Love in the Afternoon
Adapted from Claude Anet’s novel and directed by Billy Wilder, a private detective investigates the illicit affairs of an American businessman, and his daughter falls in love with the playboy and pretends she has many affairs too.
Claude Chavasse (Maurice Chevalier) introduces Paris as a city of love any time and any place by various people. He is a private detective and is concerned with illicit love. From a high tower he takes pictures of a window of the Ritz Hotel where a man stands on the balcony who is with a woman he kisses. He sees the woman go out and get in a car.
At 8:45 in the morning he arrives at his residence where he also works. He says good morning to his daughter Ariane Chavasse (Audrey Hepburn) who is playing a cello. She asks if he had a hard night and says he needs a rest. He says he is on call like a good doctor. He asks about her music, and she says she is rehearsing a Haydn piece; but she complains that he never tells her about his work. He goes to the darkroom and says he is expecting a client. She looks at a photo of a man she calls very attractive. Claude says he is very immoral. She says she never saw his face in his files, and he tells her to stay away from his files. She says her friends envy her that she has her own private library. She says which files she likes best. He says a woman gave up everything for two weeks of shameless passion, but she thinks it is romantic. She says a Benedict monk quit for a woman, but he says she wanted their secret formula. He says he is going to lock his files, and he tells her not to dust and not answer the door. She goes into her room.
Claude lets in Monsieur X (John McGiver), and he complains about the cello playing. Claude tells Ariane to stop playing. Claude shows a photo to him and asks if that is his wife, and he says it looks like her. Claude shows him photos of her with a handsome man, and he groans. Claude says his name is Frank Flannagan, and he comes to Paris every year on business. Claude says he does well in London, Madrid, and Stockholm as well. X asks how long this has been going on with his wife. Claude says she is very discreet. Ariane is listening to the conversation and watching. Claude describes the music they play, and they always end with “Fascination.” Claude shows him more photos, and X takes out a pistol. Claude tells him not to shoot his wife nor himself. X says he plans to shoot the American, and Claude warns him this is murder and could put him in jail for years. Claude insists on being paid right away, but does not charge him extra for the drop in his business it may cause. Monsieur X goes out.
Ariane asks her father about his nervous client, and he says never mind. She looks at the photo of Flannagan, and she says he is the most handsome in his files. He says he is the most no good. He puts the envelope into his safe.
Waiters roll catering tables into a hotel room, and Monsieur X arrives in the hall. He hides when they come out and then sees his wife arrive and go in the room. Immediately lively music starts, and he cringes and looks at his watch.
Ariane is playing in an orchestra and asks Michel (Van Doude) for a coin she uses to make a phone call. She calls the Ritz and asks to speak to Frank Flannagan. The clerk tells her he left orders not to be disturbed. She tries to warn him, but the clerk hangs up. She asks Michel the time, and he says it is 10:20. She asks for another coin and calls the police. She reports a crime in Suite 614 at the Ritz. She says the woman is married, and her husband has a gun and is going to shoot. The policeman says she should call them after he shoots. They do not have enough men to send for the situation she described. Michel offers to drive her home, but she asks if they could stop at the Ritz. She takes his arm and runs with him down the hall.
In the hotel hall Monsieur X is still trying to hide, but a little dog is barking at him. A woman spanks her dog and takes it in her room.
Michel drives his car and lets Ariane off at the hotel. She arrives in the hall and sees X pacing back and forth. She hides from him. They hear “Fascination,” and he looks at his watch. She slowly opens a door and goes in, and the dog barks at her. She tries a door and goes out on the balcony. She carefully walks on the ledge over to the window where the music is playing. She looks in and sees them dancing while four musicians play. She comes in and tries to talk to Frank Flannagan (Gary Cooper), warning him that he is going to be shot. He asks how she got in there, and she says from the balcony. She says her husband is outside with a big gun.
