CHARADE

   

For Hicksflicks.com, Friday, Feb. 27, 2015

There are lots of movies by other directors that have been done in the style of Alfred Hitchcock — including such highly entertaining efforts as “The Prize,” “Last Embrace” and three different remakes of “The 39 Steps.”

But the best — no arguments, please — is “Charade” (1963), starring Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn.

“Charade” was directed by Stanley Donen, a veteran of MGM’s “Dream Factory” whose credits include some of the best movie musicals made during the 1950s — “Singin’ in the Rain,” “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers,” “Funny Face,” etc.

But Donen also directed a number of comedies, and in the mid-1960s a pair of thrillers, first “Charade,” then three years later, “Arabesque,” with Gregory Peck and Sophia Loren — which is also quite Hitchcockian.

But “Charade” is completely magical in casting its spell as both a hilarious comedy and a suspenseful mystery-thriller.

Hepburn plays a Paris resident whose life is turned upside-down when her estranged husband is killed. She attends to the funeral arrangements and is later approached by Grant, who becomes a protector of sorts. Especially after she is threatened by three men (James Coburn, George Kennedy, Ned Glass) who believe she has the money they stole during World War II in league with her late husband.

   

      George Kennedy, left, and Cary Grant in 'Charade'

She also meets a CIA agent (Walter Matthau) who tells her that the money in question was derived from gold intended for the French Resistance, and now the U.S. government wants it back. He also seems to suspect that Hepburn knows more than she is telling.

But she doesn’t. And she becomes even more confused when Grant’s identity and allegiances come under suspicion several times. Hepburn is attracted to Grant but doesn’t know if she should trust him.

    

It all comes to a head in a very clever way — and the film’s enormous entertainment value never lets up for a minute, bolstered by location filming in the City of Lights and a wonderful score by Henry Mancini.

And now’s your chance to see it on the big screen as it plays at various Cinemark theaters on Sunday, March 1, at 2 p.m., and on Wednesday, March 4, at 2 and 7 p.m.