Due to the suspense, the presence of Cary Grant, the structure of the screenplay, and the frequent plot twists, many people believe this was an Alfred Hitchcock film. Hitchcock was not involved in the making of the film at all. This confusion has prompted fans of the film to call it "the best Hitchcock film Hitchcock never made."
Cary Grant initially turned down the movie because he felt that, at almost 60, he would seem too much of a predator, chasing the much-younger Audrey Hepburn. (Ironically, Hepburn was several years older than some actresses who had already played Grant's love interests in the 1950s, such as Sophia Loren and Jayne Mansfield.) In a last-ditch attempt to convince Grant to play the role, screenwriter Peter Stone worked all night on the script and presented it to Grant to look over just once more. Grant happily accepted the role, prompting producers to demand to know what Stone had done. Stone had simply moved all of the romantically aggressive lines from Grant's character to Audrey Hepburn's, making her the pursuer.
After finishing this film, Cary Grant was quoted as saying, "All I want for Christmas is to make another movie with Audrey Hepburn." Although it never happened, Grant was offered the role of Higgins in My Fair Lady (1964), and requested Hepburn as his co-star in Father Goose (1964).
Cary Grant turned 59 years old during filming, and reviews focused on the twenty-six-year age difference between him and Audrey Hepburn, who was 33. This convinced Grant that it was time to stop playing romantic leads.
In the scene where Audrey Hepburn is smoking a cigarette alone in her empty apartment and Cary Grant enters, the backs of his ears had to be covered with masking tape since the backlighting made them appear red.
In the scene in which Audrey Hepburn spills ice cream on Cary Grant's suit, she uses the term "assassination" and he uses the term "assassin." The movie was in release shortly after the Kennedy assassination in Dallas, and Universal was so worried about audience reaction to this dialogue that they hurriedly re-dubbed the lines, using other terms, then sent out a revised reel to every theater in America showing Charade (1963), telling them to substitute it for the old reel. Both old and revised reels may still be in circulation.
In the dining boat scene, the background music is a vocal version of the theme song "Charade." It contains only three stanzas and the second stanza is completely different from the published lyrics. It reads: "And in a blaze of light/For you Romeo came/And it was closing night/The ending of the play."
Audrey Hepburn smoked three packs of cigarettes a day from 1959 until her final illness. Cary Grant had smoked three packs of cigarettes a day for more than thirty years, but gave up while filming An Affair to Remember (1957).
The music heard on the soundtrack during Charles Lampert's funeral, near the beginning of the film, includes an early version of Henry Mancini's theme for Two For the Road (1967), another Donen/Hepburn/Mancini collaboration that would follow four years after Charade (1963).
Prior to making Charade (1963) with Audrey Hepburn, Cary Grant was originally offered Gary Cooper's role in the romantic comedy Love in the Afternoon (1957) (also co-starring Hepburn). Grant turned down that role because of the age difference between him and Hepburn. He was also committed to the role opposite Hepburn, eventually played by Humphrey Bogart, in Sabrina (1954).
Due to the studio's failure to secure the copyright (see above), many shoddy versions of the film exist on dvd. Fortunately, a wonderful transfer also exists -- on the flip side of the dvd of its own less-successful remake, The Truth About Charlie.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
The stamps depicted in the film are fictional counterparts of actual rare stamps, but have their values raised by one. The stamps they represent are the Swedish orange 3 skilling, the "Hawaiian Missionaries" 2 cent blue and the 81 para blue Romanian "cap de bour" on blue paper, in total worth about USA$3.6 Million in 2007.
Reggie asks Jean-Louis where he would hide a treasure, and he says he would hide it in the garden. Later, it is discovered that the money had been used to buy rare stamps at the Jardin des Champs-Ëlysées, the Garden.
The names Cary Grant's character uses are (in order): "Peter Joshua," a friendly stranger; "Alexander Dyle," Carson Dyle's brother; "Adam Canfield," a thief; and "Brian Crookshank," a "T Man" (the character's real name and occupation).
Above the phone in Mrs. Lampert's room hangs a picture of the western side of Chateau du Chillon, a castle 3 km from Montreux, Switzerland. The castle itself is not completely clear, but the distinctive flat-topped range of snow-capped peaks in the background is unmistakable. Ironically, the castle itself has featured on several stamps.