In the hall X hears the music stop and steps back as the musicians leave. They put a “Do not disturb” sign on the door handle, and X rips it off. He breaks in with his shoulder and tells Flannagan that that will be all for tonight. He points his gun at him and says he is her foolish husband. He looks at the woman, lifts the veil, and sees that it is not his wife; it is Ariane. She says she is not his wife, and he is confused. He asks to use the phone and asks if there is another Frank Flannagan in the hotel. He hangs up and says he is sorry. Frank gives him wine, and he says he can smell his wife’s perfume. He begins searching, and Frank tells him to go ahead. He looks in a closet, the bathroom, and under the bed. Ariane goes out on the balcony and checks on the wife who is going across the ledge to another room. X finds Frank’s missing slipper, and he thanks him for it.
X’s wife goes in the room with the lady and the dog and passes through to the hall. The woman spanks her dog for being bad.
Monsieur X says Ariane does not look like his wife who is very beautiful. X goes out and puts the sign back on the door knob. Frank thanks Ariane for saving him from being shot. She says how many such cases there are. She gives the veil to him and says goodnight. He says she seems to know about him. He asks how she knew about tonight and why she came to warn him. She says she is against violence. She wishes there was more love and less violence in the world. He asks if she is a religious fanatic. They hear a knock, and he sits down with her and kisses her before he tells him to come in. X comes in to get his gun and goes out. Ariane stands up and says goodbye. He tells her not to go yet, and he offers to get the gypsies back. He says background helps especially when you are not much of a talker. He is not a talker. He once sent his plane for them when he was in Stockholm. She knows about the twin sisters. He pours champagne for her and asks if she is too young for that. She asks if he is too old, and he takes offense. She asks him to take back that she is too young, and he does so. She asks if it is Pepsi-Cola, his company, but he says no. He offers to take her home, and she says no. He asks if she is married, and she says no. She admits she lives with a man but does not say who he is. He traps her at the door and says she is more attractive than the twins together. He asks her to come see him, and she declines to come at night. He talks her into coming at four in the afternoon, and she slowly walks away.
Michel takes Ariane home. She is humming “Fascination,” and he asks her to stop it. He says she has not told him anything of what happened. He says he is her friend, and she says goodnight to him and goes inside. On the stairs she hears X coming out and laughing. X tells Claude that he had the wrong woman. Ariane tries to make her appearance look different and hides behind the cello case as she goes upstairs and passes him coming down. She appears to be walking in a dream as she comes back for her cello and goes in again.
In the morning Ariane is playing “Fascination” on the cello and then switches to Haydn. Claude says good morning, and she says his breakfast is on the table. While playing she looks at clippings about Flannagan who was man of the year. He is connected to different women by the photos. Her practicing suffers, and Claude goes to her to say goodbye. He says he has a client from Brussels. He asks if Michel will bring her home, and he says he is a fine boy. He tells her what he knows about him and his family. She is surprised he investigated Michel, and he says he owes it to her. He kisses her, and they say they love each other. He goes out, and she puts the file back in the safe. She sits down at a desk and tries to compose a letter to tell Mr. Flannagan that she does not want to see him again. She starts several letters and throws them away. She writes that she should have let him be shot, and she puts that one in an envelope. She hears the “Fascination” music and burns the envelope.
Ariane with her cello goes into the Ritz Hotel. She puts her cello down in the hall and knocks on the door. Inside Frank is dictating a memo on Pepsi Cola business. He tells her to come in, and she says she came early to tell him that she is not coming later. She says she came only to bring back the hat and tries to hand it to him. He asks her help closing his suitcase so that he can lock it. She sits on it on the bed, and he gets it closed. She says goodbye, and he offers her one little drink. She says she has a date with a man younger than the one she lives with. He says he is all for that, and she figures he would be. She says she has her own private library about him. He asks about himself, and she says he is way above average. He asks her for more time and asks her to sit down. She backs up as he walks toward her. He takes the hat and her purse and puts them on a table.
