Charade (1963)

“Charade” (1963)




*** This comment may contain spoilers ***

This film is so effective, probably more effective now than it was when it was released. Oh it was celebrated in its time, but the years highlighted the charm (and the legend) of the actors in it, and we can look at it with a sense of lost world, past things.

Stanley Donen, here already away from the Hollywood system, though depending on it, is one of the best directors coming from America.He was deeply original in his more prolific years as a musical director, and he was never less than competent in what he did after that. That includes this enjoyable film. To me, one of his strongest points as a director, was the ability to mix opposite forces and talents, and create an unified vision out of it, by motivating genuine cooperation. Isn’t that the best we can expect a director to be? And what a good mixture he makes here.

The idea was, i suppose, to create a plot which keeps grabbing the audience by constant twists. We don’t know more than Audrey’s character, and we try to guess the true character of Grant’s. It’s tremendously effective, because the twists are subtle and clever, and the dramatic effect that they might have is always brought down by the comedy feel of the whole thing.

Grant spent a good part of his career doing comedy, and in fact he probably set most of the standards for comedy acting that were still in use at the time of this film. What public believes is ‘funny’ becomes easily dated but what he does here still works today, and that is absolutely remarkable. Audrey/Givenchy are in this ride, and being the character she invented for herself on-screen suits this one perfectly.

The supporting cast also allows this to work, specially Walter Matthau whom, because of how his lines are placed in the film, and how he distracts us with his great skills as a comedian, fools us as much as he fools Hepburn’s character all the way.

Henri Mancini is one of my favourite film composers. The music has less presence here than in other films he scored, by i think that’s in the mood of the thing.

I don’t know any recent film that works so easily with this comedy/suspense environment and looks so natural and unforced. I praise the people involved here.

My opinion: 4/5 watch it and keep it with you

This comment on IMDb


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