Thursday, May 1, 2014

Movie Notes: Love in the Afternoon

This is an old note saved as a draft:

 Love in the Afternoon directed by Billy Wilder, stars Gary Cooper as a playboy millionaire Frank Flanagan, Audrey Hepburn as a wily, young conservatory student Ariane Chevesse and Maurice Chevalier as her father, private detective Claude Chavesse.

Of course Audrey Hepburn is a innocent angel while Gary Cooper looks like a crusty old lecher. (Chevalier is much handsomer.) She's spritely, her voice is expressive. Cooper is stiff and crass, brittle-voiced.

In this film Wilder asks ``What's the crime,'' in sex, sexual attraction and/or falling in love?

He answers that, whether it's rakish; or romantic attraction, both are natural -  just human beings living out their flawed natures and struggling to grow - with the caveat is that real caring about another human being might be away out of the mire, a redemption of sorts. Ariane's name is very telling. In classical mythology Ariane gives Theseus the thread by which he finds his way out of the labyrinth.

The film opens with a view of Paris seen through a window. A woman seen only from the back pulls the shade on which the opening credits begin to role. The credits fade to another view of Paris - a view that looks perfectly real until you notice there is another view above it, then as the camera pans back other very different views of Paris appear - they are all paintings, slices of life interpreted, seen through someone's particular set of preconceptions ƒ all views to be found on the sidewalk of the city the film is about to show us.

The camera sweeps left into the street. A large water truck is wetting down the roadway. The camera pans back and we see a man and woman standing on the corner necking. As the water truck moves along the couple is doused with water. They don't even notice. When I first saw this shot I laughed and it seemed reminiscent of coupling dogs being hosed down to separate them. Later I realized this is exactly what its supposed to look like.

Meanwhile we hear Maurice Chevalier's voice alleging that in Paris people eat better and make love more. Every body ``does it.'' he says. We see various couples kissing, different settings, ages, in various economic circumstances.

``Poodles do it,'' we are told and on screen are two poodles in an exactly symmetrical stance. I believe the few shots of dogs in this movie are very telling. Here, only the poodles noses touch - they are both held tightly in check by unseen forces - leashes that go off-screen on opposites sides of the shot and faintly visible above and (and seeming to grow right out of their muzzles) is the erect Eifell Tower in the back ground. The poodles are also opposites, black and white - very like the characters we are about to meet: Frank Flanagan is a ravenous opportunistic lover whose heart is totally separated from his body's exploits. He is ``utterly no good,'' according to Mr. Chevesse. Then there is the sweet innocent Ariane whose dreamy romantic notions favor dying in a lovers arms and ``being crushed under an avalanche with him forever.''

Back to the film, ``Even generals and existentialists do it,'' Mr. Chevalier says. ``Young love and old love, married love,'' he says all with couples to match on screen. ``And illicit love is where I come in,'' Mr. Chevesse is saying then we see a shot of the bottom of dark monument in the square. The camera pans slowly up the tall, thick column which is the ``Place Vendome,'' which comes to a perfectly phallic, neatly circumcised rounded-top with a bronze statute of Napoleon at its apex - a tribute to the ultimate conquering male. There is also a walkway just below the statute and that is where Mr. Chevesse is perched with camera aimed down into the Suite 14 at the Ritz Hotel, where a married woman., and Frank Flanagan are carrying on. Yet even illicit lovers are somehow pure... ``In order to protect the innocent...I will call her Mrs. X... of course she was not entirely innocent,'' Mr. Chevesse says.

When Mrs. X flees, veiled, to a taxi, Mr. Chevesse goes home. His detective's office is in his home and seems very dark but as the camera follows him, he passes the door to Ariane's room which is flooded with light In our first view of Ariane she is about mid-screen in the background and her legs are spread wide apart, knees gripping a cello which she is playing. I don't for a minute think it's an accident that she plays the cello rather than the violin or the flute. This film is about sex and sexual attraction and there is a creative music perfecting itself between Ariane's legs, her young sexuality embroidered with her many romantic notions.
She wants to know what her case her father is working on and in their discussion he tells her ``Never mind,'' he says adding that he wants to protect her from the sordid matters he must deal with and urges her to go back to her cello... Despite his advice, she will soon leave her cello outside in the hallway while she practices this other music with this Mr. Flanagan.

