Monday, November 09, 2015

Music and Movie Monday ~ Charade

Turner Classic Movie channel aired the 1963 movie Charade last week. We watched, both of us suspecting we must have seen it back in the day, but later and surprisingly both decided we must have let it slip past us somehow. Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn together in a movie could never be boring - I adored Cary Grant in my adolescence and early teens, and have always liked Audrey, especially enjoying her wonderful wardrobes of Givenchy outfits - she wore 'em so well!

Charade didn't disappoint, except in a bit of hammy over-acting by actors playing two of a trio of villains, stars who we know can do a whole lot better: James Coburn and George Kennedy. The film was, I now understand, a kind of homage to the classic Alfred Hitchcock style by director Stanley Donen, carried out tongue in cheek, not quite in all-out spoof mode, but getting there. Spoofing as a polished film genre hadn't quite been perfected in 1963...The Pink Panther was another early spoof-related movie from the same year.

For a very good detailed outline of Charade's story by an obvious fan, including lots of photographs, take a look at The Blonde at the Film blog HERE. A review from a writer who saw some flaws in the film, though still enjoyed it, is at The Film Sufi website HERE.

The film's Oscar nominated theme song Charade is a lovely Parisian waltz melody composed by Henry Mancini, with lyrics added by Johnny Mercer - what a wonderful collaboration! I would pronounce charade "charahde", Brit-style, so have to adjust to the American in order to appreciate the rhyming of these lyrics.

When we played our charade
We were like children posing
Playing at games, acting out names
Guessing the parts we played

Oh what a hit we made
We came on next to closing
Best on the bill, lovers until
Love left the masquerade

Fate seemed to pull the strings
I turned and you were gone
While from the darkened wings
The music box played on

Sad little serenade
Song of my heart's composing
I hear it still, I always will
Best on the bill

The original with opening credit images:

Julie London's quiet, sexy version:

And, as with any well constructed melody Charade easily lends itself to a wee bit of jazz interpretation, which I've come to much appreciate, having lived with an avid jazz fan for quite some time rubs off now and then! The following two versions are by lesser known vocalists and musicians. I like them both - a lot.

Below - by a Norwegian vocalist, Ingar Kristiansen, a live performance at Rockefeller Music Hall, Oslo, from a concert titled The Sinatra Songbook. Oddly, though, I can't trace that Sinatra ever recorded Charade, but it's possible he did sing it in concert at some point. Husband suspects that Sinatra gave it a miss on his albums because Andy Williams' version had been such a huge hit...The Guv' (bless 'im) could never have put up with being just an also ran!


mike said...

I looked at Wiki for the plot basics and I don't recall viewing the movie, but fifty years can play havoc with my memory. It has the plot essentials that I enjoy: romance, comedy, and suspense without crass blood and guts. I watched your link to the opening credits and theme song. Maurice Binder's animated titles-credits seemed so thoroughly modern at that time and that style was used in many TV programs and movies of that era, but it always seemed cheap and too "mod" to me. The words to the theme song could be a metaphor for reincarnation...LOL. Wiki states that the plot revolves around $250-thousand in gold that was stolen...a lot of $ at that time, but the modernized plot would require $250-million to make it believable and interesting.

mike (again) said...

BTW - Seems the plot to "Charade" was up-dated by Bush-Cheney in real-life during the Iraq war:

"Pentagon officials determined that one giant C-130 Hercules cargo plane could carry $2.4 billion in shrink-wrapped bricks of $100 bills. They sent an initial full planeload of cash, followed by 20 other flights to Iraq by May 2004 in a $12-billion haul that U.S. officials believe to be the biggest international cash airlift of all time.

This month, the Pentagon and the Iraqi government are finally closing the books on the program that handled all those Benjamins. But despite years of audits and investigations, U.S. Defense officials still cannot say what happened to $6.6 billion in cash — enough to run the Los Angeles Unified School District or the Chicago Public Schools for a year, among many other things.

For the first time, federal auditors are suggesting that some or all of the cash may have been stolen, not just mislaid in an accounting error. Stuart Bowen, special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, an office created by Congress, said the missing $6.6 billion may be 'the largest theft of funds in national history.'"

Twilight said...

mike ~ We were both surprised we hadn't seen the movie, either in the 1960s or since when aired on TV, or on DVD. While preparing the post I read - must have been in a review - that the timing of the film's release was unfortunate. The USA was still in shock after JFK's assassination when the film was released in December 1963. Maybe that blurred its fame, originally, though in later years it will have been available on VHS and DVD and has been shown on TV both here and in the UK....yet we, and seemingly you, all missed it.

The main plot twists and fun revolve around Cary Grant's character's identity - a sequence of charades, rather than the stolen $250,000. Yes - I thought the same as you - that'd be pocket cash to many nowadays!

I enjoy seeing old movies. Recently we've seen "People Will Talk" - another Cary Grant film, black and white - I think on Netflix (loved this one); and "All About Eve" on Netflix, then last evening on TCM "Kitty Foyle". We are saved from modern movies' horrendous gory violence and heaving naked boobs and butts every 20 minutes or so, and instead offered a good story, a bit of fun, a bit of sentimentality, and often a great ending ("People Will Talk" has a great final scene). Those endings used to send me out from cinema to street light-hearted, skipping along on the way home, humming a tune.

