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Story: A Paris housewife is widowed, only to discover that a number of parties want money her husband hid… and think she’s the one who has it.

Detective: Regina Lampert/Peter Joshua

Release Date: December 5, 1963

Writer: Peter Stone

Source: “The Unsuspecting Wife” by Peter Stone and Marc Behm

Mystery Analysis:
Detective as protagonist?

Jenny: Yes.  Reggie’s pretty much forced into it because everybody thinks she killed her husband and hid the money.
Lani: Yes, although an amateur, forced into the role by circumstance, but still functioning as a detective in the story.

Murderer as antagonist?
Jenny: Terrific antagonist.  All his moves are logical and smart and yet you never see him coming.
Lani: Yes, and wonderfully present throughout.

Conflict created by murder?
Jenny: The body falls off the train at the very beginning, and even that flirting scene at the beginning is Peter/Alex trying to find out if she killed him.
Lani: Yes, and also by the mystery of where the money is.

Fair play with all the clues given?
Jenny: Yes
Lani: Yes.

Solved using deduction, not luck?
Jenny: Yes.  She tracks down every clue.
Lani: Yes; it’s Reggie who figures out how Charlie hid the money, and it’s through her deduction that she’s able to follow the trail through to the end

Story Analysis & Ratings:

Jenny says: 5 Pops
Mystery: 5, Craft: 5, Suspense: 5, Romance: 5

Lani says: 5 Pops
Mystery: 5, Craft: 5, Suspense: 5, Romance: 5

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10 responses to “Charade”

  1. I find this…odd. Yes, the plotting is easy, and the ending of the movie is a hoot (Cary’s cross-eyed expression when she walks in, “That’s the last name I’d get stuck with,” her line about how we’ll have to have all these boys so we can name them after you…). But at times I just… I don’t know. Mostly I just don’t get how Audrey Hepburn is married to a guy she knows NOTHING about whatsoever (how do you not know anything? I kept thinking of “Farthinggale” again) and doesn’t love and doesn’t give two hoots about compared to her lost furnishings. How the hell do you get into that situation? I guess we’re supposed to assume she’s just nuts because she then wants to marry a guy who changes his name every 20 minutes, but it annoyed me.

    Also: note to Audrey that if a guy is torturing you by lighting matches, waving them in your faces for 5-10 seconds before he drops them in your lap, repeatedly– you could always BLOW THEM OUT. I’m just saying.

    I was watching the commentary and they said something about Walter Matthau playing it under the wire with being goofy and funny so that you didn’t figure out he was the killer. That certainly worked, and then I didn’t red-flag him until he assigned the meeting place. Silly me, isn’t everyone but her having some sort of twist here?

    Eh…maybe something’s wrong with me because I don’t love most of these movies.

  2. I love this movie. Part of it may be that I watched over and over with my mom when I was little, so I have a childhood attachment to it. But mostly I just find it really fun. The thing with the matches…as I watched it this time, I was thinking she should take that cigarette out of his mouth and stick it in his eye (Romancing the Stone, anyone?). But I can see how you’d freak out if someone was threatening to set you on fire, especially if having your life threatened is a new experience. I read the novelization like five years ago, and I think he has them married for less than a year, so that might explain why she doesn’t know him well, but not knowing ANYTHING is a bit much. His having exactly $250,000 after 20 years was odd. I would have thought he’d have gotten interest on it or made investments, or whatever, so that’s the only thing I really found confusing, but I like the rest so much I don’t really care.

  3. I enjoyed your discussion. Also, I love the movie, and tend to be very forgiving when it comes to actors like Grant and Hepburn, but I really don’t think there would have been much I’d change.

  4. I’m assuming he spent a lot of it. He’d have to be living on something for twenty years. So still having the $250K would mean he’d invested it.

  5. I haven’t listened to the podcast yet so I’m just going on my thoughts and the comments…
    @Jennifer – definitely with you on the matches. That’s exactly what I thought.

    I liked the movie but I’m not a big Audrey Hepburn fan. She’s beautiful to look at but that’s about it for me. In fact, I’ve tried to watch this movie several times and this is the first time I’ve made it past the 20 min mark. I finally ‘got it’ and it really was the comedy and the banter that pulled me all the way through.

  6. @ Jennifer you know I had an averse reaction to this as well. The main thing that tripped me up was that he keeps lying to her and she keeps forgiving him, and it just kind of pulled me out of the story. It was the first time I had ever seen this movie, so maybe i just had a wierd reaction.

    I thought that it was a good mystery, and the clues were all given. I thought it was great how they developed the mystery I just had a wierd reaction to the romance in this -maybe I’m a mutant?

  7. I kept thinking she should just blow out the matches, too. And May, I agree about the lying – usually that’s a deal-breaker for me. But for some reason, I can forgive it here, the same way I overlook Audrey Hepburn not knowing anything about the man she married… and the same way I overlook the fact that she falls in love with Cary Grant pretty much immediately, while he is lying to her. I think because of the time, I can overlook it and enjoy the rest of the story, because aside from those niggles, the rest really delivers. For me, at least.

  8. Oh, I’d fall for Cary Grant pretty much immediately. That didn’t seem unusual:) The lies, yeah – that’s problematic, but it’s fiction.

    I liked this much better than my previous attempt. I had no idea it was so funny – and smart. I think it was the smart factor that kept me involved, too. I will say that this was a mystery that I figured out well before the detective – and that pretty much never happens. Hiding the object in plain sight is ancient wisdom and is even the way Agatha Christie began her career with Hercule Poirot. Just one of those things that sticks with me.

  9. Saved this podcast for a rainy day, it’s really raining. It’s Cary Grant which means a lot gets forgiven, even he lies, but he does save her life. His persona meant a lot would be forgiven. It would be interesting to read the novelization of the screenplay for comparison. One of my favourite mystery films with CG. Haven’t watched it in a while. Isn’t there a scene where she says,”You know what’s wrong with you?” and he says,”what” and she says, “nothing.” All is over-looked or forgiven. It’s Cary Grant.