Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Charade (1963)

With Charade's 50th anniversary coming up, I'm tempted to think of 50 reasons why this comedic thriller is worth watching.

Alas, that could make for a rather long review.

How about five?

1. Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn. Here's a chance to see two screen legends together. Audrey is divine in her long line of Givenchy fashions. Cary, at 59, is still an incredibly handsome man. Wow. Remember folks, Grant only made two more films after this with Father Goose and, finally, Walk Don't Run in 1966. Both are a delight here.

2. There's plenty of great supporting talent in this 1963 feature from director Stanley Donen (Singin' in the Rain) including James Coburn, Walter Matthau and George Kennedy. The Internet Movie Database website lists three of Kennedy's four most well-known roles as Leslie Nielsen's sidekick in The Naked Gun trilogy. Yikes. Kennedy deserves more attention for his fine work here. He's a great villain, complete with mechanical arm. George, you're a great bad guy.

3. Lend an ear to Henry Mancini's score. Great stuff. Hear Donen explain in the film's commentary why he decided to recruit the American composer for this project. It's hard to believe Mancini died almost 20 years ago in 1994.

4. A great script from Peter Stone (The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, Father Goose). I can't remember the last time I saw so many great character names, Hamilton Bartholemew, Tex Panthollow, Herman Scobie. Stone cooks up plenty of smart dialogue too.

"I don't bite unless it's called for." Hepburn

"That's OK. It's a drip dry." Grant to Hepburn when she cries on the shoulder of his suit.

Stone keeps viewers guessing through the film. Hepburn's husband is murdered for his part in stealing $250,000 during the Second World War. His old army buddies including Coburn and Kennedy, want it back. Hepburn has no idea where said cash can be found. Grant appears to be the only person who can help Hepburn. But can he be trusted? He changes his identity almost as often as Hepburn sports new designer fashions.

5. A great ending. All the world's a stage, eh? For a movie where numerous characters aren't who they seem, what better place to end this film than on the stage of an empty theatre.

RATING: 8/10

FUN FACTS: This is the only film appearance for Thomas Chelimsky. IMDB site reports he is a neurologist and professor in Ohio.

Donen directed a musical number for one episode of television's Moonlighting, Big Man on Mulberry Street.

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