The Audrey Hepburn Story, Part Two

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And we do the time warp again — to 1961 and Breakfast at Tiffany’s, that is. Some guy that’s supposed to be George Peppard talks to some tart that’s supposed to be Audrey about Capote’s “hostile vibrations” (that’s a Funny Face reference for you), and “Audrey” clomps over on her path of apple crates to “osk” Capote a question. This scene is so pointless and revolting. It’s like every scene in Hewitt’s short-lived “Time of Your Life” show (hey, I read every single recap), when her character either gives a pep talk or receives one (usually receives, though). Anyhoo, “Audrey” asks if Holly really slept with all the men she escorted, and Capote asks what she thinks. “Audrey” says that she was a lot like Holly in the beginning in that she didn’t want people to know how little she really knew. Yeah, thanks for not answering the question and paralleling Audrey Hepburn to a neurotic call girl. I take it no one involved with the biopic actually read the novella, or they wouldn’t have made such a stupid comparison. Then again, they don’t know Audrey from Marilyn Monroe, apparently, so it’s a moot point.

not Peppard and not Hepburn

Cut back to Roman Holiday for no apparent reason. Oh yes, to see Hewitt slaughtering another classic Audrey moment because this biopic was made for her to play dress up. She squeals and giggles and just looks like an idiot in general while a robotic Chris Klein with bad teeth — no, wait, that’s supposed to be Gregory Peck — apes around. We cut to the Baroness telling “Audrey” to be careful, since the press is speculating that she and Peck are having an affair. “Audrey” whines, “Cahn’t someone tell them that it isn’t twue?” and it irritates me yet again that Audrey Hepburn is portrayed as such a whining infant. Then there’s a press conference, and she does the “witty” eyebrow talk and gives lip to the press, and since she can do no wrong, they love her. Eugh. Also, someone needles her about her father, and she momentarily gets schmoopy about him, which is falser than the urban legend about Washington’s wooden teeth. She’s also wearing the “meet the press” dress (and hat) from the final scene of Roman Holiday, and while Audrey wasn’t making millions yet, I’m sure she could afford to buy her own clothes. I also noticed that, behind the podium, the movie posters have Hewitt’s and Robot’s head put in where Hepburn’s and Peck’s were. Gah. Afterward, she meets Will — er, Mel Ferrer. I have nothing against Eric McCormack and I think he does very nicely in period pieces, but he’s way too white bread American for Mel and doesn’t really resemble him at all. I can’t remember if this part is totally accurate, but I do know that Gregory Peck did initially introduce them, though it was quite a while before they started seeing each other.

Then “Audrey” goes to Paris (read: a Canadian soundstage and some stock footage) to meet up with Hubert de Givenchy for some costume fittings. They stay true to history when Givenchy assumed that Katharine Hepburn was coming, but the fawning and drooling over “Audrey” is totally ridiculous and not at all true. He was just getting ready to show a huge collection and didn’t have time to spend on Audrey, so he just set her loose on the clothes racks and let her pick what she wanted. But of course we have to have some pandering to Hewitt, hence the bending of history for more “You’re so perfect!” talk. Ugh. Montage of her “liking the pink,” they agree and bond over how beautiful and perfect she is, Givenchy putting the big Breakfast at Tiffany’s black hat on her, and then some shots of them fitting her in the muslin copy of the famous Sabrina dress, and her standing by a window for no reason. Oh wait, it’s yet another Hewitt rip-off a famous Audrey picture. Except she looks fat and squat in that dress, and her hair looks like a dead duck. But everyone catches their breath and realizes that they’re in the presence of an earthly goddess, so I guess they didn’t notice.

what is on your head?