Mr. Chevesse is developing his pictures we see Gary Cooper's face clearly for the first time as an quirky, hesitant improvisation, almost a conversation between two instruments on the song ``Fascination'' plays perhaps a clarinet and a oboe. Ariane thinks he is very handsome. Ariane slips and begins discussing her papa's case files with him. He calls the files a sewer. She calls them romantic and that she's read them over and over. ``How she must have loved him to give up everything...Ariane says of one case. ``For what? Two weeks of shameless had to have a terrible end,'' the papa replies. ``Yes but it was worth it,'' she says, ``what woman could ask for more? Personally I find her position as vacuous as Mr. Flanagan's, but the argument between father and daughter is marvelous. The stances on opposite sides of her door, they way their arm movements mirror each other and their defiant heads nodding. It's like a ballet. He orders her back into her light filled room to practice as Mr. X , the aggrieved husband arrives. Ariane spies through the transom and finds her handsome American will be shot at 10 p.m.

``Oh you must not shoot your wife you will bungle it...she will go to the hospital and meet a very attractive doctor,'' Mr. Chevesse warns. Nature it seems will take its course one way or another .

After he leaves Ariane again admires the photo of Flanagan, saying he looks like a cowboy or Abraham Lincoln. Papa locks up the photo and reminds her Lincoln was shot right in the middle of performance.
The camera shot fades from her horrified face to an ice bucket with two bottles of champagne and a military precision of a troop of waiters bringing dinner to suite 14 at the Ritz. Gypsy musicians arrive, followed by Mr. X who lurks in the hallway and then by Mrs. X who enters.

Cut to Ariane asking what time it is as she plays at the conservatory. A would-be suitor Michelle a flute player who gives her a coin. She calls the Ritz to warn Flanagan but cant get through. ``I have a right to know what's going on because you know how I feel about you,'' he says. She calls the police ``I want to report a CRIME,'' she says her face looking up in to the shot, her voice rising as she glares at him and yanks the phone booth door shut right in his face.

''What's the crime,'' the cop repeats to her every allegation.``At 10 o'clock, if he does shoot and he does not miss then call us,'' says the policeman and points out all the similar situations all around the city of Paris.
Michelle demands to take her home. Ariane demands he stop at the Ritz. It's a high shot as she drags him down the hallway, him awkwardly jerking her cello case along behind. This fades to a low shot of the aggrieved husband lurking in the hallway walking toward the camera and looming above it. He sees someone on the lift; its a matronly society-woman in evening cloths and a fur stole with a wretched little Lasso Apsho tucked under her arm. It has a bow in its hair ƒ a little beast forced into society's trimmings ƒ but it starts barking at the husband who is hiding behind a trunk.

``What are you barking at,'' she scolds the dog. Mr. X shoos it them points his gun at it which sends it whining back to its owner. ``See there is no one there,'' she says. She is framed by the doorway to her suite as she bends over, picks it up. She holds it is entirely between he folds of the fur stole as she spanks it rather over-zealously on its hairy little behind as she turns her back to the camera and goes through the door, closing it behind her.

The poor little thing is doing what its instincts tell it - barking to warn her of an ominous strangers - and what does she do? She punishes this semi-civilized animal for acting on its instincts, just as the husband is about to punish his wife's lover for acting on his and as society as a whole more or punishes what it finds improper.
The camera cuts to Michelle and Ariane in his car which weaves through the dark streets as light but frantic music plays. They arrive she leaps out and rushes inside.

Cut to another low shot of the pacing, looming husband coming toward the camera. Ariane hides. Then notices that the matron has left the key in the door of her suite. She she opens it and goes inside.
The dog growls and barks madly as well its should since there is an intruder in its home. ``What's come over you tonight with all this barking,'' the woman says as Ariane slips out on the balcony. She spanks it even harder and wags a finger at the bewildered animal.

From far below we see Ariane sidling along the ledge to Suite 14's balcony. Mr. Flanagan and Mrs. X are dark silhouettes dancing. They could be anyone. The gypsies continue to play fascination as she warns the pair, then we cut to hallway where the husband lurks. Yet reality is here somewhere in this impractical world of the Ritz - a frumpy maid with a limping gait goes down the hall past the husband - not everyone has the time or the health and beauty for such entangled romantic escapades Some people work for living even in Paris in the spring..

