CHARADE [1963 / 2010] [The Criterion Collection] [Blu-ray] [USA Release]
Expect the Unexpected . . . When They Become Partners in Danger . . . it is a total delight!

In this comedic thriller, a trio of crooks relentlessly pursue a young American, played by Audrey Hepburn in gorgeous Givenchy, through Paris in an attempt to recover the fortune her dead husband stole from them. The only person she can trust is Cary Grant's suave, mysterious stranger. Director Stanley Donen goes deliciously dark for ‘CHARADE,’ a glittering emblem of sixties style and macabre wit. The Criterion Collection is proud to present this 1960’s suspense classic film in a gorgeous widescreen transfer.

The Criterion Collection is dedicated to gathering the greatest films from around the world and publishing them in editions of the highest technical quality. With supplemental features that enhance the appreciation of the art of film.

FILM FACT No1: Awards and Nominations: 1964 Academy Awards®: Nomination: Best Music and Original Song for Henry Mancini (music) and Johnny Mercer (lyrics). 1964 Golden Globes: Nomination: Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical for Audrey Hepburn. Nomination: Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical for Cary Grant. 1964 David di Donatello Awards: Win: Golden Plate Award for Universal Pictures (For the artistic contribution). 1964 Edgar Allan Poe Awards: Win: Best Motion Picture for Peter Stone. 1964 Golden Laurel Awards: Nomination: Top Comedy. Nomination: Top Male Comedy Performance for Cary Grant. Nomination: Top Female Comedy Performance for Audrey Hepburn. Nomination: Top Song for Henry Mancini (music) and Johnny Mercer (lyrics). 1964 Writers Guild of America: Nomination: Best Written American Comedy for Peter Stone. 1965 BAFTA Awards: Win: Best British Actress for Audrey Hepburn. Nomination: Best Foreign Actor for Cary Grant.

FILM FACT No2: Audrey Hepburn shot the film in the fall of 1962, immediately after ‘Paris When It Sizzles,’ which was shot that summer in a number of the same locations in Paris, but production difficulties with that film caused it to be released four months after the film ‘CHARADE.’ When the film was released at Christmas, 1963, Audrey Hepburn's line, "at any moment we could be assassinated," was dubbed over to become "at any moment we could be eliminated" due to the recent assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The dubbed word stood out quite clearly and all official video releases of the film have since restored the original dialogue, though some public domain videos taken from original release prints still carry the redubbed line.

Cast: Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn, Walter Matthau, James Coburn, George Kennedy, Dominique Minot, Ned    Glass, Jacques Marin, Paul Bonifas, Thomas Chelimsky, Marc Arian (uncredited), Claudine Berg (uncredited), Marcel Bernier (uncredited), Georges Billy (uncredited), Albert Daumergue (uncredited), Raoul Delfosse (uncredited), Lucien Desagneaux (uncredited), Stanley Donen (Voice in the elevator) (uncredited), Colin Drake (uncredited), Mel Ferrer (uncredited), Jean Gold (uncredited), Chantal Goya (uncredited), Clément Harari (uncredited), Monte Landis (uncredited), Bernard Musson (uncredited), Antonio Passalia (uncredited), Jacques Préboist (uncredited), Peter Stone (Voice of Marine) (uncredited), Anthony Stuart (uncredited), Michel Thomass (uncredited), André Tomasi (uncredited), Roger Trapp (uncredited) and Louis Viret (uncredited)

Director: Stanley Donen

Producers: James H. Ware and Stanley Donen

Screenplay: Marc Behm (story) and Peter Stone (screenplay/story) 

Composers: Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer ("Charade" Song lyrics)

Costume Design: Givenchy

Cinematography: Charles Lang Jr., A.S.C. (Director of Photography)

Image Resolution: 1080p (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Audio: English: 1.0 LPCM Mono Audio 

Subtitles: English

Running Time: 113 minutes

Region: Region A/1

Number of discs: 2

Studio: Universal Pictures / The Criterion Collection

Andrew’s Blu-ray Review: The film ‘CHARADE’ [1963] is a very tongue in cheek comedic thriller, with a trio of crooks relentlessly pursues a young American, played by Audrey Hepburn in gorgeous designed clothing by Givenchy, through Paris in an attempt to recover the fortune her dead husband stole from them. The only person she can trust is Cary Grant’s suave, mysterious stranger. Director Stanley Donen goes deliciously dark for ‘CHARADE,’ with a glittering emblem of sixties style and macabre wit.

