This post does contain some spoilers for the film… but I haven’t spoiled everything! ALSO a very special thanks to my wonderful mom for getting me a copy of Charade on DVD! So happy to finally have this one in my collection!
The favorite film:
Charade, a 1963 mystery-comedy directed by the great Stanley Donen
Regina Lampert has just discovered that her husband, who she was planning on divorcing, has been murdered. Before he was murdered, he sold off all of their possessions and converted every bit of their money to cash… and the cash is also missing. Regina meets a mysterious man who says his name is Peter. He’s interested in the money… and so are a number of other men who are all tracking down Regina, assuming she knows where the money is. The situation becomes even crazier when some of these men start turning up dead.
Audrey Hepburn as Regina Lampert
Cary Grant as Peter Joshua
Walter Matthau as Hamilton Bartholemew
James Coburn as Tex Panthollow
George Kennedy as Herman Scobie
- The original screenplay was rejected by seven studios. It wasn’t until the story was serialized in Redbook that the studios took interest in it.
- Though Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn desperately wanted to work together again after having such a great experience filming this, they never made another film together. Cary reportedly requested Audrey for Father Goose, but she was unavailable, and he was considered for a role in My Fair Lady, but that didn’t work out either. What a shame, because they make a fantastic pair!
- When Cary Grant initially turned down the role of Peter, the studio considered turning the film into a Warren Beatty/Natalie Wood star vehicle.
- Grant was hesitant to take the role because he was so much older than Hepburn. (He turned 59 during production, and she was 33.) To appease Cary and make him feel like less of a “predator,” screenwriter Peter Stone took some of the character’s more aggressive lines and gave them to Hepburn’s character instead. Sure enough, the film still received criticism for their age difference… but it is now beloved by fans of both stars.
- The character name “Peter Joshua” comes from the names of Stanley Donen’s sons.
- Cary Grant reportedly decided not to take off his shirt in the shower scene because he was nearing 60 years old and felt insecure about his weight.
- Some fans refer to Charade as “the best Hitchcock film that Hitchcock never made” (and I’d have to agree — it’s very Hitchcockian!)
- Amazing opening credits and theme tune!
- Audrey’s sometimes kooky but still very stylish wardrobe
- The scene were Regina and Peter meet
- Regina telling the investigator “I don’t know” to every question he has about her husband
- Shadowy Peter showing up in the shadowy doorway of the room where shadowy Regina is smoking and sulking
- Cary Grant seeming trustworthy and creepy at the same time in his first conversation with Regina after she finds out about the murder
- Sneezing on the corpse!
- A bunch of random men showing up to Charles’ previously empty funeral… one of whom uses a mirror to make sure that Charles isn’t breathing in the coffin/faking his death, another who pokes him with a needle, etc.
- Walter Matthau’s mannerisms as Bartholemew
- Matthau burping
- Audrey and Cary watching a puppet show
- Cary’s expressions during the game with the oranges! A favorite example:
- Peter’s ulterior motives… DUN DUN DUNNNNN
- Phone call warning Regina about Peter, ooooh you in danger girl
- Regina sitting down with a random man at a cafe, leading him to follow her around/become enamored of her
- Regina learning the truth about “Peter,” who is really Dyle’s brother… OR IS HE?
- Drowning in bed!
- Gene Kelly/An American in Paris reference!
- Regina spilling ice cream on Peter
- Cary Grant showering in his clothes… AND SINGING… AND GIGGLING
- Bartholemew doing squats while talking to Regina on the phone
- Dyle had no brother?! OH, THE HORROR!
- The boat shining its spotlight on the couples that are mackin’ on the shore
- Lyrical version of the title song playing on the boat!
- And to think, all of this over a couple of stamps.
- Bartholemew is not Bartholemew at all!
- SHOOTOUT and mistaken identity plot twists… DUN DUN DUNNNN
- A floor full of trap doors!
- THIS FACE:
- Sylvie: “It is infuriating that your unhappiness does not turn to fat!”
- Sylvie: “With a rich husband and this year’s clothes, you won’t find it difficult to make some new friends!”
