At a time when the women’s liberation movement was picking up steam, Hollywood was changing the kinds of stories they told, and some of films most beloved personalities were aging and leaving the spotlight, the stars aligned perfectly for Stanley Donen to make the incredibly charming “Charade”. Both a send-up of James Bond films and a genuinely engaging mystery, “Charade” was the perfect film at the perfect time.
The story revolves around a young woman (played by the graceful and immensely likeable Audre… Hepburn) who finds that her husband has been murdered, and that the people who are responsible now want something from her… only she doesn’t know what it is. One man (played by the dashing Cary Grant) emerges to help her, but even he may not be who he appears. The whole mismatched crew rambles along together, in an attempt to discover what, and where, this elusive mystery item is… before it’s too late.
This Hitchcockian story is a success on many levels, from the excellent cast, to the witty script, to the genuine excitement and suspense that it conveys. “Charade” is a film that should not be missed.
Only one audio option is presented here, the original English Mono. Surprisingly, this track is quite good, even by Stereo standards. Imaging is flawless, as each individual sound is distinguishable and clear. The volume range is wide, and the dialog is crisp. There is some minor background static in some of the quieter scenes, but overall this is a surprisingly full Mono soundtrack. Warm up that center channel, because it’s going to be doing some overtime!
The picture quality on this Criterion offering is a perfect complement to the audio. While there are some blemishes here that are from the original source material, the viewer is treated to a wonderful Widescreen transfer overall. The color is superb, with deep blacks and vibrant whites. This is a first-rate restoration, and subsequent transfer to disc. Somebody worked overtime to get this one just right.
There is an interesting array of special features included on this disc. The original Theatrical Trailer is here, along with the thoughtful addition of Color Bars, so the viewer may set-up his/her TV to take full advantage of the wonderful picture quality. Also included here is a text section consisting of “The Films of Stanley Donen”, and “Peter Stone Career Highlights”. Lastly, we have a feature length commentary by Donen and Stone, which is an immensely fascinating piece on the filming, locations and casting of the film. Also discussed here is the state of Hollywood in the early 1960’s, making this a great history lesson as well.
This is a wonderful film, and the disc is a worthy companion. If you are planning to purchase “Charade” on DVD, the Criterion Collection version is definitely the one to invest in. The restored film is in great shape, and the fascinating commentary is the icing on the cake.
Special Features List
- Audio Commentary
- “The Films of Stanley Donen”
- “Peter Stone Career Highlights”
- Color bars