Four waiters roll catering tables in and are followed by the gypsy musicians. The waiters go out. Frank and Ariane are dancing to the music. She says he is leaving tonight, and they agree there will be no complications. He says people should live as if they are between planes. She says it works for him, but she asks about Francesca in Venice. He says she is the type to stay away from. He was her first love, and women tend to be sentimental about their first man. He asks her about the first man in her life, and she avoids the question. She says she has had too much champagne, and he kisses her. They play “Fascination.”
The musicians leave the room and close the door.
The clerk calls Flannagan and tells him that it is ten and that his chauffeur is there to take him to the airport.
In his room Frank asks her what the A stands for, but she says “Anonymous.” He asks why she refuses to tell him her name. She says it does not matter if they are between planes. Neither wants the hat.
They come out of the hotel, and he asks about the cello. A servant says it was with the luggage. He tips the servants and tries to guess her name. She says this was perfect. He hopes to see her again. She asks only for the flower in his lapel and takes it. He shakes her hand and calls her “thin girl.” They say goodbye, and the car drives off. She tells the servant that the cello is hers and takes it. She walks down the street with it.
Ariane is lying on her bed and hears Claude come in. He asks if his lunch is ready and asks her about lunch. She says no thank you. He opens the refrigerator and finds the flower in a glass. He takes it to her and asks if it is hers. She tells him she will stay out of his files if he will stay out of her ice box.
Ariane clips an article about stewardesses fighting over Flannagan on a plane. She reads others about his activities at a party and in Brazil.
Ariane and Michel are attending an opera, and he is waving his hand like a conductor. She finds a handkerchief in his sleeve and stuffs it in his coat pocket. She sees Frank escorting a woman to the first row and watches them with her opera glasses. He rolls up his program and looks through it. Michel tries to get her attention, but she keeps looking at them.
In the lobby Michel talks about the music, and she says he conducted beautifully. He notices his coat is ripped and goes to get it sewn together. She walks around and sees Frank with his date who whispers to him. He gives her money, and she walks off. He is told not to smoke. He walks away and lights his cigarette right in front of Ariane without noticing her. Then she smiles at him and speaks to him. He speaks to her, and she says he does not remember her. He asks where they met until he finally gets it right. She asks about the gypsies. He asks about her, and she says she had a crazy year too with fascinating men. She says they are two people meeting between the acts. He says he wanted tickets to the Folies Bergere, but she says this is better music. He asks to see her tomorrow afternoon at four and walks off to his date. Michel says he got it fixed, and Ariane appears to be in a daze.
Ariane comes home and greets her father. She says he looks beautiful. He asks about the opera. He asks if he can hang an ermine coat in her closet. He says it belongs to a client of his who asked him to keep it there for a while. She whistles “Fascination,” and he asks what tune that is. She says it is from the opera, and he says he heard it before.
Ariane with her cello arrives in the hall, and a maid says the gypsies are in 614. She opens the cello case and takes out the ermine coat and puts it on. She knocks on the door.
Frank signals the musicians to start playing and lets her in. She says good afternoon to all of them. He asks to take her coat, but she wants to keep it on. He says he will make it warm there, and she sits down. He asks who gave it to her, and she says it was someone rich who exports and imports. She says she had a sable coat from an English duke and says someone else threatened to commit suicide. She says he was an Alpine guide with attractive knees, and he was madly in love with her. She mentions a banker from Brussels also. He says that is hard to believe. She pretends that she has not spent all her time thinking about him. He sits close to her and kisses her. The violinist plays “C’est Si Bon” and then “Fascination,” and they dance. She asks when he is going to be in Paris so that she can arrange her schedule. He tells her to take off the Siberian coat, and she lets it fall to the floor.
Claude paces and looks out the window. Ariane comes in quietly and closes the cello case as he comes into the room. He asks about the case of the elusive ermine and asks if she remembers where they put it. He checks the closet and finds her cello in there. He uses logic to suggest that the coat may be in the cello case. He finds it there and asks her who did it and what the motive was. He asks why she took it, and she says she only borrowed it. She says she wanted to show it to girls in her class. He says his client came for it, and that embarrassed him. He says his client decided not to give it to his wife because she came home wearing an anklet. He is going to give it back to his secretary. He leaves the room. She takes a little chain off the cello case and examines it.
