Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Charade


Charade; Thriller comedy, USA, 1963; D: Stanley Donen, S: Audrey Hepburn, Cary Grant, Walter Matthau, James Coburn, George Kennedy

American Regina Lambert, who works as a translator, arrives in Paris to file for divorce from her husband, but he gets killed in a train. In US embassy, Mr. Bartholomew explains that he husband stole 250.000 $ during the World War II and hid them somewhere, but his "friends" Tex, Gideon and Scobie are after the cash. Regina's friend is the mysterious Peter, but she discovers his name is actually Doyle and that he works with Tex in order to get the money. When Tex, Gideon and Scobie get murdered and Regina discovers the money was transformed into stamps, she figures Bartholomew is actually the killer and that his name is actually Doyle. He gets killed by "Peter" who explains her he works for the embassy.

"Charade" is a real thriller that took Hitchcock as the ideal, at the same time suspenseful and comical, with a complicated story where every third represents the negation of the previous - which is why the viewer is left uncertain on to who is actually Cary Grant's character since he at one moment turns out good, then bad (the associate of the bad guy) and then good again (just pretends to be the associate) - but that ideal wasn't so perfectly re-enacted as a whole. Director Stanley Donen has an inspiring sense for how and where to place all the camera angles whereas the most famous sequence is the one on the funeral of Regina's husband - she and her friend are the only people present in the church, besides a police officer who is "just there because the deceased one was murdered", but then the three bad guys enter the stage and "subtly" stab the corpse with a needle and place a mirror in front of his face to see if he is really dead. Some inconsistencies and discrepancies in the story are bothersome, since it didn't manage to become as stylish to forgive it everything despite a few fun ideas (a bad guy with an iron hand) and has a few plot twists too much, yet the two main actors have great chemistry, especially Audrey Hepburn who was nominated for a Golden Globe and actually won a BAFTA as best actress.

Grade:++

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