As you absolutely know at this point (if you come back here occasionally) I love old Hollywood. I love old movies, I love old fashion, and I love old eyeliner and lipstick. The only thing I don’t love is old politics. That said, to make myself feel more at home here in Santa Barbara, I’ve been watching old movies. Tonight, I watched How to Steal a Million. Those of you who also love old Hollywood know that this movie stars Audrey Hepburn (fashion and film, nothing is better) and Peter O’Toole. So, in How to Steal a Million, Ms. Hepburn is trying to save her father from being condemned as an art fraud. He is about 3 inches away from being caught, so she embarks on a mission to steal the piece that will catch him, with the help of a detective turned faux burglar. She decides that the best way is to embody someone other than herself, in this case, a “scrubwoman” who cleans the museum. I feel like I have to comment on this scene, where Peter O’Toole transforms rich, chic Audrey to “scrubwoman” because of a couple of fabulous lines. Those of you who love fashion and film, as well as fashion IN film, know that Givenchy designed Audrey’s wardrobe for a huge part of her career. Basically from Sabrina on, Audrey wore Givenchy. That’s why this scene is great. I love when movies pay tribute to the real world, and this is a fabulous example from the 1960s:
Peter O’Toole: That does it.
Audrey Hepburn: Does what?
Peter O’Toole: Well for one thing, it gives Givenchy a night off.
This line is so nonchalant, anyone who didn’t know he designed her apparel for the entire film wouldn’t know that the line in itself is a joke. Luckily for me and you, I read her entire biography, and I paid attention in the opening credits. Check it out:
And here’s a picture of the beautiful Ms. Hepburn before this scene:
As you can see beyond my awful screen shot, it’s a beautiful outfit. It’s well-fitted, and the belt complements the entire look perfectly. It even has the peplum effect, which we all know has been very in for the past year. So here’s how she looks when the hilarious line is uttered:
Please tell me you love this witty writing as much as I do! Movies have been doing this for as long as I can remember, but I love finding examples in older films. “Well, for one thing, it gives Givenchy a night off” not only refers to the fact that he designed her wardrobe for many of her films, but it actually makes fun of it. It’s the equivalent of an actor breaking the fourth wall and looking directly at the audience. I cannot get enough of it. Another, more recent example, is the ending of 500 Days of Summer starring Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, when the girl at the end of the movie introduces herself as Autumn and JGL looks straight at the camera. I love how it works in How to Steal a Million because it’s not as obvious, though. It’s a scene in the middle of the movie, with no added drama, no look at the camera, and no awareness of itself. It’s hilarious only to the insider, and for that reason, I think it’s genius.