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The Silver Screen: Charade

Posted August 29, 2011 04:35 AM by Robert Siegel



Note: The comments section for The Silver Screen has been eliminated. You can now discuss this and other Silver Screen columns on the new Silver Screen forum Here

It's more apparent than ever that there were no limits to the entertainment heights that could be reached on the screen by Cary Grant or Audrey Hepburn. Just when audiences were certain they had achieved the ultimate, both stars popped up with something that became a major success called Charade. A thoroughly enthralled audience at the pre-screening held in November of 1963 agreed unanimously (judging by the comment cards) that this Universal release was Cary at his best, Audrey at her finest, and great storytelling. From its polished opening shots at the ski resort at Megeve in the Swiss Alps to its amour in Paris, Charade as produced and directed by Stanley Donen was a cinematic charmer that has kept its popularity over the years.



In Paris in the Spring a sinister mystery, inscrutable as the Mona Lisa, begins its trail across the city. Audrey Hepburn (in the lavish wardrobe created for her by Givenchy) is threatened by three American hoods who believe she knows the whereabouts of a gold hoard stolen by her late husband. Summoned to the American Central Intelligence Agency, she is informed that four former G.I.'s, including her husband, buried a fortune in Army funds somewhere in Germany with an agreement to share it after the war. The gold has been dug up, her husband slain and, believing that only she knows where the money is, the thugs mark her for murder. Cary Grant is the smoothie who offers his help to a lady in distress. The suggestion of a quarter million cash in the cards appeals to his protective instincts. Neither Miss Hepburn nor the audience are sure of his intentions. They may not be honorable but they are assuredly attractive. Grant is a thoroughly mysterious character, part rogue, part gentleman. He is the charade, the smoothest, best dressed riddle an anxious widow could trust with her life, her love and maybe her cash.

Teaser ad campaign
The film was heavily advertised in Japan and did big boxoffice


Step by step through glamorous Paris and intimate clinches, one stumbles over mysterious bodies, meets hard-boiled hoods and gendarmes, dines and wines with two utterly intriguing people in love in a game that defies solution until the very last scene. Walter Matthau as a C.I.A. man and James Coburn, George Kennedy and Ned Glass as a homicidal threesome rate high in cast credits. Thomas Chelimsky, six-year-old French boy, delivered his lines with the insouciance of a Maurice Chevalier. Credit for the score goes to Henry Mancini whose background music had deservedly been made into an album for the record stalls. The moving spirit behind Charade is Stanley Donen, producer-director who guided it through months of script preparation in Hollywood and actual shooting in Paris. If the film had the mark of distinction it was because of Donen's infallible good taste.



The first screen romantic team goes back half a century when the old Vitagraph Company found that Maurice Costello and Florence Turner made an ideal screen couple and starred them in dozens of films, including A Tale of Two Cities and St. Elmo. The same company teamed Anita Stewart and Earl Williams most successfully around the time of World War I in such hits as A Million Bid and The Painted World. Francis X. Bushman and Beverly Bayne had a long and flourishing career as a romantic team. So had Norma Talmadge and Eugene O'Brien, who played screen love scenes together for several years in pictures like The Safety Curtain and The Voice from the Minaret. D. W. Griffith co-starred Lillian Gish and Richard Barthelmess in Broken Blossoms and Way Down East, two startlingly successful motion pictures. Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell skyrocketed with their co-appearance in Seventh Heaven and fans insisted they be re- teamed in Sunnyside Up, The Man Who Came Back and High Society Blues. Sam Goldwyn found a lucrative romantic duo in Ronald Colman and Vilma Banky, who appeared together for several years in hits like The Dark Angel and The Magic Flame. The screen sizzled and so did the fans' enthusiasm, when Garbo and John Gilbert appeared together. There are torrid memories for those who recall Flesh and the Devil, Love and A Woman of Affairs, among others of their successes.

