Charade is a movie that falls into several genres – it’s a romantic comedy, a mystery, and a thriller with a fair dose of action – but its standout characteristic is how perfectly it fits into each and every one of them. This effortless blend of multiple genres is something that Hollywood has been trying (and largely failing) to recapture ever since.
Starring Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant, the pair have an undeniable chemistry that speaks to their lasting legacy as two of the greatest actors of their generation, but their playful back and forth is just one part of what makes Charade such a classic.
Proceedings become interesting almost immediately, with Hepburn’s timeless grace taking its place at the forefront of the movie, offset by Grant’s clean-cut charm as the plot begins to unfold.
While skiing in the Alps, Regina Lampert (Hepburn) decides to divorce her husband Charles, but she returns home to Paris only to find her home stripped bare and her husband gone. She is soon informed that her husband was murdered while running with the money from selling all their worldly possessions, and from here, Lampert is drawn into a high-stakes caper to recover the missing $250,000 that her husband stashed before his untimely death.
It might sound a little run-of-the-mill by today’s standards, but Charade is every bit as confident in its ability to entertain as it is genuinely thrilling. With an impressive cast of ’60s icons co-starring, including James Coburn, Walter Matthau and George Kennedy, Charade is tightly written and brilliantly acted, all set against the gorgeous backdrop of the hotels, bars and streets of Paris.
The central mystery of the plot is filled with exciting and innovative twists and turns that feel truly authentic, with more than a little clever misdirection being slipped in throughout. Charade somehow carries the feel of an old noir movie, bolstered by an injection of whimsy and colourful character that keeps the whole movie lighthearted despite a reasonably high body count.
Charade was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song, and both Grant and Hepburn were nominated for BAFTAs and Golden Globes for their performances – the latter winning her BAFTA – meaning that not only is this is movie unbelievably good fun, but it’s also critically acclaimed to boot.
Summary: A lighthearted mystery caper with a heavy romantic comedy undercurrent, Charade is one of the greatest examples of genre-blending in all of cinema’s long history. Its stars and their electric chemistry elevates a solid story to impressive heights, and Charade holds up incredibly when judged against its modern contemporaries.