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I decided to watch "Charade" tonight for a number of reasons. I recently watched "Suspicion," a 1941 thriller starring Cary Grant directed by Alfred Hitchcock. While "Charade" was not directed by Hitchcock, it has a Hitchcockian feel. I adore Carey Grant, and felt like spending another evening being charmed by this embodiment of the Hollywood leading man. I am obsessed with Audrey Hepburn, and I was born in 1963. It seemed like a no-brainer that I should give this film another viewing.

Although I saw this film several years ago, I remembered very little of it. While Hitchcockian in style and plot twists, it lacks the cinematic magic of an actual Hitchcock film. The plot is a bit like "Suspicion," with the leading lady unsure whether she should or should not trust Grant. The witty banter between Hepburn and Grant made me think of Nick and Nora in "The Thin Man." Their repartee is amusing, but not nearly as fast and funny as Nick and Nora's.

I enjoyed watching Grant and Hepburn together, and I was drawn in by the plot's twists and turns. At times, "Charade" seems self conscious, and the film feels like it is trying too hard. While Grant and Hepburn make a charming couple, their chemistry pales in comparison to the sparks that flew between Hepburn and Gregory Peck in "Roman Holiday." Hepburn tells Grant time and again in this film that she loves him. She never once uttered those words to Peck in "Roman Holiday," but their love seemed more believable.

Perhaps this is because at its core, "Charade" is a silly and stylish movie. It has an early '60s feel throughout, from the opening cartoon-like credits to Audrey's oh-so-chic Givenchy wardrobe. It isn't a great film, but it is an enjoyable one.

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I really like the very 1960's beginning - it's a combination of James Bond and The Outer Limits - especially as it fades into that beautiful ski sequence, and I must say the opening gun scene had me worried (even though there's no way you're going to lose your star in the first ten seconds).

Twenty-two years is a long time, but it still surprised me to see how much Cary Grant aged between "Suspicion" (1941) and "Charade" (1963) - I guess it's the difference between being 37 and 59, and since I haven't seen much in the middle, it stood out to me, not that this matters one iota. Audrey Hepburn aged gracefully between "Roman Holiday" (1953) and "Charade" (although she's still only 34) - I guess the 50's were the strongest decade, in terms of rugged-handsome and pixie-cute, for both Grant and Hepburn.

*** SPOILERS FOLLOW ***

Basic question: When Tex Panthollow (James Coburn) is threatening Reggie Lambert (Hepburn) by holding up matches to her in the phone booth, why doesn't she just blow out the matches?

35 minutes into this film, I really like the simplicity of it - it's very easy to follow, and I don't mean that in a negative sense. You've got about a half-dozen characters to learn (made much easier by Wikipedia), and once you learn them, you can just enjoy the movie. For me, this is the right movie at the right time: It's not a classic, but I can tell it's very good, and I'm ready to start "filling in the gaps" between all-time greats with some merely "very good" films such as this. And it *is* Hitchcockian in a big way, although if you've studied enough of Hitchcock, you can really tell the differences in directorial styles and techniques - this is a fine imitation of Hitchcock, but it's still an imitation (and I don't mean that in a bad way).
 
Note to DIShGo: I could swear Norman Lloyd has a uncredited, bit part in the "pass the orange" scene at the nightclub - amazingly, Lloyd is still alive: At 101 years of age, he's the oldest working actor in Hollywood. He was also married for *75 years* before being widowed, and was still playing tennis twice a week until last summer. Regarding the pass-the-orange scene, Hepburn darned near turned that into a very touching, romantic moment, but Grant reverted to screwball-comedy mode, and didn't let her - I'm pretty sure that was by design, although it was a big letdown for the viewer - maybe it's too early in the movie for anything but a tease.

It truly makes me laugh out loud at how chic Reggie is in her Givenchy outfits (Where is she *getting* them from? She was left with nothing), and I also like this little secondary joke between Hamilton Bartholomew (Walter Matthau) about "agents" and "spies."