When talkies arrived romantic teams continued to flourish. There has never been a more popular screen romantic combination than Clark Gable and Joan Crawford when they made Possessed, Chained and Love On The Run. Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy romanced and sang their way into the hearts of fans in Naughty Marietta, The New Moon, Sweethearts and many more operettas. Bill Powell and Myrna Loy were big hits in The Thin Man series. And who can forget Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland in a string of volcanic musicals? After Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers appeared together in Flying Down to Rio, audiences clamored for more. As a result, Fred and Ginger made many films together, including Roberta, The Gay Divorcee and Follow the Fleet. Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon were also very popular as a team. Sizing up production, 1964 saw no shift to romantic screen fidelity. It was "off with the old love, on with the new" on the screen. Audiences in the early 60's seemed to want a continuous reshuffling in romantic partners. Thus, the team of Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant was born and will always be remembered as one of the screen's powerful couplings.



Audrey Hepburn

Audrey Hepburn, whose name regularly hits the International lists of "Best Dressed Women," had this advice for girls who wrote her for clothes tips: "Don't follow fashion, let fashion follow you." The actress believed that it was foolish to go in for fads merely because they were popular. Whether they were becoming to the individual girl or woman was the important thing, she believed. Audrey was a staunch admirer of Hubert de Givenchy, the noted Paris designer. She wore his clothes both off and on screen. Givenchy created 19 wardrobe changes for Audrey's use in Charade, "When Givenchy and I select styles for a motion picture, we pay little attention to what is the current vogue," she revealed to The New York Times. "First we decide what would be appropriate to the character I enact. Then we decide what is appropriate for me. The current hemline, the favored-at-the- moment silhouette are ignored. For my personal use away from the cameras, I insist on clothes that are 'me.' I believe this to be an excellent blueprint for any girl who wishes to appear to advantage." Off-screen Audrey wore very little jewelry. "A girl should be the focal point of attention, not the precious stones she wears about her throat and wrists. If you take off a necklace a dress usually looks better."


Audrey Hepburn on the set


Audrey liked clothes to look narrow and fitted. ("In my opinion, I'm the type.") She only wore scarves for warmth. "If a coat has a lovely neckline, why ruin it with a scarf?" Tweeds, according to Audrey, should never look completely new. ("I think they are more attractive when they have an attractive patina of age.") However, the actress loved gloves to be fresh and pristine. ("I only wear white gloves, and they must have the appearance of just being removed from a glove box at a shop.") But Audrey was certain that her clothes rulings apply only to herself. "Distinction is the thing that counts most in clothes," states Audrey, in conclusion. "Study yourself and decide what is most becoming for YOU. Don't copy anyone else. No matter how smart the effect is, no matter how chic the result, the chances are that what is right for one woman could be unbecoming on anyone else."

Audrey was said to have been partial to the costuming for Charade. She felt the costumes were much more of a style that the "normal woman" would be wearing. During production, she actually had several of the costumes downsized because she felt some were just too flashy for her character. Her costumes took up several months in pre-production. The studio itself was pushing for a little more glamorous look but Audrey felt that her character just wouldn't be wearing top-of-the-line fancy costuming. And with her status as a star, her say had influence.


Photographs taken on the set


Few of her friends in Hollywood and certainly the millions of fans who adore her were aware of the fact that Audrey Hepburn was an accomplished pianist who, as a child, was trained to appear on the concert platform. It came in the nature of a stunning surprise to even those closely associated with her in the production of Charade, The first performance for Miss Hepburn's composition, called Paris Suite, was played by her for members of the cast and crew on the set during its shooting at the Studio de Boulogne in Paris. So impressed was Producer-Director Stanley Donen that he talked to several music firms about publishing it. To supplement her talents as actress and composer, Audrey studied ballet for several years at the Rambert School in London. She showed off her dancing professionalism in the musical Funny Face in 1956. Following completion of her acting chores in Charade, she began a rigorous daily workout for her dancing role in the then-forthcoming production of "My Fair Lady." She regularly hit the list of Best-Dressed Women and her favorite hobbies were cooking and knitting... which, as then-husband Mel Ferrer remarked, made her a well-rounded woman.


