Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Charade


CHARADE (Colour, 1963)

Director:
Stanley Donen

Cast:
Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn, Walter Matthua, George Kennedy, Ned Glass and James Coburn

Ages:
12 and up

Plot:
Peter Joshua (Grant), aka Alexander Dyle, aka Adam Canfield, aka Brian Cruikshank is on holiday in a ski resort where he meets Regina Lampert (Hepburn). He soon learns her husband was murdered on a train and that he had a fortune. Regina goes home to Paris and finds the place ransacked, and with the aid of Peter aka (etc.), she catches the murderer. In the process, they fall in love.

The aging Grant and the young Audrey Hepburn in Charade.
Why it’s good:
This is a cross between screwball comedy, whodunit, romance and thriller. The first ever movie to do so. Silly, eh? A crowning achievement, actually, a sub-screwball spy hoax.
Based on the novel with the same name, Charade is actually the best Hitchcock film Hitchcock never made. The fun is equal to the sleuthing around the three likely suspects (Coburn, Glass and Kennedy). The romance is too. Yes, women are the best spies.

There is a slight WWII backdrop, so you will have to pause to explain OSS missions and the five men who stole the money they were supposed to deliver. Double crossing, too, as the murderers walk in to the husband’s funeral and put a mirror at the nose. They murdered him as he double-crossed them (at least that was what I thought). Soon the mystic Hamilton Barthomelow appears which increases the suspense.
Another reason to watch this is the excellent location shots in Paris.
The most screwball part, though, is the "pass the orange without your hands" joke. Both Hepburn and Grant play the game badly, and it ends split-screened with the five identities (!) of Grant.
Parent’s guide:
The scene where the characters pass an orange without using hands is kind of sexual. Some violent scenes to note. The first scene has a strangled man laid down on the side of a railway track. There is a scene where one of the men assaults Hepburn in a telephone booth before Grant saves her.

Trivia:
Grant celebrated his birthday during filming. His wish was to make another comedy with Hepburn.

If you like this…:
More murder-comedy films would include 1934’s "The Thin Man" (see Mystery chapter) which span six sequels. It stars William Powell and Myrna Loy drinking almost too much alcohol with Caeser Romero and Maureen O’Hara roaming in the background.

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