Charade, the Best Hitchcock Film Hitchcock Never Made. Stars Cary Grant & Audrey Hepburn


The best Hitch­cock film Hitch­cock nev­er made. That’s how cer­tain enthu­si­asts of Amer­i­can film think of Cha­rade, Stan­ley Donen’s 1963 light­ly comedic mys­tery thriller filled with inter­na­tion­al intrigue. Its cast list draws deeply from the era’s for­mi­da­ble well of cin­e­mat­ic icons: Cary Grant, Audrey Hep­burn, Wal­ter Matthau, James Coburn, and George Kennedy. Its action takes place in no less a screen-illu­mi­nat­ing world city than Paris. The Cri­te­ri­on Col­lec­tion has seen fit to give it a schol­ar­ly, respectable DVD and Blu-Ray release. It comes scored by Hen­ry Manci­ni. It has inspired four remakes, includ­ing one in Ben­gali and one in Hin­di. It direc­tor also made On the Town, Sin­gin’ in the Rain, Fun­ny Face, and Bedaz­zled. “A ter­rif­i­cal­ly enter­tain­ing com­e­dy-thriller,” crit­ic Dave Kehr calls it, “per­fect­ly craft­ed” and “a mar­velous use of Paris.” All these qual­i­ties and more strong­ly rec­om­mend the pic­ture, at least to my mind, and if you’d like to see it for your­self, you have only to pull it up on

Wait — real­ly? A film of such seem­ing­ly high pro­file, made only 49 years ago? You don’t exact­ly come across the likes of Cha­rade in the pub­lic domain every day. But I have an expla­na­tion, and it will sure­ly delight those film fans who make sport of point­ing out the incom­pe­tence of major stu­dios. It seems that pre-1978 Unit­ed States copy­right law absolute­ly required you to include some sort of mark on your work indi­cat­ing your intent to claim copy­right at all — ©, for instance — and in Cha­rade’s case, Uni­ver­sal Pic­tures seemed to have just sort of for­got­ten about it. The film thus went pub­lic domain as soon as it came out. Cri­te­ri­on’s pro­vides a supe­ri­or trans­fer and a wealth of cinephilic accou­trements besides, but if you want to dip into the pic­ture right now, sim­ply click play. An unknow­able but capa­ble Cary Grant and a Givenchy-clad Audrey Hep­burn pur­sued through the ear­ly six­ties’ City of Light for gold stolen in wartime — who, espe­cial­ly those on an office lunch break, could resist?

You can, of course, find Cha­rade list­ed in our col­lec­tion, 4,000+ Free Movies Online: Great Clas­sics, Indies, Noir, West­erns, Doc­u­men­taries & More.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Hours of Clas­sic Crime and Mys­tery Movies. Dis­cov­er Our Film Noir and Alfred Hitch­cock Col­lec­tions

Detour: The Cheap, Rushed Piece of 1940s Film Noir Nobody Ever For­gets

Female Noir Direc­tor Ida Lupino’s The Hitch-Hik­er, Free Online

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall.

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Comments (7)
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  • Ed Zeile says:

    A witty,sophisticated, fast paced, enter­tain­ing, and delight­ful film.

  • Ray Roman says:

    I’m con­fused, so because of the genre ‘film enthu­si­ast’ think Hitch­cock would of direct­ed it bet­ter and it would have been his best work?

  • Frank Aquino says:

    I first saw this at the cin­e­ma as a child- I did­n’t under­stand at the time, the sig­nif­i­cance of a corpse being stuck with a pin? The sem­blance of an Alfred Hitch­cock film is uncan­ny-malthough it is miss­ing his dis­tinc­tive trade­mark.

  • John Robertson says:

    with a cast like that and the production/direction spot on I would sur­prised that any­one could find a bad word to say about it.
    I would add that I thank you for putting this online because I missed it first time round at my coun­try cin­e­ma because I was unwell at the time and once it was shown that was it in this days. No sec­ond chances then.

  • Thomas W says:

    It is NOT a Hitch­cock film. It was pro­duced and direct­ed in the Hitch­cock STYLE…but by Stan­ley Donen, not Hitch­cock.

  • Thomas W says:

    I must be grog­gy, dyslex­ic, a care­less reader…or all three. Sor­ry for stat­ing the obvi­ous in my pre­vi­ous com­ment.

  • William says:

    Col­in nev­er said this was a Hitch­cock film. He says right in his post this is “the Best Hitch­cock Film Hitch­cock NEVER Made”. So.…..what’s the big deal?

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