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Cinematic Shorts: Charade

 Wowza!

     Welcome to the first of what should be a common occurrence on this site. The Cinematic Shorts will be quickie reviews of movies. I will reserve this approach for movies I have not watched recently but on which I would like to comment anyway. For instance, you likely noticed I’ve seen nearly all of Hitchcock’s movies, so I’m not likely to rewatch them any time soon, yet Notorious is really dang good, so I’d like to tell you about it. Since this is my first along this vein, I think it only fitting to go with my favorite movie from my favorite actress: Audrey Hepburn.

     I’m not sure how I first discovered Charade. It might have been a rental from the library or when I bought a $5 copy at the movie store where I worked. The set up is ideal for me: Audrey plus Cary Grant. It is the only picture they did together, sadly, but quite a gem. It is a comedy, drama, action, romance and murder mystery all rolled into one.

     Set in France, Audrey plays a woman who returns home from vacation to find the husband she wants to divorce is dead and their home empty following an auction of their belongings. She had bumped into Grant’s character while on vacation and he finds her again in her empty home. A romance of course ensues featuring adorable lines such as:

You know what’s wrong with you? Nothing.

and

Oh, you should see your face. –What’s the matter with it?– It’s lovely.

     *Sigh* I’m swooning just thinking of it. All kinds of switcheroos occur as Audrey tries to understand who killed her husband while avoiding being whacked herself and who Grant really is. Add in some great Audrey fashions and I was sold on the first viewing. I would also be remiss if I failed to mention an adorable little boy in the picture. Look out for his “I would bury it in the garden” line. It’s classic.

     If you like Audrey or Cary Grant, Charade is a must see and one I can never get enough of.

"How do you shave in there?"

New! List After List

I have debuted a new tab to the top of the site labeled “Lists”. Here I will make available a compendium of the various movie checklists I keep for myself. Not only will this allow me to electronically keep track of my progress, but it should give you some insight as to what movies I have seen and which I have not (there are some surprises in the latter category).

I have two lists prepared to start and other, actor-related versions will come shortly.

It’s a Wonderful World

Gasser

It's a Wonderful World (1939)

     I must say it is nice to finally have a comedy to post about, and a good one too, although I don’t think I had ever heard of it before. It’s a Wonderful World from 1939 is a slapstick adventure between Jimmy Stewart and Claudette Colbert. Although the title might have you wondering if I have in fact confused this with Stewart’s It’s a Wonderful Life, the plot line is also similar to another Colbert film involving the gal, with a guy, trying to reach a destination and evade the authorities. You might know that one as 1934’s Best Picture winner: It Happened One Night.

     The best term to describe this film is “fun.” We have Stewart as a private eye who ends up an accomplice to a murder because of ties to a wrongly accused man. He escapes police custody on his way to jail after he discovers the clue he needs to find the actual killers. While on the lamb he bumps into Colbert’s poet and ends up taking her along. Of course hilarity ensues and they gradually fall for each other.

     My feelings for Stewart have transformed over the years but have not wavered much from a sentiment that he is perhaps a mediocre actor. Too many exposures to It’s a Wonderful Life in my youth have led me to loathe that film and for a long time Stewart himself. I maintained until recent years that he could only play one character, the one we see in George Bailey. Perhaps things turned around for Stewart in my eyes when I saw Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Regardless, I still maintain that Stewart’s inability to alter his voice from distinctly Jimmy Stewart limits his acting skills. Now, I am not one to claim that an actor’s worth lies in his ability to speak with a southern twinge or a cockney bravado. Take, for instance, Ingrid Bergman in For Whom the Bell Tolls. She plays a Spanish mountain girl and despite her Swedish accent, makes it work. I did not even question her vocal inflections in this role (perhaps I was too distracted by her hair). Contrariwise, consider Audrey Hepburn in The Unforgiven. That one-of-a-kind (nice try, Jennifer Love Hewitt) French/English/Belgian accent of hers destroys the perception of her as a half American Indian, half white girl. Mind you it probably was not the accent that killed that picture (or her baby, but I won’t go there).

     Returning to Stewart, It’s a Wonderful World, is the first picture I’ve seen of his (that I recall) that allows him to have a little fun with accents and to prove my point. As he attempt to elude the police, he dons a Boy Scout troop leader get-up and claims to be an English actor. He offers up one line in that brogue that could not fool anyone. Later he masquerades as a southern gent and even more poorly performs that talking task. I realize these ramblings are strictly opinion and would be open to argument, if you can find one. Until then, It’s a Wonderful World gets the middle rating of Gasser because it is cute and funny but not a whole lot more.

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