Audrey Hepburn publicity stills


Taken all-in-all, a movie star's pooch doesn't exactly lead a dog's life. One cannot discuss Audrey Hepburn, even on the set of Charade in 1963 without knowing 'Famous.' 'Famous,' was a Yorkshire terrier, Audrey Hepburn's pet, who was probably the most widely traveled canine in the world. So far Famous had racked up some 375,000 air miles, all on deluxe champagne flights. He accompanied his mistress wherever she went, whether on vacation or business trips entailing the making of motion pictures in the Belgian Congo, Rome, Switzerland, South America, Mexico and Hollywood. There was little doubt that Famous was a true cosmopolite and true companion. But there was no trace of ennui in the dog's behavior, and he is was alert and inquisitive about people, sights, sounds and smells as any dog who hasn't been "off the street where he lived." Famous was in Hollywood where Audrey was making the screen version of the famous Broadway musical hit, My Fair Lady at Warner Bros. Just before going there, they were in Paris, where Audrey was working with Cary Grant in Charade, Famous accompanied Audrey to the set each day and watched the filming with an appraising and professional eye. He was something of a "pro" himself according to Hepburn, never having been known to bark, cough or sneeze at the studio while a scene was being filmed.



Paris seemed like home to Famous. He was born in a suburb of the city, St. Cloud, in 1956. Mel Ferrer, Audrey's actor-producer-director husband, saw him in a pet shop, was captivated by him, and purchased him as a gift for his wife. He was already named Famous before he made his home with Mel and Audrey, for that is his moniker on his French pedigree papers. When Famous first made his home with the Ferrers, he lived in Paris. Then he flew with them to their permanent European home at Lake Lucerne, Switzerland. His first long jaunt was to the Belgian Congo when Audrey worked in The Nun's Story, and then he accompanied her to Rome where the interiors for the film were made. Famous' first encounter with the glamor of Hollywood was when he flew there with the Ferrers for preparation of Green Mansions, which Mel directed with Audrey in the starring role. Then he took off with them to South America where the outdoor scenes were made. On the set of Charade, Cary Grant became enamored with the dog as well, and was always seen taking Famous for walks. For some time after he met Famous, Grant was looking for a similar dog for himself. Famous has appeared in several of Audrey Hepburn's films.

Cary Grant

Cary Grant had romanced many of the most glamorous actresses in the world during his screen career. Charade was Grant's 61st motion picture, and the comedy murder mystery teams him romantically for the first time with Audrey Hepburn. The list of charmers whom Cary had wooed and won since he first appeared before the cameras includes the Who's Who of the screen's lovely ladies. Grant, in his first Hollywood picture, This Is The Night, appeared opposite the vivacious French charmer, Lily Damita, and the blond and statuesque Thelma Todd. The slinky, seductive Mae West spotted Cary on the Paramount lot and asked for him as her leading man in She Done Him Wrong. Incidentally, you'll recall that Cary was the lad Mae invited to "Come up and see me sometime," and described as "Tall, dark and handsome." The actor, by request, again appeared opposite La West in I'm No Angel. Cary first appeared with the aristocratic Katharine Hepburn in Sylvia Scarlett. They brought a different kind of romance to the screen, and they re-teamed in Bringing Up Baby, Holiday and The Philadelphia Story. Then there was Suzy in which he appeared with the glamorous and sultry platinum blond, Jean Harlow. Cary and the patrician Irene Dunne were a favorite romantic team in The Awful Truth, My Favorite Wife and Penny Serenade.



The public reacted enthusiastically to the love scenes enacted by Cary and Rosalind Russell in such frisky farces as His Girl Friday and the light, breezy romantic fun of Topper in which Cary was entangled with Constance Bennett. In Suspicion, Joan Fontaine and Cary delighted fans with a new type of romance. Grace Kelly, later to become the Princess Grace of Monaco, was the girl Cary courted in To Catch A Thief. In Indiscreet, Ingrid Bergman was the girl who fell into his arms. Eva Marie Saint shared the thrills of the plot as well as the embraces with Cary in North by Northwest In That Touch of Mink Cary sparred romantically with Doris Day in what proved to be one of the hit comedies of all time. Cary Grant was an urbane and chivalrous man, who smiled discreetly when asked to name his favorite partner in screen love scenes. "On-screen love scenes are like off-screen romances. A gentleman never kisses and tells," he answered.


