Two for the Road


1h 52m 1967
Two for the Road

Brief Synopsis

A married couple's relationship rises and falls during a series of European trips.

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Romance
Drama
Release Date
Jan 1967
Premiere Information
New York opening: 27 Apr 1967
Production Company
Stanley Donen Films
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century--Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States
Location
Nice, France; Paris, France; Saint Tropez, France; Beauvalon, France; La Colle sur le Loup, France

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 52m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (DeLuxe)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Synopsis

In their 12th year of marriage Joanna and Mark Wallace are en route to the French Riviera for a business and social meeting with Mark's benefactor, architect Maurice Dalbret. Joanna and Mark had met years before on such a trip: Mark was then a fledgling architect hitchhiking through Europe, and Joanna was a music student on tour with a group of American schoolgirls. Their first encounter blossomed into romance, and by the time they reached the Côte d'Azur they knew they were in love and ready for marriage. Soon afterward they returned to Europe, but their motor trip was spoiled by their companions, the snobbish Cathy and Howard Manchester and their obnoxious daughter Ruth. Having learned their lesson, Joanna and Mark took their next vacation alone. Then, while Joanna was pregnant, Mark made a business trip by himself and experienced his first marital infidelity. Success came fairly easy for Mark, but his affluence and sense of self-importance alienated Joanna; and eventually she drifted into an indiscreet affair of her own. Driven to the brink of divorce, they are now forced to evaluate themselves and their marriage. Mutually willing to concede that they have changed but have grown maturely dependent upon each other, they are able to save their marriage.

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Romance
Drama
Release Date
Jan 1967
Premiere Information
New York opening: 27 Apr 1967
Production Company
Stanley Donen Films
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century--Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States
Location
Nice, France; Paris, France; Saint Tropez, France; Beauvalon, France; La Colle sur le Loup, France

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 52m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (DeLuxe)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Award Nominations

Best Writing, Screenplay

1968

Articles

Two for the Road


After 14 years of international stardom, Audrey Hepburn enjoyed a change of pace -- and image -- with Two for the Road (1967), a bittersweet comedy-drama about a couple whose marriage disintegrates as they make repeated road trips through Southern France. While many of Hepburn's earlier comedies had amounted to romantic fairy tales, this one has a more realistic tone and abrasive edge. At times it calls upon Hepburn to behave in a manner at odds with her usual charming, wistful and slightly regal screen persona.

Stanley Donen directed the film from a screenplay by Frederic Raphael, who chose to tell his story in non-linear fashion, with episodes from the later stages of the marriage intertwined with scenes from its beginning. What happens in the meantime is at times left to the imagination of the audience, and at others dramatized in later sequences. The editing of Madeleine Gug and Richard Marden, with quick cuts that seemed radical at the time, reinforces the movie's edgy, New Wave feeling.

Hepburn plays Joanna, the wife of successful, workaholic architect, Mark Wallace (Albert Finney), who has his Mercedes roadster flown to Northern France so the couple can drive to Saint-Tropez to celebrate the completion of one of his most important assignments. During the drive the pair recalls past trips along the same road, including their first meeting a dozen years prior, and an unfortunate but very amusing drive with Mark's American ex-girlfriend (Eleanor Bron), her officious husband (William Daniels) and the couple's obnoxious little daughter (Gabrielle Middleton).

Another journey has the Wallaces driving an MG with spectacular mechanical problems and meeting up with wealthy Maurice Dalbret (Claude Dauphin), who will become an important client of Mark's, along with Maurice's wife Françoise (Nadia Gray). During this trip, despite the couple's vows not to have children, Joanna announces to Mark that she is pregnant. Later we see the pair traveling with their young daughter (Kathy Chelimsky).

During other episodes, both husband and wife have extra-marital affairs, with Mark pairing up with a flirty fellow motorist and Joanna having a fling with Françoise's brother David (Georges Descrières). The couple faces the possible end of the marriage, but new possibilities arise after the two face their problems honestly and Mark gets an offer to re-start his career in Italy.