The gypsies file out, the husband goes in and finds Ariane not his wife in Mr., Flanagan's embrace. Meanwhile the wife goes from the balcony to the ledge to the matron's balcony. The little dog, bed beside the sleeping matron, wines and growls softly and finally can't resist barking. The matron wakes turns on the light and looms directly over the little dog. This time she is furious. She picks it up in on hand holding if off the bed.. ``The first thing in the morning you are going to the analyst! Bad dog,'' she says and spanking it furiously.

``How bout that guy? He told his wife he was in London. You can't trust a husband anymore,'' Mr. Flanagan laments to Ariane after Mr. X leaves.'' Who are you? Why did you warn me? he asks as she backs towards the door. ``I'm against violence. In my opinion there's too much shooting in the world and not enough love. If people loved each other more they'd shoot each other less,'' Ariane says. ``Are you a religious fanatic?'' he asks.

The husband comes back for his gun the pair dive for the couch. Flanagan uses this as an opportunity to kiss her and she is dreamy faced when she comes up for air. Flanagan urges her to stay. ``Maybe I can get the gypsies back,'''he says. She will do just as well as Mrs. X. Women are interchangeable to him and Ariane knows it. ``Its amazing what a couple of fiddles will do for you,'' he says pragmatically.

They talk and she keeps backing away once almost backing into the bedroom. They talk. They are drinking champagne and he is in a white dinner coat following her around a she in a black dress and continuously backing away around the room around a table with a lighted candelabra. She stops and moves towards him and he invites her to dinner. She refuses she says she lives with a man. who doesn't know she's there. ``Is he jealous,'' Flanagan asks, assuming. He corners her by the door leaning on the doorway with one arm on either side of her so she can't back away. Her back is to the door. It's a tight shot, he is dark silhouette the light on his arm and on her face is very bright. Eight and nine o'clock are way too late she says. How about five or four 'clock. he says. ``When do you work,'' she asks amazed. She may be romantic but she know the reality of earning a living. She has more or less agreed to a 4 p.m. meeting.

He says good night calling her the thin girl as she backs down the hallway. She is entranced, drunk with infatuation. She he is utterly without artifice yet totally beguiling as she backs away bumping into his travel trunks as she goes.

She sings and hums Fascination to herself as Michelle drives her home. Then next day she is again at the cello, legs spread wide. After papa leaves she breaks into his locked files an reads all about Flanagan's sordid past. The files are propped on her music stand. She reads his exploits as she plays the cello. She decides not to go. ``I am exactly the kind of girl you would not be interested in, she says. I should have let you be shot she writes in a letter she burns.

She goes early to tell him she can't come. She leaves her cello in the hallway. He gets her in the bedroom to help close his suitcase. He seems very disturbed that she knows about him but he knows nothing of her. She won't stay, says she has a date. He follows after her the camera follow them as walk out of the bedroom shot and another picks them up thought the living room. ``Is it the man you live with'' he ask. No its the man I play with,'' she says.

He stops her in front of the balcony window, through it, between them is the Place Vendome ƒ the giant phallus, the Napoleon and the ultimate male conqueror. This is a very long two-shot. ``You have one man you live with and another you play with,'' he says assuming. He doesn't even know she is a musician ``I'm not criticizing I'm all for it,'' he says. ``You would be with your record. You're way about average,'' she says. With the giant phallus still between them she backs up again and out onto the balcony even closer to that pillar and its still between them as he takes her purse and her gloves. She is staying for dinner the waiters come and go, and after they are gone the camera stays for another very long shot of the empty hallway which is filled with many doors. These doors fade to a tighter shot of the balcony and the giant phallus which seems even bigger as Ariane and Flanagan dance into the shot in front of it.

They stop in another two-shot. He is in the darkness on the left, his face in shadow. She is in brilliant light even thought her back is to the open balcony door. She backs out onto the balcony and is out of sight behind the curtain as he is saying ``The problem is everything drags on I think people should always behave as if they were between planes.''

Another two-shot, she is in the lower front-right, shoulders and up, his reflection is in the glass behind her on the left. Perhaps this pale reflection is only the shade of who Flanagan might be if he could really love. ``Face it he who loves and runs away lives to love another day. I works out all around and nobody gets hurt,'' he says.

