Beginning with a corpse being heaved from a moving train, Stanley Donen takes his players through a chase in the city of Paris, guided by a hip Henry Mancini score and colorful Charles Lang Jr. photography. At the center is $250,000, which a trio of cartoonish thieves (one with a hook for a hand!) are after, believing Reggie’s (Audrey Hepburn) now-dead husband to have stolen it from them while on a raid during World War.
Having little knowledge of even her husband’s middle initial--let alone $250,000 in gold stored in the house--Reggie confides in Walter Matthau’s CIA agent Bartholomew, despite a suspicious mustache, and Cary Grant’s Peter Joshua, even though he switches pseudonyms every afternoon. Each male character stamps themselves suspect so consistently that we start to question whether doe-eyed Reggie herself knows where the $250,000 is. Try to find another movie that makes us distrust sweet Audrey like this!
By 1963, Hepburn had appeared onscreen with the likes of Gregory Peck, Humphrey Bogart and Fred Astaire. At the same point, Grant had teamed with Ingrid Bergman, Grace Kelly and Deborah Kerr. But this, their only pairing, is one of the key successes in both the picture and the careers of the actors, who engage in the lyrical Peter Stone-penned riposte like only a perfect duo can.
From the opening titles by Maurice Binder (most famous for his James Bond film openings, including the much-spoofed gun barrel sequence) to the final reveal(s), Charade is one of the wittiest, slickest, classiest, and swiftest guessing games in cinema history.
Original theatrical trailer.
Also included with this Criterion Collection Blu-ray is 12-page booklet featuring an essay titled “The Spy in Givenchy” by journalist, film-writer and audio/video producer Bruce Eder.