Hepburn, who had previously worked with Donen on Funny Face (1957) and Charade (1963), had been the director's "first and only" choice for the role of Joanna, although she was not keen on the project when first approached. She was hesitant about playing such a brittle, jaded woman, and the risqué elements of a role that included swearing, appearing in revealing swimsuits, and suggestions of nudity. She reportedly was also leery of "avant-garde" approaches to storytelling after having been disappointed with the results of her earlier film with an unconventional structure, Paris When It Sizzles (1964).

Finally, the situations involving a bickering married couple may have seemed unpleasant to Hepburn since her marriage to actor Mel Ferrer was in a turbulent phase. (She would divorce him the following year.) But, after Donen and screenwriter Raphael visited Hepburn at her home in Switzerland, she was persuaded to reconsider the script -- and ultimately came to love it.

Donen briefly considered Julie Christie as a replacement after Hepburn became pregnant and abandoned the film -- but Hepburn later suffered a miscarriage and was able to return. Before Finney was cast, Donen had wanted Paul Newman or Michael Caine for the role of Mark. Tony Curtis wrote in his autobiography that he had unsuccessfully sought the part.

Two for the Road was originally planned as a Universal film but was taken over by Richard D. Zanuck and David Brown at 20th Century Fox. It was shot during the summer of 1966 in various French locations including Paris, the French Riviera, Saint-Tropez and Nice (where the Studios de la Victorine or "the Hollywood of the French Riviera," are located). Christopher Challis, who also shot Donen's The Grass Is Greener (1960) and Arabesque (1966), is responsible for the beautiful wide-screen cinematography.

Hepburn, then 37, at last had in Finney a leading man suited to her age range. (In earlier films she had May-December romances with such older stars as Humphrey Bogart, Fred Astaire, Gary Cooper, Cary Grant and Rex Harrison.) Finney was in fact seven years her junior and full of youthful spirit and virility.

Donen would recall that during filming, Hepburn seemed happier and less constrained than he had ever seen her -- and he credited Finney with her vivacity. It's true that her scenes with Finney have a passionate undertone that, in comparison, often seemed lacking in her onscreen romances. Hepburn biographer Martin Gitlin wrote that the "similarities in Hepburn's current feelings and experiences in her marriage allowed her to react with tremendous realism, conviction and emotional depth." Donen thought Two for the Road marked the best performance of her career.

It was widely acknowledged by those close to the two costars that they entered into an affair during filming that hastened the end of Hepburn's 14-year marriage to Ferrer. Both Hepburn and Finney, however, remained very discreet about the matter. Later, Finney would say only that "Working with dear Audrey Hepburn is a memory I will never forget."

In another change to her onscreen image, Hepburn dressed not in the ultra-chic Givenchy wardrobe of past films, but in more contemporary fashions by such "hip" couture designers as Mary Quant, André Courrèges and Paco Rabanne (who designed her shiny black polyvinyl "motorcycle" trouser suit, perhaps the most striking outfit in the film). Hepburn's hairstyles, moving in stages from young Joanna's carefree long tresses to a "mod" helmet-cut for the character's more mature period, are an important key to placing scenes in proper chronological order.

Vehicles in the movie, in addition to the white 1965 Mercedes-Benz 230SL roadster (actually director Donen's personal car) and the MG TD, include a Triumph Herald, a VW Microbus and a Ford Country Squire.

Jacqueline Bisset has her first substantial role in the film, playing a girl called Jackie who, instead of Joanna, almost takes that first fateful trip with Mark but is waylaid by an outbreak of chicken pox. Bisset recalled that "What I remember most about the movie is the food! We were in the South of France and the French, who are very civilized in these matters had installed huge tables beneath the trees where we'd sit down, as God intended, to eat. There was wine for whomever fancied it, and it wasn't so much a lunch break but more like a picnic in the countryside with friends."

