Audrey Hepburn is considered one of the most iconic and beloved film actresses of all time. Also a fashion icon, she was ranked by the American Film Institute as the third-greatest female screen legend of Hollywood’s Golden Age of cinema.
Hepburn, born Audrey Kathleen Ruston, was born on May 4, 1929, in Ixelles, Brussels, Belgium. She rose to stardom by the time she was 24 years old, and she was skyrocketed into fame when she starred in two well-received films, Roman Holiday and Sabrina. Hepburn’s films are historically well regarded for being a part of an important era. Let’s take a look at 10 of her best movies, according to IMDb.
Update November 7th, 2020, by Darby Harn: Audrey Hepburn continues to be one of the great icons of cinema. With a lot of people watching a lot more movies at home than they used to, much of her catalog has gotten a lot more exposure in recent years. IMDb ratings are always changing as more people discover some of the hidden treasures of her early career and rediscover classics that have even more relevance today.
15 Funny Face (1957) – 7.0
Hepburn teamed up with iconic film dancer Fred Astaire in the 1957 musical comedy, Funny Face. Fashion photographer Dick Avery (Astaire) is immediately struck by the beauty of Jo Stockton (Hepburn), a quiet bookstore employee he photographed by accident. He believes she has the potential to be a successful model.
Dick convinces Jo to travel to France with him. Of course, like most Old Hollywood movies, the two end up falling in love, but they have many hurdles to face along the way. Hepburn was a fashion icon in her personal life, so it was only fitting for her to star in a film that highlighted some of the most glamorous fashion designs of all time.
14 Laughter In Paradise (1951)– 7.1
Audrey Hepburn is barely in Laughter In Paradise. She was meant to play one of the main roles in the movie, but a scheduling conflict with a stage play forced her to play only a bit role as a cigarette girl. Still, it’s one of her iconic looks and is fondly remembered today.
The movie is something of a screwball comedy. A millionaire dies and leaves his fortune to his four children – who get the money if they figure out his posthumous riddles and games.
13 Love In The Afternoon (1957)– 7.2
A very young Audrey Hepburn would be routinely paired with older actors in her career, and Love In The Afternoon is just one example. Legendary actor Gary Cooper is a private detective trying to dig up dirt on a man and then he falls in love with that man’s daughter, played by Hepburn.
Hepburn shows off her worldly charm and spirit by playing something a detective herself, following Cooper to Paris and playing the part of a wealthy socialite.
12 Dutch In Seven Lessons (1948)– 7.5
Dutch In Seven Lessons is a little-seen movie from 1948, but a very important one. It’s her first motion picture. This Dutch production was kind of a documentary, and only kind of a movie; it was just over an hour long (though some versions were much shorter).
The movie was more of a travelogue promoting the Netherlands. Hepburn played a Stewardess in the movie, and would quickly go on to bigger and better things in the years that followed.
11 Two For The Road (1967) – 7.5
In the 1967 romantic comedy Two for the Road, architect Mark Wallace (Albert Finney) and his wife, Joanna (Hepburn), travel to France to meet one of his clients (Claude Dauphin). While on the trip, the couple reflects on the first 10 years of their marriage—how they met, their courtship, and road trips throughout the French countryside.
The couple struggles to rekindle their passion, and mutual infidelity threatens to end their romance entirely. Hepburn was headed for a divorce (from War and Peace costar Mel Ferrer) during the production of this film, but she still managed to pull off every scene.
10 The Lavender Hill Mob (1951) – 7.6
Audrey Hepburn only has a small part in this movie, which stars Alec Guinness, who is, of course, best known as Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi. Guinness plays a bank clerk named Holland overseeing a transfer of gold bullion and tries to steal them with a neighbor of his.
Hepburn plays Chiquita, a young woman who may or may not be attached to Holland. Despite her limited screen time, it remains popular with fans.
9 The Nun’s Story (1959) – 7.6
In the 1959 drama The Nun’s Story, Hepburn plays the willful and outspoken Gabrielle van der Mal, the daughter of a prominent Belgian surgeon (Dean Jagger). She shocks everyone when she leaves her sophisticated upper-class lifestyle to become a nun.
As Sister Luke, Gabrielle is sent to the Belgian Congo, where she works as a nurse for Dr. Fortunati (Peter Finch). However, when her father is killed by the Nazis during World War II, she no longer feels she can be a nun. Critics regard this film as Hepburn’s most overlooked, yet powerful, performance. She used only her face to express anguish, fear, disappointment, and exhaustion. Hepburn received an Oscar nomination for the role.