Her face is eloquent. ``It works for you,'' she counters. ``What about Franchesca Del Corso who tried to kill herself?'' ``That's just the type I try to avoid ƒ silly sentimental serious I was the first man she'd been in love with,'' he says. Ariane sees herself yet controls her sadness. ``Do you remember the first man in your life,'' he asks looming in front of her. ``It's a little blurry,'' she says looking up at him her face in the light, He moves toward her and kisses her and they are both in darkness. Fascination begins to play. The gypsies leave.

Next we see the concierge in the hotel lobby calling Flanagan's room. Mr. Flanagan answers the phone. Its a one-shot and he's next to the balcony door its dark out that monument is very very dark indeed . He talks to her, she answers from the bathroom where she is combing her hair. They've been to bed I'd wager. He wants to know what the A initial on her purse is for. ``Anonymous,'' she says, ``we're just two people between planes.''

In front of the hotel. They load his luggage and he tips all the service people then turns to her. She only takes the flower from his lapel. ``Goodbye thin girl,'' he says.

A year passes, when she spies him at the opera. He only vaguely remembers her but is anxious to see her again. But this time she is plotting with head as well as her heart. She sees his growing jealously as a key.
She makes up wild tales based on her father's files and he buys it all. She borrows a Siberia ermine coat her father was holding for a client, and puts on an anklet. There is a great scene with the gypsies in the park where she sticks a chicken leg in his shirt pocket when he orders he to put it away. He repeatedly asks her about the other men she has mentioned. He rips the anklet off her ankle, calling it vulgar. Later they are in a skiff, She drapes her thin self languidly over the stern as he rows and stares at her. He is falling, really beginning to lose it. The gypsies row along behind them. He demands to know exactly how many others there have been. ``Maybe I could give you an approximate figure,'' she says, ``but you've caught me unprepared.''

``He doesn't love me at all, not yet... he doesn't believe in it, he's above it, invulnerable...but he can be jealous,'' she tells Michelle later. ``Very odd people you know. when they are young they have their teeth taken out and are pumped full of gallons of vitamins and something happens to their insides. They become immunized, mechanized, air-conditioned and hydromatic. I don't even know if he has a heart,'' she says. ``What is he a creature form outer space,'' Michelle asks. ``No he's an American,'' she says. What an indictment.

They meet every afternoon at 4 p.m.. One day there is scene of them crawling around on the floor looking for her shoe. They nuzzle under the table and he'stelling her how wonderful she is as the phone rings. But its the Swedish twins Ingird and Dagmar calling.

''I can't talk now,'' he says, ``the bathtub's running over.'' Ariane retreats into the other room while he makes an appointment with the twins for later on that evening. On his dictation machine, she leaves an incredible list of men she has been with ƒ a fanciful wonderful list. from a red hair algebra teacher to a Yugoslave sculptor. More later she says when she hears him coming. He says he could cancel his date to be with her if she would spend the evening with him as he embraces her, she find her missing shoe in his pocket, raps him on the head with it and leaves. ``Where are you going? What do you do with your evenings? Who are you?'' he asks. ``I'm the girl in the afternoon the apertef,'' she says. He slams the door after her.

He starts to draw himself a bath but listens to her tape. As he listens he is very well lit - its best lightening he's had so far except maybe at the park. First he is amused and laughs enjoying her tales. Then he gets mad and rewinds the thing over and over, pouting and sulking on the chase lounge. As he fills with fear and jealously and maybe love the bathtub continues to fill and the camera pans to it as water spills over and gets deeper on the floor. He doesn't even notice the water or that it's love that's bothering him.

The water seeps through the wall to the suite next door where that half civilized little dog starts to bark at the puddle that's forming. In the shot the dog is reflected in the closet door mirror as the puddle is oozing out from under it.. The dog and its double ƒ the man and his soft hidden side, whichc is beginning to leak out... The society matron wants to know what's the matter. She sees the puddle and assumes the dog has made it. She gets down on the floor on her hands an knees and rubs his nose repeatedly in this puddle which is not what it seems to be. She spanks him very hard even though he has done nothing.

