MOVIE: **** (out of 5)
DVD EXPERIENCE: *1/2 (out of 5)
BY KEVIN CARR
Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn transcend several genres in the classic film “Charade,” which has just had a new DVD release to celebrate Universal’s 100 years of movies. Not only does this film take a new spin on the 60s spy thriller, it also dips its toe in the romantic comedy of the era.
Hepburn plays a socialite who is widowed while vacationing in France. She soon finds herself the target of several men – some spies from her husband’s past and some from the actual CIA. She soon teams with a mysterious stranger (Grant), who helps her discover the secrets about her husband. All this leads to a rather dangerous race to find a hidden treasure.
Like many of the films of Audrey Hepburn, the film is balanced on her shoulders and held there by her likeability. Grant’s charisma adds to the charm of the movie, and even though there are some serious and dangerous dealings happening, it’s still a fun romp.
“Charade” was made just as the spy genre was taking off, only a couple years after James Bond made his debut on movie screens. The genre hadn’t fallen too far into cliches yet, and there was a freshness about it. Plus, this allowed the film to take some chances you might not have seen were it made five or ten years later.
While it holds up as a cat-and-mouse thriller, though not in a grim or heavy way, it also works as a fine romance. Sure, Cary Grant is a bit too old for Hepburn, but they’re just so charming together on the screen that you can forgive a lot of the overt creepiness.
The film is held together with a strong cast, including supporting performances by Walter Matthau, James Coburn and George Kennedy. Even if you’re not a fan of the films of the 60s, this one is worth a look because it holds up much better than many of its contemporaries. Plus, that opening credits sequence by Maurice Binder is awesome.
This newly released DVD celebrates Universal’s 100 years of making movies. Bonus features include the theatrical trailer as well as two “100 Years of Universal” featurettes including “The Carl Laemmle Era” and “The Lew Wasserman Era.”