Sunday, October 11, 2009

Stanley Donen @ the HFA ~ Two for the Road (1967)

I went back for more...

This time the Stanley Donen film being featured was Two for the Road (1967). It stars Albert Finney and Audrey Hepburn as a married couple on the verge of breaking up. The film takes an unconventional look at marriage, in a both humorous and saddening way. The story focuses on the biography of the marriage, from courtship and through the happy moments and the hardships and is told through their adventures on the road in Europe. The films dances back and forth through time and we see how the relationship evolves over time. The sequences are marvelously placed together oftentimes with vehicles serving as a fadeout into the next scene. It's easy to tell which timeframe your in simply by watching Audrey Hepburn. She goes through about 4 or 5 different hairstyles, with her hair getting shorter and shorter as she gets older. Also, they fitted Audrey Hepburn with what seemed to be hundreds of the most unusual and interesting 1960's fashions. Visually, it's a stunning film which just adds to the great script.

The audience seemed to enjoy the film a lot as there were a lot of laughs at the appropriate parts of the movie. This time the theater was packed with not even one seat left open. In fact, I think some patrons had to be turned away!

There was a Q&A segment much like on Friday night but this time with many more questions but fewer interesting insights into Donen. Donen said that he doesn't watch any of his films anymore because they don't give him as much pleasure as they used to. Also, during the filming of Two for the Road, Donen, Hepburn and Finney were all having marital problems in their personal lives so being on set with each other was a nice escape. They found comraderie with each other. However, Finney and Donen did not see eye-to-eye on Finney's character Mark Wallace. Donen wanted Mark to be charming and Finney thought that being charming wasn't really acting, so in the end the character didn't come out quite how Donen wanted it. However, he was pleased in the end.

Donen and Hepburn got along fabulously and this was the third and final film they did together. Donen said that when he first shot Hepburn it was for Funny Face (1957) and he had to do a shot of her overlooking Paris while on a plane. He said that he was so taken aback by Hepburn's beauty and presence that he couldn't stop staring at her even when it came time to call "cut". In fact, someone had to shake Donen out of his daze in order to keep working! I thought this was particularly interesting because Hepburn is such an icon and I often wonder why her. I think it was a combination of her beauty, her dazzling face, her charm, her voice, her grace and her elegance that makes so many of us enraptured with her. I'm sure Donen agrees.

Overall, I think both nights turned out well. They were amazing experiences both getting to see the director up close and to hear him speak but also to watch a couple of his films on the big screen.

Stanley Donen introducing the film

Stanley Donen on his filming style

Stanley Donen on the difficulty of shooting Two for the Road (1967)

A special thank you to Carlos for letting me know about Donen coming to the HFA and for taking me to the first night.


  1. I do love Two for the Road, especially as it does tell its story in a non-linear fashion! It makes for very interesting viewing.

    I can understand Donen's reaction to Audrey Hepburn. I think she has become such an icon that we forget that she was extremely beautiful, elegant, and graceful. I know I fell in love with her the first time I saw her in My Fair Lady!

    And I must say, you are lucky to have Carlos! None of my girlfriends ever told me when a legendary filmmaker would be speaking, let alone took me to see him! That was very sweet of him!

  2. I'm still jealous. But happy for you at the same time! It looks like a lot of fun. I'm glad you liked Two for the Road, it's one of my favorites! Audrey's wardrobe & hairstyles are insanely sixties, that is true!
    And thanks for the linky love! :D

  3. Swell posts! And with film clips too! I wish I once had the opportunity to meet a legendary Hollywood director. What a blast! Had I been there I would probably bombarded poor Donen with questions.
    Carlos didn't fall asleep did he?

  4. What a fun experience! Thanks for sharing it with us.

  5. That looks like it must have been awesome. Stanley Donen is one of those directors that so many people have seen the work of, but rarely acknowledge that he existed (for example, so many people think Hitchcock directed Charade) so its marvelous that someone is blogging about him :)

  6. You are soo lucky!!!!
    He's done such good work, musicals and Romantic/comedy drama. ill say again.. Lucky! lol


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