8 How To Steal A Million (1966) – 7.6
How To Steal A Million is one of Audrey Hepburn’s best movies, according to Rotten Tomatoes. The stylish heist comedy features Hepburn as the daughter of a major art forger. One of his fakes is about to be discovered, ruining him and her, so she enlists a thief to try and steal it back before the truth comes out.
Hepburn stars alongside actor Peter O’Toole in this funny and charming, if light, comedy story that holds up pretty well today.
7 Breakfast At Tiffany’s (1961) – 7.7
When you think of Audrey Hepburn, you most likely recall her image of wearing a black dress, black gloves, and standing in front of Tiffany’s in New York City. In the 1961 romantic comedy Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Hepburn stole the spotlight as the young, naïve Holly Golightly, who befriends her neighbor, Paul Varjak (George Peppard).
Based on Truman Capote’s novella of the same name, Hepburn became a fashion icon with the film. Still, the film wasn’t entirely perfect. The cringe-worthy portrayal by Mickey Rooney of an Asian man is reason enough alone for a remake.
6 Sabrina (1954) – 7.7
The 1954 romantic comedy Sabrina was the second film to skyrocket Hepburn into stardom. In one of her more famous film roles, Hepburn plays Sabrina, the daughter of a chauffeur. She has returned home from a two-year visit to Paris, and she’s glamorous and immensely charming. She quickly attracts the attention of David (William Holden), a playboy son of her father’s rich employers.
Throughout the film, David woos and wins Sabrina’s heart, even though she has always loved him. However, their relationship is threatened by David’s older brother, Linus (Humphrey Bogart), who is adamant about David marrying an heiress in order to save the family business. Hepburn was nominated for an Academy Award for her playful, emotionally nuanced performance.
5 The Children’s Hour (1961) – 7.8
The Children’s Hour was a movie well, well ahead of its time. Films coming anywhere near the subject of LGBTQ characters and stories were rare even forty years later. Hepburn stars as Karen Wright, who runs a boarding school for girls along with her best friend, played by Shirley MacLaine.
A student accuses the two of being in a lesbian relationship, and this coming of age movie is an early examination of the need for fairness and respect for others, and also the damaging power of lies and manipulation.
4 Wait Until Dark (1967) – 7.8
Wait Until Dark is unique in Hepburn’s catalog. She rarely starred in thrillers or dark fare in general. She made an exception here and made an exceptional film. Audrey Hepburn plays a woman who recently lost her sight. She struggles with her blindness, and then burglars break into her home.
The movie is a taut, twist game of cat and mouse between the blind Hepburn and the thieves–including Alan Arkin, in one of his best roles–who are looking for a doll they think is stuffed with heroin.
3 My Fair Lady (1964) – 7.8
In the beloved 1964 movie musical My Fair Lady, one of the best Broadway adaptations ever, phonetic professor Henry Higgins (Rex Harrison) is confident he can transform a Cockney working-class girl, Eliza Doolittle (Hepburn), into a cultured member of high society. Hepburn is particularly lovely in this film, described by critics as a heavenly person for one of the most memorable female heroines in history.
Even though Higgins and Eliza clash, they form an unlikely bond. However, this bond is threatened by an aristocratic suitor (Jeremy Brett). Hepburn proves she was truly a “fair lady” and you can’t help but be captivated by her performance.
2 Charade (1963) – 7.9
Anytime Hepburn took chances in her film career, it was always exciting. In the 1963 mystery-thriller Charade, Hepburn played Regina Lampert, who falls for the charming Peter Joshua (Cary Grant) while on a skiing trip in the French Alps. However, she must return to Paris after her husband has been murdered.
Together, Regina and Peter work to get to the bottom of this mystery. They’re onto three of her late husband’s World War II cronies. Everything is going well, but Regina is skeptical about why Peter keeps changing his name. What’s going on? This was a delightful break from Hepburn’s usual film roles.
1 Roman Holiday (1953) – 8.0
Hepburn’s first starring role was in the 1953 romance Roman Holiday. It’s not very often that an actor’s first major film role is often considered their best performance. In the film, Hepburn plays a touring European princess (Ann), who takes off for a night in Rome. She ends up falling asleep on a park bench and is found by an American reporter, Joe Bradley (Gregory Peck). He takes her back to his apartment for safety.
The next day, Joe finds out Ann’s regal status. He bets his editor he can get an exclusive interview with her, but romance soon evolves. Hepburn and Peck are both charming and charismatic together. It’s no wonder Hepburn won her first (and only) Academy Award for this performance. What a way to begin a career!