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‘Charade’ a constant game of cat and mouse

POSTED: January 2, 2014 1:30 a.m.

When I was little, I grew up watching old Hollywood movies on Turner Classic Movies with my grandmother. Some of my favorites starred Marilyn Monroe, Grace Kelly, Clark Gable and Cary Grant.

So when asked if I would be interested in writing movie reviews of classic films, I jumped at the chance.

The first film I decided to watch is "Charade," a 1963 movie available on Netflix Instant. Directed by Stanley Donen, it stars Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn and spans a few different genres: mystery, comedy and romance — right up my alley.

The story begins with Regina "Reggie" Lampert (Hepburn) confessing to her friend while the two are away on vacation that she wants to divorce her husband, Charles. On vacation, she meets Peter Joshua (Grant) who, though the dialogue between the two is short-lived, immediately catches her attention. He agrees to find her when they both return to Paris.

When Reggie returns home, she discovers her apartment is completely empty and her husband, Charles, has been found dead. Divorce problem solved, huh?

At Charles’s funeral, three suspicious men show up who poke and prod Charles’ lifeless body to make sure he is really dead. After being summoned to the U.S. Embassy by CIA administrator Hamilton Bartholemew (Walter Matthau), Reggie later learns the three men and Charles were part of a secret World War II operation in which they were to give $250,000 to the French Resistance, but the men stole it instead.

Charles doublecrossed the men and took money. Now, the trio want the missing money back.

Keeping his word, Peter tracks down Reggie and decides to help her. Thus the hunt for Charles’ killer, and the money, ensues.

However, during the chase, several questions arise in Reggie’s mind since each character is hiding a secret or lying to her. She is burdened by never knowing who is telling the truth or who she can trust, including Peter. It seems everyone she meets is putting on a charade (hence the name).

Things are also complicated by her feelings for Peter. But as the romance and hunt play out, the plot finds a nice twist for the ending.

What I found especially notable about this film is the chemistry between Hepburn and Grant. An unlikely pairing of actors at the time to play love interests (Grant was in his upper-50s during filming; Hepburn was in her early-30s), the two pull it off with witty dialogue and tasteful romantic moments for a nice contrast to the mystery/thriller aspects.

A constant game of cat and mouse, "Charade" is an entertaining film full of plot twists, surprises and repartee that will bring a laugh or two in the midst of all the confusion.

Chelsea Tench is a copy editor for The Times. She will review movies found on Netflix or Amazon Instant video. To make a suggestion, email her at ctench@gainesvilletimes.com.

 


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