Mystery, comedy, romance with plenty of twists, this film is pure escapism.
This sleek and immensely enjoyable film from Singin’ in the Rain director Stanley Donen is one of those that you can happily immerse yourself in time and time again. This is partly down to its sense of playfulness, the number of twists and turns along the way that keep you guessing and of course the enjoyable nature of the performances from Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant.
The plot sees Regina Lambert (Audrey Hepburn) having to adjust to life following the murder of her husband. But things aren’t that straight forward as three men are all following her because they believe she knows the location of some stolen money. With the only person she can seemingly turn to is the mysterious Peter Joshua can she find the money before its too late?
From start to finish, there is almost a Alfred Hitchcock tone to the film, particularly when the various twists and turns take place. It is cleverly done as it allows the audience to feel as they are participating in the story alongside Regina – particularly evident as she tries to get to the bottom of who Peter Joshua (Cary Grant) is and what he wants from her. Thanks to Donen’s attention to detail in terms of angles and shots throughout, the characters are all exposed in someway throughout.
Perhaps these days Charade is seen as glamorous rather than the gritty thrillers and mysteries that we see on screen these days which can lessen its impact. However, it has a charm about it that can’t be denied – highlighted through the gorgeous shots of Paris, Henry Mancini’s quirky and distinctive score and Peter Stone’s lively screenplay that keeps you guessing right until the very end.
But the film’s other main strength lies in the quality of its cast. While sadly this was the only film that Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant were to do together their chemistry in Charade is always delightful as they fall in love while trying to get to the bottom of where the stolen cash is. Grant is his usual debonair self – delivering a charismatic performance while fully making the most of the more comical moments in the script as seen in the shower scene. Meanwhile, Hepburn is a great match highlighting the Regina’s vulnerability but also has a lovely sense of comic timing that brings a smile to your face. Her character maybe vulnerable but Hepburn ensures there is also an element of strength and determination – particularly as she constantly confronts Peter about his actions.
Elsewhere, out of the villains trying to hunt down the money, George Kennedy is perhaps the most convincing of them all as Herman Scobie – suitably menacing throughout and definitely not a character you would want to meet unexpectedly as Joshua finds out.
Charade is an immensely enjoyable watch with its sparkling script, a plot with plenty of twists and turns to keep you guessing and a quality cast to ensure that you are thoroughly entertained. If you haven’t seen it then it is worth adding to your list.
By Emma Clarendon