The lack of copyright has put Charade into the public domain, which is why there is a massive glut of DVD and VHS copies of the film in circulation, including an inclusion of the film as a Bonus Feature with its abysmal remake The Truth About Charlie. The Criterion version of the DVD is, unsurprisingly, the preferred way to watch the film, until Charade finds itself in a film revival. One of Grant's last films (and his last good film), he finds himself in the very position he had avoided when he turned down Roman Holiday: romancing Audrey Hepburn at an age when she could have believably played his daughter. Luckily, the script outright embraces the age difference, and when the romance begins early in the film, every following scene contains some barbed reference to the generational gap that seperates the two. Hepburn, never one for depth of performance, is well-used here. The cuteness that can often irritate is an excellent counterbalance to the disgusting behavior she is surrounded by, from Matthau's hilariously revolting CIA operative to George Kennedy's tour-de-force performance as a claw handed bad guy straight out of Moonraker. It's a lucky stroke that Stanley Donen was able to bring in Grant for a rare turn as an unrepentant liar, as few actors could make being a sleaze so charming. Charade is funny, yes, ridiculous even, but the brilliance of the film is in its embrace of the nuts and bolts of the spy drama. Excepting Hepburn, our foolish guide through the interworkings of "scary people," no one in Charade can be trusted. While death is, as always, right behind the hotel door, it's death as obvious blunder instead of unforgiving horror (like today's spy masterpieces.) When the bad guys begin to go down, there's no missing the motive--lack of class. As Charade puts it, being cool will keep you alive while being gross will get a plastic bag over your head. Excepting the final gun-battle (a totally unnessary attempt at high drama, after a subway chase that leaves one exhausted) Charade tells a lazy story that refuses to get cornered into one genre. Unlike many forays into the classic thrillers of the past, which usually leave me wondering what Fincher or Greengrass could do with the same script, Charade is a film that leaves no room for improvement.
As for bonus features, there's a conversation with Donen and Stone and not much else--although it is always fun to see how cheap previews were in 1963.
-Tucker Stone, 2006