“Audrey” shows up to what I’m assuming is a getting-to-know-you party at the set house for Sabrina (Long Island, if you’re interested), since she’s obviously never met anyone there before. But she spots William Holden (played by a blonde Billy Zane-ish guy) and starts drooling and hussying to the chauffeur. She makes disgusting, twitchy “come hither” looks at Holden and they dance closely, breathe all over each other, and giggle. The first time they meet. At a cast party. In front of everyone. And he’s married. Right. There’s much giggling and skanky dancing until “Audrey” says she should go before she starts humping his leg (okay, she didn’t say it like that, but she sure looks it), and he acts horny. And the world vomits. There’s also a quick shot of “Bogie” in there, and he looks alright in sunlight — and in profile. I thought he was a much better impersonator than the people playing James Hanson or Givenchy (or Audrey).

Speaking of vomit, in the TV airing commercial break, there’s a Neutrogena commercial featuring none other than Hewitt herself! Talk about lack of shame . . .

So now Hewitt’s up a fake tree and pretending to think while she also pretends to not see William Zane (heh, sorry) coming towards her all lusty. He makes some pandering small talk about being so in love with her, including the John Wayne-ish “I’m crazy for ya, baby,” and I can just see both Hepburn and Holden coming back to life to yell at the TV for cheapening them so. I also noted that Hewitt talks so low you can hardly hear her. Maybe she figured that the lower she talked, the less likely we were to hear the awful accent and the fact that she’s got a screechy teen voice. I also noted that her eyebrows are all wrong. Honestly, Audrey was known for her strange eyebrows in the beginning, especially during Sabrina, and Hewitt sports the same ones throughout the whole biopic. I know that all you have to do is get an eyebrow pencil and pencil them in. Yeesh. I guess they spent the whole budget on clothes that Hewitt would end up taking home. “Audrey” saunters over to her chair and sits next to the Baroness, who’s worried about this affair. “Audrey” shrugs it off, and I really wonder why she’d take her mother on set everyday to be bored out of her skull while her daughter flirted with a married man. But the Baroness warns “Audrey” about married men, and “Audrey” mumbles “MnI’m falling in love.” She’s also wearing a small gold band on her right middle finger, and I can’t figure out why. Audrey never wore any rings outside of her wedding bands and the ring that Robert Wolders gave her.

up a tree the real deal

And now a HUGE gaffe. It’s night and Hewitt’s standing by a pool in the knock-off strapless white gown looking confused, which she does a lot, when Holden comes over to grovel some more about how much he’s in love with her while she looks like she’s stifling a yawn. The director calls him off camera so they can film, and I’m wondering why Holden’s even around when he’s nowhere near this scene. Oh, right, plot contrivance. And lust. So the Bogie impersonator steps up, and compared to the hideous wig and squat-looking “Audrey,” he looks good! Television Without Pity said that they must have cast the absolute worst look-alikes in an attempt to make Hewitt look better, and after seeing how they just totally dropped the ball with all these famous men, I believe it. Honestly! It’s not like this all took place before pictures or film or the written flippin’ word. Incredible laziness, I think. Anyhoo, Bogart clunkily delivers the line and they knock lips — er, kiss, and the director, who’s supposed to be Billy Wilder, does pep talk #1,047 about “Audrey”: “What’s the matter with Bogie? The most beautiful girl in the world, and he looks like he has to force himself to kiss her!” Spare me. And the world. The wrong music is playing, but more importantly, the “forcing” himself bit could be explained if they’d bothered to actually point out the on-set strife between Bogart and everyone else, and his heavy drinking. Oh yeah, and the fact that he considered Audrey to be a “lightweight” and didn’t think she was worth giving the time of day. Ah, but that requires work.