Cary Grant with Audrey Hepburn caught on camera


Cary Grant was the all-time champ of motion picture stars. He topped Boxoffice Magazine's top personalities of the year many times over. In films for three decades before Charade, Grant had survived the changing fashions in screen personalities and was a bigger box-office favorite than ever throughout the world. Asked to what he credited his longevity in films, Grant said: "Adaptability." "Life is much more informal and casual today than it was when I did my first picture, This Is The Night, " he stated. "We punched harder, used broader gestures and more mannerisms then. To be contemporary one has to mirror the tempo and beat of the time. You watch. You listen. And you reflect what you see and hear. It's fatal to freeze at any point in a career. Standing still means that the parade passes by." Grant believed he was fortunate to have started his work in the theater at a moment when the English stage was in a state of transition. "I was able to observe the changing style in drawing-room acting in the London theater," he recalled. "The modern gentleman role used to be interpreted in the dancing-master manner, as though it were a part in a romantic costume play. The old-fashioned actor would bow and scrape and always seemed to be taking off an invisible plumed hat with an elegant flourish. "A. E. Matthews and Ronald Squire changed all that by more natural underplaying. The duke became a human being, a fellow who often talked with his hands in his pockets, and Noel Coward and Freddy Lonsdale wrote comedies in which there was no call for the old stuffiness. "Acting is constantly becoming more like natural behavior. In another sense, American acting has in recent years taken on a more life-like coloring with the so-called 'Method.' I don't know where we go from here—probably into the theater-in-the-round style. It's a way of keeping from being bored. It's also a way of not boring others," he added, with that famous Grant grin.



Cary Grant couldn't understand why comedy performances weren't taken more seriously. Grant, whose career had encompassed both light and serious roles, had found that comedy was the more demanding medium, that it required surer timing, a carefully created and rigidly disciplined technique. "Even actors are inclined to brush off a comedy performance," said Grant. "Check the list of comedy performances among the Academy Award winners, and you'll find that dramatic characterizations are in the vast majority. One of the demands of a good comedy performance is making it appear relaxed, spontaneous and easy. If one does a good job people you're only too inclined to take the results at face value. In a way, of course, this is a compliment." In making Charade, Cary's role opposite Audrey Hepburn was a mixture of both comedy and drama, and he found the frivolous aspects of the part demanded the major portion of his attention. "Drama is created by the writer, and the material frequently carries the performer along on the provided momentum," he related. "However, with comedy, the writer only sketches the framework and the actor is left to develop the dimensions from his own talent, experience and personal flair. Here intuition plays an important part — and knowing how far to press for laughter, when the audience will laugh and when to change pace at the pinnacle of the reaction."


Cary Grant on the set and with Audrey Hepburn on break


That Grant is a master of the art of creating laughter is attested by his overwhelming success in such comedies as That Touch of Mink and Operation Petticoat. These pictures have entertained millions and have piled up fabulous runs and monumental grosses at the box -office. "The greatest reward I have is walking into a theater like the Radio City Music Hall and hear the laughter of spectators," he reveals. "Then I know that for an hour or so people are forgetting their personal problems and are absorbed into a lighthearted world where things are as they would like them to be. Escapism? For sure! But what's wrong in aiding people to forget their troubles?" Grant believes that actors should appreciate that comedy is really a serious business. "However, most straight actors can roar their heads off watching a comedy—and then go out and vote an Oscar to a performer who plays a psychopath, a truculent neurotic or a lachrymose Madam or Monsieur X," Cary added, with a grin. "They're fooled into believing that what looks easy IS easy. I think comedy is strongly mis-represented at the awards shows."


Cary Grant discussing a scene, and with Audrey Hepburn


Of the Radio City Music Hall in New York, Cary Grant held the all-time record for a star appearing on that theater's screen. Twenty-five of his films had been shown there since he appeared with Katharine Hepburn in Sylvia Scarlett in 1936 and their total playing time had been 105 weeks. Cary's closest competitor at the Music Hall was his friend Fred Astaire, and the playing time of Fred's is somewhat less than half of Cary's quotient. Operation Petticoat, which Universal released in 1959, was just about the company's all-time comedy grosser. Cary was the star. Out of 61 films, Cary only made 3 out of the U.S. To Catch a Thief had exteriors made on the Cote d'Azur, with interiors filmed at Paramount in Hollywood. The Pride and The Passion was made in Spain, The Grass Is Greener in England. And finally Charade, which was shot in Paris. "We couldn't have made 'Charade' anywhere else," says Cary. "Fifty percent of the picture takes place in the Paris streets. It would be impossible to build that many exterior sets in Hollywood and still have the production solvent. We've filmed in the Place de l'Opera, the Palais Royal, Les Halles, in front of Notre Dame Cathedral and the facade of the Comedie Francaise. The Paris buses, the subway stations and trains all play an important part in the film.

