Sunday, May 5, 2019

AUDREY AT 90: THE SALUTE TO AUDREY HEPBURN BLOGATHON: Charade (1963)


Sister Celluloid salutes Audrey at 90 with a blogathon running from May 4 to May 7, 2019. Click HERE to share the love for the actress and humanitarian.



When a young widow (she doesn't know it yet) with a killer wardrobe (Givenchy) meets an older and intriguing (he knows it) man with a killer wardrobe, things are just naturally bound to happen; things of a mysterious and thrilling nature. When the young widow is played by the ever-appealing and inspiring Audrey Hepburn and the intriguing man by the dashing Cary Grant, audiences are just naturally bound to enjoy themselves.

Peter Stone's screenplay begins with the delightful premise of romance and crime, no doubt inspired by Dashiell Hammett's Nick and Nora Charles of 30 years earlier. Director Stanley Donan and Stone upped the ante with the spice of a thriller and location filming in Paris.

George Kennedy, Dominique Minot, Audrey Hepburn
James Coburn, Jacques Mari, Ned Glass

It turns out that Regina "Reggie" Lampert didn't know her husband Charlie very well, if at all. Charlie was murdered by confederates seeking the ill-gotten WW2 booty they were to share. The gang is after that loot still, believing Reggie to know all about it. Reggie is desperate to trust the intriguing man with the killer wardrobe, and she does, but it is a little unnerving how he keeps changing his name. At least, she has her friend Sylvie and her little boy Jean-Louis to turn to for some sense of normalcy.

Walter Matthau, Audrey Hepburn

Reggie definitely needs help dealing with the highly motivated men with whom her late and unlamented husband kept company. Played by James Coburn, George Kennedy, and Ned Glass, Reggie would be well-advised to keep her distance. Perhaps she can find dependable assistance from the CIA agent played by Walter Matthau. After all, it couldn't hurt to have someone official on your side, could it?

Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn

Reggie is a delightful and quirky character stuck in an unfamiliar and dangerous situation. Do not mistake "quirky" for "silly", as Reggie is a bright woman who works as a simultaneous translator. She may not always make the right choice in her current circumstances, but these circumstances keep escalating until a girl might not know whom to turn to or where to run.

Audrey Hepburn is extremely likable in the role of Reggie. She has panache and the ability to convey an intrinsic wit under her fear or is it intrinsic fear under her wit. Things happen very quickly in the world of Charade.

While criminals plot their plots and frighten our heroine, we are free to enjoy a romantic boat ride on the Seine, a stroll through a bucolic market and riotous fun at a nightclub as Reggie and the intriguing Peter/Alexander/Adam/Brian, etc. fall under each other's spell.

Everything about Charade brings us under its spell as well, from the glamorous location to its witty dialogue, and the delightful chemistry between its leading players. Charade is a perfect movie and it would be foolish to long for further adventures of Reggie and whats-his-name or another sort of film with Audrey and Cary, but one can't help oneself. At least "We'll always have Paris."


Here's a treat! Blossom Dearie singing Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer's Oscar-nominated theme:




Once and future Charade Oscar winners:

Audrey Hepburn, Best Actress winner for Roman Holiday, 1953
Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award (posthumous), 1993
Nominee: Sabrina, The Nun's Story, Breakfast at Tiffany's, Wait Until Dark

Cary Grant, Honorary Award, 1970
Nominee: None But the Lonely Heart, Penny Serenade

Director Stanley Donen, Honorary Award, 1998

Writer Peter Stone, winner for Father Goose, 1965

Walter Matthau, Best Supporting Actor winner for The Fortune Cookie, 1967
Nominee: Kotch, The Sunshine Boys

George Kennedy, Best Supporting Actor winner for Cool Hand Luke, 1968

James Coburn, Best Supporting Actor winner for Affliction, 1999

Composer Henry Mancini,
winner (song) Moon River, 1962, The Days of Wine and Roses, 1963
winner (score) Victor/Victoria, 1983
Nominee (song): Bachelor in Paradise, Charade, Dear Heart, The Sweetheart Tree, Whistling Away the Dark, All His Children, Come to Me, It's Easy to Say, Life in a Looking Glass
Nominee (score): The Glenn Miller Story, Breakfast at Tiffany's, The Pink Panther, Darling Lili, I girasoli, 10

Cinematographer Charles Lang, winner for A Farewell to Arms, 1932
Nominee: The Right to Love, Arise, My Love, Sundown, So Proudly We Hail!, The Uninvited, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, A Foreign Affair, Sudden Fear, Sabrina, Queen Bee, Separate Tables, Some Like It Hot, The Facts of Life, One-Eyed Jacks, How the West Was Won, Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice, Butterflies Are Free












34 comments:

  1. What a lovely review! I LOVE this film. It has one of the best lines ever, spoken by Audrey in the opening scene: "I already know an awful lot of people and until one of them dies I couldn't possibly meet anyone else." This line can always come in handy, haha.

