6. Charade (1963)
Stanley Donen’s film is regarded as “the best Hitchcock movie that Hitchcock never directed”, but that statement is like calling Pepsi the best soda that Coca-Cola did not manufacture back when it first came out. Basically, other films have snatched its throne. Regina Lampert is beautiful, cosmopolitan woman on the verge of divorcing her estranged husband. Her plans are spoiled though when it is revealed that her husband was recently assassinated. Unbeknownst to Lampert, her husband was a CIA agent that possessed a $250,000 loot intended to be shared between three other men.
These men mourn the agent’s death with the intention of recovering their shares by forcing it out of the deceased’s wife. The problem, though, is that Lampert has no recollection of any substantial amount of money that her husband may have left behind. The only person on Lampert’s side is Cary Grant, but even his intentions are dubious.
The film offers no psychological analysis or experiment that could grant its status as Hitchcockian, which is why the quote above may only be slightly accurate. If not, then certainly outdated. Similarities include the countless elements of surprise, the constant identity switcheroos by Cary Grant, and the question pounding everybody’s head – where is the money?
However, the film is predominantly a romantic-thriller. The audience is dragged into the storyline mainly to enjoy Cary Grant’s and Audrey Hepburn’s on-screen chemistry. The mystery is only a sub-plot, but it would be inadequate not including a film renowned by its Hitchcockian influence in the countdown. Nevertheless, the twists and turns are sizzling – albeit light – and worthy of its Hitchcockian ‘moniker’. And how could a suave Cary Grant and an innocent Audrey Hepburn possibly never work out together?
This article was first posted on March 24, 2013