Do yourself a favor: Do *not* read Wikipedia about this film - that contains a lot of spoilers also, but they don't announce them as such. Damn it, I just ruined at least a minor revelatory moment for myself, I'm afraid.

This film is better than some of the Hitchcock movies, plot-wise - maybe not in terms of build-up, or cinematography, but in terms of story, it was great.

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30 minutes ago, DonRocks said:

*** SPOILERS FOLLOW ***

Basic question: When Tex Panthollow (James Coburn) is threatening Reggie Lambert (Hepburn) by holding up matches to her in the phone booth, why doesn't she just blow out the matches?

I wondered that as well! He was holding them up by her mouth before he dropped them.

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10 hours ago, DonRocks said:

*** SPOILERS FOLLOW ***

Note to DIShGo: I could swear Norman Lloyd has a uncredited, bit part in the "pass the orange" scene at the nightclub - amazingly, Lloyd is still alive: At 101 years of age, he's the oldest working actor in Hollywood. He was also married for *75 years* before being widowed, and was still playing tennis twice a week until last summer. Regarding the pass-the-orange scene, Hepburn darned near turned that into a very touching, romantic moment, but Grant reverted to screwball-comedy mode, and didn't let her - I'm pretty sure that was by design, although it was a big letdown for the viewer - maybe it's too early in the movie for anything but a tease.

It truly makes me laugh out loud at how chic Reggie is in her Givenchy outfits (Where is she *getting* them from? She was left with nothing), and I also like this little secondary joke between Hamilton Bartholomew (Walter Matthau) about "agents" and "spies."

I loved the passing the orange scene. I remember when people used to play that at parties. I have no idea if that was Norman Lloyd. I loved the facial expressions Grant made when he tried to take the orange from his buxom first partner.

As for Audrey's outfits, she did have one suitcase, but those hardly look like the clothes one would take on a ski vacation!

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11 hours ago, DonRocks said:

Twenty-two years is a long time, but it still surprised me to see how much Cary Grant aged between "Suspicion" (1941) and "Charade" (1963) - I guess it's the difference between being 37 and 59, and since I haven't seen much in the middle, it stood out to me, not that this matters one iota. Audrey Hepburn aged gracefully between "Roman Holiday" (1953) and "Charade" (although she's still only 34) - I guess the 50's were the strongest decade, in terms of rugged-handsome and pixie-cute, for both Grant and Hepburn.

I read that Grant refused the role until screenwriter Peter Stone changed the script so that Hepburn's character made all of the romantic advances.

Sometimes an age gap of that size is offputting to me, but it wasn't in this case. Maybe that is why. 

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13 minutes ago, DIShGo said:

I read that Grant refused the role until screenwriter Peter Stone changed the script so that Hepburn's character made all of the romantic advances.

Sometimes an age gap of that size is offputting to me, but it wasn't in this case. Maybe that is why. 

That's right - Grant was not the one in pursuit; it was Hepburn, and that's why Grant came across as being so downright likable.

BTW, my Wikipedia comment above referred to the reveal about Dyle, and I was merely mulling over the list of which actors played which characters; not reading through the plot synopsis. Thus, the ending of it for me was spoiled. :(

Warning to all potential viewers of Charade: Reading Wikipedia is particularly harmful for this movie, more so than for most pictures.

Back to the music played during the opening credits - I *love* the percussion used during that theme, as it really conveyed a sense of motion, not just a "rhythm" like a waltz, but *fast* motion, like a speeding train (which is obviously very appropriate), or really anything moving rapidly. It worked for me, and the contrast with the Warhol-like animation worked too - I really enjoyed it. Yes, it's dated, but I look at it as a "snapshot of the 60's," in particular a foreshadowing of the late 60's - I also like my previously submitted synthesis of James Bond (which employed a similar, fast-motion sense of movement) and The Outer Limits (which used rather primitive sinusoids and patterns), the difference being that this was in color, and the colors were fun to watch.

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