Selected Classics: Charade (1963)

Charade (1963)

In this caper, Regina Lampert (Audrey Hepburn) and Peter Joshua (Cary Grant) become intertwined in mystery and romance after meeting each other on a ski holiday in the French Alps. After returning to Paris, Lampert learns that her husband has been murdered, and that he was involved in a theft. Now Regina is being pursued by three of the remaining criminals who believe that she has the $250,000 that was stolen, and in a strange twist, Peter shows up in Paris and becomes involved in the situation, so Regina and Peter set out to unravel the mystery. In the mean time, Regina is falling for Peter while also questioning his suspicious behavior. The story that ensues is a whirl of love, suspense, and false identities.

This is a quintessential classic that has all of the elements of great film, from the wardrobe to the writing to the musical score by Henry Mancini. It glows with quality acting from three twentieth century icons, Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn, and Walter Matthau. Stanley Donen, best known for his popular upbeat musicals Singin’ in the Rain and Funny Face, took a delightfully dark detour in the making of this film. The Charade screenplay, written by Peter Stone, is an adaptation of the book by Peter Stone.

Charade Poster

Charade is splendent with brilliant wardrobes and Paris scenery, yet shadowed by the Hitchcock-esque filming, giving it a really unique feel. In fact, the film is often referred to as “the best movie that Hitchcock never made.” Audrey Hepburn’s character sparkles with quirkiness and strength even though she is fraught with worry, while Cary Grant exudes coolness and mystery throughout the film, and both of the main characters bring a touch of humor to the movie. Filled with wit, charm, and 60’s style, this is one not to miss.

The opening title, with its colorful animation designed by Maurice Binder and the music of Henry Mancini, was enough to draw me in.

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