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LOVE IN THE AFTERNOON (1957)

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Discussion before

In the opening narration to Billy Wilder’s tribute to director Ernst Lubitsch, Maurice Chevalier calls Paris a city where people make love. For two hours, Wilder proves that statement true with this story of a young girl (Audrey Hepburn) whose infatuation with a womanizing American tycoon (Gary Cooper) causes her to invent a promiscuous past in order to woo him. Wilder was always grateful to Lubitsch, who had boosted his career by hiring him to write Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife (1938) and Ninotchka (1939). Like his mentor, Wilder only suggests his characters’ sexual escapades and does so by using a group of traveling musicians, hired by Cooper, to aid in his seductions. The film draws on Wilder’s past while also pointing to his future. It’s one of several adaptations of Claude Anet’s novel Ariane, jeune fille russe, one of which was co-written by Wilder while he was still living in Germany in 1931. It also resembles Bluebeard’s Eight Wife in that Cooper was cast as a womanizing tycoon. In addition, it’s the first of 12 films Wilder co-wrote with I.A.L. Diamond, including Some Like It Hot (1959) and The Apartment (1960).  The team won a Writers Guild of America Award for their script. (d. Billy Wilder, 130m, 35mm)

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