Accustomed to outdoor living, Cary hated hotel life. After a try at it in Paris, he decided to rent the apartment which Darryl F. Zanuck, of 20th Century Fox, occupied for seven years and which he vacated when he returned to Hollywood to turn the Fox studios around and settle the Cleopatra hardships and turn the vacant studio into a success again with The Sound of Music. "I like to move around," he said. Filming Charade was Cary's first prolonged visit to Paris, although he has visited the city many times for brief stays. He avoided the celebrated restaurants, sought out the small eating places and found the latter wonderful. "It's impossible to have a bad meal in Paris," he states, with conviction. Paris movie fans are restrained and considerate, he found. "None of the pushing and prodding for autographs, even when I went to see 'That Touch of Mink' which is doing capacity business at a theater on the Champs Ely sees," he continued. "Fans here are attentive, but not blusteringly demonstrative.'' Asked his opinion of Parisian girls, Cary answered: "They are charming. But aren't girls charming everywhere—in London, Hollywood, New York, Berlin, Amsterdam?"


Audrey Hepburn with her dog "Famous" and Publicity stills


Charade, demanded that Cary pursue one of the villains out of a hotel window, and along the side of the building by jumping from one balcony to another. Eying the distance from balcony to balcony, Producer-Director Stanley Donen asked the actor whether he wanted a stunt-man for the scene. "No," answered Grant. "I got my start in show business as a member of the Pender tumbling act in London. And I'm still pretty good at doing the old routines." Grant is numbered with Burt Lancaster among the few Hollywood luminaries with acrobatic backgrounds who undertake many dangerous shots normally covered by stunt men. He also believed that the less an actor feels like an actor the more natural his screen performances are likely to be. "That's the reason I haven't worn makeup before the cameras in the last 15 years," stated Cary. "Greasepaint has a tendency to make me feel fenced in. I don't feel relaxed and natural when I'm wearing it. I keep an all-year-round tan in California that looks okay on the screen and I don't have to worry about makeup smudges on my shirt and jacket collars." But the filming of Charade, in Paris, with Audrey Hepburn as his co-star, presented a problem. Whatever sun there is in Paris during the winter is pale and non-conducive to maintaining a tan. So Grant flew to the south of France on his days off from work and basked on the beach. And he took along a small portable foil reflector which Grant contended focused the strength of sunlight and stepped up the tanning process about fifty percent.



Costumes

Givenchy, one of the top designers of the Paris fashion world, was commissioned by Producer-Director Stanley Donen to create a lavish wardrobe of nineteen creations for Audrey Hepburn to wear. Givenchy, who had long designed the personal clothes for Miss Hepburn, created an array of screen attire for the actress which, he said would be a forecast of the fashion mode for 1964 and range the gamut from sports ensembles to formal evening gowns.



The House of Givenchy was founded in 1952 by Hubert de Givenchy. During the time he managed it, he was known for very modern styles, and this attracted British Royalty and the film-makers in Hollywood. Audrey Hepburn would wear the most styles from the designer, in such films as Sabrina (in which Edith Head won an Academy Award), Breakfast at Tiffany's and How to Steal a Million. Watching those films one can see the very modern (for the era) styles and lines of the designer. Givenchy would also design clothes for the Kennedy family among others. He worked hard at his company and retired in 1995. Before his retirement, in 1994 Givenchy had total sales of $178 million, making it second only to Dior in apparel.



Music Score

Henry Mancini was born in 1924 in Cleveland, Ohio and his first experiences with music were playing the flute. At age 12 he learned piano and started to become interested in arranging. Mancini enrolled in New York's Julliard School of Music but was then drafted. In 1946 he joined the Glen Miller-Tex Beneke Orchestra as pianist and arranger. His big break came in 1952 when he joined Universal International and worked on The Glenn Miller Story. He won an Academy Award for his song "Moon River" in Breakfast at Tiffany's, composed the score for Charade, Mancini and Johnny Mercer, whose joint efforts produced "Days of Wine and Roses," which received an Academy Award nomination in the 1963 Oscar derby, had also composed and written the theme song "Charade," which became a gold single. Many artists would go on to record the song. There were also many recordings of some of the instrumental score of the movie, some released on 45rpm singles. Singles released with the film are "Orange Tambourine," "Punch and Judy" and "Bistro." The soundtrack album also became a best seller because of the song and the film's popularity.


