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Charade the Movie – Alfred Hitchcock Directing Style

As I have done in my other articles, where I didn’t give a synopsis of the plot, I will try to address the relevance of the movie without summarizing the plot of the film.

Charade the Movie was made in 1963, It was adapted by Peter Stone from a short story, “The Unsuspecting Wife”. The short story was coauthored by Peter Stone and Marc Behm a couple of years before the movie was made. In retrospect, it is hard to believe that these writers had a hard time finding a studio that would produce their story. This story is that good.

The movie, Charade, came around the end of the “Golden age of movies”. It became increasingly difficult to compete with television. Even air-conditioned movie theaters were not a draw, due to the fact that more and more American homes were equipped with air-conditioning. Since around 87% of American homes are now air-conditioned, we take air-conditioning in our homes for granted today. Sixty percent of Americans rarely or never go to the movies.

Just think, there was a time when sixty percent of the population went to the movies every week.

One of the things that helped make this move a great movie was its director and the directing style he employed.

More on the Alfred Hitchcock Directing Style

Director Stanley Donen

Hitchcock

Although directed by Stanley Donen, this movie definitely has the Alfred Hitchcock directing style. Some have even said Charade 1963 is the best Hitchcock movie that Hitchcock never made. It has Hitchcockian themes:

  • Suspense
  • Climatic plot twists
  • Characters who cannot be trusted
  • Tension building through uncertainty to the point where the audience likes seeing the character in a life-threatening position
  • Comedy

All of that is here. In fact because of all of these elements and others, I even thought that Alfred Hitchcock was the director. That’s before I looked at the directing credit. My mistake.
Stanley Donen did a superb job and he used many of Hitchcock’s techniques. I invite any of you to leave comments, especially if you want to add to the things I have stated in this posting.

Stanley Donen also was the producer and chose the cast with meticulous care.

Probably the best casting that could have been accomplished

Let’s look at the stars above the tittle:

  • Cary Grant
    • Although he was 58 at their time of shooting, he appears to be much younger. However, not as young as his co-star.
    • Cary was wary of being 25 years older than his co-star. He asked that his love interest be the pursuer in the script. And that idea worked like a charm
  • Audrey Hepburn
    • This time she was beautiful and sophisticated from the start of the movie instead of being a plain Jane at the beginning of the film and turning out to be a beauty.
    • She was witty and charming.

The list of stars continues even after the tittle:

  • Walter Matthau
    • His character used an alias, but the audience and the other characters in the story are not aware of until an unexpected twist toward the end of the movie.
  • James Coburn
    • His rugged features made him a perfect match as one of the villains in the story.
  • George Kennedy
    • A rugged looking guy who was very convincing when playing the no nonsense ruthless criminal that he portrayed in Charade.
  • Ned Glass
    • Ned Glass was perfectly cast as the cunning, nervous, and deceitful bad guy paired with two other villains.

Setting – The City of Love

Everyone knows Paris is the city of love and romance. The Scenery is breathtaking.
One notable and extremely romantic scene takes place on an after dark river cruise on the Seine through Paris.

Comedy – Another of Hitchcock’s recurring themes

Please note that the director is Stanley Donen,  not Alfred Hitchcock.

I could really put some spoilers in here.

But I will give only one example of the comedy that is found throughout Charade

  • When these two strangers meet:
    • The man is saying matter of factly, “…do we know each other?”
    • The woman coyly replies, “Why, do you think we’re going to?”
    • To which he then says, “I don’t know, how would I know?”
    • Then she says, “….until one of them dies, I couldn’t possibly meet anyone else.”

Charade 1963 Has it all

  • Mystery
  • Suspense
  • Drama
  • Plot TWISTS
  • Romance
  • Comedy
  • And a very surprising ending

In short, Charade 1963 is complete entertainment that is full of surprises, and I sincerely hope that you will agree.

Dane

Dane

10 Comments

  1. Thank you for the post. I love the movies played by Audrey Hepburn. She was so beautiful and I was never tired of watch her performance.

    Paris is my favorite city and it is full of love and romance. I have been Paris five times and every time I found something unique about the city. 

    Seeing the romantic city of Paris by boat is my number one choose. The river cruises allow you to take in many of highlights of the city – the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame etc. 

    I certainly agree with you that Charade 1963 is one the best entertainment. It is kind of you sharing this with us.

    • Thank you Anthony.  I understand that Charade 1963 is a movie that you yourself have seen and appreciate as much as I do.

      Dane. 

  2. Hello Dane, I must say that this article is very helpful and informative. Alfred Hitchcock was definitely one of my favorite film producers as his films are truly a true masterpiece. I still watch some of his movies like Psycho. I did not watch Charade so far but I think that Alfred did not make any mistake in that movie. Thank you for sharing such great piece of text, keep going.

    • I hope you do watch Charade sometime. 

      Somehow, however, I failed to make it clear that Alfred Hitchcock did not direct or produce Charade. Stanley Donen did.  Thank you for helping me. I may edit the posting so that who the director is stands out clearly.

      Dane

  3. Thank you for this post.

    I must admit, I haven’t seen this film yet.  I remember, way back, seeing The Birds as a child and liking it but really haven’t kept up on Alfred Hitchcock’s accomplishments.  That said, I know Charade was not one of his.

    I’m curious, did Stanley Donan get kudos or criticisms for his directing style (i.e. acclaim or “you copy cat”)?

    The cast list is impressive, that’s for sure.

    Since you say it has it all, I think I’ll see if I can’t find it somewhere and give it a look.

    Thanks again,

    Scott 

    • I’m certain that you will enjoy viewing Charade even more than reading about it.

      Thank you again,

      Dane

  4. I love this old movie, Charade!  Great plot, excellent acting, a stud director, and the patterns of Alfred Hitchcock!  Everything about this review sums it up nicely.  It’s hard to believe 60 percent of the public were watching movies in the 60s.  And now it’s like less than 40 percent.  Of course with access to everything on your mobile device or computer, it’s hard for the movie theaters to compete.  Thanks for this informative review.

    Jay

    • Stanley Donen was that stud director. His style embraced much of Alfred Hitchcock’s.

      Thanks,

      Dane

  5. I love the idea of the play and most importantly the set of characters which you have described in this post. In art, when conveying a message, no matter how good a message it can be to the world, if not properly presented to all, it will not be appreciated at all. And that is why frm your description of character, I am having a really nice link with the play. Villains will best be villians when the character persona looks like a villain. But most importantly I must commend your control not to give out the plot which makes me thirsty for the play. I’ll love to see this movie.

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