Later, “Audrey” and Willy Zane are giggling stupidly (well, she is) and talking about getting married. He offers to get a divorce to marry her, and she looks shocked and stutters. What else was she planning to do? Sheesh. He kind of proposes and she does these really frightening squinty eyes (to show she’s happy) and gushes “Yes!” while slobbering on his face. She starts yammering about being a baby farm, and he hems and haws and finally says that he’s had a vasectomy and can’t have any more kids. Hewitt makes the concerned/vomit face and breaks it off with him, and he’s mightily confused. There’s also this really confusing bit where Holden yammers about getting her “down off that shelf,” and it’s so very pointless. I noted that when she’s being dramatic, she talks through her teeth like my dad does when he’s mad. It looks really dumb and uncharacteristic, and her lipstick glows in the dark. I mean, Audrey always wore muted makeup, including lipstick (except with stage makeup, obviously). And yet Hewitt’s always seen sporting deep reds or, in this scene, fuschias. It looks hideous. So she clomps away, and we fade to her weeping with the Baroness. You can’t see her face for the eyeliner and false eyelashes, and don’t forget the lipstick! The Baroness gives another pep talk about how “Audrey” is the love of her life, and right here I admire Frances Fischer for doing so well with this tripe. She does the Baroness so well and actually resembles her, so she sticks out like a sore thumb, poor thing. The Baroness blathers that “I didn’t particularly want children ’til I had you,” which is a huge slap in the face to Audrey’s two half-brothers. “Audrey” walks away, and — dear god!!! She’s wearing ankle boots! EEEWWWW! Another Hepburn no-no (and in my opinion, fashion no-no, period).

Then Mel Ferrer shows up at “Audrey”s door speaking French (which she whispers, so we won’t know that she’s slaughtering that, too), and he hands her flowers and a script for Ondine, a play he wants her to do. She says “Uh play,” (it’s supposed to be “A play!”) like she’s never heard those two words together in her whole life. She hems and haws to get yet another pep talk, and he says that Alfred Lunt will direct if she stars with Mel. “Audrey” deadpans “Alfred Lunt. What a wonderful idea,” and I’m convinced that anyone not familiar with Audrey Hepburn must think that she was a Valium-addicted idiot by now. I’ve actually read people’s input about this biopic, and a lot of them didn’t see what the big deal was about Audrey just based on this piece of trash. Thanks a lot, cast and crew. They have dinner together while strange, Breakfast at Tiffany’s type music plays. It sounds very 60s and very out of sync. Later, they sit on the floor and read through the script, and her reading of it is so awful I think Giraudoux should come back to life just to sue her. I also notice that she’s wearing a watch, which I’ve never seen Audrey wear. Like I said, I notice the little things.

So they’re in rehearsals now and acting like hormone-addled dolts when suggesting a change to the director, Lunt. She twitches and bugs her eyes and dances about, and actually leaps into his arms. She also does a sonic squeal, much to the world’s chagrin. I’m incredulous beyond belief, as is Lunt, who calmly knocks them both down a peg. Oh, and she’s wearing full-on high heels in this scene (another Hepburn no-no!) to obviously try and make her 5 inches taller. Blegh.

put your leg down

Then we’re backstage in “Audrey”s dressing room and they’re yammering about all the flowers she’s getting, because the whole world is on their knees for “Audrey.” Yes, I love Audrey, and I know that she was and still continues to be quite popular. But there’s a difference between the truth and what comes out of this biopic. I know I can’t totally blame JLH, but when she gets her paws into things, they usually end up being fawn-fests for her character, whoever she may be that day. It’s sickening and incredibly egotistical. But back to 1954. Mel gives pep talk #1,500 and “Audrey” gets a telegram saying she’s been nominated for an Oscar for Roman Holiday. She squeals (ugh!) and they jump all over each other and kiss very sloppily and loudly. And by the way, what the hell is she wearing? It’s this blue-ish sleeveless top with some weird gauzy strips flapping around the front like shingles. It looks awfully modern, and I think it’s to hide Hewitt’s breasts, since they obviously didn’t bandage her to be Audrey-sized.

