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Charade

1953

IMDb page A trio of stories starring James and Pamela Mason.



Charade is a 1963 Technicolor American romantic comedy/mystery film directed by Stanley Donen, written by Peter Stone and Marc Behm, and starring Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn. The cast also features Walter Matthau, James Coburn, George Kennedy, Dominique Minot, Ned Glass, and Jacques Marin. It spans three genres: suspense thriller, romance films and comedy films. Because Universal Pictures published the movie with an invalid copyright notice, the film entered the List of films in the public domain in the United States immediately upon its release.

Plot

Regina "Reggie" Lampert (Audrey Hepburn), on a skiing holiday in Megève, tells her friend Sylvie Gaudel (Dominique Minot) that she has decided to divorce her husband Charles. She then meets a charming stranger, Peter Joshua (Cary Grant). When she returns to Paris, her apartment is completely empty, and police inspector Edouard Grandpierre (Jacques Marin) notifies her that Charles has been murdered while leaving Paris. Reggie is given her husband's travel bag, containing a letter addressed to her, a ticket to Venezuela, passports in multiple names, and other items. At the funeral, three odd characters show up to view the body. One sticks the corpse with a pin and another places a mirror in front of the body's mouth and nose, both to verify that Charles is really dead.
Reggie is summoned to meet Central Intelligence Agency administrator Hamilton Bartholomew (Walter Matthau) at the American diplomatic missions. She learns that the three men are Tex Panthollow (James Coburn), Herman Scobie (George Kennedy), and Leopold W. Gideon (Ned Glass), the three survivors of a World War II Office of Strategic Services operation. Together with Charles and a fifth man, Carson Dyle, they were to deliver $250,000 in gold to the French Resistance, but they stole it instead. Dyle was fatally wounded in a German ambush, and Charles doublecrossed the others and took all the gold. The three men want the missing money, and the U.S. government wants it back. Bartholomew insists that Reggie has it, even if she does not know where it is.
Peter tracks Reggie down and helps her move into a hotel. The three criminals separately threaten Reggie, each convinced that she knows where the money is. Scobie then shocks Reggie by claiming that Peter is in league with the trio (though none of them trust each other), after which Peter confesses to her that he is really Carson Dyle's brother, Alexander "Alex" Dyle, and is convinced that the others murdered Carson.
As the hunt for the money continues, first Scobie is found murdered, then Gideon is killed in an elevator. Meanwhile, Reggie falls in love with Alex, but gets yet another shock when she learns from Bartholomew that Carson Dyle had no brother. Confronted with this, Alex now admits he is actually Adam Canfield, an unabashed professional thief. Although frustrated by his dishonesty, Reggie still finds herself trusting him.
Reggie and Adam go to the location of Charles's last appointment and find an outdoor market. They also spot Tex there, and Adam follows him. It is Tex who finally figures out where the money is hidden. He sees booths selling Stamp collecting and realizes Charles must have purchased List of postage stamps and stuck them on an envelope in plain sight, the letter in his travel bag.
Adam realizes the same thing and races Tex back to Reggie's hotel room, but the stamps are gone because Reggie had given them to Sylvie's boy, Jean-Louis (Thomas Chelimsky), for his collection, and he has taken them to the market to trade them. Reggie now also realizes the stamps' significance, so she, Sylvie, and Jean-Louis find the stamp trader, Mr. Felix (Paul Bonifas). Fortunately, he is honest. Recognizing the value of the stamps, he guessed that there had been some mistake, so he returns them to Reggie.
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Back at the hotel, Reggie finds Tex murdered as well. While dying, he wrote the name "Dyle." Assuming that Alexander Dyle is the murderer after all, a frightened Reggie telephones Bartholomew, who arranges to meet her. When she leaves the hotel, Adam spots her and gives chase through the streets of Paris and the subway.
At the rendezvous, Reggie is caught out in the open between the two men. Adam tells her that Bartholomew is the murderer — he is really Carson Dyle, who was only wounded by the Germans. (To trick Reggie, he had slipped into an embassy office that was left unlocked at lunch.) After another chase, Adam kills Dyle to save Reggie.
Reggie and Adam go to the embassy to turn over the stamps, but in the corridor, Adam uses to accompany her further. Going in, Reggie is shocked to find Adam already inside (having slipped in through a separate door). In fact, Adam is Brian Cruikshank, the government official responsible for recovering stolen property. After proving his true identity, he promises to marry her, once she gives him the stamps.
The movie ends with a Split screen (film) grid showing flashback shots of Brian's four identities, while Reggie says she hopes that they have lots of boys, so they can name them all after him.

