Regina Lampert, a Paris based American, has decided to divorce her Swiss husband, Charles Lampert, because of the secrets and lies that have pervaded their marriage, she coming to the conclusion that she no longer loves him and really knows nothing about him. Before she can make that request to Charles, he is found dead, seemingly pushed off a Paris to Bordeaux train. While Regina was on holiday in Megève, Charles sold all their possessions making $250,000 in the process, and seemed to be on his way to the coast to leave the country for South America probably for good. The money, however, was not among his possessions on the train, those possessions which are returned to Regina. Regina further learns from Hamilton Bartholomew of the CIA that they were after him, Charles Lampert only the primary alias he has been using of late. During WWII, Charles, a member of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), absconded with $250,000 worth of their gold bars that were destined for the French ... Written by
CHARADE is the best Hitchcock movie Hitchcock never made! With romance, sophisticated comedy, and stylish suspense (including a smattering of graphic-for-its-era violence) balanced out deftly, CHARADE is the movie that made me a fan of both Peter Stone and Stanley Donen (yes, I actually saw this before I ever saw one of Donen's musicals!). Every other line is sparklingly quotable, and Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn are among my favorite screen couples; pity this was their only big screen teaming (I liked the wry way they kidded the age difference between them, too). James Coburn, George Kennedy, and Walter Matthau (all Oscar winners now!) are in top form in these early screen appearances of theirs. Both Hepburn and Paris look their sophisticated best, and the theme is my favorite by Henry Mancini next to the PINK PANTHER theme. Do try to get ahold of the marvelous Criterion Collection DVD of CHARADE; it's well worth seeking out, with nifty extras including an utterly delightful commentary track by Stanley Donen and the late Peter Stone. By the way, CHARADE is also piggybacked onto the DVD of Jonathan Demme's well-meaning but disappointing remake, THE TRUTH ABOUT CHARLIE. On a related note, Donen's second Hitchcock spoof/homage, ARABESQUE, was released as part of a Gregory Peck boxed DVD set. I'm glad ARABESQUE is available on DVD, but I wish they'd recorded a commentary track by Donen and Sophia Loren while they're both still alive and reasonably well. But I digress...watch CHARADE today! :-)
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