Cary Grant rocks my world...

I own way too many books. This is a known fact. However, perhaps less known, is that I own way too many movies. I recently went through them and decided to get rid of several (esp. those old VHS tapes...don't know why I still had a lot of those!). So, now, after going through everything in a brutal fashion, I have a moderate DVD collection (though, I did keep some movies on VHS because they haven't been converted to DVD just yet...weird...). Anyway, like I said, I did this a few days ago and last night I decided that I wanted to watch an older film. So, I began to go through my collection and stumbled across Charade (Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn).

A very bad summary of the film:In this film, Audrey Hepburn discovers that her husband (who she planned on divorcing but then didn't have to because he ends up dead) has been living a double life. He has stolen money and several people (his spy friends) want it back. They threaten her, people die, but it all comes down to identity and who is really uncovering his identity in an honest way. At the end, you are left with two male characters (Cary Grant and Walter Matthau) needing something very important from Hepburn and she must decide who is telling the truth about his identity. By this point in the film, you know who is lying...but I hate too many watch it yourself.

I had forgotten how much I love this film! It is quirky and really funny. Audrey Hepburn is this strange, yet believable, mixture of flirtation and innocence--but you always know who she is and you trust her. But Grant...yes, I always adore Cary great in this film as well. The only word for him: smooth. I love how he just makes any character his own--and in this film, he can be multiple people because he sheds four identities during the course of the movie. The author of The Film Club (see a few posts below) talks about this, too, explaining that many critics believed that Grant was the best actor ever on screen. What is really funny to me is that he doesn't quite know what to do about Audrey Hepburn's character. She seems to just revolve in her own sphere and he can't quite get a handle on who she is--at least until he realizes that she is really just the person in front of him. Hepburn's character, though funny and traditional in a lot of ways, is also untraditional in many other ways. What is disarming about her (and this is still true today when you encounter someone like her) is that she just puts it all out there. Every move she makes is honest and what she is feeling at the time. There isn't a guard up and Grant (due to his job in the film and the age difference) only knows how to put forth a certain persona. You see that drop more and more during the film, as the real version of himself begins to emerge. And that is the central problem for Hepburn, is it not? While everyone in the film knows exactly who she is and where she is at all times, all of the men surrounding her are covering up something, leading double lives. But Grant goes beyond even that bit. He starts, literally, as one person and, four personas later, the audience finds out who he really is.

The theme of identity, with Hepburn as the ideal, is amazingly portrayed in this movie. Grant cannot "get" the girl until he solves the crimes and gets the money (for honest reasons, of course). But he also cannot really have or understand Hepburn's character completely until he learns to shed all of the layers under which his authentic self hibernates. So much could be said about this movie. The search for male authenticity by pairing an older male with a younger female has been done before, of course. But it is different in this movie...more subtle and sophisticated. Yes, it is a fun movie to watch and even quite silly at times. And, maybe if Grant wasn't such a wonderful actor, we wouldn't even care about it today. Maybe he (and Hepburn, of course) is the only reason that the film is pulled off in a meaningful way. for thought. Anyway, I love, if you haven't seen it, you should do yourself a favor and watch it!


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