on 19 August 2008
I've been after a pristine print of this film for years, ever since I picked up a fairly shonky region 0 copy half a decade ago for what was (back then) the bargain price of £7.99. My head had been turned by the hard-to-get Criterion Collection region 1 release, but frankly, spending the best part of £20 on a single film is quite an indulgence nowadays, so when I saw this studio-sanctioned release for less than a fiver, I snapped it up.
Well, I wasn't disappointed. The anamorphic print is clean and bright, and looks like it was filmed yesterday - aside from the fact that every frame oozes 1960's-era class. I'm lucky enough to be able to project my DVDs, and at 10ft wide and 6ft tall, this print of the film positively shines! As for the film itself, well, in my opinion Cary Grant overdoes the whole "Cary Grant thing" a little, but Audrey Hepburn is luminescant, and the supporting cast (Walter Matthau and a very mod-like James Coburn among them) don't put a foot wrong. No extras on this disc, but completists will be glad to hear that Hepburn's reference in one scene to "assassination" (not a good word to use in a major film script in 1963) has been seamlessly restored.
Due to an oversight, the film's copyright notice wasn't included in the credits, so the film went into the public domain, which is why there are so many budget DVD releases of it. Don't be tempted to save £1 or so on an inferior copy, THIS is the one to go with!
on 27 October 2011
"Charade" Blu-ray + DVD (Park Circus). Well, I've only compared the new DVD R2 by Park Circus and the the DVD R1 by Criterion, but, at least, they are a different transfer. The grain is less intrusive in the Park Circus, but apparently this is not due to DNR but to a different color coding and generally brighter image, which masks some of the grain. So, the Criterion DVD looks darker. Unfortunately, the Park Circus brightness also masks some of the detail in the faces: Audrey's pinkish glow, witch bothered some people in the resent "Breakfast at Tiffany's" Blu-ray, gets enchanced (the clothes, however, have fine detail). This is partly due to the source material and the original style of the period - "soft focus" was used to compliment the actors star quality.
In my opinion the Criterion DVD looks more natural than the Park Circus DVD, so perhaps Criterions Blu-ray (region A only) is just a little bit stronger, too? Notice also, that if you already own the Criterion standard definition DVD, the upgrade to high definition is not a great leap. However, if you have only seen "Charade" on tv or on one of those horrible public domain DVDs, you will be simply delighted with the Park Circus Blu-ray. So, nice work from the British company with good image presentation. Minus points for the lack of substancial extras or any subs. At least English subs would be welcomed in the European market, as many of us understand written English better than spoken English and are not used to following lenghty dialoque-scenes without some support from subtitles.
At last we have a high quality DVD of this excellent classic film. Hepburn and Grant sparkle as one might expect, and James Coburn and Walter Matthau are suitably villanous. This original version is vastly superior to the recent remake, much more subtle, much better acting, much better script.
After buying and returning two different very poor previous versions, this Universal edition is a worthwile addition to any movie buff's collection. It is only the basic film, no extras other than the usual scene selection languages and subtitles, but who needs extras when the film delights the heart and mind as much as this one.
Cary Grant. Audrey Hepburn. A hidden megafortune. Three nasty pursuers. A slick, chic thriller with a Hitchcockian edge.
With that kind of formula, it's not surprising that "Charade" deserves every shred of praise it receives -- and over the years, this classic has received a lot. Director Stanlet Donen had his finest moment when he created this funny, witty, tightly-plotted little thriller, where you're left with questions right up to the final scene.
While on vacation at a ski lodge, Regina Lampert (Hepburn) decides to get a divorce. But when she returns home, she finds that her husband has been tossed off a train -- and even stranger, she finds that he was mixed up in a gold robbery many years ago. To get her mind off her problems, Reggie goes out on the town with Peter Joshua (Grant), a guy she met at the resort.
But during her outing, she's cornered by three strange, creepy men -- and the worst part is, she finds that Joshua may be in on their plot. Unsure whom to trust, Reggie starts digging to find out where the gold is -- and then her pursuers are murdered one by one. Will she be the next target?
It's a sharp, taut little thriller, reminiscent of the more commercial thrillers by Hitchcock, though set in a chic 1960s Paris setting, and with a New Wave edge. Stanlet Donen did mostly comedies in his career, which makes the tight plot and wry wit of this movie stand out even more.
The movie moving along at a fairly steady pace, with one or two dead spots, but mostly just following the twisted plot threads. There are some really harrowing moments, like Regina being attacked by the Hook-man. By the tense finale, a lot of the odd little clues suddenly fall into place, especially the murder of the three thugs. It's a brilliant piece of scripting, even if the storyline is a bit unreal.