The gypsy musicians are playing on a little bridge while Frank and Ariane are having a picnic on grass. He has a daisy in his hair and says he is bothered by the Alpine guide. He kisses her hand and arm. He tells her to put the chicken leg away, and she puts it in his shirt pocket. He sees the little chain on her ankle and asks where she got it. She says she got it in Spain from a bull-fighter. While she is talking about him, he breaks it off her ankle and says he does not like anklets on women. She says it does not mean anything to her and throws it in the river. He rows a boat as she lounges. They are followed by the musicians in another boat. He rows to the shore, and she is wearing dark glasses. She tells him to cheer up, and he asks how many other men there were. She asks if he means all of them. He keeps asking, and she says he is the first American, though there was a Canadian. She says he was a professional hockey player. He says she talks too much and kisses her.
At rehearsal Michel tells Ariane that he must talk to her. He says he loves her more. She says Frank does not really love her because he considers himself invulnerable. She says he can be jealous, and that is a good sign. She says people become mechanized, and she wonders if he has a heart. He asks if he is a creature from outer space, and she says he is an American.
Ariane is crawling around looking for a shoe and asks Frank to help her look. He puts it in his pocket and crawls on the floor with her. He traps her under a small table and kisses her. He says she has that Parisian thing. The phone rings, and she says he is wanted upstairs. He reaches for the telephone on the table and talks with the Swedish twins who are in Paris. He says he can’t talk now because the bath-tub is running over. She says she will turn it off and goes into another room. She picks up the dictaphone microphone and gives him an itemized list of the men in her life starting with an algebra teacher. She is up to item 19 when she hears him coming. He comes in and says old friends came in from Stockholm. He asks where were they, and she says they were looking for her shoe. He says he has something tonight, but he could cancel it. He says they could stay in the hotel room and order food. She taps him on the head and says goodbye. He asks why he can’t see her in the evening. He asks her name and her friends. He wants to know who she is. She kisses his forehead and goes out. After he closes the door, she picks up her cello in the hall. He turns on the bath and starts to undress. He notices the dictaphone is on and plays it back and listens to her list of men, laughing. He goes back and starts it again while the bath-tub is overflowing.
The water floods the apartment of the woman with the dog, and she spanks her dog again.
Frank is still listening to the dictaphone list as the gypsies play. He is drinking and pours champagne for the gypsies. They stop playing to drink and start playing again. He stops the dictaphone and pours more drinks. He pours himself another drink but shoves the cart back without pouring more for the musicians. They send the cart back, and he shoves the liquor cart toward them. Later they all appear to be drunk. Frank puts on his hat and goes out, followed by the gypsies.
Frank comes out of the hotel and calls a taxi. He and the musicians all get in and go to a Turkish bath. They are playing while he takes the steam. Monsieur X hears the music and talks to Frank. He says his wife has forgiven him and that it is like a second honeymoon. He asks Frank what is the trouble because he is in a bad mood. He asks if it is the charming innocent he met in his apartment. He says the uncertainty about other men can drive a man crazy. He says he can recommend a man who will help him. He goes out to get the address. They play “Fascination.” X says he is the best man in Paris and gives him the card of Claude Chavasse.
Frank goes to the address and hesitates outside.
Inside Claude tells Ariane, who is washing her hair, that he is suspicious of her washing her hair so many times. She also has been sleeping on her stomach, and his research shows that most women who do so are secretly in love. He asks who it is, and she says it is Michel. He says she has a callous on her hand from carrying her cello case, and so it cannot be Michel. They hear the door, and he lets Frank in. He says it is an honor, and Frank is surprised that he knows him. Frank says he wants to investigate a young lady, really a girl, and he says he had a rough night. He wants him to be discreet about it, and Claude asks if he ever knew that he was being followed. Claude asks to be paid in dollars. He asks Frank to tell him everything he knows about her. He says she came into his room through the balcony. Claude says he knows he likes voluptuous women, but he says she is thin. She has a way of getting under skin. She says she has other men, but he thinks she may be pulling his leg. He asks for an aspirin, and Claude goes to get them.
