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The Best and the Rest of Hepburn Films in Stores

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TIMES STAFF WRITER

Audrey Hepburn, who died Wednesday, may not have starred in many movies, but her career is well represented on video. Here’s a guide to her movies, many of which can be purchased in the $10-$20 range.

Her best:

“Roman Holiday” (Paramount, 1953). In her first major role, as the runaway princess who has a fling in Rome with an American journalist (Gregory Peck), Hepburn won a best actress Oscar. Her witty and vulnerable performance helped define the female lead role in romantic comedies for the rest of the decade.

“Sabrina” (Paramont, 1954). In Billy Wilder’s terrific romantic comedy, Hepburn plays a chauffeur’s daughter romanced by rich brothers (Humphrey Bogart and William Holden). Hepburn flashes the same charm that made her “Roman Holiday” role so memorable.

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“Funny Face” (Paramount, 1957). Some film historians point to this romantic musical as the definitive Hepburn movie, citing the George Gershwin score and her easy rapport with leading man Fred Astaire. Hepburn plays a simple working girl transformed into a Parisian supermodel by a photographer portrayed by Astaire. Stanley Donen directed.

“Love in the Afternoon” (CBS-Fox, 1957). An ingenue (Hepburn) tames an American playboy (Gary Cooper) in Paris. The May-December pairing of Hepburn and Cooper is a bit strange, but it doesn’t spoil director Billy Wilder’s delightful romantic comedy.

“The Nun’s Story” (Warner, 1959). This movie about a free-spirited young nun working in Africa and trying to conform to convent ways is slow at times but does feature Hepburn’s most well-rounded dramatic performance in her most challenging role.

“Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (Paramount, 1961). The dated romantic comedy, based on the Truman Capote story, has Hepburn overplaying charming Manhattan kook Holly Golightly, who falls for a writer (George Peppard). This doesn’t rank with her best work but, because it’s such a big favorite among Hepburn fans, it should be squeezed into this top group.

“My Fair Lady” (Warner, 1964). When this version of the Lerner and Loewe musical came out, the furor over her lip-synching to Marni Nixon’s vocals obscured Hepburn’s charming performance as Eliza Doolittle--probably her most famous role. The strength of Rex Harrison’s Henry Higgins is partly due to his remarkable chemistry with Hepburn.

“Two for the Road” (CBS-Fox, 1967). A warring married couple (Hepburn and Albert Finney) flash back on their 12-year marriage, trying to save it. An often underrated, innovative, romantic comedy/drama, directed by Stanley Donen.

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The rest:

“The Unforgiven” (MGM/UA, 1960). In director John Huston’s Western, which co-stars Burt Lancaster, Hepburn plays an Indian raised by whites. She becomes the center of violent conflict when her tribe tries to reclaim her. Hepburn never seems at home on the range in this otherwise well-done Western.

“The Children’s Hour” (MGM/UA, 1961). A tame, restrictive handling of the gay theme of Lillian Hellman’s play, with Hepburn and Shirley MacLaine portraying teachers accused of lesbianism at an exclusive girls’ school.

“Charade” (MCA, 1963). Chic comedy-mystery, set in Paris, in a genre popular in the ‘60s: Directed by Stanley Donen, Hepburn plays a widow chased by her dead husband’s pals, who think she knows the whereabouts of a hidden fortune. Her savior is portrayed by Cary Grant. Well-made entertainment, yet it now seems dated.

“Paris When It Sizzles” (Paramount, 1964). Strained, forgettable romantic comedy with Hepburn playing a secretary to a writer (William Holden) rushing to finish a screenplay.

“Wait Until Dark” (Warner, 1967). Hepburn’s showy performance as a blind woman stalked by drug-hungry thugs is the centerpiece of this contrived thriller, co-starring Alan Arkin as a villain. To sample Hepburn’s talent as dramatic actress, “The Nun’s Story” is better.

“Robin and Marian” (RCA/Columbia, 1976). A myth-busting look at Robin Hood (Sean Connery) and Marian (Hepburn) two decades after the Crusades, with Marian now a nun. Fair Hepburn performance in so-so movie.

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“Always” (MCA/Universal, 1989). Hepburn’s final film unfortunately was a cameo in director Steven Spielberg’s cutesy, cornball remake of the 1943 romantic fantasy “A Guy Named Joe.” Co-starring Richary Dreyfuss and Holly Hunter.

Also on video, her three worst films, “Bloodline” (1979), “War and Peace” (1956) and “They All Laughed” (1981). Not yet on video: first-rate 1966 comedy “How to Steal a Million,” with Peter O’Toole and tepid 1959 drama “Green Mansions.”

What’s New on Video: Here are some new releases:

“Man Trouble” (FoxVideo, $95): Jack Nicholson as an attack-dog trainer and Ellen Barkin as a singer who needs his services. Surprisingly bad romantic comedy considering the talent, which includes director Bob Rafelson, who did 1970’s great “Five Easy Pieces” with Nicholson.

“Where the Day Takes You” (Columbia TriStar, no set price): Dermot Mulroney and Lara Flynn Boyle star in this drama about Hollywood’s homeless, strung-out teens that’s sometimes harrowing but too often rings false because of a pervasive glitzy, MTV-like quality.

“Raising Cain” (MCA/Universal, no set price): Another of director Brian De Palma’s long line of lame imitation Hitchcock thrillers--full of holes as usual. John Lithgow plays a demented child psychologist, plagued by multiple personalities, driven to kidnaping and murder.

“Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me” (Columbia TriStar, no set price): If you prized that first season of the “Twin Peaks” TV series, don’t spoil those memories by wasting time with director David Lynch’s boring return to the Northwestern community, pointlessly revisiting eccentrics such as Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) and Agent Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan).

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Upcoming on Video: FoxVideo announced that “The Last of the Mohicans,” the adventure starring Daniel Day-Lewis, is due out March 10.

Also: “Single White Female,” “Diggstown” and “Monster in a Box” (Wednesday); “Unlawful Entry” and “Mo’ Money” (Feb. 3); “The Waterdance” and “Death Becomes Her” (Feb. 10); “A League of Their Own” (Feb. 17).

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