Friday, October 26, 2012
Film Flick: Charade
This film has earned the nickname of "The Best Hitchcock Film that Hichcock Never Made." And, indeed Charade is a sumptuous delight- part North-by-Northwest, part screwball romance! Set in Paris and filled with gorgeous coats and hats, it is a delight for the eyes, with a plot will keep you guessing.
When Regina (Audrey Hepburn) returns home to Paris, she finds that her husband has taken everything they have and sold it before dissappearing. Things get more strange when he shows up - dead, pushed off a train without the money on him! The man himself isn't much of a loss, as Regina was planning on divorcing him anyway, but by all accounts the missing money is a sum worth killing for. With the American Embassy, French police and three (or is it four?) mysterious men suspecting she has the cash hidden away, life is about to become much more dicey! Good thing Regin can trust her new friend Peter Joshua (Cary Grant)- or can she?
This film is the only movie icons Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant made together- but it almost didn't happen! Grant, at fifty-nine, initially turned down the role, stating he was too old for 34 year old Hepburn. After a rewrite though, he agreed. When asked what changed, script-writer Peter Stone said he merely gave all the romantically agressive lines to Hepburn's character Regina, making her the peruser. Through the course of filming, several other concessions to Grant's age had to be made including, for example, that Grant, now slightly over-weight as well as aged, would not have to take his shirt off in a shower scene. Grant suffered further indignities too; his second reappearance in the film happens when he is backlit. His ears had to be taped to the sides of his head so they did not appear to glow red with the lighting! Perhaps all of Grant's reservations about taking the part were founded; the film received mixed reviews when opening, with many citing the May-December romance as the reason. And despite the myths that Grant stated he wanted to do another film with Hepburn again, this was the last romantic role he played in his long career.
Despite what the critics say though, Hepburn and Grant on screen together are a delight, and if ever the plot seems thin, nobody minds. Two greats are on the screen! Overall however, the plot actually held together fairly well with only a few minor plot holes (I don't care what any government official told me, I would not stay in the same hotel as people I suspected might assassinate me!) and slow spots. Despite the obvious fun the two actors are having, one might argue too that the love story is a little rushed, but then, the film is only 113 minutes long. We can forgive that much-or should we forgive it? Is it love at all, or all some game of Charade?