Before it even begins rolling, you know that a 1963 film starring Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant, directed by Stanley Donen, with music by Henry Mancini and featuring Walter Mattheau, James Coburn and George Kennedy as the bad guys is gonna be good.
Set in Paris, “Charade” is exactly as stylish, clever and witty as you’d expect.
Hepburn plays Regina Lampert, a young widow who’d been planning to divorce her husband before he unexpectedly died. The problem is that he cashed out everything he owned, apparently ill-gotten booty from a World War II heist with Mattheau, Coburn and Kennedy, and no one knows what he did with the money. Not only that, but everyone assumes Reggie knows and so they’re after her.
Enter Cary Grant (who, rumor states, initially rejected the part because he didn’t want to be seen as chasing after the much younger Hepburn, so her character was made the aggressor), who introduces himself to Reggie as Peter Joshua. Over the next hour or so Peter reveals himself not to be Peter, but Alexander, then Adam, and finally Brian, each time changing his story about who he is and why he’s after the money.
Reggie’s only slightly bothered by his shenanigans, though, because she has no idea who to trust anyway — the film’s tagline was “Is Anyone Who They Seem to Be?” — and, c’mon, he’s Cary Grant.
As for the stylish part, need I say anything beyond “Audrey Hepburn”? I didn’t think so.
I watched “Charade” during my holiday break from work and found it just about perfect for a cold winter afternoon. The only thing missing was the popcorn!