Charade (1963) – Review

Told and presented in a Hitchcock-esque style, Charade tells of Regina Lampert (Audrey Hepburn), a woman who on the verge of divorcing her husband upon her return to Paris. When she arrives there, she is told of the unfortunate news of her husbands death and the missing lot of money he happened to leave behind.

As it so happens, there are a handful of men interested in her husband’s missing fortune. Upon the notion of her having it, the men harass and threaten Regina in the hope of her turning it over. Fearing for her life, Regina befriends the mysterious albeit charming, Peter Joshua (Cary Grant) along the way and the two develop a platonic romance and he soon becomes the only person Regina trusts even after her revealing of his secret.

Together, Peter and Regina collaborate in an attempt to uncover Regina’s deceased husband’s fortune all the while the two are believed by the murderous men to have it in their very possession.

 

Grant’s performance is that of, once again, his finest self. His natural witticism a charm are, as always, on display and it is through such a display that his character become endearing, lovable. It is such that no matter the circumstance you cannot help but root for him—believe in him.

Miss Hepburn’s performance, too, is of true eloquence and intrigue. It is always that Audrey Hepburn proves she is more than a lovely face and figure. Here, her enchanting performances as Regina Lampert is as comedic as it is honest.

The supporting cast, while not terrible, are not entirely terrific either. The henchmen in particular put forth what I believe to be vapid performances devoid of any real character. Most notably is George Kennedy’s portrayal of Herman Scobie—a one handed, metal-clawed villain. His act seems at times a forced effort of over-dramatics. The others, too, are in the habit of the over-dramatics only in a more natural, congruent, way.

Despite its comedic undertones, Charade is a film of suspense and Henry Mancini’s score punctuates. His gripping composition adds dramatically to the film’s immediate nature. Sequences themselves appear as choreographed in such a way as to the requirement of his score. Mancini’s soundtrack builds layers of suspense upon its already suspenseful plot. Though the intricacies of the plot do at times get away from themselves, they are surprisingly rather easy to follow even with each, periodic, twist they present. The film’s final twenty minutes are a suspenseful ride into the film’s ultimate conclusion and truth.

Charade is a light-hearted thriller with an excellent plot, endearing characters, and an immersive soundtrack. Grant and Hepburn share unmistakable chemistry with one other. If you are a fan of either star, or perhaps a fan of mystery-suspense, do not miss Charade.

9/10

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