Grant and Hepburn's Fine Pretense
How do you describe "Charade" well it undeniably tips it hat at Hitchcock with both the opening credits and storyline. But "Charade" isn't just a Hitchcock wannabee it also borders on the comedy, intentionally having fun with classic thriller elements and with it starring Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn it has more than a touch of romance. What does this all mean, well it means that "Charade" is a joy to watch with a clever, witty script enjoyable performances and a sense of who dunnit which thrives through out.
Regina Lampert (Audrey Hepburn - Roman Holiday) is about to divorce her husband when she learns that he has been murdered, but not only that but her husband was many years earlier part of a robbery and now there are men after her for the money which he stole. Regina has no idea about the money but with the helpful Peter Joshua (Cary Grant - Indiscreet) they set about trying to discover where the money may be hidden. But with various men after her and Peter Joshua appearing to not be what he seems, Regina has no idea who she can trust.
"Charade" starts very much in the style of Hitchcock as we witness a body being thrown from a train before we get the opening credits whose animation style is instantly reminiscent of various Hitchcock movies. And that whole Hitchcock style continues through out with a sense of mystery and intrigue as the plot thickens and we learn that Regina Lampert's dead husband is behind an old government theft and that there are men now after her in search of their money. But then at the same time you get the comedy starting to encroach, the dark humour at the funeral service where these men show up to check that Mr. Lampert is in fact dead. It's a wonderful blend so that whilst you are following the storyline trying to work out where the money is and who the good guys and the bad guys are it also makes you laugh.
And then you have Cary Grant the debonair gentleman helping the poor Regina out and this adds to the mystery as we discover that he is not as he seems, so you are left wondering who he is, is he a bad guy a good guy or what. What we do know is that Regina falls for him and he for her and so comes the romantic storyline. Now it has to be said that the romance is obvious, you expect nothing else with Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn playing opposite each other. But with the mystery and subtle comedy it is such a fun romance, a joy to watch with scene after memorable scene of frivolity. In particular the shower scene is just priceless, totally daft as Cary Grant showers in his drip dry suit but at the same time strangely in fitting with the almost daftness of the movie.
These three elements the almost classical thriller with the who dunnit element, the darkly funny comedy which will even make fun of death and the romance all combine to make "Charade" a movie which you just can't keep your eyes off. And what is even better is when it all unravels as it twists and turns towards the ending it still seems quite realistic in an extreme way as we discover the truth as to who is who.
But it has to be said that the pairing of Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn are a big reason why "Charade" works. Yes each are playing to type with Grant playing the handsome debonair gentleman whilst Hepburn playing a variation on the damsel in distress but together it works. A big part of this is not only is it believable that they would fall for each other but the comic timing between them is perfect. Grant and Hepburn are so intune with each other it feels like they are having as much fun making "Charade" as you get from watching it.
Funnily Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn are not the only big names to appear. George Kennedy turns up as bad guy Herman Scobie and so does James Coburn as the comically thuggish Tex. And then there is Walter Matthau who is quite marvellous as Hamilton Bartholemew delivering humour with almost every word.
What this all boils down to is that "Charade" is an exceptionally good movie. It manages to mix the excitement of a Hitchcock movie with some wickedly dark humour and then tops it off with a romantic storyline which feels perfectly in place. If that wasn't enough the pairing of Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn is perfect and their comic timing is why you can't but help laugh.