In the film ‘CHARADE,’ things start fast as a man is pushed from a European train, wearing pyjamas and already quite dead. Then on to a French ski resort, where Regina “Reggie” Lampert [Audrey Hepburn] is vacationing with a friend, contemplating a divorce from her mysterious husband Charles, and flirting with a very attractive stranger, Peter Joshua [Cary Grant].

Then off to Paris, where Regina “Reggie” Lampert finds that her husband Charles and everything else in their lovely apartment has gone, including her clothes. The police inform Regina “Reggie” Lampert that her husband Charles sold off the contents of the flat for $250,000 and then turned up dead next to the railway tracks. They hand over his meagre effects, including several passports, a ticket on a boat for South America, a letter for her, and no sign of the money.

Regina “Reggie” Lampert soon realises how little she knew about her husband Charles when three extremely unpleasant characters show up at the funeral. One holds a mirror under Charles’s deceased nostrils; another sinks a straight pin into the corpse to make sure he is dead. They begin to menace poor Regina “Reggie” Lampert about where the cash from ill-gotten gains from a wartime misadventure might be. Peter Joshua shows up to help the penniless widow get back on her feet, protect her from the bad guys and look for the loot, but things are not what they seem.

Then suddenly there is a new plot twist every few minutes putting our plucky damsel in and out of distress. The bad guys start dropping like flies via a series of nasty murders, and she can’t help falling for Peter Joshua, even though Regina “Reggie” Lampert knows she might not be able to trust him. Will our heroine solve the mystery, find the money and land a good man?

‘CHARADE,’ has been called “the best Alfred Hitchcock film that Hitchcock never made,” and really, that just about sums up the glorious scenario of this film. Starring Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn, the film is a suspenseful one involving a bunch of stolen money and hidden identities. It is not quite an innocent man wrongly accused, but it does have the same determined comedic feel of films like ‘North by Northwest’ or ‘To Catch a Thief.’ The film is expertly crafted and a pretty fun time is had by all.

Stanley Donen brings us a typical slick comedy thriller, ingeniously scripted by Peter Stone, is a mammoth audience teaser, with a small cast of characters, bursting with multiple identities, caught up in a complicated hunt for a fortune in gold coins seemingly secreted by Audrey Hepburn's murdered husband. Cary Grant imparts his ineffable charm; George Kennedy (with a metal hand) provides some comic brutality, while Audrey Hepburn is elegantly fraught throughout the film. There are also smart Parisian settings and especially some smart Henry Mancini composed film score music. The result has a 100% chic style rating and it still remains an all-out wonderful entertaining film, that you will want to sit back and want some good guilty pleasure escapism in your life and not feel any guilty qualms about while watching the film.


CHARADE (Lyric: Johnny Mercer) (Music: Henry Mancini) [Performed by Henry Mancini & His Orchestra]

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Blu-ray Image Quality – The Criterion Collection brings us a stunning superb 1080p Technicolor impressive image presentation and of course is enhanced with a wonderful 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The superb colouring, skin hues, and texture are all spot on. Even more than that, the depth of field, clarity, and black levels here are of the show-off variety. The fight between George Kennedy and Cary Grant on the American Express building or Cary Grant's brilliant "shower scene" are particularly dazzling. In the end the colours and grain are the biggest beneficiaries of this 1080p transfer from The Criterion Collection, so giving us a vibrancy of the visuals is very notable and is downright “delicious.” So all in all, the film ‘CHARADE’ finally looks totally “film-like” and I expect this will be the closest the colours come to being authentic as we are ever likely to see on this Blu-ray disc release. This high-definition digital transfer was created from the 35mm interpositive at IVC. Thousands of instances of dirt, debris, scratches, splices, warps, jitter, and flicker were manually removed using MTI's DTS system and Pixel Farm's PFClean system, while Digital Vision's DVNR system was used for small dirt, grain, and noise reduction. Telecine supervisor: Maria Palazzola. Telecine colourist: Gregg Garvin/Modern Videofilm, Los Angeles.

Blu-ray Audio Quality – The Criterion Collection brings us with a sweetened 1.0 LPCM Mono Audio presentation was remastered at 24-bit from the 35mm magnetic track. The dialogue is very clear and understandable, to every last utterance without any muffling of the sound issues. With them retaining the 1.0 LPCM Mono Audio, may not give much in terms of ambience atmosphere, but keeps all sound levels very even and the dialogue sounds very crisp. So all in all, I say well done the people at The Criterion Collection.

