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Charade



I want to take a second and take stock before we launch into this week's column. For the past four weeks I've been taking you all on a little journey alongside a group of friends and I all watching and commenting over movies together. The movies are on Netflix, the comments are on Facebook. I've called it Andy's Film Club, and this will be the last week that I discuss what we've been watching in these pages. We're still gonna be watching movies, because it's quite a bit of fun, however I won't be writing about it here. Perhaps from the time to time I will, but I doubt it'll be a regular feature. In other words, things return to normal next week.

The last film the movie group watched is a favorite of mine, and one that I have nothing but high regard for. 1963's “Charade” directed by Stanley Donen, and staring the oh so perfect combination of Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn. Charade has often been called “The best Hitchcock movie Hitchcock never made”, and I agree with that wholeheartedly. “Charade” is a movie that I can not conceive of a single person not linking, no one in the group disliked the movie. It was an all in out hit with everyone.

“Charade” is a film that masterfully bounces between three types of movies. It's a suspense thriller, a comedy, and a romantic movie all at the same time. Often switching from one to the other at the drop of a hat, rarely giving the audience a chance to “catch its breath”. The film focuses on Regina Lampert (Hepburn) a new widow after the discovery of her husband's body near a set of railroad tracks. It seems her husband actually had a number of monikers, and now the American government is interested in a matter of $250,000.

The money was due to be delivered to a safe haven during WWII by Regina's husband, and four other men. However, they stole the money, and now everyone is after Miss Lampert in search of the money. That's the film stripped down it's most basic plot. However, when a film like “Charade” is as enjoyable, as delightful as it is, I don't want to give any thing away. I dare say this is a top ten fave for me. Stanley Donen has a long and celebrated past. He began as a choreographer at MGM, eventually teaming up with Gene Kelly. Together, he and Kelly both would co-direct a number of films together—most notably “Singing In The Rain”and Donen himself would graduate to solo director with movies “Royal Wedding”, and “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers”.

“Charade” has a beautiful color pallet, and a “killer” cast. In addition to Grant and Hepburn, it has Walter Matthau, James Coburn, and George Kennedy. The film has a perfect Henry Mancini score from his prime period. It is full of twists at almost every turn. All of us agreeing that it's simply impossible to not love Audrey Hepburn. Because if you hate Audrey Hepburn, you fail at life.


  “Charade” is as good as it gets, and is on Netflix. But if you're more inclined, I must highly suggest you seek out Criterion's beautiful blu-ray of the movie. I doubt you'll regret having it in your collection. That wraps up our month-ish long look at the world of movies that I feel people should see. Next week's column will be the usual silliness and pop cultural references. See you then.  

Comments

  1. I am just now discovering this column, and I find it interesting because about a week ago I was killing time in an antique store and a “Charade” LP record album caught my eye. If I can find a turntable, this $2 investment could become more than just a piece of mid-century art resting on my mantel. Mancini is a master, and I am dying to indulge in his blood, sweat, and tears.
    But even more so, I’m looking forward to re-watching Stanley Donen’s masterpiece. “Charade” is also high on my list of favorite films, and I’ve actually scheduled a viewing for late August. Cary Grant alone sells this film for me, but what this movie has to offer goes way beyond his screen presence and somewhat into the next county. I’m looking forward to my date with Mr. Grant and to being immersed in a non-Hitchcock, Hitchcockian delight.
    Great article, Mr. Ross. Thanks.

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