Henry Mancini publicity still and shot taken while composing Charade


Henry Mancini was at the height of his popularity when Charade was filmed. As of today, he was nominated for 72 Grammys, and won 20 of them. He was nominated for 18 Academy Awards and and won four.


Various releases of the music from Charade


Walter Matthau

In Charade, Walter Matthau plays a villain masquerading as a CIA honcho. Walter Matthau didn't believe in the then-current vogue of "cloistered" actors. Matthau thought it is a mistake for fledgling performers to live their entire lives in a greasepaint atmosphere, to consort only with the people in their own profession and to practice "The Method" in their private lives. Matthau was emphatic in his belief that a good actor must have a sound and wide knowledge of ordinary people. "By 'ordinary,' I mean people who have never applied greasepaint to their faces," he explained to Time Magazine with a grin. Before Matthau took up acting he worked, variously, in factories, as a shipping clerk, salesman and streetcar conductor. He also enrolled in a CCC camp in Belton, Montana, during the Depression, and later did a stint as a ranch-hand in the West. He also spent three years in the U. S. Army during the war. "I think this background taught me more about acting than I could ever have learned sitting about and theorizing about the job. I got close to people, found out something about the way they tick and why. And I draw on that knowledge when I have to depict different characters in the theater or before the cameras," he pointed out.


Publicity stills of Walter Matthau taken for Charade


Matthau always thought out a performance in advance. "That's spade work—like preparing the soil before planting a crop," he continued. "But to sit around and kick around the 'nuances' with a group, is just a waste of time as far as I am concerned. I see kids today who do all their acting in private life. They work at being 'characters' during all their waking hours. And I wouldn't be surprised if they kept at it in their sleep, too! "But get them behind footlights or on a studio set and they are still as phony as a three-dollar bill. To my mind, sincerity is the greatest asset an actor can have. An actor may be able to kid himself, but it's just about impossible for him to kid the public for any length of time."

For Matthau's part in the film, he claimed to have done research on his role. At the time of filming, Matthau's wife Carol was in the advanced stages of pregnancy. They were in Paris and both of them wanted the baby to be born in the United States. So Carol flew back and when she got home called Walter and told him, "I thought I was going to have the baby on the plane." He was said to get a big charge out of playing with Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn. Matthau and Grant became very close friends on the set and this friendship would last until Grant's death in November of 1986.



James Coburn

James Coburn had a yen to be a versatile actor. "I'd like to play good guys and bad guys and guys who are a combination of both," said Co-burn. But so far in his screen career, Coburn had been typed as a heavy. "Casting directors seem to think I look mean," he said with regret. And it must be admitted that this 6-foot-2-inch actor managed a most convincing glower. In Charade, Jim is menacing both Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn. "Audrey is such a sweet, great girl that I hate to have to flick matches at her and try to turn her into a living torch," said the actor. "But that's the script Peter Stone has written, so what can I do? We worked many hours, Audrey and I, because we are both perfectionists. Even when we would go to dinner, we were rehearsing, which I think made Cary Grant a little annoyed, but I feel we got the parts down perfectly." Jim hails from TV, where he specialized in doing commercials. "In those days people considered my professional personality sympathetic," he recalled. "I demonstrated electric razors and they sold like crazy. The fan mail from women was heavy, and I had some idea that there might be a spot for me in films as a romantic actor."


Original Charade lobby cards


But casting directors had other ideas about the Coburn talents. They decided he had a great sneer, and even greater leer. And they signed him for one dastardly role after another. "It isn't so bad for me," he explains. "Heavies are pretty good acting opportunities, but the neighbors sympathize with my wife for being married to such a mean fellow. And the kids at school harass my children Lisa and James Junior about what a schnook their dad is. Erich von Stroheim is said to have relished his title, 'The Man You Love To Hate.' Frankly, it's strictly not for me!" Coburn's hobby was collecting 8mm prints of famous silent movies. During his Charade stint while in Paris he acquired Perils of Paris, which Pearl White made in France in 1925 and She which starred Betty Blythe in 1926.