- Peter: “Do we know each other?”
Regina: “Why? Do you think we’re going to?”
Peter: “I don’t know. How would I know?”
Regina: “Because I already know an awful lot of people and until one of them dies, I couldn’t possibly meet anyone else.”
Peter: “Hmm. Well, if anyone goes on the critical list, let me know.”
- Regina: “The police probably think I killed him.”
Peter: “Instant divorce, you mean?”
Regina: “Something like that.”
- Sylvie: “He must have known Charles pretty well.”
Regina: “How can you tell?”
Sylvie: “He’s allergic to him.”
- Bartholemew: “Dry cleaning-wise, things are all fouled up!”
- Bartholemew: “Mrs. Lampert, do you know what C-I-A is?”
Regina: “I don’t suppose it’s an airline, is it?”
- Bartholemew: “Your husband was wanted by the United States government.”
Regina (with a shocked expression): “May I have a sandwich, please?”
Bartholemew: “Chicken or liverwurst?”
- Peter: “How about making me vice president in charge of cheering you up?”
- Peter: “What are you doing in here?”
Regina: “I’m having a nervous breakdown.”
- Regina: “Being murdered in cold blood is not nonsense.”
- Regina: “I don’t bite, you know. Unless it’s called for.”
Peter: “How would you like a spanking?”
Regina: “How would you like a punch in the nose? Stop treating me like a child!”
- Regina: “Peter, are you hurt?”Peter: “Mmhmm, I sprained my pride.”
- Regina: “Words can hurt.”
- Regina: “What’s this got to do with the C-I-O?”
Bartholemew: “CIA, Mrs. Lampert.”
- Regina: “I suppose if I’m going to die I might as well do it for my country.”
Bartholemew: “That’s the spirit!”
- Regina: “You can lie from any position, can’t you?”
- Regina: “I can think of about a dozen men who are just longing to use my shower!”
- Regina: “Do you realize you’ve had three names in the past two days? I don’t even know who I’m talking to anymore!”
- Peter: “Hasn’t it occurred to you that I’m having a tough time keeping my hands off you?”
- Regina: “You can’t even be honest about being dishonest. Why didn’t you say anything?!”
- Regina: “I hope we have a lot of boys, and we can name them all after you.”
Nice Post. I never had issues with Grants age in this. I know his character was older then Hepburn’s but it looked mor like someone in their late 30s going out with someone in their middle 40s.
I was never bothered by it either. They make such a fun pair, and Cary doesn’t look his age!
Oooh I love Charade! I agree with both of you, Grant didn’t seem too old for Hepburn. Even Bogart in Sabrina seemed weird at first but then I didn’t feel like it was awkward. I do think Gary Cooper in Love in the Afternoon could be an issue, because even though he was younger than CG, he looks his age. And it’s a different spirit, if you know what I mean. But I don’t know, I haven’t watched it yet! Anyway, what is it with directors teaming Audrey with older men??
That final face is really funny, CG could be so deliciously goofy.
I think Audrey was well-matched with the older men they paired her with because she gave off such an air of sophistication. The personalities of the two determine whether or not an age gap comes off as weird, and since she always seems quite mature the age difference has never bugged me in any of her films. I’ve seen a lot of complaints about Fred Astaire in Funny Face, too, but that’s always been one of my favorites of Audrey’s filmography!
Okay, I need to watch this already… Looks too much fun.
You must! It’s very fun, the type of film you can watch a million times over. I hope you enjoy it! :)
My feelings for “CHARADE” are not what they used to be. Yes, it’s mildly entertaining, but I now have reservations about it.
Care to explain further?
I couldn’t help but notice the age difference, but it did not interfere with my enjoyment of the film. The story was suspenseful and entertaining, and deserves its standing as a classic.
It’s been ages since I’ve seen this one, but I’ve always liked it…so I picked up a copy recently, too. I love that photo with George Kennedy and James Coburn…it looks like the kid is one of the OSS gang! “Ahhh, Mr. Joshua…meet my two henchmen.”