Raphael's screenplay was nominated for an Academy Award. Hepburn's performance was nominated for a Golden Globe, but her Oscar nomination that year came instead for Wait Until Dark (also 1967), a thriller in which she played a blind woman threatened by criminals. Henry Mancini also earned a Golden Globe nomination for his music for Two for the Road. The composer said later that he considered this score the most difficult of all those he composed for films, and also named it as his personal favorite. (He also composed music for the Hepburn movies Breakfast at Tiffany's, Charade and Wait Until Dark.)

Two for the Road was critically well-received, with Roger Ebert calling it "a Hollywood-style romance between beautiful people, and an honest story about recognizable human beings." Commercially, the movie struggled in the U.S., perhaps because Americans found it difficult to accept Hepburn's new image, but did very well in Europe, where sophisticated considerations of marital life were more common. Thanks to video release the movie has gained a devoted following that is quite emotional in its support of this unusual and stylish film.

By Roger Fristoe
Two For The Road

Two for the Road

After 14 years of international stardom, Audrey Hepburn enjoyed a change of pace -- and image -- with Two for the Road (1967), a bittersweet comedy-drama about a couple whose marriage disintegrates as they make repeated road trips through Southern France. While many of Hepburn's earlier comedies had amounted to romantic fairy tales, this one has a more realistic tone and abrasive edge. At times it calls upon Hepburn to behave in a manner at odds with her usual charming, wistful and slightly regal screen persona. Stanley Donen directed the film from a screenplay by Frederic Raphael, who chose to tell his story in non-linear fashion, with episodes from the later stages of the marriage intertwined with scenes from its beginning. What happens in the meantime is at times left to the imagination of the audience, and at others dramatized in later sequences. The editing of Madeleine Gug and Richard Marden, with quick cuts that seemed radical at the time, reinforces the movie's edgy, New Wave feeling. Hepburn plays Joanna, the wife of successful, workaholic architect, Mark Wallace (Albert Finney), who has his Mercedes roadster flown to Northern France so the couple can drive to Saint-Tropez to celebrate the completion of one of his most important assignments. During the drive the pair recalls past trips along the same road, including their first meeting a dozen years prior, and an unfortunate but very amusing drive with Mark's American ex-girlfriend (Eleanor Bron), her officious husband (William Daniels) and the couple's obnoxious little daughter (Gabrielle Middleton). Another journey has the Wallaces driving an MG with spectacular mechanical problems and meeting up with wealthy Maurice Dalbret (Claude Dauphin), who will become an important client of Mark's, along with Maurice's wife Françoise (Nadia Gray). During this trip, despite the couple's vows not to have children, Joanna announces to Mark that she is pregnant. Later we see the pair traveling with their young daughter (Kathy Chelimsky). During other episodes, both husband and wife have extra-marital affairs, with Mark pairing up with a flirty fellow motorist and Joanna having a fling with Françoise's brother David (Georges Descrières). The couple faces the possible end of the marriage, but new possibilities arise after the two face their problems honestly and Mark gets an offer to re-start his career in Italy. Hepburn, who had previously worked with Donen on Funny Face (1957) and Charade (1963), had been the director's "first and only" choice for the role of Joanna, although she was not keen on the project when first approached. She was hesitant about playing such a brittle, jaded woman, and the risqué elements of a role that included swearing, appearing in revealing swimsuits, and suggestions of nudity. She reportedly was also leery of "avant-garde" approaches to storytelling after having been disappointed with the results of her earlier film with an unconventional structure, Paris When It Sizzles (1964). Finally, the situations involving a bickering married couple may have seemed unpleasant to Hepburn since her marriage to actor Mel Ferrer was in a turbulent phase. (She would divorce him the following year.) But, after Donen and screenwriter Raphael visited Hepburn at her home in Switzerland, she was persuaded to reconsider the script -- and ultimately came to love it. Donen briefly considered Julie Christie as a replacement after Hepburn became pregnant and abandoned the film -- but Hepburn later suffered a miscarriage and was able to return. Before Finney was cast, Donen had wanted Paul Newman or Michael Caine for the role of Mark. Tony Curtis wrote in his autobiography that he had unsuccessfully sought the part. Two for the Road was originally