And now the dreaded Oscar scene. Why dreaded, you may ask? Because it’s 50 different types of wrong. Mel and the Baroness sit at home watching the broadcast, which is wrong because the Baroness was there with her. There are these things called photographs which prove it. Someone might want to look into that. Either way, “Audrey” is all pouffy-haired and dark lipsticked, while the real Audrey had just rushed straight from a performance of Ondine to the Oscars, changing her dress once she got there. She didn’t even take off her stage makeup, and her hair was really short and choppy, like today’s pixie cut (see below). So Mel and the Baroness gab about how much they both adore “Audrey,” since she’s the center of everyone’s universe, and “Audrey” wins. And then gives the wrong speech! Good Lord!!! When the real Audrey won, the first thing she said was “It’s too much.” It was really sweet and endearing, which is everything this biopic isn’t. She was also talking in her natural voice, which was higher than a baritone (how Hewitt does it) and she could be heard quite clearly, while Hewitt likes to whisper to hide the bad accent job. She also does the speech in semaphore with her eyebrows, for those of you at sea (or just turning over from “Wuthering Heights in Semaphore”), and after the speech she just stands there, looking lost. Uh, why? Doesn’t matter. So Mel tells the Baroness in way too many words that he wants to marry “Audrey” and turn her into a baby farm, and they’re all happy and squishy because she’s their reason for living.

pass divine

Gah! Another Hewitt Neutrogena commercial. C’mon, give us a break!

Cut to the end of the wedding in Switzerland where they’re going up to start the honeymoon. Never mind that they actually honeymooned in Italy . . . While the original wedding dress looked really cute and elfish on Audrey, that style on someone like JLH just makes her look short and fat. Sorry, that’s why it was made just for Audrey. Also, Hewitt sports the dress in pink, whereas the real dress was cream. But does that even matter at this point? Mel tells the press that yes, they were just married, and that they’d like to enjoy their honeymoon. The press still whines, and “Audrey” stops Mel and does the 90s head wiggle (you know, the one you do when you tell someone off) while telling the press to bugger off. Of course, they listen to her because she’s the goddess of the universe.

the $20 wedding dress perfection

And then to bathrobe chatting where “Audrey” blathers on again about just wanting to make babies, but Mel talks her into doing Funny Face. Actually, he’s reading her mail and telling her what’s being offered to her, and she tells Mel to “tell them I’ll do it.” Isn’t that her agent’s job? Funny, no mention of War and Peace, which came before Funny Face. Or her first miscarriage, which came right before filming on War and Peace was to start. Mel mentions Love in the Afternoon, which she “Pwomised Mistah Cooper” she’d do. I don’t recall hearing about that, but oh well. Mel laughs at her and says, “I think you can call him Gary now,” and I gulp and say, “You can end this now.” More nasty kissing. And I’d also like to protest this scene, since it just furthers the myth that Mel Ferrer was Audrey’s Svengali and managed her. Granted, he gave her a lot of great advice, but this is just too much. It makes her seem like some dumb little thing that just wanted babies and to be a happy little housewife and not think for herself. Urgh. She talks about The Nun’s Story and how she’s taking it to be near him, and as an afterthought adds that she also wants to do some dramatic work. Yeah, thanks for throwing that out for us.

We see some stock Africans and stock Belgian Congo and then to what I wish was just stock footage of the real Audrey, since that’d be ever so much nicer. They just skipped three years, by the way. They’re on the set of Nun’s Story and “Audrey”s in a habit, wandering around. They introduce her to the real Sister Luke and she offers to take “Audrey” around the real clinic. A modicum of awareness happens here, still not doing justice to the humanitarianism that goes all the way back to UNICEF’s forerunners, UNRRA, the relief group that saved her life during WWII. But someone’s holding a modern, plastic baby bottle. Sheesh. Then Mel shows up while “Audrey” is messing around on the set. It looks like they’re setting up for a shot that’ll happen in two minutes, but they tell her it’ll be an hour. Why do people in this biopic clutter up the set with their unnecessary presence? It doesn’t happen in real life, and they should know that since they’re obviously in the industry. So Mel spirits her away, and she’s totally got the wrong hair! It’s long and has a wispy fringe, but during this time it was still pretty short, not quite shoulder length. And no fringe whatsoever. *sigh* Just trying to hide Hewitt’s huge forehead again. In an attempt to show that Audrey will end up doing humanitarian work, she says, “I feel so peaceful here.” Why? There were snakes and huge bugs, bad water, stifling heat, and having to rely on faulty generators, so I doubt it’d be very peaceful. Also, Audrey developed severe kidney stones during filming and had to wait for medication to be shipped in while suffering intense pain. Lastly, Mel wasn’t around that much, mainly because he was in South America at the time, filming stock jungle footage for Green Mansions. Please help me before my head explodes. So she plays insecure little girl and Mel gives her pep talk #1,947 about what an inspiration she is for young girls everywhere. Too bad it didn’t work on Hewitt. Actually, he says “You’ve given a whole generation of girls a sense that something else was possible in life.” She sulks the retort, “Thin girls.” Bollocks, this biopic is. It would have worked better as an ABC afterschool special than a testament to Audrey’s life and contributions.