Cast (in order of appearance)

  • Audrey Hepburn as Regina "Reggie" Lampert
  • Thomas Chelimsky as Jean-Louis Gaudel
  • Dominique Minot as Sylvie Gaudel
  • Cary Grant as Brian Cruikshank (Pseudonym Peter Joshua, alias Alexander "Alex" Dyle, alias Adam Canfield)
  • Jacques Marin as Insp. Edouard Grandpierre
  • Ned Glass as Leopold W. Gideon
  • James Coburn as Tex Panthollow
  • George Kennedy as Herman Scobie
  • Walter Matthau as Carson Dyle (alias Hamilton Bartholomew)
  • Paul Bonifas as Mr. Felix, the stamp dealer

Production

File:Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant 1.jpg
When screenwriters Peter Stone and Marc Behm submitted their script The Unsuspecting Wife around Hollywood, they were unable to sell it. Stone then turned it into a novel, retitled 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 companies that had passed on it earlier. The film rights were quickly sold to producer/director Stanley Donen. Stone then wrote the final shooting script, tailored to stars Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn, with Behm receiving story co-credit.
Hepburn shot the film in the fall of 1962, immediately after Paris When It Sizzles, which she shot that summer in a number of the same locations in Paris, but production difficulties with that film caused it to be released four months after Charade.
When the film was released at Christmas, 1963, Audrey Hepburn's line, "at any moment we could be assassinated," was dubbed over to become "at any moment we could be eliminated" due to the recent assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The dubbed word stood out quite clearly and all official video releases of the film have since restored the original dialogue, though some public domain videos taken from original release prints still carry the redubbed line.
Cary Grant (who turned 59 during filming) was sensitive about the 26 year age difference between Audrey Hepburn (33 at the time of filming) and himself, and this made him uncomfortable with the romantic interplay between them. To satisfy his concerns, the filmmakers agreed to add several lines of dialogue in which Grant's character comments on his age and Regina — Hepburn's character — is portrayed as the pursuer.<></>
The screenwriter, Peter Stone, and the director, Stanley Donen, have an unusual joint cameo role in the film. When Reggie goes to the U.S. Embassy to meet with Bartholomew, two men get on the elevator as she gets off. The man who says, "I bluffed the old man out of the last pot — with a pair of deuces" is Stone, but the voice is Donen's. Stone's voice is later used for the U.S. Marine who is guarding the Embassy at the end of the film.

Critical reception

Charade has received generally positive reviews from critics, receiving an 91% approval rating based on 35 reviews at Rotten Tomatoes, with an average of 8.1 out of 10.</>
  • Somebody Killed Her Husband (1978). Starring Farrah Fawcett and Jeff Bridges. Loose remake. Released in Japan as Charade '79.
  • The Truth About Charlie (2002). Starring Mark Wahlberg and Thandie Newton. Directed by Jonathan Demme. Peter Stone so disliked the remake that he used his story credit on it, and is instead credited as Peter Joshua, one of Grant's character's aliases in Charade.<></>
  • Chura Liyaa Hai Tumne (2003). Hindi-language adaptation. Starring Esha Deol and Zayed Khan. Directed by Sangeeth Sivan.
  • Public domain status

    File:Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn in Charade 2.jpg
    Before 1978, U.S. copyright law required works to include the word "Copyright," the abbreviation "Copr." or the "©" symbol.< name="Peter K 2007 143"></> Because Universal Pictures included no proper copyright notice with Charade, the film entered public domain in the USA immediately upon its release.< name=pierce></> Copies of this movie, made from film prints of varying quality, have been available on VHS and DVD based on its status in the public domain. However, while the film itself is public domain, the original music remains under copyright if outside of the context of the film.

    Notes




    Category:1963 films
    Category:1960s romantic comedy films
    Category:1960s thriller films
    Category:American films
    Category:American mystery films
    Category:American criminal comedy films
    Category:American comedy thriller films
    Category:Comedy mystery films
    Category:Edgar Award winning works
    Category:English-language films
    Category:Films directed by Stanley Donen
    Category:Films set in Paris
    Category:Films shot in Paris
    Category:Treasure hunt films
    Category:Universal Pictures films
    2.50
    James Mason

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