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Let's see: what we got here is one of the best romantic-comedy/thriller
scripts ever made, one of the best Hollywood directors from 50's and
60's, the more elegant and classy actress ever (Audrey Hepburn), the
more elegant and classy actor ever (Cary Grant), two of the best "tough
guys" from the big screen (G. Kennedy and James Coburn), one of the
best comedy actors ever (Walter Matthau), and the city of Paris.
Nothing could possibly go wrong, don't you think?
Audrey Hepburn is Reggie Lambert, an American girl married to a swiss guy called Charles Lambert (at least that's what she thinks)... She's spending her holidays in some ski resort with her best girlfriend Sylvie and the son of hers. Reggie has decided to divorce her husband, so she gets back to Paris. Once there she found out that her husband's been killed. From this moment on she gets involved in the funniest spy plot ever.
Watching Charade you'll have an smile on your face from the beginning till the very end. And you'll burst out laughing in many moments of the movie. Stanley Donen gets out of every sequence very skillfully and, as he did before in Seven Brides or Singin' In The Rain, he probes he's an outstanding filmmaker. There're two names that come into my mind every time I watch this movie: Alfred Hitchcock and Blake Edwards. In Charade, Stanley Donen merged suspense and romantic-comedy in the best possible way. Actor's selection is just perfect, the chemical between Hepburn and Grant is simply unbeatable. One more perfect couple to add to Hollywood's Couple's Hall Of Fame: side by side with Katharine Hepburn-Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn-Cary Grant (him once again!), Lauren Bacall-Humphrey Bogart... It's not easy to find two actors so compatible. What to say about George Kennedy or James Coburn? Best known for their roles in action movies, they do their best as CIA agents. And least but not less, we got Walter Matthau, one of the best comedy actors ever (I should've put Walter Matthau-Jack Lemon in my Couple's Hall Of Fame!) doing the best he can (that is a lot!) as (in principle) an American Embassy employee.
So if you liked North By Northwest or Breakfast At Tiffany's, if you think that there's never been a more classy actress than Audrey Hepburn, if you do believe that Cary Grant's been one of the more talented actors ever (and one of the funniest ones)... please, don't miss Charade. You'll spend one of the times of your life.
Aur Voir, Mon Amis!
My Rate: 10/10 or even higher.
I'll be brief. This romantic comedy thriller hybrid is an absolute treat. Starring the classiest of actors in both Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn and directed with continental style and flare by the incomparable Stanley Donen, this film is not to be missed. The photography (especially noticable in the new DVD version), Henry Macini's score, the taught and crisp script, the perfect supporting cast all add up to make a perfect piece of entertainment. I agree with many of the other IMDB writers- it is criminal that this film is not respected more. It is a blueprint of what makes a movie fun. A perfect 10 out of 10.
When I first saw "Charade", I was convinced for the longest time this was a
Hitchcock movie. Small wonder; Hitchcock all but set the standard for
quality mystery films. Still, I give director Donen my sincerest apologies.
Anyway, where did this film go?? Its tasteful humor, colorful characters
and intelligent plot make "Charade" one of the best mystery movies ever
made, but it's not well known even among classic films.
"Look for it. Look as hard and as fast as you can." This film ranks with "Clue", "The Name of the Rose" and "The 39 Steps" as one of the most enjoyable mysteries of all time. Makes a great dating/party movie.
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! :-)
Just one of the many marvelous moments in "Charade", one of Cary Grant's and Audrey Hepburn's best films. There's a quarter of a million dollars floating around instant-widow Hepburn but nobody can SEE IT (it's right in front of their eyes). Filled with running jokes, colorful and eccentric oddities (such as trenchcoat-wearing George Kennedy with his hook and the little guy who won't stop sneezing), funny set-pieces (like the funeral scene, and Audrey's priceless exaggerated reactions) and suspenseful sequences, not to mention Audrey and Cary looking smashing together. This is one of 50 best films ever made, as good as "Casablanca" and "My Fair Lady". In fact, I think it's better.
I have found many films just aren't as good as I remember seeing as a
kid. A wide-eyed youngster gaping at a big silver screen at the theater
can be more memorable than a middle-aged guy seeing that film decades
later on a small television.
However, here is one film that is EVEN BETTER than I remembered it. Yeah, it's a little dated here and there, but not much, just mainly Audrey Hepburn's dialog. However, the story with all its twists is just as suspenseful and fun to watch as it was over 50 years ago. I've seen this three times in the last two years, after that long, long absence. (Tip: spend the extra money to get the Criterion DVD disc. It is the only clear, sharp copy of this film I have seen.)
