Old Movie Love


Monday night I sat with 5,000 other moviegoers in the cool grass of Bryant Park to watch the 1963 film Charade. It was the second time I've seen this movie which Internet Movie Database classifies as: Comedy / Crime / Mystery / Romance / Thriller (more).

The fact that Charade is a comedy - crime - mystery - romance - thriller is exactly the reason I find it fascinating. The director, Stanley Donen, switches from genre to genre as if he were shuffling a deck of cards. This could be distracting, but Audrey Hepburn, Cary Grant, Walter Matthau and a fine supporting cast pull it off with ease. The scenes are filled with witty dialogue one minute and nail-biting tension the next as the main character, Regina Lampert, tries to solve the murder of her husband and find the money he left behind. The characters have double and even triple identities, play silly parlour games, mysteriously disappear and still find time to flirt with each other.

The film is supported by delightful details. The clothes and hats worn by Audrey Hepburn are fitting for the story's Paris location and are expressive of her chracter's quirky personality. The male characters manage to run, shoot, chase, hide and hang from buildings not in superhero spandex, but wool suits and dress shoes. And then there's the music. The score, by Henry Mancini, includes screeching violins that become more and more intense as the characters encounter more and more frightening situations. Similar to Hitchcock film scores, the music is used to get your heart racing.

It all wraps up with the money found, the murderer revealed and the main characters in love, which is fine with me. Who needs Charade II when it's just as good seeing the original a second time?

mark, Aug 23 2006 9:54AM

now here's a film i would definitely see (and have seen). the villains feel like they could have come out of an episode of batman. not for their supervillain talents, but for their '60s quirks, mannerisms and speach patterns.

james coburn's performance in particular is not to be missed. and he played the entire part wearing a corduroy suit.