Romance and suspense ensue in Paris as a woman is pursued by several men who want a fortune her murdered husband had stolen. Whom can she trust?Romance and suspense ensue in Paris as a woman is pursued by several men who want a fortune her murdered husband had stolen. Whom can she trust?Romance and suspense ensue in Paris as a woman is pursued by several men who want a fortune her murdered husband had stolen. Whom can she trust?
"If you don't stop following me, I'm going to call the po-LEECE!"
"Charade" seems to exist in a parallel universe, where it is not only humanly possible for a man to be as dapper, sexy and urbane as Cary Grant, and a woman to be as chic, adorable and beautiful as Audrey Hepburn, but for them to be a romantic couple, to boot (the mind reels at what the children would look and sound like). Long underrated and underappreciated (and only available in horrible-looking, grainy video prints), this fabulously entertaining comedy-thriller is the cinematic equivilant of a champagne cocktail. Often compared (perhaps unfavorably) to Hitchcock's films of the period, "Charade" contains little of the heavy psychological tension that marked Hitch's work. Instead, the film concentrates on witty banter, Audrey's wardrobe and a clever script--and we're the richer for it. Audrey is a sudden widow who is terrifyingly thrust into a web of deceit; her late husband, it seems, was being hunted by three ex-war buddies with whom he stole $250,000. Audrey, they think, has the money--and if she doesn't come up with it quickly, she'll be joining him. Cary Grant is the handsome, mysterious stranger who may be friend or foe. It had been done before, and it's been done since, but never with such panache. Henry Mancini's stylish score adds immeasurably to both the fun and the tension; and the ever-nimble Stanley Donen directs the suspense scenes just as deftly as the comic ones. My favorites: Audrey trailing Cary dressed "inconspicuously" in a white Givenchy trenchcoat and huge movie star sunglasses, while giving a poor German tourist the fits; Audrey finally cornering Cary in her hotel room and lightly kissing her way down his face--today's filmmakers might take a page from her book: this scene is intensely romantic without ever seeing a bit of exposed flesh or dueling tongues; and of course, the fabulous opening scene (I won't give away the surprise)--with Audrey wearing one of my favorite Movie Star get ups of all time: a hooded mink poncho over a catsuit. This is entertainment with a capital "E", made all the more enjoyable because it never panders to the lowest common denominator, never dips into "camp," and never breaks a sweat. Today's films continue to mine the same territory, and the results are ceaselessly boring, tawdry or both. You can FEEL the strain of the writers and actors as they attempt the kind of slick interplay that came naturally to those involved in "Charade." The beautiful, magnificently restored Criterion DVD edition now allows us to revel in this film like never before.
- Jul 27, 2001
Contribute to this page
Suggest an edit or add missing content