1. Cary Grant
2. Audrey Hepburn
3. Together at last! Oh how I wish they had made more films together, but at least we have this one. The two most beautiful and elegant stars the movies have ever known – seeing them together is pure bliss.
4. Groovy opening titles by Maurice Binder. Next to the titles for 1967’s Two For the Road (also by Binder) the opening to Charade is my favorite. I never, ever fast forward through it. Along with the marvelous score by the great Henry Mancini, this title sequence sets the mood of the movie perfectly.
5. Beautiful, romantic early 1960s Paris. The city is as much a star in this picture as Grant and Hepburn, even if it wasn’t billed above the title. The first time I went to Paris I hoped it would still look like it did in Charade. It was 2000, so though it was beautiful it wasn’t quite like this, of course. Plus Cary Grant wasn’t with me, and one always wants Cary Grant along when visiting Paris.
6. Miss Hepburn’s wardrobe by GIVENCHY. I get a thrill when I see that come up during the credits. From the mink pullover and hat she wears at the ski resort in Megève, to the many starkly simple but utterly luxurious couture coats and suits she ventures all over Paris in, I’m in love with every look. The movie was made in 1963, when hats (oh, the lovely pillboxes, and best of all the awesome leopard turban) and gloves were still de riguer for ladies, but in some of these clothes (especially the orangey dress and coat Audrey wears while running through the Metro) you can see hints of the Mod look to come.
7. Cary Grant being a badass. He was almost sixty when filming this movie, but he is still thrilling to watch in action scenes like the fight on the roof of the American Express, or his chase through the Paris Metro in search of Audrey Hepburn. He was getting older, but he still had the agility and strength to kick butt when necessary. No wonder he was everyone’s first choice to play James Bond.
8. Cary Grant being silly. For all its suspense and mystery, Charade is a wonderful comedy, too. The bad guys are all funny, Audrey Hepburn is funny, and most of all Cary Grant is funny. Whether being squirted in the face by a water pistol, awkwardly rolling an orange over a buxom matron’s bosom with his chin (the look on his face during that scene is priceless!), or taking a fully-clothed shower, the Cary Grant wit and physically comedic goofiness we’ve loved since The Awful Truth is still there.
9. L’amour, toujours l’amour. So Audrey Hepburn plays a newly widowed (albeit unhappily married) woman. So she and Cary Grant only know each other a few days before getting engaged. So what? How could they not fall in love with each other? They’re Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn, and they’re in Paris! I love seeing her chase after him. Cary Grant thought he was too old to portray someone pursuing a young woman, so the script was re-written so that Audrey’s character was the aggressor. And who can blame her for wanting him? He’s dreamy. As Audrey’s Regina Lampert tells Cary’s Peter Joshua, “Do you know what’s wrong with you? Nothing.”
10. The final scene. It makes me grin no matter how many times I see it. “I love you Adam, Alex, Peter, Brian, whatever your name is. I love you. I hope we have lots of boys so we can name them all after you.” The whole thing’s just so silly and romantic.
Cary Grant only made two more movies after this one, and Audrey Hepburn’s years of movie making would for the most part come to an end in just a few more years too, so thank heavens the two of them got together just in time. Thank you, Stanley Donen, for putting these two most perfect movie stars in this most perfect movie.