DVD: However You Spend Valentine's Day, Spend It With Audrey Hepburn
Heaven knows, Hollywood keeps churning out the pixie-ish leading ladies for its romantic comedies, but pretty much no one in the history of American cinema has succeeded in out-gamine-ing Audrey Hepburn, the Belgian-born superstar who has become the standard for, well, just about everything for subsequent generations of starry-eyed women. So whether you're dating, married, or sitting out this V-Day, let Miss Hepburn be your guide.
Feeling Lovey But Not Having Sex: You can't go wrong with Roman Holiday (1953), the movie that made Hepburn a star and won her a Best Actress Oscar. She plays a princess from some tiny country who plays hooky for a day in Rome with foreign correspondent Gregory Peck. Their day-long romance is sweet but tinged with potential passion that, given the circumstances, never gets to come to fruition.
You're Sleeping Together, But the Magic is Still There: Things are far less innocent in Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961) -- Hepburn's Holly Golightly is clearly meant to be a call girl (even if the movie can't come right out and say so) and her paramour George Peppard is being kept by sugar mama/cougar Patricia Neal. But the sparks between the two leads are palpable. (Just zip through Mickey Rooney's atrocious and offensive yellowface bits as Holly's Japanese landlord.)
One of You is Substantially Older: Nobody did on-screen (and, according to some, off-screen) May-December romances like Hepburn, and with some of Hollywood's elder statesmen. She's courted by both Humphrey Bogart and William Holden in Sabrina (1954) -- she re-teamed with Holden ten years later in Paris When It Sizzles -- gets swept off her feet by Fred Astaire in Funny Face (1957), learns the art of seduction from Gary Cooper in Billy Wilder's Love in the Afternoon (1957), and voraciously flirts with Cary Grant while dodging bullets all over Paris in Charade (1963). Intergenerational romance was never this sexy before or since.
You're Married and In Love But Think Valentine's Day is a Crock: One of the smartest and truest movies ever made about marriage is 1967's Two for the Road, starring Hepburn and Albert Finney as a married couple whom we get to see at various points in their relationship. (Blue Valentine recently attempted something similar, but doesn't do it half as well.) With a script by Frederic Raphael (Eyes Wide Shut) and direction by Stanley Donen (who also helmed Hepburn in Charade and Funny Face), Two for the Road acknowledges that there are bumps along the way but that in the end, love is the great smoother-over.
Single and Loving It: Forget the hearts and flowers, and behold Hepburn in Wait Until Dark (1967) as a blind woman being terrorized by a drug-dealing thug, played by Alan Arkin, of all people. Hepburn doesn't need a man to come to her rescue -- heck, she doesn't even need functioning eyes. It's a suspenseful thriller that also champions the idea of living independently.