Charade

CharadeSuggested by Brad Nelson • Romance and suspense in Paris, as a woman is pursued by several men who want a fortune her murdered husband had stolen. Who can she trust? The photography, Henry Macini’s score, cast, and the crisp script make this a memorable classic.
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7 Responses to Charade

  1. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Worthy of Hitchcock, but this is not Hitchcock. It’s Stanley Dolen. Charade is an intriguing combination of thriller and romantic comedy. Cary Grant plays…well…you won’t really be sure until the end. Audrey Hepburn plays the widow of a man killed for the loot he stole…not least of all from his partners.

    Walter Matthau co-stars as the helpful CIA agent. James Coburn, George Kennedy, and Ned Glass play the trio (or quartet?) of bad guys after the loot.

    I’m probably the biggest fan of Cary Grant who isn’t also a particular fan of his romantic comedies, which is arguably the bulk of his catalog. I may yet get back to some of those romantic comedies. Times change. But I’ve found so many of them to be dialogue-heavy…with the dialogue often being none too sharp. Too often in a Cary Grant movie, the film makers tried to hit you over the head with the Grant wit, forgetting about providing an interesting plot. There’s only so much screaming back and forth — even if in a Mid Atlantic accent — that I can take.

    Charade has the perfect balance of plot counterpointed with snappy, and often enormously funny, dialogue. Hepburn proves a perfect straight man for Grant and delivers her share of wry dialogue as well. There’s not an off-note to be found. Beyond mere style, Hepburn shows she had an ear for comedy as well. And if somoeone can keep up with Cary Grant, that’s saying something.

    Because this movie is a mystery, there is very little to say about it but “Watch it.” There is attention to detail, including the very good opening credits.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      I recall the promo I saw for it in Greece, though I didn’t see the movie itself until years later (and only on TV). The ending is certainly very nice. Stephen King, discussing the movie in Danse Macabre, thought there was only one really Hitchcockian moment — when Hepburn must choose whether to trust Cary Grant or Walter Matthau (the viewer learns from a scene she doesn’t see which one she definitely should NOT trust, but that doesn’t do her any good)

      I also like her comment to a friend at the funeral — that all she had known about her husband was his name, and she had now found out that she didn’t even know that. (And when one of the fortune-hunters sneezes while checking the body, the friend notes that he must have known the husband — he’s allergic to him.)

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Yes, that choosing was a very Hitchcockian moment. And Grant’s answer to her question of why should I trust you is answered with a rather succinct and non-gadgety “I can’t think of a single reason why.” Very chic. After all the razzmatazz, it’s great dialogue.

        Speaking as a fan of Cary Grant, I just watched “His Girl Friday” and definitely cannot recommend this one. First off, it’s not particularly funny. Rosalind Russell is a bit of a bore. Grant is in good form but again the machine-gun dialogue is no replacement for good characters and a good plot. But the movie starts well as Grant is absolutely sociopathic in his desire to keep his ex-wife working for his newspaper where he is sure he can win her back. The way he undermines her fiance, Ralph Bellamy, is funny. They even humorously break the 4th wall when Grant sends someone to intercept Rosalind Russell’s fiance and he asks him “What does he look like?” Grant answers with something like, “Oh, I don’t know. Sort of like that movie actor, Ralph Bellamy.”

        But it’s such an odd mix of plot elements — undermining this coming marriage and dealing with a man on death row. This is a truly awful bit of script writing and most of the talent assembled is wasted. But by all means watch if for that first 25 minutes or so.

        Yes, that was some good dialogue at the funeral…also being mirrored in the point when Grant (spoiler alert) yet again tells Hepburn that his real name is really this now instead of that. But he says something like, “What does the name matter?”

        And the running joke of these various aliases of Grant being divorced is good…even until the end when the real Grant reveals that there is no ex-wife…or I suppose we can assume. We’ll have to wait for a sequel to flesh all that out. I could see libtard George Clooney playing opposite (you fill in the blank). Can you imagine anyone but Clooney? I can’t. You choose the girl. Nothing obvious comes to mind for me.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          When I mentioned liking the ending, my favorite line was Hepburn complaining that Grant can’t even be honest about being dishonest. Lovely.

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            Yes, that’s a very good line. If I were going to screenwriter’s school, I hope this movie would be on the course. And I’m guessing that 9 out of 10 actresses couldn’t have delivered the line as well as Hepburn did. This is a Grant comedy (of sorts) so such lines are meant to stand out as a little peachy. And yet Hepburn also delivers the line with dead-panned realism.

  2. Timothy Lane says:

    I just noticed that TCM has Charade on today at approximately (there are usually a few minutes before the movie begin) 6 p.m.

  3. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Speaking of Audrey Hepburn, I watched “How to a Million.” The first hour-and-five-minutes are charming. It then quickly and suddenly falls off a cliff of campiness, cliches, and just uninteresting plot from that point on. Too bad.

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