planned as a Universal film but was taken over by Richard D. Zanuck and David Brown at 20th Century Fox. It was shot during the summer of 1966 in various French locations including Paris, the French Riviera, Saint-Tropez and Nice (where the Studios de la Victorine or "the Hollywood of the French Riviera," are located). Christopher Challis, who also shot Donen's The Grass Is Greener (1960) and Arabesque (1966), is responsible for the beautiful wide-screen cinematography. Hepburn, then 37, at last had in Finney a leading man suited to her age range. (In earlier films she had May-December romances with such older stars as Humphrey Bogart, Fred Astaire, Gary Cooper, Cary Grant and Rex Harrison.) Finney was in fact seven years her junior and full of youthful spirit and virility. Donen would recall that during filming, Hepburn seemed happier and less constrained than he had ever seen her -- and he credited Finney with her vivacity. It's true that her scenes with Finney have a passionate undertone that, in comparison, often seemed lacking in her onscreen romances. Hepburn biographer Martin Gitlin wrote that the "similarities in Hepburn's current feelings and experiences in her marriage allowed her to react with tremendous realism, conviction and emotional depth." Donen thought Two for the Road marked the best performance of her career. It was widely acknowledged by those close to the two costars that they entered into an affair during filming that hastened the end of Hepburn's 14-year marriage to Ferrer. Both Hepburn and Finney, however, remained very discreet about the matter. Later, Finney would say only that "Working with dear Audrey Hepburn is a memory I will never forget." In another change to her onscreen image, Hepburn dressed not in the ultra-chic Givenchy wardrobe of past films, but in more contemporary fashions by such "hip" couture designers as Mary Quant, André Courrèges and Paco Rabanne (who designed her shiny black polyvinyl "motorcycle" trouser suit, perhaps the most striking outfit in the film). Hepburn's hairstyles, moving in stages from young Joanna's carefree long tresses to a "mod" helmet-cut for the character's more mature period, are an important key to placing scenes in proper chronological order. Vehicles in the movie, in addition to the white 1965 Mercedes-Benz 230SL roadster (actually director Donen's personal car) and the MG TD, include a Triumph Herald, a VW Microbus and a Ford Country Squire. Jacqueline Bisset has her first substantial role in the film, playing a girl called Jackie who, instead of Joanna, almost takes that first fateful trip with Mark but is waylaid by an outbreak of chicken pox. Bisset recalled that "What I remember most about the movie is the food! We were in the South of France and the French, who are very civilized in these matters had installed huge tables beneath the trees where we'd sit down, as God intended, to eat. There was wine for whomever fancied it, and it wasn't so much a lunch break but more like a picnic in the countryside with friends." Raphael's screenplay was nominated for an Academy Award. Hepburn's performance was nominated for a Golden Globe, but her Oscar nomination that year came instead for Wait Until Dark (also 1967), a thriller in which she played a blind woman threatened by criminals. Henry Mancini also earned a Golden Globe nomination for his music for Two for the Road. The composer said later that he considered this score the most difficult of all those he composed for films, and also named it as his personal favorite. (He also composed music for the Hepburn movies Breakfast at Tiffany's, Charade and Wait Until Dark.) Two for the Road was critically well-received, with Roger Ebert calling it "a Hollywood-style romance between beautiful people, and an honest story about recognizable human beings." Commercially, the movie struggled in the U.S., perhaps because Americans found it difficult to accept Hepburn's new image, but did very well in Europe, where sophisticated considerations of marital life were more common. Thanks to video release the movie has gained a devoted following that is quite emotional in its support of this unusual and stylish film. By Roger Fristoe

Two For the Road on DVD


Plenty of 60s-style sophistication is on display in Director Stanley Donen's bittersweet comedy/drama Two for the Road. Albert Finney and Audrey Hepburn star as Mark and Joanna Wallace, a couple who have been together for so many years that they have become the "old married couple who sit at the table in silence" for which they have always had so much disdain. As they cross Europe by car with their marriage seemingly on the rocks, the story alternates between the present and memories of several other similar trips they have experienced together over the years throughout their relationship, slowly revealing the flaws and foibles that would both draw them apart, and at the same time inextricably bind them together.