Ned Glass

Monotony is a question of personal temperament, contends actor Ned Glass. Glass plays one of the heavies in Charade. "What constitutes maddening repetition varies with the individual," he explains. "For instance, I tried teaching school. After two semesters I found it boring to parrot the same facts and figures. But, later, when I played Elmer Rice's 'Street Scene' on Broadway for two years I never found the dialogue tedious." He didn't object at all to film rehearsals or to playing a scene numerous times for the cameras.There was one scene in Charade that required twelve takes, but it was something Glass didn't mind because he knew what was finally put on film would be there forever. "I hate going home by way of the same streets every night while in Paris on location," he admitted. "I refuse to have the same type of breakfast each day. There was so much so see and eat in Paris. Glass admitted that some actors found playing a long stage run harrowing. "I don't," he adds. "For me a role is never the same twice. I suppose that is because one never plays twice to the same audience. A character, even the speeches, remain fresh no matter how long I do a show. There is always a different reaction—the unexpectedly hearty laugh on a line, a shading in tension in each performance." Glass found that the longer he played the role in Charade the greater dimension it developed. "At times I wish the critics would write their reviews after a play has been running a month or longer, rather than on opening night," he states. "It takes a while for an actor to develop a part. There is often so much revision in rehearsals and tryouts that an actor gives a sketchy uncertain performance at an opening night. But with Charade, I had time to nail my role and travel to a beautiful country, and then the film critics give their opinions when we have done our best performances."



George Kennedy

George Kennedy would like to puncture the legend that child actors miss a normal childhood. Kennedy, who is the son of George Kennedy who conducted pit orchestras in the B. F. Keith vaudeville houses, and Helen Meade, a dancer, was practically born in a theatrical trunk. He made his show business debut at the age of two in Bringing Up Father. By the time he was seven the boy was a veteran of show business and had his own radio show for children. George, who plays a large role in Charade,"believes it nonsense that kid performers are unhappy and are likely to become neurotic adults. "Despite 'What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?' I know many actors who started early acting careers, and they are just about as solid as any other citizens," said George.



Kennedy enjoyed being a child actor. He believes it gave him poise and a sense of self-assurance that he wouldn't have achieved any other way. "With Charade it was one of my first big roles with the big stars." Indeed Kennedy took his role very seriously and admitted to being a little frazzled after the dailies were completed due to being nervous being around such Hollywood giants. "I guess I was born a ham," he says, with a grin. "I loved being 'on,' as a kid. I still do. As a matter of fact, I've never been happy very far away from greasepaint." During the war, Kennedy went overseas with the Infantry. Later, he was shifted to the Armed Forces Radio. After he was medically retired in 1958 and returned to civilian life, Kennedy became assistant to producer Ed Mon-tagne on the "Sergeant Bilko" TV series. "But I longed to get back to acting," he confesses. "I shifted to Hollywood to get a crack at the movies. My first was 'The Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come'— and since then I haven't been out of work for 15 minutes."


Charade was released later as a double feature with Father Goose


Thomas Chelmisky

Thomas Chelimsky, six-year-old French-born son of American parents, made his acting debut in a pivotal role in Charade, Thomas' role is that of a French youngster who helps the heroine solve the mystery of what happened to a cachet of gold coins worth a quarter of a million dollars. Producer-Director Stanley Donen searched the casting agencies of Paris, where the film was made, trying to find a French boy with acting experience who could speak English with a French accent. No luck. So he placed advertisements in the Paris edition of the New York Herald Tribune, the U. S. Embassy News and several other publications and received 105 answers to his call for boys of eight years of age, either with or without professional experience. Thomas was the 63rd child Donen interviewed. Although two years short of the age required by the script and though he had neither stage nor film acting experience, Donen signed him after shooting a screen test. "The kid has a wonderful personality on the screen," said Donen, "and a cute French accent. I'd call him a pint-sized Maurice Chevalier and he is great in this important part even though it is his first work before the cameras."


