(This post was written for the May The 4th Be With Audrey Hepburn Blogathon.)
I’ve seen Charade, oh, half a dozen times and it never gets old. Even though the plot twists aren’t all that twisty anymore (though I do still notice one or two new things each re-watch) there’s some timeless movie magic in the film that makes it worth watching multiple times. I came across Charade when I was making it a goal to watch every James Coburn movie in the house and it’s definitely in my top fifteen favorite movies now (if not top ten – still haven’t decided that one yet).
Over and over again, Charade has been called ‘the Hitchcock film that Hitchcock never made’ (or variations of that phrase) and while I agree in part with that statement, I don’t think it’s entirely true. For one, there’s much more humor in Charade than most Hitchcock films, so there’s a more lighthearted feel to the whole thing, and I’ve also found that all Hitchcock movies, whether they be famous or little-known, have a particular quality about them. The Hitchcock stamp, if you will, and Charade doesn’t have that, of course. But the twisting plot, enigmatic opening, clever camera angles, and the casting of Cary Grant are all similarities in the favor of a comparison. And I’d say that Charade is just about as genius with the combination of cast, script, music, and visual style as any Hitchcock film.
Anyway. I didn’t come here to write an essay, but to review a film…and review it for an Audrey Hepburn blogathon, no less, so she’s who I’ll talk about next. I’ve only seen four Hepburn films, I believe, and though this isn’t my favorite role of hers (that would be either Princess Ann or Sabrina) Charade is my favorite Hepburn movie, overall, so far. Reggie seems a bit spoiled, at least at the beginning of the movie, and I also find that she’s a little annoying in her constant pursuit of Cary Grant’s character (honestly, I don’t know what to call him – he has about five names/identities through the course of the film). However, I’d watch Audrey play any character, really. She’s fantastic and I’m so pleased to part of the blogathon honoring her life and work. (Her birthday is today, incidentally.) Overall, I don’t have much to say about the character of Reggie, except the fact that I did end up liking her by the end of the movie and that she’s a pretty sympathetic character in most respects. (I’d like to see how I would’ve reacted to her had she been played by any other actress.)
Okay, brace yourselves, because I’m about to discuss the rest of the cast and I have a rather shocking announcement to make.
Are you ready?
I don’t like Cary Grant.
Yes, you read that right. Cary Grant, who everyone swoons over, who everyone thinks is the epitome of old Hollywood class and style and all that jazz…him, I don’t like. *ducks* I’ve never thought he was particularly handsome or funny or anything, really. I don’t dislike seeing him in movies like I do with some actors (*cough*RichardBurton&CharltonHeston*cough*) but he’s never impressed me. I’ve never fangirled over him. *sigh* I like him perfectly fine in Charade (and I do happen to really like him in Notorious) but that’s about it. He does play an extremely interesting character, though – you can never be entirely sure of his identity, even up to the last minutes of the film. (It’s crazy.)
Other cast members: I came to the this movie for James Coburn and he played a great villain. Thoroughly enjoyed seeing him on-screen (though his attempt at a Texas accent was less than convincing). The other three villains (counting, you know, the fifth member of the treasure hunters) were all well-played, too. Other characters include Reggie’s best friend (and her little boy) and the police inspector. Good casting all around.
One thing that really sells the movie for me is the music. Henry Mancini did a fantastic job as usual (he might be my favorite composer, actually) capturing all the emotions and moods of the film, from wistfulness and longing, to high-spirited romance, fun, danger…his score is everything that a movie soundtrack should be. If you don’t believe, well, go listen to this. Just the main title theme alone is enough to put me in the mood of an exciting, suspenseful (and fun!) mystery. And while I wouldn’t say that Bernard Hermann and Henry Mancini’s music is completely alike, Mancini definitely dictated the tone of the film – at least to some extent – the same way that Hermann did with so many Hitchcock movies.
Well, that’s about it. I don’t want to say anything about the plot for fear of giving away something important. Watch this movie with no spoilers, please. You owe it to yourself, and that’s all I can say. And just remember…nothing is as it seems.