A Hitchcock-Esq comedy.
CHARADE (1963) combines humor and thrills in a tale involving a widow, the husband she hardly knew, and several men in pursuit of $250,000. Director Stanley Donen (Singing in the Rain, On the Town) was behind the film’s production, and his comedic style stands strong throughout. Fashionista Audrey Hepburn and legendary leading man Cary Grant are the main stars and give charming performances.
Regina Lampert (Hepburn), while on vacation in the French Alps, meets a strange man who introduces himself as Peter Joshua (Grant). Unsatisfied with her marriage to her husband Charles, she plans to get a divorce. However, things quickly become complicated when Lampert returns to Paris; the French police inform her that he was murdered and had in his possession several foreign passports. After three strange men confirm his death, soon Regina finds herself caught-up in the search for a large sum of money. The search soon involved the CIA, the American Embassy, and former OSS agents while relying on the very secretive Peter for protection.
Although Charade is primarily a comedic film, there are great moments of suspense featuring Hepburn and her male counterparts. Some of the humor seemed risque and a small amount of blood and black humor, which may have been of significant notice at the time, but nowhere near the harshness that is seen onscreen these days. All of the cast members gave excellent performance in their roles, and even the antagonists were charming in their ways, such as Tex Panthollow’s (James Coburn) Southern draw and Leopold Gideon’s (Ned Glass) allergic sneezes. George Kennedy‘s role as the hooked-handed Herman Scobie came off as genuinely menacing. The only real complaint I have is that some of the scenes seemed unnecessarily extended to facilitate suspense.
Charade filmed on location in Paris, and care was taken to show the actual beauty of the city. Hepburn’s gorgeous wardrobe completely enamored me was supplied by French luxury brand Givenchy, and her flawless style was consistent. The on-screen chemistry between Hepburn and Grant felt natural and aside from their more comedic exchanges they made a very attractive pair.
A timeless classic.