Thomas Chelmisky at the time of Charade and in 2009 (right bottom corner)


Six-year-old Thomas Chelimsky wasn't at all impressed by being a movie actor. The tyke, who made his acting debut here, would much rather be a G-Man or "un cowboy." The French-born youngster had seen very few American films. He accepted Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn as friends, but he had no idea they were world-famous celebrities. Young Thomas was a rabid TV fan. In Paris his parents allotted him two hours a day for this pleasure and he is a devoted fan of "Roy Rodgers" and the Popeye cartoons. According to Cary Grant, the boy never seemed to connect acting as it appears on the small screen and what he was doing himself in Charade. Thomas' job in the motion picture was something in the nature of a game to him. The child used no make-up.


Rare newspaper crossword puzzle during initial release



Rare Charade promotional maze


Thomas' parents weren't at all sure that the boy would continue an acting career after his part in Charade. "At this point Thomas doesn't realize he is acting," said his father who accompanied him on the set. "He likes the game he is playing and we'll see what happens after the film is released." "I was taught an extravagant, out-of-date technique which it took me three years to shed after I started playing stage engagements in the French provinces. It was Marin's contention that a person starting out as an actor would do better to attend the motion picture theater and observe how first-rate performers obtain their effects. "This is sound drama training, given by the best instructors in the world," continued Marin. "It is marvelous to observe the way a Pierre Fresnay, a Cary Grant, a Charles Laughton or a Laurence Olivier delineates a character. From observing these people the young actor not only learns what to do, but also what not to do. Charade would be the actor's only screen appearance. He went on to become a physician and is now Director of Autonomic Disorders and Professor of Neurology, Neurologic Institute, Case Western Reserve University and Case Medical Center in Cleveland Ohio.



Famed French Punch & Judy Puppets

The puppets of August Guentler of Paris are to be seen with Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn, marking the first time the famous little dolls on strings had appeared in a motion picture. The scene in which they are used is a puppet show on the Esplanade des Champs-Elysees. As Grant and Hepburn watch from a park bench, "Punch and Judy" present a routine which is symbolic of the murder-mystery Grant is trying to solve. Producer-Director Stanley Donen has introduced the happy childrens show in counterpoint to the increasingly taut suspense in the film. Guentler was the owner of the Guignolet Theater, puppet theater for children which opened in 1818 and were operated by the Guentler family ever since.


The Famous "Punch and Judy" puppet show


Filmed in 35mm Technicolor with an aspect ratio of 1:85:1 with a mono soundtrack, Charade commenced production in October of 1962 and finished filming in January of 1963. The post production was completed at Universal in April, with a final running time of 113 minutes, but rather than release the film in the summer boxoffice was not such an event in the summer as it is today) they wisely chose to hold off for a Christmas event release. Charade was released in the United States on December 5, 1963. The film would cost Universal $4 million and earn a gross of over $13 million in the United States alone. The film was also a success internationally. Adding to that the fact that the film has sold extremely well on video platforms throughout the years, it turned out to be a huge money-maker for the studio.

Program book from New York premiere
The film was a big event wherever it opened


Charade was released to critical acclaim. Pauline Kael, one of the tougher critics (who was fired from McCalls magazine for the backlash from her negative review of The Sound of Music) wrote in The New Yorker, "A Debonair thriller, romantic, scary, satisfying. This piece of high-style kitsch directed by Stanley Donen from a smooth script is as enjoyable as The Big Sleep. Remarkably witty and effective." Robert Frederick at Variety Magazine wrote, "Completed several months ago, Universal wisely sat on this deluxe package until releasing time and temper were ideal.

Charade made the cover of Look Magazine
Charade issued postage stamps


Already strong in the comedy market, studio reasoned delayed exposure could enhance its potential, indicating pic's strength by booking it as a Christmas film in Radio City Music Hall. The film has all the ingredients of success, some in spades, blended into a tasty dish that spells ticket-selling ambrosia. First-time teaming of Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn, a natural, gives the sophisticated romantic caper an international appeal, plus the selling points of adventure, suspense and superb comedy." Other publications such as Time, Life and others gave it four stars and deemed the film excellent. And so a beloved team was put together on the screen for Charade and today is still considered one of the classic pairings (and film) in film history.



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