Fortunately it's not all spy-thrills and revenge. Donen could change from action to horror to comedy in a moment, and he keeps the quieter moments lively with funny dialogue and some sophisticated slapstick, like Grant showering fully-clad. The witty dialogue is full of glorious one-liners. "You won't be able to lie on your back for awhile," Reggie quips, "but then you can lie from any position."
Though Grant wasn't wholly comfortable playing opposite Hepburn, the two actors have kinetic chemistry. Whether they're goofing off, or chasing a kiss in a nightclub, they feel entirely real and romantic. Better yet, nobody knows who Grant really is or what he's doing, so there's an added element of danger to their relationship.
This tightly-plotted, fast-moving thriller deserves to be as well-loved as it is, and cinephiles should be ashamed of themselves if they haven't yet seen it. A must-have.
on 8 January 2002
Charade was perhaps made towards the end of the heyday of the romantic comedy-thriller. Although directed by Stanley Donen, it has the feel of Hitchcock about it, and this was in the days when they still worried about plot, good looking stars and dialogue rather than relying on special effects.
The basic story involves a search for CIA money stolen in the last days of World War 2 by a group of GI's. Audrey Hepburn's husband is murdered in France (in 1963) for reasons unknown to her. Cary Grant becomes involved as a (supposed) innocent but sympathetic bystander, as Hepburn is threatened by her husband's ex-associates (including James Coburn and George Kennedy). Walter Matthau seems to be from the CIA and on her side, but is determined to recover the funds. everyone is sure Hepburn has the money, but she is convinced she does not. Characters are despatched one by one in suspicious and sometimes ludicrous circumstance, much to the annoyance of the local French police. (One man is found "drowned in his pyjamas and in his bed" for example).
The dialogue is witty; the plot has some good twists and turns; Hepburn is as beautiful as ever; and anyone who tells you the ending is no friend.
Minor irritations are not important - one of the support actors is very weak and they could have made more of the Paris locations. However, in general, very enjoyable and one you can watch several times. I didn't find the transfer to DVD to be particularly bad - don't let this put you off.
on 6 March 2004
This is a great film, one of my favourites. Since at least 10 years I've had a copy on VHS, which is now showing its age. The quality of the tape is very poor. I was therefore looking forward to a brandnew version on DVD.
But unfortunately this DVD is not what I had expected. There are no other languages but English, the menu only contains a short scene selection and the quality is horrible. The film appeares blurred and far too dark, the audio quality is lousy. In comparison my 10 year old VHS tape looks and sounds much better.
I recommend this film to everyone who likes this mix of murder mystery and comedy, the great cast and the flair of 60s Paris. But avoid the version on this DVD.
on 3 February 2004
This is a charming, witty and sophisticated piece of entertainment with two stars at their best. Just do not watch this copy. It is unwatchable! It appears to be the worst old VHS copy transferred on to DVD. Picture and sound abysmal! I couldn't bear more than 5 minutes. It has been returned and I'm seeking a better copy elsewhere. Beware!!
A Great film, but the version advertised is by Slam Dunk Media and has a 4:3 letterbox aspect ratio. The print quality (or digital transfer) is poor with compression artefacts resulting in a grainy and unfocused finish.
Frankly it looks a mess on my 32" Sony Bravia TV so I recommend avoiding this particular release and instead keep your eye out for the true widescreen, digitally remastered version of the film (which I believe is included in the the region 1 release of 2003 film "The Truth About Charlie")
on 11 February 2004
This is one of my favorite Cary Grant films and I agree with Dave , this copy is completely unwatchable. The print is like the worst video (with poor tracking and sound) which has been transferred to DVD. There is no excuse for this kind of poor quality with todays Hi-tech equipment. Im sending my copy back today and hopefully can get another copy elsewhere. Dont let this put you off the film, its a brill film made my a master crasftman, Stanly Donen, known for his style and flair. Its worth watching, just dont buy this version.
At last we have a high quality DVD of this excellent classic film. Hepburn and Grant sparkle as one might expect, and James Coburn and Walter Matthau are suitably villainous. This original version is vastly superior to the recent remake, much more subtle, much better acting, much better script.
After buying and returning two different very poor previous versions, this Universal edition is a worthwhile addition to any movie buff's collection. It is only the basic film, no extras other than the usual scene selection languages and subtitles, but who needs extras when the film delights the heart and mind as much as this one.
This is a copy of my previous review for this self-same product, now supposedly unavailable on Amazon! Make sure this one here is still the high quality DVD, as mentioned by other reviewers.