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Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:

Audio Commentary featuring director Stanley Donen and screenwriter Peter Stone [1995] [1080p] [1.85:1] [113:00] Here first up to introduce themselves is Stanley Donen, who informs us he produced and directed director of the film ‘CHARADE.’ Next to introduce himself is the screenwriter Peter Stone who informs that he was pleased as punch to be involved with the film ‘CHARADE,’ and was originally recorded for the original The Criterion Collection 1995 DVD release and luckily they are both in same room recording their audio commentary. Stanley Donen informs us about the first scene of the film that was very difficult, as he had to time the shot very accurately when panning the camera round when the train would arrive precisely at the right time to get that shot he wanted. They talk about the amazing title sequence and Stanley Donen talks about Auguste Capelier [Assistant art director] who produced them and also has worked on other Stanley Donen films and thinks Auguste Capelier is totally wonderful, as he has a brilliant and his visual sense is perfect, and is also a very charming person. They talk about the composer Henry Mancini and Stanley Donen chose him because he composed a wonderful composed score for the film ‘Hatari!’[1962]. As the film starts, we see the snow scene with the skiers and Stanley Donen informs us that it was in the Alps, Haute-Savoie, France and the scene with Audrey Hepburn having a meal was filmed at the Hôtel Le Mottaret and was originally owned the wealthy Rothchilds and at the time of filming it was a week before the official opening of the hotel. We are informed that the film ‘CHARADE’ was not really based on a novel, but instead it was an original screenplay and seven of them were sent to different film studios and every one of them turned them down. So Peter Stone instead wrote a novel, and then got it published, then suddenly seven film studios were clamouring to make the film, and of course as they say, the rest is history. When we see Audrey Hepburn arrive back in Paris and goes up to their apartment, they both talk about Audrey Hepburn’s beautiful luggage, which was by luggage by Louis Vuitton and the company loaned out the luggage just for the film. But as Audrey Hepburn enters their apartment we see all the rooms are 100% empty and of course we see Audrey Hepburn panicking not knowing what had happened, well we find out these rooms was filmed on the Universal Pictures film studio and both think they look beautiful. When see the Insp. Edouard Grandpierre [Jacques Marin] arrive at Audrey Hepburn’s apartment and takes her to the mortuary to identify her dead husband’s body and they inform us that the voice of the actor Jacques Marin was dubbed by an actor called Grégoire Aslan and he was fluent in English and French, but they had to use Grégoire Aslan because the actor Jacques Marin had a very strong French accent and could not be understood when trying to speak English, but despite that, both of them said that Jacques Marin was a very professional actor. They both mention what I have said loads of time with films brought out in the 1960’s of the amount of people seen smoking heavily in films, but of course in modern films you hardly see anyone smoking, which of course smoking is a very dirty unhealthy habit. They both comment on the wonderful actor Carey Grant when we see him encounter Audrey Hepburn at her empty apartment, and they both think Carey Grant always looks very modern in whatever film he appears in, and never seems old fashioned. When we get to finally see the funeral scene of her dead husband laid out, Staley Donen says that this was his favourite scene in the film, especially when all the criminal characters turn up to see if the husband is actually dead, and Stanley Donen comments on the actual scene and fears that  people possibly would not understanding what was happening in the film, especially with American audiences who usually have to be told what was happening in the film, like how they were worried no one would understand why James Coburn was sticking a mirror under a corpses nose, well when they had a group of people view the film, a five year old was watching this specific scene, and Stanley Donen asked the young girl do you know why James Coburn was sticking a mirror under a corpses nose, and the young girl said, “he is checking to see if the dead man was actually alive,” and Stanley Donen laughed about that particular incident. They both now talk about the scene when Audrey Hepburn first meets the actor Walter Matthau and inform us that this was actor Walter Matthau’s first big major picture and they thought he was a really wonderful actor and was very funny and when you see Walter Matthau eat the sandwich, because of certain problems, Walter Matthau had to eat 38 of those types of sandwiches, but the main reason Stanley Donen wanted Walter Matthau, because the director did not want a very well-known actor at the time in 1963 to appear in the film ‘CHARADE.’ Stanley Donen and Peter Stone tend to at times get into an argument, which is sort of amusing, but really there should be no recording with those argumentative moments. Stanley Donen and Peter Stone discuss another fact about the actor Walter Matthau who said he runs very funny and they both say the actor does in fact fun very funny, in fact they say he looks like a duck running. When we get to the scene of the Paris Stamp Market which is in Av. de Marigny, 75008 Paris and tthey both inform us that it appears twice a week on a Wednesday and a Saturday and on each of those days it has to be erected and dismantled and tis where Peter Stone got the idea for the plot of the film. When we get to chapter 20 where suspicious Audrey Hepburn is lured to the Colonnade in the Jardin du Palais Royal for a confrontation with the real Carson Dyle, after being chased and trying to avoid Cary Grant via the Paris Underground Metro and at that nigh time shoot at the Colonnade in the Jardin du Palais Royal Stanley Donen says that it was bitterly cold filming there and that Cary Grant and Walter Matthau wore silk underwear to keep warm, but sadly Audrey Hepburn was not able to wear any kind of warm undergarment and you can see the actress is freezing cold, then at the dramatic moment Audrey Hepburn runs into the real the Comédie Français, 2 rue de Richelieu state theatre of France, and was established by Louis XIV in 1680. But when we see the dramatic end of the film and the inside filming of a theatre, we are informed that this was filmed at another theatre in Paris. When we see Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn arrive at the American Embassy in Paris and Audrey Hepburn speaks to the Marine, he was dubbed with Stanley Donen’s voice. So about five minutes to the end of the film Audrey Hepburn finds out who the real character is Cary Grant and is really angry, but when Cary Grant proposes marriage to Audrey Hepburn, we have a very happy ending to a brilliant film. My favourite moment was when both of them argue over whether the one big twist in the film should be given away, and Peter Stone comments by saying that that if the audience is listening to the audio commentary then that means they must have already watched the film and Stanley Donen saying that might not be the case and should not contemplate listening to this audio commentary, but instead they should first watch the film. Sometimes I also like some of the semi-put-downs from each other as they throw in such as when Peter Stone states he wrote a certain shot to which Stanley Donen replies “You can't write a shot, Peter!” It’s quite a fun audio commentary that sometimes offers a lot of information about the film’s production and is one of the few filmmakers’ audio commentaries that can be just as entertaining as the film itself they are talking about, so it is well worth listening to. But all in all, this audio commentary is really worth listening to, as you get to hear lots of rare information about the filming of ‘CHARADE’ and also lots of background information how the film ‘CHARADE’ came to be made.

