57 – Charade

Welcome to The Best Movies I’ve Never Seen! This is the part of the blog where I work my way through 100 films I’ve never seen that are generally considered to be great. You’re invited to watch along with me if you can find a copy or find it streaming. So grab some popcorn and let’s get started!

Charade

1963

Directed by Stanley Donen

Quick synopsis… Cary Grant stars as Peter, who may or may not be a flimflam man who aids the recently widowed Regina in her mission to recover a fortune hidden by her late husband. But three sinister crooks — who’ll stop at nothing — also covet the loot.

Let’s get something out of the way from the start… If I had grown up in the ’50s and ’60s, I would have absolutely had a crush on Audrey Hepburn. Is she not the epitome of the term “classic beauty”?

And for the longest time, I thought that Charade was a Hitchcock movie. I should have known better since he was so notorious for casting blondes in all his lead roles. Audrey Hepburn is never a blonde.

I promise to stop drooling over the lovely Ms. Hepburn. Now. Seriously.

I had no idea that this movie is as good as it is. I mean… there’s suspense, intrigue, a mystery that needs to be solved. There’s murder. There’s action. There are twists and turns all throughout the film. And even though I called one of the big twists that was revealed toward the end, I was not prepared for the final twist that came just before THE END appeared on screen. And if you haven’t seen it, I won’t spoil it for you.

Though it’s a movie that’s been available to watch for nearly 60 years. If it’s not spoiled for you at this point, maybe that’s on you. I say that, but if I’d have gone into this thing knowing everything about it that I know after seeing it, I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed it half as much as I did. So I’m gonna spoil it…

SPOILERS AHEAD

Audrey plays Regina Lampert, a woman in an unhappy marriage who returns home from vacation to find her husband has been murdered. Suddenly she’s mixed up in this heist plot that dates back to the days of World War II. It’s explained to Regina that her late husband, along with four other men, were once tasked with sneaking $250,000 worth of gold behind enemy lines to deliver to the French Resistance. But the five men decided to take the money for themselves, burying it until after the war and claiming that the Germans got their hands on it.

Well, you know how plots like this turn out. No honor among thieves, and all that. The late Mr. Lampert decided to dig up the gold for himself. Of course he never shared any of this information with his wife, so she’s completely in the dark. But the surviving thieves are willing to kill her to find where her husband hid the wealth.

Much of the information that Regina discovers about her husband comes from a CIA agent named Bartholomew, played by Walter Matthau. As he makes himself readily available to come to Regina’s aide and seems very trustworthy, I suspected him as dirty from the start.

Meanwhile, there’s Cary Grant. I’d tell you who he plays, but his name changes a handful of times throughout the movie. When he first introduces himself to Regina while she’s still on vacation, his name is Peter Joshua. While their meeting seems coincidental, it was all planned out by Peter. His lies begin to unravel when it’s seen that he is in cahoots with the three other survivors who have already threatened Regina’s life.

The truth of who Cary Grant’s character is remains a mystery throughout, but he manages to sweep Regina off her feet with each of his personas. And when all seems darkest and evidence seems to point to Cary Grant as the ultimate antagonist, I couldn’t believe that he was a murderer. He’s Cary Grant! No way is he knocking off the other bad guys one at a time just to get closer to $250 grand. And I was right… He was a good guy the whole time.

I was also right about the “trustworthy” CIA agent, Mr. Bartholomew. Turns out he was never Mr. Bartholomew to begin with. Now… I’ll admit, I saw him being the real enemy early on, but I had no idea who he would really turn out to be. And that’s not even the final twist that I was talking about earlier.

END OF SPOILERS

It’s funny the way they decided to shoot the few action sequences in this movie. The biggest one that comes to mind happens between Cary Grant and George Kennedy (who plays one of the three, a man missing his right hand) when the two of them fight on a rooftop seven stories up. I feel like, in today’s movies, if you have two guys scuffling like these two were, the score would be ramped up and sound really suspenseful… because you just know one of these guys is gonna fall to his death. But in this scene, the score was super subdued. I don’t know… seemed an odd choice to me. Oh, and both men survived the fight. At least at that point…

Anyway, having now seen Charade, it ranks at number 287 out of 2,280 on my personal Flickchart list.

Have you seen Charade? Aren’t you just a little bit in love with Audrey Hepburn? No, really… just a little? And how great was that twist at the end? Let me know your thoughts down in the comments below!

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One thought on “57 – Charade

  1. Pingback: 56 – Dial M for Murder | The Confusing Middle

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