They first meet when Mark is hitchhiking across France and Joanna is traveling with an all-female singing group led by a beauty named Jackie (Jacqueline Bisset). Mark is instantly attracted to Jackie, and when the rest of the girls are fortuitously stricken with chicken pox, Mark plans to spirit her away to join him on the road. Unfortunately, Jackie herself succumbs to the disease, and Mark is left with Joanna, the only one in the brood who is immune to it. They manage to fall in love as they make their way across the country, while Mark expounds at length on his natural antipathy toward marriage.

Another thread finds the pair now married and traveling across Europe by station wagon along with family friend Cathy (Eleanor Bron), her husband Howard (William Daniels), and their nightmare child Ruth, the product of a permissive upbringing that has the quartet bowing to her whims. This trip is contrasted with a much later one during which Mark and Joanna go on the road with their own young daughter, whose behavior is decidedly better than that of her parents, who bicker about everything, including whether or not they're bickering ("Just because you're using a silencer doesn't mean you're not a sniper," Mark quips early in the film).

Little by little, through these small and telling moments, we learn the trurth behind Mark and Joanna's troubled marriage: that these are people who are most comfortable communicating with each other through barbs and insults, and despite outward appearances they were made for each other.

Two for the Road is a difficult movie to warm up to, since its central characters are so doggedly unpleasant; and the screenplay, which aims for elegance and sophistication has a tendency to come off as smug: despite its self-consciously challenging structure, the story itself is surprisingly conventional, and one that was told much more concisely and with more heart and humor in the Cary Grant/Irene Dunne film The Awful Truth.

The film really owes its success to sheer star power: Hepburn gives what is perhaps her best performance in a part that requires more subtlety than most of the other roles she would play. She meets the challenges of the material with great finesse, particularly given Frederic Raphael's deliberately repetitious script. Finney is probably incapable of giving a bad performance, and his work here is so richly textured and so completely believable that he provides layers to the role of Mark that are missing from the screenplay. Of the supporting cast, The one true standout is Eleanor Bron, who most will recognize from The Beatles' film Help!, and more recently from her role of Joanna Lumley's demanding mother on Absolutely Fabulous. The characters of Cathy and her husband are an obvious sendup of A.S. Neil's Summerhill school of permissive child-rearing that was popular in some quarters in the 60s, but the eminently talented Bron takes the role of the mother beyond stereotype, letting us see the angry woman seething beneath the surface.

For their Studio Classics release to DVD, Fox has performed a massive digital restoration to the film, cleaning and color-correcting it to bring it back to its original glory. The result is nearly pristine source material that yields a lovely transfer that does full justice to Christopher Challis' beautiful cinematography. The same is true for the full bodied audio presentation, which gives a crystal clear presentation of Henry Mancini's score. The disc includes a feature length commentary by Donen.

For more information about Two For the Road, visit Fox Home Entertainment. To order Two for the Road, go to TCM Shopping.