hair fail The Nun's Story

There’s another gaffe where “Audrey” says that The Unforgiven started filming right after The Nun’s Story, when Green Mansions actually came in between. But we cut to the scene where “Audrey” was chucked from a horse during a shot in The Unforgiven and broke several vertebrae. She’s being put into the ambulance and I can’t tell if they’re taking her away from the set. If they are, then the presence of Mel is wrong, as he wasn’t around then and she begged the crew not to tell him, since he’d be mad at her for getting on a horse when she was pregnant. So she’s in the hospital and the baby’s fine. The Baroness and Mel come in to her room and see she’s laying there in a neck brace while a secretary does something, and I guess that’s answering fan mail. I don’t know, I don’t get any. Mel reads a letter with a funny look on his face and hands it to “Audrey.” It’s a letter from dear old Fava, which she reads from back to front. Weird. Is it written in Japanese? “Audrey” blows her top at the Baroness, which causes her to go into premature labor and lose the baby. While doing her concerned/vomit face. Oh yeah, and it didn’t happen like that. Way to add drama where there doesn’t need to be any. There’s also very modern-looking get well cards at the foot of the bed.

Now she finally goes to see her dad, who’s living in some remote farmhouse in Ireland. She shows up with her hair all curled and down (I don’t recall ever seeing that look, since Audrey always wore her hair up) and a scarf to tie down her ears. And wrong sunglasses. She’s also sporting a pretty modern looking fringe and some nasty lipstick. I guess Audrey “inherited” more than a big chest and fake melodrama from Hewitt. She waddles in and stares at her dad and tries to bond while he just looks uncomfortable. Through clenched teeth (read: dramatic acting) and the concerned/vomit face she tells him that if he’d rather be doing something else, then by all means. He calls his dog in and starts brushing the hound. “Audrey” looks stung and tearfully tells a story about having a cat named Tomorrow and “humiliating rejections.” He tells her, “The whole world loves you, Audrey. You don’t need me.” Crap, and wrong. She finally leaves with what I think might be a tear in her eye. Or an eyelash. Where do they pull this merde from?

please stop trying

Now “Audrey” arrives back home with about 20 cars in tow and the Baroness stops her gardening to greet her. They both apologize for appearing in this — er, for behaving badly, and “Audrey” says the next thing on her agenda is to have a baby. Huh, I didn’t know it worked like that. Where did she buy Sean, Sears? (Sorry, Calvin and Hobbes reference.) Next thing, it’s Sean’s christening, and when the priest asks for the baby’s name, she says “Sean?” like she just woke up and was handed a baby. The dress, hairstyle, and setting is wrong, but it doesn’t really matter at this point, does it? Then “Audrey” and Mel are sitting on a patio, and dear Jesus, there’s a poodle on Hewitt’s head. Oh wait, that’s hair. Egads. Totally wrong style, but I guess that the producers thought they’d save money by fixing Hewitt’s hair into a huge bouffant, rather than putting up a “1960” card to show what year it was. They’re sitting in front of a British-looking mansion, and I shudder to think that’s the closest they could get to finding a place that resembled Burgenstock, Switzerland. She’s also wearing a ring on her middle finger again. She talks about wanting to stay home and raise Sean, all the while slapping the life out of the poor infant, but Mel points out the good in Holly Golightly and “Audrey” decides to do it.

