Two for the Road (1967): Stanley Donen’s Romantic Serio-Comedy, starring Audrey Hepburn and Albert Finney in Top Form

Stanley Donen directed Two for the Road, a British romantic comedy-drama, starring Audrey Hepburn and Albert Finney in top form.

Written by Frederic Raphael, the film is about a husband and wife who examine their 12-year relationship while on a road trip to Southern France.

Visually stylish, the film was considered experimental as the story is told in a non-linear fashion. Scenes from the latter stages of the relationship are juxtaposed with those from its beginning.

They often leave the viewers to interpolate what has intervened, which is sometimes revealed in later scenes.

Several locations are used in different segments to show continuity throughout the twelve-year period.

Oscar Nomimations:

Raphael received an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay, Hepburn received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress, and Henry Mancini received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Original Score.

The film’s theme song, “Two for the Road”, was composed by Mancini, with lyrics by Leslie Bricusse. Mancini, who composed “Moon River” for Breakfast at Tiffany’s, considered “Two for the Road” his favorite. The song was performed by Monica Mancini (born 1952), a double-Grammy nominated, American recording artist and concert performer. She is the daughter of Henry Mancini and studio singer Ginny O’Conner Mancini.

The cars featured in the film, driven by the couple or ridden in by them, include a white Mercedes-Benz 230SL roadster, an MG TD, a Triumph Herald, an Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint coupé, VW Microbus, and a Ford Country Squire.

The cars are used to re-establish the time period after a jump.

In one scene, Hepburn appears dressed in a shiny black PVC trouser suit designed by Paco Rabanne.

Now a successful and wealthy architect, Mark Wallace (Albert Finney) and his wife Joanna (Jo) Wallace (Audrey Hepburn) fly their white 1965 Mercedes 230SL roadster to Northern France in order to drive to Saint-Tropez to celebrate the completion of a building project for a client, Maurice. Tensions between the couple are evident, and as they journey south they both remember and discuss several past journeys along the same road.

The earliest memory is their first meeting on a channel ferry crossing in 1954, when Mark was travelling alone and Joanna kept finding his dropped passport.

The next story involves the two newlyweds travelling in a station wagon with Mark’s ex-girlfriend Cathy Manchester (Eleanor Bron), her overly analytical husband (William Daniels) and spoiled daughter Ruth ‘Ruthie’ (Gabrielle Middleton) from the USA. Ruthie is not given any limits, and her behaviour frustrates Mark and Jo. Eventually Ruthie reveals the unkind descriptions of Joanna her parents have made in private. At this point Mark and Joanna decide to travel alone.

Next the pair are seen driving an MG which begins to have exhaust troubles, finally catching on fire, resulting in a total loss. On this journey Joanna announces that she is pregnant. After they accidentally hit and demolish a farm structure, they also meet the wealthy Maurice Dalbret (Claude Dauphin) and his wife Françoise (Nadia Gray). Maurice becomes a generous but demanding client for Mark.

The next story shows them travelling with their young daughter Caroline (Kathy Chelimsky).

In another episode, Mark is travelling alone and has a fling with another motorist. The fling is shown to be fleeting and unserious in nature. Later, Joanna has an affair with Françoise’s brother David (Georges Descrières), which is portrayed as much more serious than Mark’s and threatens to end the marriage. However, while Joanna dines with David, they witness a couple eating together without saying a word. David asks offhandedly, “What kind of people can sit there without a word to say to each other?” Joanna replies excitedly, “Married people!” and, realizing she misses Mark despite their faded passion, runs back to him.

At the end of the film, the Wallaces end their long-term relationship to Maurice and find a new client in Rome. They analyze the fears and insecurities which have plagued them throughout the film.

Finally, they cross the border from France into Italy, a new ground signaling a more mature future.

Though well-received by critics, Two for the Road was a commercial flop. The film needed to earn $8,950,000 in rentals to break even. but only made $7,200,000, meaning it made a loss

Audrey Hepburn as Joanna ‘Jo’ Wallace
Albert Finney as Mark Wallace
Eleanor Bron as Cathy Maxwell-Manchester born Seligman
William Daniels as Howard ‘Howie’ Maxwell-Manchester
Gabrielle Middleton as Ruth ‘Ruthie’ Maxwell-Manchester
Claude Dauphin as Maurice Dalbret
Nadia Gray as Françoise Dalbret
Georges Descrières as David
Jacqueline Bisset as Jackie
Judy Cornwell as Pat
Irène Hilda as Yvonne de Florac
Leo Penn as Morrie Goetz
Dominique Joos as Sylvia Obino
Olga Georges-Picot as Joanna’s Touring Friend[4]

Filming locations

Beauvallon, Drôme, France
Cap Valéry, France
Château de Chantilly, Chantilly, Oise, France
French Riviera, Alpes-Maritimes, France
Grimaud, Var, France
La Colle-sur-Loup, Alpes-Maritimes, France
Nice, Alpes-Maritimes, France
Paris, France
Port de Nice, Nice, Alpes-Maritimes, France (ferry disembarkment sequence)
Ramatuelle, Var, France (Dalbret villa scenes)
Restaurant Leï Mouscardins, Rue Portalet, Saint-Tropez, Var, France
Saint-Tropez, Var, France
Victorine Studios, 16 avenue Edoard Grinda, Nice, Alpes-Maritimes, France (studio)
Étangs de Commelles, Coye-la-Forêt, Oise, France[5]