#10 of 501: Charade


I’ll bet that you thought that Cindy and I had given up on watching movies from the book 501 Must-See Movies. I had pretty much given up as well. But the other night I was able to convince Cindy to watch something other than a British murder mystery. I love them too; but I also like a little variety, leavened with a hearty dose regularity, in my life. I don’t do tacos every Tuesday, but I do watch an episode of Pie In The Sky with my lunch on most Mondays.

Sorry about that digression. We watched another favorite from my youth, Charade. The stars are Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn. Having Walter Matthau, James Coburn, George Kennedy and others in the film didn’t hurt. It was released in 1963, and I remember going to see the film when I was in high school. Those were innocent years when the characters had to explain what the CIA was, and soon enough after WWII that the plot was plausible.

The screenplay by Peter Stone is a melange of comedy, mystery, suspense, and love story. Most of the comedic heavy lifting goes to Grant, who was a master, but Matthau’s character also had some brilliant moments. I don’t want to give too much away, but if you saw the 2002 movie The Truth About Charlie you know how Charade ends. My own taste prefers Cary Grant to Mark Wahlberg and Audrey Hepburn to Thandie Newton, but I’m a geezer.

I read that Charade started as a screenplay that Peter Stone couldn’t sell, so he adapted it to a novel. Once it was in novel form and selling, he was able to sell the screenplay. When I was younger I never bothered to check the writing credits on films, so when I read the novel I remember thinking that the movie had been very faithful to the book. Now I know that it was the other way around.

OK. Ten down and four hundred ninety-one to go.