Charade is a 1963 American romantic comedy mystery film directed by Stanley Donen, written by Peter Stone and Marc Behm, and starring Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn. It spans three genres: suspense thriller, romance and comedy.
The film has a sparkling screenplay, especially the repartee between Grant and Hepburn. It was filmed on location in Paris.
While on a skiing holiday in the French Alps, expatriate American simultaneous interpreter Regina "Reggie" Lampert tells her friend Sylvie that she has decided to divorce her husband Charles. She also meets a charming American stranger, Peter Joshua.
On her return to Paris, she finds her apartment stripped bare. A police inspector notifies her that Charles sold off their belongings, then was murdered while trying to leave Paris. The money is missing. At Charles' sparsely attended wake, only three men show up to view the body—all to ensure that he is dead.
Reggie is summoned to meet CIA administrator Hamilton Bartholomew at the American Embassy, where she learns that the three men at the wake are after the missing money, as is the U.S. government stolen by her husband Charles during the Second World War.
The stranger Reggie met at the Alps Peter Joshua appeared in Paris, thus started a chase of money, a chain of murder, a continuous confusion of identity, and then finally, the destiny of love between Reggie and Peter.
When screenwriters Peter Stone and Marc Behm submitted their script The Unsuspecting Wife around Hollywood, they were unable to sell it. Stone then turned it into a novel, retitled Charade, which found a publisher and was serialized in Redbook magazine, as many novels were at the time. The series caught the attention of the same Hollywood companies that had passed on it earlier. The film rights were quickly sold to producer/director Stanley Donen. Stone then wrote the final shooting script, tailored to stars Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn, with Behm receiving story co-credit.
Hepburn shot the film in the fall of 1962, immediately after Paris When It Sizzles, which was filmed that summer in a number of the same locations in Paris, but difficulties with the earlier production caused it to be released four months after Charade.
Cary Grant, who turned 59 during filming, was sensitive about the 25-year age difference between Audrey Hepburn (33 at the time of filming) and himself, and was uncomfortable with their romantic interplay. To satisfy his concerns, the filmmakers agreed to add dialogue that has Grant's character comment on his age, and Regina — Hepburn's character — is portrayed as the pursuer.
The screenwriter, Peter Stone, and the director, Stanley Donen, have an unusual joint cameo role in the film.
The soundtrack album for the film, featuring Henry Mancini's score, was released in 1963 and reached No. 6 on the Billboard magazine's pop album chart.
Public domain status
The film includes a notice reading "MCMLXIII BY UNIVERSAL PICTURES COMPANY, INC. and STANLEY DONEN FILMS, INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED", but omitting the word "Copyright", "Copr.", or the symbol "©". At the time (before 1978), U.S. law required works to include the word, abbreviation, or symbol in order to be copyrighted. Because Universal put no proper copyright notice on Charade, the film entered public domain in the United States immediately upon its release. Copies from film prints of varying quality have been available on VHS, DVD, and Blu-ray based on its status in the public domain. The film is also available for free download at the Internet Archive. However, while the film itself is public domain, the original music remains under copyright if outside of the context of the film. The film remains fully protected by copyright outside the U.S.