With Charade, the director Stanley Donen achieved the magic pairing that everybody wanted to see: Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant.
Made on location in Paris – with Hepburn again eye-catchingly clothed by Givenchy – this is a high-octane, high-definition romantic comedy-thriller.
The complicated plot centres on the plight of Regina ‘Reggie’ Lampert, wife of a wealthy Paris-based businessman, who returns from a trip to find her husband (who she was on the verge of divorcing) mysteriously murdered.
The shock is compounded when she finds he had converted everything they owned into cash and it’s gone missing.
Enter a trio of richly characterised villains (James Coburn, Ned Glass, George Kennedy), the American Ambassador (Walter Matthau) and her new romantic interest, Peter (Cary Grant). The leads sparkle, she insouciant and vulnerable, he debonair and charming.
The fascinating thing about Charade is that it doesn’t really fit into any one genre – part romance, part screwball comedy, throw in a heavy dose of Hitchcock suspense and you’re getting close.
There are magnificent set pieces: Grant taking a shower fully-clothed, Hepburn and Grant falling in love on a Paris river boat and a fight with a one-handed villain in a roof-top cliffhanger.
Henry Mancini’s score help to build the tension alongside some excellent action sequences which combine in an exciting climax to the cat-and-mouse chase.
Regina “Reggie” Lampert
Inspector Edouard Grandpierre