Theatrical Trailer [1963] [480i] [1.37:1] [3:00] This is the Original Theatrical Trailer for the film ‘CHARADE.’ Sadly it is not in its right aspect ratio and the print is incredibly dirty for a film trailer that goes for a bit of dark humour and irony. As a nice bonus, we get a very tongue in cheek narration from the the actor Cary Grant.

PLUS: A beautiful 16-page illustrated booklet containing a new essay by film historian Bruce Eder, entitled “THE SPY IN GIVENCHY." Bruce Eder is a long-time journalist, film writer, and audio/video producer, whose work has appeared in the Village Voice, Newsday, Current Biography, Interview, and the Oxford American and is a frequent contributor to The Criterion Collection and has recorded audio commentaries for more than two dozen films. We are also informed, ABOUT THE TRANSFER; SPECIAL THANKS; ACKNOWLEDGMENTS and PRODUCTION CREDITS.

Finally, ‘CHARADE’ gives the actors Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn time to really shine in an outstanding performance, especially when acting together in certain scenes and to combine a mighty force. Throw in some fun, sometimes some really hilarious fun, a mysterious script, and you get the magic formula that is the film ‘CHARADE,’ which also gives you an extra special spy thriller that is on par with some of today's spy genre thrillers. At the time of The Criterion Collection release marks the first time this title got a Blu-ray release. Stanley Donen's ‘CHARADE’ is one of the great entertainments of the 1960’s. While there are lots of clever twists and turns around every corner, the plot has some flaws, but hey who cares, because the film ‘CHARADE’ is totally entertaining, very funny, and features two of the greatest Hollywood film stars of all time. Watch it and see why it is a firm favourite with fans all around the world of the two actors Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn, who work so well together and on top of all that, the film is notable for its notable screenplay, and especially the repartee between Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn, and for having the setting of being filmed on location in the romantic city of Paris. On top of all that we have the brilliant Henry Mancini's film music score and especially the theme song, and on top of all that we have the brilliant animated titles by Maurice Binder. As an added bonus, the film ‘CHARADE’ received generally positive reviews from critics, and was additionally noted to contain influences of genres such as a whodunit, a screwball comedy and a spy thriller and rightly finds its way onto this brilliant Blu-ray disc that is equally in giving us a spectacular visual transfer, and finally presents the film in a true championship level image presentation courtesy of the unrivalled The Criterion Collection and has now gone pride of place in my other Criterion Collection Blu-ray discs. Very Highly Recommended!

Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Aficionado 
Le Cinema Paradiso 
United Kingdom

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