In the bathroom he tells Ariane he has a client.
Frank takes the aspirin and mentions the Alpine guide and the export-import guy. Claude looks up these people and others Frank mentions in his files. Claude says it is as if someone broke into his files. Frank says she is coming to see him tonight at six. Claude asks her name, and Frank says it begins with A. Claude asks about the tune, and Frank says the gypsies play it. Frank says she is odd. She came once with an anklet and another time with a fur coat. Claude asks if it was ermine, and he says yes. Frank says he never gave her anything, but Claude asks if he gave her a flower, and he says he is good. Frank goes out, and on the stairs Claude asks him if he is interested in her. Frank says of course. Claude asks if he is in love with her, but Frank says no; he is only interested in her like others. Frank tells him not to forget at six.
Claude comes back, and Ariane asks about the headache. Claude implies that now he has a headache. He says he should not have exposed her to these things. She puts her arms around him and says he has been a wonderful father. He sends her to her room and says he wants to wind up the case. He sits down and begins typing.
Frank hears a knock, and Claude comes in and has only one page of information on her. Claude says she plays the cello, and she lives on the left bank with her father. Frank asks if he is sure. Claude says the only man in her life is Frank. Claude says he knows everything about her from her birth. Frank says she has a good imagination, and he asks why she did it. Claude says she was probably trying to be like him. Frank says this is fun; but Claude says he usually runs when things get serious, and she is very serious. They hear a knock, and the musicians come in. Frank says he does not want advice and offers him $200. Claude says there will be no charge because she is his daughter. He asks him to throw her back in the water, and he goes out.
Ariane comes up the stairs with her cello, and Claude sees her walk by. She sees the musicians coming out and goes in the open door. Frank is packing in the bedroom and sees her. She goes to him. He closes his suitcase and says he made up his mind quickly. He says he had a big party with Swedish twins who are going to Cannes, and he decided to go along. She offers to help with his suitcase and sits on it. He answers the phone and learns that no planes are taking off. He asks about the train and asks them to send up for his luggage. He wants to go on to Athens. He puts his hands on her arms and says he will not be back for a long time. He knows she is a sensible girl. He says he liked her record and got a kick out of it. He says it is a relief to meet a woman who thinks the same way as he does. He says the French girls have the right idea, and she says they never cry. She says she cried when 14 left her because he slammed the car door on her thumb. She asks if she can go to the station with him. She says the man she lives with may get suspicious. They go out together, and he sees the cello case in the hall. Claude picks up the case and follows them without being seen.
Frank and Ariane walk by the train. She says she is going to be lonely after he is gone. She says they did have a good time. She asks if he is coming back to Paris next year. She says maybe they will see each other then. She is sad, and he smiles and tells her to take care of herself. He asks her what is the matter, and she says this happens to her in railway stations. He asks if she can take his flower and takes it. He says goodbye to the thin girl and says she promised. She says she has had so many men and will have many more. The train starts to move, and she says she will be with the duke and others. She walks with the train and starts running. She says she will be all right and will always remember him. He reaches down and pulls her on to the train. She asks what he is doing, and he calls her Ariane and tells her to be quiet. Claude watches the train depart and smiles.
Claude says they are now married and are serving a life sentence in New York. The gypsy musicians play by the railroad tracks.
This romantic comedy contrasts an innocent girl who looks forward to romance with a wealthy womanizer who enjoys brief affairs; but she uses her imagination to try to equalize the situation and make him jealous. Her father nearly rescues her from him, but the American suddenly realizes that he really loves her and wants her for a wife.