever do. Sigh.
As Holly Golightly, Truman Capote’s dazzling, ditsy New York party girl, Hepburn became a screen legend and established her bona fides as a style icon in Breakfast at Tiffany's. The bittersweet love story is remembered as much for her party dresses as its hip, slightly dark storyline, although Hepburn’s performance is spot-on. Most memorable is the elegant Givenchy evening gown she wears at dawn, window-shopping outside Tiffany’s after a hard night. (One warning: Mickey Rooney’s hideously stereotyped turn as a Japanese neighbor is truly jarring.)
Hepburn is utterly charming as the chauffeur’s tomboy daughter with a crush on David, the rich playboy son of her father’s employer. Sabrina goes to Paris to learn to cook and returns a ravishing sophisticate, ready to turn David’s head, but winds up in a triangle with his all-business older brother Linus (Humphrey Bogart). One of many roles where she’s paired with an older star, Sabrina is a bit of romantic fluff expertly directed by Billy Wilder.
In the comic thriller Charade, Hepburn stars opposite Cary Grant (25 years her senior) as a bewildered innocent pursued by an array of extremely nasty villains. They're after ill-gotten gains hidden by her recently murdered husband, but she doesn't know where the loot is or who she can trust. The whole thing is just a fine excuse to watch two great stars in a stylish, self-mocking caper film. The villains are wonderful, and Walter Matthau almost waltzes away with the movie in a supporting role.
Fetching as the Cockney flower girl and incandescent as the mysterious belle of the ball, Hepburn snagged the coveted film role Julie Andrews played on Broadway in My Fair Lady. Hepburn wanted to sing her own songs, and was devastated when she learned that Hollywood pro Marnie Nixon's voice would be dubbed. A costume designer's dream in lavish, elegant period outfits, Hepburn once again played against an older star, the dignified Rex Harrison. A beloved movie musical and a smash.
Wait Until Dark is no romantic romp, but a tense thriller with Hepburn playing a blind woman menaced by thugs involved in a high-stakes drug deal. Hepburn plays her vulnerable but courageous character with intelligence and sensitivity. Alan Arkin is absolutely bone-chilling as the vicious thug who stalks her. I don’t want to give anything away, but you’re going to want to bop her husband in the nose at the end of the movie.
Another lavish Hollywood musical with fabulous costumes and catchy tunes. This time, the older man was Fred Astaire as a fashion photographer who discovers Hepburn’s “funny face” by accident on a shoot in a New York bookstore. Really a forgettable piece of eye candy, but what girl wouldn’t want to wear ravishing couture gowns and dance with Fred Astaire? Ah, the glamour.