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Audrey Hepburn Collection [6 Discs] [DVD]

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Overview

Synopsis

Funny Face
This filmed version of the 1927 George Gershwin Broadway musical Funny Face utilizes the play's original star, Fred Astaire, and several of the original tunes, then goes merrily off on its own. Astaire is cast as as fashion photographer Dick Avery (a character based on Richard Avedon, the film's "visual consultant"), who is sent out by his female boss Maggie Prescott (Kay Thompson) to find a "new face". It doesn't take Dick long to discover Jo (Audrey Hepburn, who does her own singing), an owlish Greenwich Village bookstore clerk. Acting as Pygmalion to Jo's Galatea, Dick whisks the wide-eyed girl off to Paris and transforms her into the fashion world's hottest model. Along the way, he falls in love with Jo, and works overtime to wean her away from such phony-baloney intellectuals as Professor Emile Flostre (Michel Auclair). The Gershwin tunes include the title song, "S'wonderful", "How Long Has This Been Going On" and "He Loves and She Loves"; among the newer numbers is Kay Thompson's energetic opener "Think Pink". For years available only in washed-out, flat prints, Funny Face was eventually restored to its full Technicolor and VistaVision glory. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

The Unforgiven
One of Hollywood's most famous and acclaimed directors, John Huston guides this western with an unerring hand -- the cast of notable stars is no drawback either. Setting up the story with a series of suspenseful scenes, Huston has a mysterious stranger on horseback come into a small community in the Texas Panhandle and then proceed to cause a mini-war. The time is the mid-19th century and there is already antagonism between the white settlers in the community and the local Kiowa Indian nation. The Zachary family is at the crux of the trouble. Matilda (Lillian Gish) is the matriarch who holds a family secret -- her adopted daughter Rachel (Audrey Hepburn) is actually a Kiowa child. There are three brothers in the Zachary family, and one of them, Ben (Burt Lancaster) is obviously in love with Rachel. Another, Cash (Audie Murphy) hates Native Americans, while the youngest (Doug McClure) is there to defend the family when they need it. The stranger on horseback has done the unthinkable, he has made it widely known that Rachel is a Kiowa -- and then the battles begin. ~ Eleanor Mannikka, Rovi

War and Peace
War and Peace is a commendable attempt to boil down Tolstoy's long, difficult novel into 208 minutes' screen time. In recreating the the social and personal upheavals attending Napoleon's 1812 invasion of Russia, $6 million was shelled out by coproducers Carlo Ponti, Dino de Laurentiis and Paramount Pictures. Some of the panoramic battle sequences are so expertly handled by second-unit director Mario Soldati that they appear to be Technicolor-and-Vistavision newsreel footage of the actual events. Still, the film falters dramatically, principally because of a lumpy script and King Vidor's surprisingly lustreless direction. In addition, the casting is wildly consistent: for example, while Audrey Hepburn is flawless as Natasha, Henry Fonda is far too "Yankeefied" as the introspective Pierre. Proving too long and unwieldy for most audiences, War and Peace died at the box office; far more successful was the epic, scrupulously faithful 1968 version, filmed in the Soviet Union. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

The Nun's Story
Audrey Hepburn stars in The Nun's Story as Sister Luke, postulant of a Belgian order of nuns. Though frequently disillusioned in her efforts to spread good will -- at one point she is nearly killed by a mental patient (Colleen Dewhurst) -- Sister Luke perseveres. Sent as a nurse to the Belgian Congo, an assignment she'd been hoping for, Sister Luke is disappointed to learn that she will not be ministering to the natives but to European patients. Through the example of no-nonsense chief surgeon Peter Finch, the nun sheds her idealism and becomes a diligent worker -- so much so that she contracts tuberculosis. Upon the outbreak of World War II, Sister Luke tries to honor the edicts of her order and not take sides, but this becomes impossible when her father (Dean Jagger) is killed by the Nazis. Realizing that she cannot remain true to her vows, Sister Luke leaves the order and returns to "civilian" life. The Nun's Story ends with a long, silent sequence in which Sister Luke divests herself of her religious robes, dons street garb, and walks out to an uncertain future. There is no background music: director Fred Zinnemann decided that "triumphant" music would indicate that Sister Luke's decision was the right one, while "tragic" music would suggest that she is doing wrong. Rather than make an editorial comment, the director decided against music, allowing the audience members to fill in the blanks themselves. The Nun's Story is based on the book by Kathryn Hulme, whose depiction of convent life was a lot harsher and more judgmental than anything seen in the film. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Roman Holiday
Audrey Hepburn became a star with this film, in which she played Princess Anne, weary of protocol and anxious to have some fun before she is mummified by "affairs of state." On a diplomatic visit to Rome, Anne escapes her royal retainers and scampers incognito through the Eternal City. She happens to meet American journalist Joe Bradley (Gregory Peck), who, recognizing a hot news story, pretends that he doesn't recognize her and offers to give her a guided tour of Rome. Naturally, Joe hopes to get an exclusive interview, while his photographer pal Irving (Eddie Albert) attempts to sneak a photo. And just as naturally, Joe falls in love with her. Filmed on location in Rome, Roman Holiday garnered an Academy Award for the 24-year-old Hepburn; another Oscar went to the screenplay, credited to Ian McLellan Hunter and John Dighton but actually co-written by the blacklisted Dalton Trumbo. The 1987 TV movie remake with Catherine Oxenberg is best forgotten. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Sabrina
Billy Wilder directs the lighthearted romantic comedy Sabrina, based on the play by Samuel A. Taylor. Sabrina Fairchild (Audrey Hepburn) is the simple, naïve daughter of a chauffeur, Thomas Fairchild (John Williams). They live on an estate with the wealthy Oliver Larrabee (Walter Hampden) and his two sons: workaholic older brother Linus (Humphrey Bogart) and fun-loving younger brother David (William Holden). Sabrina adores the charming David, but he thinks of her as just a kid. Her father sends her away to Paris for chef school, where she meets Baron St. Fontanel (Marcel Dalio), and she returns a worldly, sophisticated woman. David immediately falls for her, but he is already engaged to marry heiress Elizabeth Tyson (Martha Hyer). Sabrina wants to break up the wedding in order to finally catch the man of her dreams, while Linus fights to keep the marriage on in the interest of family business and Mr. Tyson's (Francis X. Bushman) fortune. In order to keep Sabrina away from David, Linus pretends to court her himself. In doing so, they eventually realize their true feelings for each another. ~ Andrea LeVasseur, Rovi

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