Charade (1963)

charade poster 1963 movie
8.5 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 8/10

Fun, twisty Hitchockian film


Movie Info

Movie Name: Charade

Studio: Universal Pictures

Genre(s): Mystery/Suspense/Drama/Comedy

Release Date(s): December 5, 1963

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated

charade audrey hepburn walter matthau

So…do you know where the money is?

Young wife Regina “Reggie” Lampert (Audrey Hepburn) is going through a divorce. When her husband is murdered on a train, Reggie learns that her husband wasn’t who he said he was. At Charles’ wake Tex Panthollow (James Coburn), Herman Scobie (George Kennedy), and Leopold W. Gideon (Ned Glass) are revealed to be associates of Charles, and they want the money that they believe Reggie still has. As CIA operative Hamilton Bartholomew (Walter Matthau) tries to get Reggie to find Charles’ hiding place, a man named Peter Joshua (Cary Grant) is trying to help Reggie…but Peter might not be who he says he is.

Directed by Stanley Donen, Charade is a mystery-suspense comedy. The film is based on the 1961 short story “The Unsuspecting Wife” by Peter Stone and Marc Behm. The film was well received by critics and received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song (“Charade”). The Criterion Collection released a remastered version of the film (Criterion #57).

charade cary grant audrey hepburn

Cary Grant scores all the women

If you didn’t know you weren’t watching Hitchcock, Charade is a movie that makes you think you ARE watching Hitchcock. The tone, the actors, and the visuals all feel like Hitchcock which makes for an interesting mix to see how the “Master of Suspense” has his craft adapted.

The movie is pretty smart, but it is also pretty obvious. You have characters continuously lying and Grant’s character’s background changing with every twist (though you know he’s going to be the good guy in the end). The trio of villains are bumped off one by one, but even the reveal of whodunit isn’t that big of a surprise. Despite this, the plot is solid, and the film is a fun ride.

The movie owes a lot to the cast. Grant’s character falls somewhere between his typical Hitchcock type performance and something like Arsenic and Old Lace with the character having some fun with the movie. As always, Hepburn is charming though it would have been nice if you actually suspected for a minute she could be in on the robbery. The trio of crooks are highlighted by the clawed and angry George Kennedy and the more sly and slick James Coburn. Ned Glass unfortunately is rather forgettable as Gideon. Matthau (like Grant) always seems to be the same character, but he does it well.

charade audrey hepburn keyhole

What hidden behind closed doors?

The movie looks like a Hitchcock film. With Paris as the primary location, the movie has some great set pieces in some scenes, but the style also mimics Hitchcock with scenes like the drowning of Kennedy and the discovery of where the money is hidden at the fair…it all feels like familiar suspense.

Charade was a film that I never picked up on, and I wish I had seen it earlier because it is a fun movie. It isn’t quite a madcap adventure, but it is close with a lot of humor and danger mixed together. With a great cast, the movie feels like classic Hollywood and should be on everyone’s list.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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