by Fred Hunter

Two For the Road on DVD

Plenty of 60s-style sophistication is on display in Director Stanley Donen's bittersweet comedy/drama Two for the Road. Albert Finney and Audrey Hepburn star as Mark and Joanna Wallace, a couple who have been together for so many years that they have become the "old married couple who sit at the table in silence" for which they have always had so much disdain. As they cross Europe by car with their marriage seemingly on the rocks, the story alternates between the present and memories of several other similar trips they have experienced together over the years throughout their relationship, slowly revealing the flaws and foibles that would both draw them apart, and at the same time inextricably bind them together. They first meet when Mark is hitchhiking across France and Joanna is traveling with an all-female singing group led by a beauty named Jackie (Jacqueline Bisset). Mark is instantly attracted to Jackie, and when the rest of the girls are fortuitously stricken with chicken pox, Mark plans to spirit her away to join him on the road. Unfortunately, Jackie herself succumbs to the disease, and Mark is left with Joanna, the only one in the brood who is immune to it. They manage to fall in love as they make their way across the country, while Mark expounds at length on his natural antipathy toward marriage. Another thread finds the pair now married and traveling across Europe by station wagon along with family friend Cathy (Eleanor Bron), her husband Howard (William Daniels), and their nightmare child Ruth, the product of a permissive upbringing that has the quartet bowing to her whims. This trip is contrasted with a much later one during which Mark and Joanna go on the road with their own young daughter, whose behavior is decidedly better than that of her parents, who bicker about everything, including whether or not they're bickering ("Just because you're using a silencer doesn't mean you're not a sniper," Mark quips early in the film). Little by little, through these small and telling moments, we learn the trurth behind Mark and Joanna's troubled marriage: that these are people who are most comfortable communicating with each other through barbs and insults, and despite outward appearances they were made for each other. Two for the Road is a difficult movie to warm up to, since its central characters are so doggedly unpleasant; and the screenplay, which aims for elegance and sophistication has a tendency to come off as smug: despite its self-consciously challenging structure, the story itself is surprisingly conventional, and one that was told much more concisely and with more heart and humor in the Cary Grant/Irene Dunne film The Awful Truth. The film really owes its success to sheer star power: Hepburn gives what is perhaps her best performance in a part that requires more subtlety than most of the other roles she would play. She meets the challenges of the material with great finesse, particularly given Frederic Raphael's deliberately repetitious script. Finney is probably incapable of giving a bad performance, and his work here is so richly textured and so completely believable that he provides layers to the role of Mark that are missing from the screenplay. Of the supporting cast, The one true standout is Eleanor Bron, who most will recognize from The Beatles' film Help!, and more recently from her role of Joanna Lumley's demanding mother on Absolutely Fabulous. The characters of Cathy and her husband are an obvious sendup of A.S. Neil's Summerhill school of permissive child-rearing that was popular in some quarters in the 60s, but the eminently talented Bron takes the role of the mother beyond stereotype, letting us see the angry woman seething beneath the surface. For their Studio Classics release to DVD, Fox has performed a massive digital restoration to the film, cleaning and color-correcting it to bring it back to its original glory. The result is nearly pristine source material that yields a lovely transfer that does full justice to Christopher Challis' beautiful cinematography. The same is true for the full bodied audio presentation, which gives a crystal clear presentation of Henry Mancini's score. The disc includes a feature length commentary by Donen. For more information about Two For the Road, visit Fox Home Entertainment. To order Two for the Road, go to TCM Shopping. by Fred Hunter

Quotes

This is completely against my principles.
- Mark Wallace
Good. I hate to think that it happened all the time.
- Joanna Wallace
I had absolutely no intention of sleeping in hotels.
- Mark Wallace
You just want me to become a beautiful memory, the sooner the better!
- Joanna Wallace
Who said anything about beautiful?
- Mark Wallace
I thought we agreed before we were married that we weren't going to have any children.
- Mark Wallace
And before we were married we *didn't* have any children.
- Joanna Wallace
That's marriage for you.
- Mark Wallace
That's marriage for *them*.
- Joanna Wallace
That's marriage -- full stop.
- Mark Wallace
My skin is made of asbestos.
- Mark Wallace

Trivia

Audrey Hepburn narrowly missed getting an Oscar nomination for this film. The Academy had to choose between her performances in this film and in Wait Until Dark (1967) and chose the latter.

Several biographies of Hepburn state she was very nervous shooting her first nude scenes for this film, particularly a skinny dipping sequence. If such a scene was shot, it didn't end up in the final print.

Notes

Location scenes filmed at Beauvallon, Saint-Tropez, La Colle sur le Loup, Nice, and Paris. Released in Great Britain in October 1967.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States May 24, 1990

Released in United States on Video November 3, 1993

Released in United States Spring April 27, 1967

Shown at Seattle International Film Festival May 24, 1990.

Previously distributed by CBS/Fox Video.

Wide-screen version released in USA on laserdisc August 1991.

Released in United States Spring April 27, 1967

Released in United States May 24, 1990 (Shown at Seattle International Film Festival May 24, 1990.)

Released in United States on Video November 3, 1993