The story's strength lies in getting the viewer involved. One never knows whether Gary Grant is a good guy or a bad guy. The dialog between Grant and Hepburn is very entertaining as the latter tries to figure out the same thing. There are lots of good lines, particularly by Grant. That in itself makes this film fun to watch multiple times. The pacing of this story also is good; the film moves fast and spaces the action out smartly.
This has to be one of the best movies ever to come out of the 1960s. I have never known anyone who didn't like this film.
Perfection! Truly funny with the two greatest stars to light up the
screen and a terrific cast of supporting players. I watch this whenever
I'm down in the dumps or need cheering up. (It's on tonight on TMC;
don't miss it.) And those one liners! I can't imagine any stars today
who could deliver such lines as "You know what's wrong with you?
Absolutely nothing." There are a zillion such lines. And I don't think
Audrey Hepburn ever co-starred with anyone who she didn't click with.
Sean Connery, Humphrey Bogart, Peter O'Toole, Albert Finney.
You can have sexual chemistry on the screen without showing it. Today, they would have these Reggie and Brian (et al.) in bed together.
A wonderful movie!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Charade is an elegant and witty adventure. Audrey Hepburn is a UN translator
whose husband is killed by a seemingly motiveless murderer. In her Paris
home she is menaced by ex-soldiers James Coburn, Ned Glass and George
Kennedy, fed confusing information by spy Walter Matthau and aided by the
charming but elusive Cary Grant. The plot (five men who were behind enemy
lines in wartime Germany stole a hoard of gold. Now four of them have come
back to find the loot and the man who double-crossed them) is secondary to
the suspense generated in the treasure hunt across Paris. The villains
particularly Kennedy as a one-armed hood who literally makes sparks fly
are genuinely menacing to poor Hepburn's sexy young widow, and trying to
work out just on who's side Grant is provides much entertainment (especially
as he changes identity every quarter of an hour). Charade's director Stanley
Donen (former dancer and maker of musicals) easily out-Hitches Hitchcock.
In its way, this was a hugely influential film. The villain with a metal
hook motif was taken up again in the Moore Bond Live and Let Die, while the
music and editing influenced the later Bond cycle (the film even has a
pre-title teaser scene, a trait the later Bonds would make their own). The
subplot, about stealing gold during wartime, provided the basis for the
Clint Eastwood actioneer Kelly's Heroes and the recent George Clooney effort
Three Kings. The photography, lighting and music (courtesy of Henri Mancini)
are as good as if not better than anything the Bonds of the time could
come up with (this is 1963, the same year as From Russia With Love).
Particularly riveting is a rooftop fight between Grant and the one-armed
Kennedy. This is one of the best fights in cinema history, nasty,
suspenseful and with a viciousness that only the Dalton and Brosnan Bond
movies have matched in the action films of recent years. When watching the
film, you become aware that Grant was the model for the screen Bond. It's a
pity he turned down Dr. No and never played the part, but at least here we
have a taste of what his Bond might have been like. If you like comedy
thrillers you won't want to miss a moment of this one. Director Donen,
composer Mancini and scriptwriter Peter Stone reunited three years later for
Arabesque, a suspenser with Sophia Loren and Gregory Peck in the Hepburn and
If you're in the mood for a clever mixture of suspense, romance, humor and
some fantastic location shots, treat yourself to CHARADE. Audrey Hepburn
was never more appealing than she is here--badly in need of help to discover
the whereabouts of the hidden money her late husband's enemies want to find.
With her life hanging in the balance, she enlists the aid of Cary Grant--but
since all is not what it seems, you're in for some surprising plot twists
along a very merry ride.
Just relax and let Cary and Audrey do all the work--with the help of a great supporting cast including Walter Matthau, superb in a surprising supporting role. Stanley Donen keeps it all moving at a brisk pace and Henry Mancini's music is a sheer delight.
Highly recommended as an expert, elegant mixture of humor and suspense, even if it does seem to imitate the Hitchcock way of filmmaking.
Terrific movie that can be perceived both as a first-rate piece of straight entertainment, and as a meditation on the thin line separating truth and lie. Ingenious script, dialogue filled with funny interplay, great chemistry between the two charismatic stars, vivid and fast-paced direction by Stanley Donen. Not quite in the league of "North By Northwest", but still a very entertaining and recommendable picture. (***)
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