Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Overlooked Movies: Charade

I know what you're thinking.  You're thinking, "How could a movie with Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn be overlooked?"  I agree, but maybe there's somebody reading this who hasn't see the movie.  It's a lot of fun.

To begin with you have the leads, Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant.  Hepburn is about to divorce her husband, and Grant is the suave, mysterious stranger.  Hepburn returns to Paris to find her husband murdered and herself mixed up in a plot to recover $250,000 in stolen Nazi gold.  Three men are after it, and they believe Hepburn has it.  They are bad guys, indeed (George Kennedy, James Coburn, Ned Glass).  Somehow Grant is mixed up in it, too, and he's clearly not to be trusted. He's very inventive, however, and every time Hepburn discovers that he's not who he says he is, he very plausibly claims to be someone else.  This happens often.  The CIA, represented by Walter Matthau, is also in on the game.

Hepburn doesn't have the stolen gold and has no idea where it is.  That doesn't matter to the bad guys.  They're going to keep after her.  And they they start getting killed.  Is someone else is in on the game, too?  And who the hell is Cary Grant, really?

There's plenty of scenery, witty banter, action, and mystery here.  Plus music by Henry Mancini.  If you're looking for topnotch light entertainment, this is it.

Peter Stone, who wrote the screenplay, also published the novel version.  It's a Gold Medal book, and I read it 50 years or so ago.  I'm pretty sure I liked it.


Jeff Meyerson said...

Not overlooked by me. It's been a favorite for over 50 years (and yes, I read the book too). And there are three Supporting Actor Oscar winners (Kennedy, Matthau, and Coburn) doing memorable turns, not to mention the glories of Paris.

Toby O'B said...

I think it's the best Hitchcock movie that Hitchcock never made.

Mike Doran said...

George Kennedy was on record saying that of all his movies, CHARADE was his personal favorite.

Not just because he was in it, but because it was " ... a gorgeous mystery ...".

Kennedy was a major mystery buff; he knew the goods when he saw it.

As do we all, here.

Unknown said...

Which reminds me: Has anyone read any of George Kennedy's mystery novels (actually written by Walt Sheldon)?

Randy Clark said...

About 15 years ago there was a theater in Dallas that paid no rent because the shopping plaza owner was convinced a theater was vital to the success of the plaza. Because he payed no rent and only 1/2 of his utility bills, the theater owner showed anything he darn well pleased without much regard for how many tickets he sold. Which is how I got to see Charade on a big screen in 2002.

Unknown said...

That was a good deal.

Jeff Meyerson said...

I had one of the "George Kennedy" mysteries but never did read it.

Unknown said...

Same here. If I'd known Walt Sheldon wrote them, I'd have collected them.

Mike Doran said...

There were only two George Kennedy novels published; I've got both of them.

In an interview with Ric Meyers in THE ARMCHAIR DETECTIVE, Kennedy said that he had a third one "in the computer" that he might not finish; for whatever reason, he didn't (he mentioned distribution problems with Avon, which published the first two).

George Kennedy also was co-credited with writing a two-part episode of BENSON, which had a whodunit element. The other writers were BENSON's showrunners, Bob Fraser and Rob Dames; Kennedy guest-starred as himself.

Several years ago, George Kennedy appeared at a nostalgia show in Chicago, selling autographs. I got him to sign one of the books, MURDER ON LOCATION; if I hadn't been short on cash, I would have gotten him to sign the other one, MURDER ON HIGH, as well.
This was when Kennedy's health was starting to go, and his minder cautioned against trying to engage in conversation with him. I observed protocol: I paid, George signed, we shook hands, he said "Thanks, pal!", and there you have it.

I have read both books. If they are indeed ghost jobs, they're really good ones - I could hear Kennedy's voice as I read (appropriately, since they're written in first person).

"More Than You Wanted To Know" will return ...

Unknown said...

Good stuff. I'm not 100% sure that Kennedy didn't write the books, but I've always heard that Sheldon wrote them. I enjoyed Sheldon's work for Gold Medal books. He's one of those forgotten but very good writers.

Mike Doran said...

In one of the novels, George Kennedy acknowledges Walt Sheldon as his "literary coach"; take that as you will (Steve Allen gave Sheldon a similar call-out in his first by-lined mystery, THE TALK SHOW MURDERS).

In 2011, Kennedy put out a memoir, TRUST ME, which is worth seeking out. George's memory is starting to slip here and there, but his stories are interesting, sometimes funny, and occasionally compelling. (He makes no mention of his fling at mystery writing; take THAT as you will ...)

Some while back, George Kennedy made a brief appearance on THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS, playing Eric Braeden's evil father.
Last week, Y&R ran some of that scene as a flashback, as a tribute to an actor who was admired and loved by his fellows.
You can't ask for more than that.

Oh, did I remember to mention that I liked CHARADE a lot?

Unknown said...

That shout-out might be where the story about Sheldon's ghost work got started. I didn't know about Steve Allen. Sheldon was a busy guy.

Don Coffin said...

One of my 10 favorite movies of all time. Smart script, brilliantly cast (especially the bad guys) and acted, great locations, well directed. And more twists than a Slinky toy.