Tuesday, April 25, 2017
Cary Grant & Audrey Hepburn in “Charade”
I have seen “Charade” a half a dozen times over the years, and even though I know the story, know the mystery’s solution, know where the clues are planted, I still enjoy it.
While on vacation at a French mountain resort, Regina Lambert, played by the elegant Audrey Hepburn (in clothes designed by Givenchy) contemplates divorce from her shady husband. She does not have to think too long about it because he is murdered on a train by men searching for stolen money. The men and the husband were all in on the theft, but the husband made off with it, and now they want their share.
Regina meets a dashing, mysterious and somewhat older man, played by Cary Grant, who volunteers to protect her from the bad guys. Or, does he just want the money himself?
Grant was 25 years older than Hepburn, but that hardly matters since these movie stars are such charismatic superstars, complete with their own unique accents.
So right there, the movie has two of the most charming people ever to appear on the silver – or Technicolor – screen.
Hepburn and Grant are plunked down in Paris to solve the mystery, while trying hard not to be killed by three odd villains played by James Coburn, George Kennedy, and Ned Glass. Into this mix comes a square, but humorous American government man, played by Walter Matthau.
For just under two hours, this group dodges, attacks, evades, and detects in a clever, intricate, and light script by Peter Stone and Marc Behm. The doings were guided by director Stanley Donen, in a departure from the musicals he made in the 1950s, many with Gene Kelly.
And talking about music, “Charade” has one of the best theme songs courtesy of the great Henry Mancini. If you don’t remember what it sounded like, click here and listen.
Now a question:
Was there ever a cooler, classier, comic-mystery-thriller than this 1963 film?
Maybe there was. “North by Northwest”? Perhaps. But for me, Hepburn and Grant were a better combo than Grant and Saint.
(For more posts on film and television, check out Todd Mason’s blog.)
Posted by Elgin Bleecker at 11:24 AM
Labels: Audrey Hepburn, Cary Grant, Charade, Henry Mancini, Stanley Donen
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I haven't seen this one, but I'll bear it in mind if it shows up over here. Behm wrote a few novels as well - I have The Eye of the Beholder from him.ReplyDelete
According to Stone, the other writer, Behm was great at cooking up plots.Delete
Donen was having a good run in those years...ReplyDelete
He sure was. A few years later he worked again with Audrey Hepburn on TWO FOR THE ROAD, which is a terrific film.Delete
It is a terrific comedy thriller and is a bit breezier and faster than the slightly more epic NORTH BY NORTH-WEST if truth the told. I also like the follow-up, ARABESQUE, though not nearly as good.ReplyDelete
ARABESQUE is a lot of fun, too. But Gregory Peck and Sophia Loren, as good as they always are, just don’t have quite the magic of Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn.Delete
Peck is not really at ease with that kind of comedy (literally and figuratively a bit flatfooted).ReplyDelete
Flatfooted is exactly right. Remember “Designing Woman,” neither Peck not Lauren Bacall handled the comedy well. Even the great “Roman Holiday” has a couple of clunky scenes – Peck trying to shut up Eddie Arnold at the café.Delete