DVD review: 'Charade' Universal 100th Anniversary Edition
Some call it “the best Hitchcock movie that Hitchcock never made.” Certainly, “Charade” has almost all the elements the Master of Suspense ever incorporated in his films, including mystery, romance, baffling plot twists, characters who aren’t who they seem to be, action, sudden jolts, gallows humor and, of course, suspense, all set against an exotic locale.
The 1963 thriller even has animated opening credits that strongly resemble the titles Saul Bass designed for “Psycho,” and a musical score that underlines the moments of tension and deadly peril with pulse-quickening effectiveness. And, hey, there’s even Cary Grant, veteran of four of Hitchcock’s best, in the lead role.
But that’s Maurice Binder’s (the early James Bond films) handiwork on the credits, and instead of Bernard Herrmann supplying the musical moodiness, we have the jazzier, more rhythmic and (at the time) more contemporary touches of Henry Mancini on the soundtrack.
And that’s Stanley Donen in the director’s chair, best known for such lighthearted musical fare as “Singin’ in the Rain” and “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.” So Cary gets to throw in a little of the screwball shtick he’s so good at but that Hitch would never allow, such as taking a shower wearing suit and tie, or pulling a goofy face — although such stuff is kept to a minimum here.
Grant and Audrey Hepburn are a perfect match, despite a 25-year age difference that almost caused Grant to turn down the part (he insisted on a rewrite having Hepburn’s character romantically pursue his, instead of the reverse, which seemed to him more dignified), and Peter Stone’s screenplay provides them with loads of witty and sophisticated repartee.
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