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    1. Thank you. Yes, this is a film to LOVE.

      I hope life affords you the opportunity to use that line!

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  2. This film has such a fantastic cast and I really loved Walter Matthau's performance in addition to Audrey's and Cary's. I found part of the film to be quirky, in a complimentary fashion as you point out, and a very different kind of style. It makes me wonder if Billy Wilder did not take inspiration from the body viewing scene for his 1978 'Fedora', which is filmed in a similar manner.
    Thank you for highlighting this grand film so nicely. :-)

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    1. Thank you. Interesting thought about the ambiance in Fedora. I'll be thinking about that for a while.

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  3. A truly great and lovely review Patricia! I love this film so much and I think anybody who hasn't seen it should be convinced by your article to do so! Too bad Audrey and Cary shared the screen only once!

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    1. Thanks. Charade is a gem. There are some days when you need something, you don't know what, and then you remember - I could watch Charade.

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  4. Paddy Lee, what a wonderful choice you made in CHARADE for a tribute to Audrey Hepburn. For me, hands down, CHARADE is one of my all-time favorite movies. I first saw it in 1968 on NBC-TV and I whistled Henry Mancini's theme for days afterward. What more can a Classic Movie fan ask for in a movie, because as you wrote, it is a perfect movie. It is part suspense thriller, part screwball comedy, and part good old-fashioned romance with two of the finest screen charmers of all-time in Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant.

    We shouldn't be surprised that CHARADE almost didn't get made. Television writer Peter Stone(THE DEFENDERS, 1961-65) shopped his screenplay THE UNSUSPECTING WIFE around and the studios turned it down. With screenwriter and future novelist Marc Behm, Stone re-wrote the screenplay as a novelette, which was published in REDBOOK MAGAZINE(July, 1961). Producer/director Stanley Donen bought the novelette and Peter Stone wrote the screenplay, which he had originally tailored for Hepburn and Grant. So, now we all can watch CHARADE.

    Also, check out MIRAGE(1965), ARABESQUE(1966), and GAMBIT(1966).

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    1. Nicely said, Walter. My, what a torturous route Charade took from concept to the screen. A lesson in perseverance for which we can all be grateful. I wonder how often someone gets to see their vision come alive with the perfect casting.

      Your recommendations are to be heeded. I adore the quirky Gambit. However, I haven't seen Mirage and Arabesque in such a long time that they will be like new movies to me.

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  5. Thank you so much for entering my blogathon, Patty!! You always bring so much to the party, and this was no exception! I loved this review of a fabulous confection of a film.

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  6. Matthau, Kennedy, and Coburn almost steal the movie from the stars! CHARADE appears to be such an effortless movie. However, when I saw the lame remake THE TRUTH ABOUT CHARLIE, I realized it takes a lot of skill to make a breezy film like CHARADE.

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    1. Indeed. We don't see the work and sometimes we forget to appreciate it. I guess that's the point.

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  7. What a delightfully worded review of one of my favorite films. Why oh why, weren't Hepburn and Grant paired together again?! There's so much to love about Charade, the blend of romance, mystery and action, the Audrey's Givenchy wardroom and Cary's own sartorial sense and of course all the witty one-liners which I borrow from time to time in my everyday life.

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    1. Thank you.

      I envy you the ability to throw off the witty one-liners. It makes a day stand out.

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  8. Director STANLEY DONEN was married and divorced five times. His fourth wife was actress YVETTE MIMIEUX. Two TV-Movies that I saw her in are FORBIDDEN LOVE(1982) and OBSESSIVE LOVE(1984). They were both for CBS. In the first one she plays a woman in her early 40s who is seeing a man about half her age, played by ANDREW STEVENS. Andrew later was on the prime-time soaps EMERALD POINT, NAS (1983-84) and DALLAS (as Casey) in the late 80s. His mother is STELLA STEVENS who of course is in the same age group as Yvette. Stella was on a prime=time soap too-FLAMINGO ROAD.

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    1. I don't believe I've seen those TV movies with Yvette, but I do remember her from movies and other prime time appearances. Stella Stevens is a favourite for The Courtship of Eddie's Father and The Nutty Professor.

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    2. In OBSESSIVE LOVE she plays a woman who wants to start a relationship with a daytime soap star( played by SIMON MACCORKINDALE who later played ANGELA CHANNINGS lawyer GREG on FALCON CREST). The actors wife is played by CONSTANCE MCCASHIN(LAURA AVERY, later LAURA SUMNER on the DALLAS spin-off KNOTS LANDING). To meet the actor the woman lies and says she is a reporter wanting to do a story on him. They begin an affair shortly after this. But the woman is disturbed and has confused the actor with his soap character. YVETTE was one of the writers and also a co-producer for this TV-Movie. She did her last acting in 1992 and is now 77, according to imdb. Yvette was an elegant blonde beauty that was good at projecting vulnerability but was also a strong actress.

