August 17, 2009

Charade (1963)

My Ratings:
Production Design (wardrobe/hair+makeup & set design & milieu) = 8
Performances/Direction = 9

Here's a fun, quick one for you: Charade starring Audrey Hepburn, Cary Grant, and Walter Matthau. This is my favorite of Audrey Hepburn's "romantic comedies" even though I think most people would vote for Roman Holiday, Breakfast at Tiffany's, Funny Face, My Fair Lady, or even Sabrina. I think it's my favorite primarily because her co-star is Cary Grant and no one carries a romantic comedy like Mr. Cary Grant!

It's interesting because Cary Grant was 59 when they film was made and Audrey Hepburn was only 33. He was really reluctant to star with Hepburn because he thought the huge age difference would make their on-screen romantic potential ridiculous and so he agreed to do it only if they made it clear in the script (by inserting lots of jokes about their ages) that it was Hepburn's character pursuing him and not the other way around (because otherwise he'd just come off as a dirty old man). Well, irregardless, I'm really glad that they did work together because they had amazing chemistry and I saw absolutely no reason why Hepburn's character wouldn't fall head-over-heels for the irresistible and charming older gentleman, even if he's 26 years her senior. I certainly would have!

The film starts off with "Regina Lampert" (Hepburn) at a ski resort where she meets a handsome stranger who calls himself "Peter Joshua" (Grant). They make a few quips, and she reveals to him that she's going back to Paris to get a divorce.

Peter Joshua: Is there a Mr. Lampert?
Regina Lampert: Yes, but we're getting a divorce.
Peter Joshua: Please, not on my account!
Regina Lampert: Oh no, you see, I don't really love him.
Peter Joshua: Oh, well, at least you're honest.
Regina Lampert: Is there a Mrs. Joshua?
Peter Joshua: Oh yes, but we're divorced.
Regina Lampert: Oh, that wasn't a proposal. I'm just curious.


On her return, she discovers her Paris apartment to be in complete shambles and everything has been stolen. The police then tell her that her husband has been murdered.
notice the Louis Vuitton luggage:

At the funeral it becomes apparent that her husband has quite a few enemies and was carrying out some shady activities on the side, of which she knew nothing until now.
love her mourning hat's large bowlset netting

She then receives a letter from the CIA and meets with "Agent Bartholomew" (Matthau). He tells her that her husband and a group of other Allied soldiers were ordered to parachute behind enemy lines to deliver $250,000 in gold to the French Resistance. Instead they kept it for themselves and buried it. Her husband later betrayed his band of thieves by digging it up, selling it, and pocketing the money for himself. They obviously found out, hunted him down, and in the process of trying to coax out the hidden stash, killed him. With the man gone but no evidence of the money, his buddies now think Regina has it or at least, knows where it's hidden so they're coming after her too!


Here is Regina, entering Agent Bartholomew's office.
Love her leopard print hat and red wool coat paired with long black leather gloves, a small croc purse and matching black croc kitty heal pumps.

A close-up of her leopard print hat. Her hair is done up in that huge beehive style so it looks like the hat is this huge, rigid cone but it's actually not. It collapses like a normal beanie.

Regina and Agent Bartholomew in deep discussion at a cafe.
Note: Tiled mural in the background. Oh, how I miss Parisian cafes!

Peter Joshua - that stranger she met at the ski resort - "coincidentally" shows up and helps her. The couple begin to spend a great deal of time together and it's just so much fun watching Regina and Peter exchange witty quips and playful glances.

Here is the same red coat we saw earlier. She is now clutching her leopard print hat under her arm. They're watching a children's marionette show in the park. Btw, are you noticing the shady man in the hat and mustache in the background? Hilarious!

Love her red wool dress suit (this is a different red outfit from the one above) and her white hat+gloves+pearl earrings. She wears a lot of jackets/blazers/coats with 3/4 length sleeves, which I think it's nice b/c then you can really show off your gloves, especially if they have nice button details.

Mustard colored coat with black buttons. Btw, that green booth in the background says "Vrai Gvignolet." It's the small theatre where they watched a Punch 'n Judy show earlier. It's located in the Jardins des Champs Élysées and surprisingly enough, you can still catch the marionette show there now on certain afternoons (Wednesday, Saturday, & Sundays).

Same white hat+gloves but worn with a navy dress suit this time. And I believe that's a Chanel purse.

The little black dress that made her famous. Actually I think she looks painfully thin here, really emaciated.

Here's a few more shots of Regina by herself.

Cute light tan wool coat with a matching hat.

Simple but chic white wool dress with black belt. It is supposed to be fall/winter after all.

Hilarious attempt at being a sleuth. Classic trench, headscarf handkerchief, and huge sunglasses.

The film ends with a thrilling chase scene that begins in the metro...

