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 perhaps 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