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    3. Wow! I'm a major soap fan, but have never gotten to the point where I confuse actors with their roles. It sounds fun to watch.

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  9. YVETTE was in two DISNEY movies-MONKEYS GO HOME(1967) with the very likable DEAN JONES and THE BLACK HOLE(1979). Both of these movies are notable because the first one was the first movie to be released from the DISNEY COMPANY since the passing of WALT DISNEY just two months earlier and the second one was the first DISNEY movie to have a PG-rating. What do you remember Yvette best from? They sure had a lot of blondes back then that were pretty, talented and likable.

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    1. Probably from Where the Boys Are, A Light in the Piazza, and a guest appearance on Dr. Kildare. I remember Monkeys Go Home, but haven't seen The Black Hole.

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  10. I saw the first two you mentioned. GEORGE HAMILTON was in both of them but only paired up with Yvette in the second one. Yvette got to work with OLIVIA DE HAVILLAND too. By all accounts Olivia was/is a lovely LADY. Yvette was nominated for 3 GOLDEN GLOBES. The first one was the newcomer award. The second for that DR. KILDARE episode and the third for a show THE MOST DEADLY GAME with RALPH BELLAMY and GEORGE MAHARIS.

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    1. A Golden Globe nomination for Dr. Kildare? No wonder I remember it, and I haven't seen it since I was a kid.

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    2. I remember reading that Yvette played a surfer that Dr. Kildare falls for. Later she and RICHARD CHAMBERLAIN did a movie together as husband and wife. It was called JOY IN THE MORNING. I saw it on TV twice-when I was a kid and then later around 1988. I think Richard played a law student, I know he was in school. Speaking of STELLA STEVENS earlier she was a guest star on a medical show too way back. She did three episodes of BEN CASEY and I think I read that was a romance story too.

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    3. Joy in the Morning was by Betty Smith. It was her follow-up to A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.

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  11. Now moving on to someone elses ex-spouse. MEL FERRER was the first husband of AUDREY HEPBURN. He guest starred on two episodes of MURDER, SHE WROTE. Do you remember the one with PAMELA BELLWOOD? He also did an episode of COLUMBO that had ANNE BAXTER and KEVIN MCCARTHY. By the way Bellwood was on DYNASTY & McCarthy was on FLAMINGO ROAD with the lovely BARBARA RUSH as his wife and it also had STELLA STEVENS. Baxter was on HOTEL.

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    1. I do recall Mel Ferrer on those episodes of Murder, She Wrote. I liked him in a number of movies such as Scaramouche, Lost Boundaries, and The World, the Flesh and the Devil.

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  12. I also want to add that Mel Ferrer was on FALCON CREST as PHILLIP ERIKSON, the lawyer of ANGELA CHANNING. Later they wed but Angela was widowed shortly after the wedding due to a plane crash. The very attractive DAVID SELBY played villain RICHARD CHANNING. Do you know Davids work? He was good on FC. Before that he was on FLAMINGO ROAD with STELLA STEVENS. David worked with Yvette Mimieux on her last acting project( as a married couple).It was a JACKIE COLLINS TV-Movie titled LADY BOSS. It goes around! I didn't see the soap opera DARK SHADOWS that David did.

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    1. I recall David Selby most especially from Dark Shadows. I can still sing Quentin's Theme. I'm always happy to see him on guesting on any show.

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  13. Charade is easily one of my favorite films. I remember being so nervous when I first saw it that it wouldn't live up to my expectations that I didn't fully appreciate it until a second viewing. When I saw Notre Dame in person three years ago, all I could think about was Reggie and Peter's stroll along the Seine with the cathedral behind them. That was all I thought about again when that horrible fire happened. It's interesting how films can just become branded on our brains like that.

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    1. It is interesting how the images of film become so much a part of us, and perfectly understandable as our connections are so personal.

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  14. A childhood favorite! When schoolmates were growing up with movies like Jumanji and Pocahontas, my sister and I were enjoying Charade on summer vacations. The entire opening sequence is thrilling, from the spiraling title sequence ( a work of Binder's ), to the scream of the train whistle as it speeds down the rail and the body being thrown out. Love it all! It sparked a passion for philately, too. Did you watch "That Man from Rio" ( 1964 )? It's more of an adventure/spy film but the scenes in Paris are reminiscent of Charade.

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    1. I haven't seen That Man from Rio. Thanks! It looks like a great adventure.

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  15. Great review! Indeed,.Charade is a perfect movie and Audrey is very likable as Reggie. I wish she made more films with Cary Grant!
    Thanks for the kind comment!
    Kisses!
    Le

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    1. Thanks. It is such a treat to watch this movie.

      PS: You always write such interesting articles.

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