Btw, don't you just LOVE the vintage metro cars back then? How beautiful!

...and continues through the colonnade of the Palais-Royal...

...and finally climaxes inside the theatre Comédie-Française.

I won't spoil the ending for you but it's truly a wonderful film. It managed to cheer me up this weekend after that disastrous interview experience last week. I couldn't help but laugh and laugh throughout the whole thing. There are a few films I always go to whenever I need to smile again and this is one of them. I highly recommend it!

By the way, this is a sort of an awkward insert (it does have relevance in the story though, I just didn't know where to fit in into my description above) but I had to share it because 1) the boy is cute beyond words in his little tweed jacket and cornflower blue sweater 2) the huge autumn leaf makes me ache for October to hurry up and get here already and 3) the plaid seat covers suddenly seem like a good idea for my old VW Beetle. Makes it cozy, don't you think?



I'm renting this from Netflix right away! I had started to watch it once before and think I thought it was going to be too serious, but now I am excited!

one of my all-time favorites! givenchy wardrobe is, in this movie's case, narrowly escape getting killed for! i've been meaning to listen to stanley donen's commentary on this, which is supposed to be really wonderful.

this movie is eminently quotable too:
"how do you shave in there?"

"do you know what your problem is?... nothing"

"when you come on, you come on"
"so, come on..."

so friggin' adorable!

Norine - it's definitely NOT serious! It's a dark comedy and it's great.

Josephine - ARGH! My dvd doesn't have a commentary!! It must be an old one. Now I must go track that new one down.

I haven't seen this one. I am amazed at how many funnelnecks/ mandarin-type collars she wears. That white wool dress is so lovely, and it's fun to see the french dart in real life -- my vintage patterns from the 60's have french darts but since I've never sewn one, i have no clue to how to alter french darts for fit... so I appreciate the elegance but have no confidence I could get one of those dresses to fit! Maybe I'll have to try one for fall....

I actually just saw this one on the weekend. I love how at the end the screen breaks up and goes into various moments in the film, it just kinda brought it all back quite well.

I have to agree with Josephine with the quotes, my favourite is the "When you come on, you come on" and when delivered by Cary Grant, it actually does seem romantice. Loved that they played that orange game at the restaurant as well.

I'm in Australia at the moment, so we're actually seeing bits of Spring appear after a long cold Winter, but I do love our Autumns!

Yet another excellent post! I have a red coat and even a vintage leopard pillbox hat -- I must muster the guts to don it on top of my head. Your post has inspired me!

(I mentioned 'Charade' in one of my posts back in June on Alpine Chic and why haven't we brought that look back.)

Keep going. I know I always seem to say that same comment, but I think your blog is fantastic.

soodie - Oh, is that what they're called, "pillbox hats?" i knew there must've been a more official term! I think the coats, dress suits, and dresses she wears can be easily "brought back" without looking too much out of line with current fashions, especially since vintage is a hip new trend now. But the pillbox hat...yeah, that can raise some eyebrows.

Also, thanks for all your encouragement! Your kind words always brighten my day!

Well, actually the leopard hat looks more like a turban to me since it accommodated that towering hairstyle. A pillbox is more of a, well, think of a round cake pan and then flip it over; it had stiffer sides so that it would keep it's shape.

Perhaps Givenchy gave her so many mandarin collars to hide her neck and collarbone, which when viewed with her arms revealed how thin she was?

I do presentations at a vintage theater/movie house in Rochester, NY, and I introduced this movie last year. One interesting bit of trivia...Audrey was FREEEEEZING during the chase scene. The weather had become extremely cold and she was (as always) thin, with no protective curves! Cary Grant reported that she was just painfully cold throughout...what a trouper!

@Isaspacey - Yeah, Audrey was terribly gaunt...

@Marline - Oooh, that's so awesome! Lucky you!! I've never been to Rochester but I hear it's lovely up there. Which vintage theater is this? I should put it on my list of places to check out!

Also, I don't remember where I heard this quote but I vaguely recollect Cary Grant saying something to the effect of "I don't like skinny women" but he was referring to Katherine Hepburn at the time. I think he was half-joking but your comments about Audrey being so thin just reminded me of that.

One of my all time fav movies too. Carry and Audrey - so glad Carry did not turn this down as he almost did.

I was looking for pictures of scenes from this movie, and came across this site. In particular Audrey at the colonnade Jardin du Palais.

I love the movie and the qoutes! May I add one? James Colburn ... "Come on man. Look, my momma didn't raise no stupid children."

So stylish! I love the clothes, the locations, the pacing, the dialogue. The chemistry!

Did you know Cary Grant was offered Henry Higgins opposite Audrey in My Fair Lady? (There is a line referencing MFL as they get off the hotel elevator.) As much as there is to admire about Rex Harrison's performance, I ache to see what CG & AH would have come up with paired again.

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