(again) ~ Good gracious! It'll no doubt be treated like all other crimes perpetrated by "those on high" - swept under the carpet.

Twilight said...

mike ~ Forgot to say, re the song and reincarnation - yes I see what you mean!
I'm sure that Will Shakespeare must have written something about life being a charade, it was his kind of thing - but can't bring it to mind this morning - probably some lines from "A Midsummer Night's Dream".

mike (again) said...

I can't recall "People Will Talk" or "Kitty Foyle", so read the Wiki details...they sound entertaining. I have seen "All About Eve". All three movies have plots that when expanded, would make great soap operas and even better telenovelas, as the telenovelas typically add some comedy to balance the over-the-top drama.

I watched many older, late-night movies as a child, originating from the 1930S and 40s, but gave-up most of that in the 1960s for trendier fare. My siblings and I were allowed to stay-up late on Friday and Saturday nights, which usually allowed two movies on each night, but I rarely was allowed the actual choice, due to the pecking-order of parents first, older siblings next. I'm certain that the bulk of contemporary movies from my youth onward were missed, except for the really big hits.

Re - Stolen or "misplaced" billions sent to Iraq...that incident is ALREADY a closed chapter and history. The LA Times link in my first comment was describing how it was unaccountable at that time, hence GONE. Vanity Fair ran an excellent essay about the missing money and the pockets their investigation indicated were stuffed and lined. I can't find the essay in VF's archive, but they claimed many of our USA's military elite, some Iraqi officials, and some fly-by-night, non-existent contractors (non-military Americans) made-off with the bulk.

Twilight said...

mike (again) ~ Yes, it's true, those movies all have soapy potential, but their now legendary stars help hoist the films well above true soap opera mode. It's interesting, too, to note how some actors have/had developed since then. Many, or most have now gone before.

I enjoy reading at Wiki or in other articles which other stars had been named for leading parts, but for various reasons had turned them down. Cary Grant originally turned down "Charade" because he felt the age difference between him and Audrey Hepburn was too great. Paul Newman was then suggested, but too expensive; then Warren Beatty and Natalie Wood, but again Columbia wouldn't afford their going rate. Luckily Cary Grant changed his mind, but asked that scripts be amended to make Audrey Hepburn the initiator of all romantic signs and signals, so's he wouldn't appear too much of a "dirty old man". Cary? As if!!

Twilight said...

mike ~ Forgot to say: on Netflix we've watched a few early episodes of "Criminal Minds" just recently, also plodding through "Person of Interest" - both good for an episode a night (maybe two), though not quite binge-worthy.

Anonymous said...

Cary Grant? ... CARY GRANT!
- I guess I've seen a few movies ...

Bringing Up Baby*
Gunga Din
Only Angels Have Wings

His Girl Friday*

The Philadelphia Story
Penny Serenade*
Arsenic and Old Lace*

None But the Lonely Heart*

The Bishop's Wife

Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House*

People Will Talk
To Catch a Thief
An Affair to Remember
North by Northwest*
Operation Petticoat
Father Goose

In his movies, third parties rarely get a chance to talk ...


Twilight said...

Anon/kidd ~ Oooh - lots there! I haven't seen them all - seen most in the last group plus a few of the others. Thanks for the "Lonely Heart" link - definitely have never seen that one - very different style for Mr Grant! Accent could us some work! ;-)
The title "None But the Lonely Heart" clicked something in my brain - a song, sung by Sinatra, based on a melody by Tchaikovsky. Here it is at YouTube:

My faves - "An Affair to Remember", "Indiscreet" and "North by Northwest".

mike (again) said...

There are several on kidd's list that I've seen, plus these that I remember watching on late night TV when I was a child:

"Blonde Venus" (1932) with Marlene Dietrich
"She Done Him Wrong" (1933) with Mae West
"I'm No Angel" (1933) with Mae West
"The Awful Truth" (1937) with Irene Dunne
"Holiday" (1938) with Katharine Hepburn

Twilight, you and Grant have some synastry:

Re - Netflix, I'm not much into the criminal-crime genre...usually too intense for my pre-bedtime viewing. I found myself scanning through the Netflix offerings this past week, but not finding anything of interest, so I'd return to my regular ABC, PBS TV viewing. I forced myself to watch a couple of Netflix movies Friday and Saturday night, which was a mistake and they were not to my liking. Sunday night, I watched the last episode of series four, "The Great British Baking Show" ("The Great British Bake Off" in UK) on regular PBS. My chosen winner did not prevail and I was dismayed. Regular TV and streaming has not been kind lately...LOL.

mike (again) said...

BTW - You and anyjazz can view full-length Cary Grant movies via Roku's youtube channel. Google now charges for some, but most on this list are free viewing:

Twilight said...

mike ~ Cary Grant and me? Oh - that's nice! Wow! - Didn't know that: His Moon+Saturn conj my Sun; His Sun and Mercury conjunct my Mercury; his Venus conjunct mine! LOL! No wonder I had an autographed photograph of him in my bedroom back in east Yorkshire in the mid 1950s. :-)

Thanks for the Roku/Google link - we will check that out.