1963 - Dir.: Stanley Donen - 1 hr 48 mins
Shown at The FeckenOdeon on 29th December, 2012Charade opened in the USA just in time for Christmas 1963. This glossy and slick comedy thriller didn’t fill the New York Times with festive cheer: "Seekers of Christmas entertainment, might do well to think twice about "Charade". This romantic comedy melodrama, in which Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant skitter and scoot around Paris as participants in a cheating-cheaters chase, has so many grisly touches in it and runs to violence so many times the people bringing their youngsters to see the annual Nativity pageant and the Christmas stage show may blanch in horror when it comes on." You have been warned!
Sometimes described as "the best Hitchcock film not directed by Alfred Hitchcock" this film is the work of jobbing director Stanley Donen who started his film life as a dancer. He became friendly with Gene Kelly who gave him the chance to direct musical sequences. He was so good at it that he soon found himself sharing the responsibility for big budget musicals like On the Town (1949) and then Singin’ in the Rain (1952). On his own he directed Royal Wedding (1951), Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954), Funny Face (1957) and Damn Yankees (1958). When musicals were no longer in fashion he turned to suspense and comedy - which is exactly what he dishes up in "Charade". He was granted an honorary Academy Award "in appreciation of a body of work marked by grace, elegance, wit and visual innovation." In his acceptance speech he declared that one of the secrets to being a great director is "You show up - and stay the hell out of the way. But you gotta show up or else you can’t take the credit".
The story of "Charade" started when screenwriters Peter Stone and Marc Behm offered a script called "The Unsuspecting Wife" to the Hollywood studios who turned it down flat. Stone then turned it into a novel, re-titled Charade, which found a publisher and was also serialized in Redbook magazine, as many novels were at the time. In Redbook it caught the attention of the same Hollywood bosses who had passed on it earlier….
Audrey Hepburn was born on May 4, 1929 in Brussels, Belgium. Her father was a wealthy English banker and her mother a Dutch baroness. When "Charade" was made she was enjoying the success of "Breakfast at Tiffany’s" and the glamour of "My Fair Lady" was just a year ahead. While Cary Grant was effectively ending his career honourably, Audrey was on the crest of the wave.