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Love in the Afternoon (1957)

American romantic comedy film produced and directed by Billy Wilder, starring Gary Cooper and Audrey Hepburn.

The visual gags that Wilder deploys are as stingingly cynical as ever, but here they have a newfound way with time, which they inhabit with an exquisitely controlled leisure. It’s the first of Wilder’s later and greatest films.

Richard Brody – The New Yorker

Story: A middle-aged playboy becomes fascinated by the daughter of a private detective who has been hired to entrap him with the wife of a client. (IMDb)


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Love in the Afternoon (1957): A Charismatic Elegance of Amorous Intrigue

– Retrospective & Movie Review –

Love in the Afternoon (1957): A Charismatic Elegance of Amorous Intrigue, Movie Review

In an era where cinema often indulged in sweeping romances and epic tales, director Billy Wilder‘s “Love in the Afternoon” emerges as a delightful exception, offering a nuanced and sophisticated take on love, lust, and intrigue.

With a deft blend of wit, charm, and suspense, this film weaves an intricate web of emotions that keeps you hooked from the first frame to the last, and without a doubt, earns a well-deserved spot as a cinematic Must See.

Wilder, known for his ability to juggle both drama and humor, weaves a unique tapestry in “Love in the Afternoon.” The film follows the enchanting Ariane Chavasse (played with mesmerizing elegance by Audrey Hepburn), a young woman who gets entangled in the world of wealthy playboys and their affairs.

When she crosses paths with Gary Cooper‘s suave and aging American playboy, Frank Flannagan, sparks fly and an affair that defies convention begins to unfold.

The film’s narrative core lies in its exploration of the dynamics between age and youth, experience and innocence. Cooper‘s charismatic portrayal of the experienced Flannagan stands as a testament to his acting prowess.

Love in the Afternoon (1957), Gary Cooper, Audrey Hepburn, Retrospective
LOVE IN THE AFTERNOON, from left: Gary Cooper, Audrey Hepburn, on location in Paris, 1957

The way he effortlessly radiates an air of world-weariness, while still managing to connect with Hepburn‘s Ariane on a deeper level, is a masterclass in screen chemistry. Hepburn, in turn, brings her signature grace and vivacity to the screen, infusing Ariane with a mix of naivety and curiosity that is both endearing and relatable.

Wilder‘s directorial finesse shines through the expertly crafted scenes, where every glance, every subtle gesture, adds layers to the story. The Parisian backdrop further adds to the allure, as Wilder captures the city’s romantic essence in every frame, from the charming cafes to the elegant streets.

The pacing of the film, coupled with Wilder‘s keen eye for detail, keeps the audience engaged as the characters navigate a maze of deception and desire.

The film’s supporting cast, including the impeccable Maurice Chevalier as Ariane’s suave father, adds a layer of sophistication and humor to the proceedings. Chevalier‘s effortless charm and his interactions with Hepburn inject a light-heartedness that balances the film’s weightier themes.

The script, penned by Wilder and regular collaborator I.A.L. Diamond, crackles with sharp dialogue that captures the subtleties of human emotion and relationships. It’s a testament to their skill that they manage to create a story that is simultaneously humorous, suspenseful, and emotionally resonant.

Love in the Afternoon (1957), Movie Review

One of the film’s most remarkable achievements is its ability to challenge traditional gender roles and societal norms prevalent at the time.

Ariane is no damsel in distress; she’s a young woman who takes charge of her own destiny, navigating a world of older men with confidence and a curious spirit. This progressive portrayal of a female protagonist adds a layer of empowerment that elevates the film beyond its romantic trappings.

Love in the Afternoon” is a symphony of emotions, a film that dances gracefully between laughter and heartache, passion and restraint. It encapsulates the essence of love’s complexity and the intrigue of forbidden romance in a way that only a maestro like Wilder could achieve.

With its impeccable performances, masterful direction, and a script that is both poignant and witty, this film undoubtedly earns a spot in the pantheon of classic cinema. On our FrameClass scale, it effortlessly earns a glowing 4 stars, standing as a Must See that resonates as powerfully today as it did over half a century ago.


Stephen Galen Estevan

A cinephile whose love for the Silver Screen transcends eras and genres. Armed with a deep passion for films, from classic masterpieces to contemporary gems, I’m on a quest to explore all of Cinema one Frame at a time.



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IMDb | Wikipedia | Rotten Tomatoes | Metacritic | Letterboxd


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