And now we’re all back to what’s considered the present in this biopic. Hewitt doesn’t know what to do with a 3 year old (um, Sean was still pretty small during filming, since he was born in July 1960 and Breakfast at Tiffany’s was released in ’61), so she tries sucking his brains out through his forehead and letting someone else wrestle him. (That’s supposed to be “lavishing affection” on him.) Blake Edwards tells her that they only have enough “rain” for one take: can she do it? What the hell is that about? Last time I checked, rain was water, right? New York didn’t have a severe drought that year that I ever heard of. What tripe. Also, the alley scene was not one continuous shot, and the camera crew is only at one end of the alley when there are multiple view points in the real film. Some grip guy walks up and says, “One nameless Cat, submitted for your approval.” Okay, not the part after the comma, but still, it could be a Twilight Zone line. She stares at the cat and slurs “Hullo, Cat,” for no reason. The grip fellow asks “Audrey” — and not Capote, who’s sitting right next to where they’re standing, even though he wrote the damn book — why Holly throws the Cat out of the cab. Hewitt does a “watch this!” smirk to Capote and blathers about how Holly was the cat, and when she finally accepted herself, she accepted her familiar. Ooh, well isn’t she clever? And might I add that her pigtails are way overstyled? Capote drawls “That’s right,” and agrees with her, and I’m mightily confused, since that wasn’t at all in the story, and he didn’t write the bleedin’ screenplay!

hairdon't this is called style

Here’s the big finale: the taxi pulls up right next to the fake George Peppard, even though it originally stopped up the street from where she dumped the cat, and George’s character walked back to the cat. He’s also sauntering around, looking lost, instead of actually looking for Cat. She runs up and right past him without even looking at him (let alone saying her line, “Where’s the cat?” and his response) and starts tearing off her clothes and saying “C’mon, what’re you waiting for?” Oh, sorry, wrong Hewitt movie. She runs up and down the alley bellowing “CAT!!!!!!!!!!!” in such a hideous way, the enamel peeled clean off my teeth. Yeah, way to not even try an Audrey voice there. She runs — actually, totters, since she can’t really walk in this scene — and yells and finds Cat on the wrong side of the alley, runs back to George, and falls onto his mouth. Seriously, no “Oh Cat!” and tucking him into the jacket, no trotting up to George and looking at him before falling together for a kiss and Cat cuddling, just whap! Straight onto the poor guy’s face. They cut and print, and everyone gathers around “Audrey” to crown her Queen of the Universe as the biopic ends. Including the Baroness, Mel, and the baby wrangler. Open set day, I guess. And Capote looks all jazzed and hugs her. What?!?

There’s two blurbs superimposed over the cheering of the cast/crew:

“Audrey Hepburn completed many other films, including My Fair Lady, Charade, and Robin and Marian, and gave birth to another son, Luca Dotti.

“Never forgetting the international relief aid she and her family received in the years after World War II, Audrey Hepburn spent the last years of her life working tirelessly with UNICEF on behalf of the world’s children.”

Then they show actual footage of Audrey on some UNICEF missions, and I just cry. It’s such a relief to see the real her, in all her understated glory, that it’s too much. She may be older, not as glamorous or dressed in Givenchy, but she’s so real there. And no one can recreate that smile. They also morbidly write “Miss Hepburn died of cancer in 1993” over her picture. The ending of this seems to imply that Audrey lived happily ever after after Tiffany’s wrapped, which is so dumb. I’m also mad that there was absolutely no mention of the wonderful Robert Wolders, her companion in the last years of her life and one of the best things to ever happen to her. But there’s so much wrong with this anyway, isn’t there?

If this review hasn’t completely put you off of The Audrey Hepburn Story and you’re still curious to watch this train wreck for yourself, you can find the entire “film” on YouTube for free. Please don’t pay to watch this. Throw your money down a storm drain if you feel badly, or better yet, donate it to The Children’s Fund or UNICEF and do something worthwhile with it.

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