Meanwhile Gary Cooper is rubbing his own nose in Ariane affairs which are also not what they seem to be. He becomes so obsessed he forgets to meet the Swedish twins, the gypsies come and he gets drunk with them, wallowing in a pool of jealous melancholy, listening over and over to the list of her make-believe bed-partners and drinking on and on. In the morning he is so hung over he goes to a Turkish bath to relax, taking the gypsies with him. In the bath he bumps into Mr. X who gives him the name of a very good detective - of course it is Ariane's papa. In this scene the shots alternate between one and two shots. In one two-shot with MR. X, Cooper is directly in front of a fresco. He is so upset, and yet as the steam clears away behind him on the wall is a sun with rays shooting out of it. The way the shot is done it looks as if they are emanating from his head. Perhaps his heart is finally awakened and he has achieved the ``blessedness'' of loving someone. He just doesn't know it yet. ``Ah la Amour,'' Mr. X says. Flanagan tells him it shut up ``You're bothering me he says.''.

Later, when he arrives at Mr. Chevesse's office, Ariane is washing her hair in the bathroom. ``Do you realize in the last three weeks you have washed your hair exactly 17 times? I find that vary suspicious.'' her papa says. He believes she is in love but wonders aloud who the man is. When Flanagan is at the door, Chevesse beams warmly at him as only Chevalier can beam ``Hello Mr. Flanagan,'' he says ``Do you know me?'' Flanagan asks. ``Does an art student know Picasso?'' Papa Chavesse replies grinning. He closes the door on Ariane. ``There is this girl who is driving me crazy, Flanagan says Chevesse is grinning so hard he might burst.
Both have fully lit faces in his dark office. as they discuss this girl. ``It seems there are other men quite a few, then again she may be pulling my leg'' he says. ``It seems the hit and run lover got run over himself,'' he tells Ariane as he gets Flanagan an aspirin. She is humming Fascination to herself and has her head under running water so she doesn't hear Flanagan. Chevesse starts to hum Fascination and Flanagan tells him to cut it out that he's heard quite enough of that tune lately. And as he tells Chevesse about her lovers they all sound like cases already in his files. It begins to dawn on him that the girl Flanagan wants followed is Ariane. After he leaves, she comes out of the bathroom drying her hair humming Fascination.

Chevesse runs out in the hall and hollers down the stair. ``Are you interested in this girl? Are you in love with her?'' he asks. Frank Flanagan is not in love he says as he descends the stairs. ``I'm interested but I have many interests.''

Chevesse is very worried. He types up a hasty report and goes to Flanagan's suite. Flanagan is standing by the window, we can see the Place Vendome but its faded and its pouring rain outside. Chevesse reveals the true status of Ariane's love life. Flanagan strides across the room and is framed in the bedroom door. The bedroom is filled with light. ``Why that little liar,'' he says pouring himself a drink. She made me so mad I was going to leave,'' but now he says he might stick around for a while and check this out. Chevesse urges him to go away.. ``She's my daughter,'' he finally says and the two men stare at each other. Then we cut to a one shot of Cooper who is do a good job of looking stunned and soft at the same time. The light on him is brighter and softer too. ``Give her a chance she is so helpless,'' Papa Chevesse pleads ...``She is such a little fish throw her back in the water.'' Another one-shot of Cooper. Flanagan's eyes are filled with compassion and tenderness. It's not a look that been on his face anywhere else so far in this film.

Ariane arrives and the gypsies are leaving. She enters and he is packing. He says he and the Swedish twins had a big party and he's going to Cannes with them.

She sheds some tears in the corner but covers it up. He notices but says nothing. She asks to come to the station, if she came home to early the man she lives with get suspicious. ``You know how it is,'' she says. ``I know just how it is,'' he says sadly, smiling so kindly and knowingly as a minor key variation on Fascination plays. Papa, very brightly lit., follows them.

Flanagan has finally made a decision based on the well-being of someone other than himself, but he looks as pathetic as she does as they walk together in the train station. She assures him she will be okay and have lots of men when he goes. ``It just soot'' she says of a tear on her cheek, in a two-shot with her face looking up into the camera. ``You know I'm susceptible,'' she says. He boards the train and she is running alongside as it begins to move, repeatedly saying that she will be alright. She makes up more farfetched tales of men she will be with when he leaves. Her innocence and her bravery in the face of her grief are so pathetically obvious. He studies her and bites his lip and looks at her so earnestly Finally he scoops her up into the train and they embrace in a two-shot, both faces well lit. It's not just his dark side kissing now her its all of him. He's followed the thread and come out of the labyrinth.

Papa says they were married and are serving a life sentence in New York, presumably for the crime of love. The last shot is of the gypsies playing Fascination in the train station.