Audrey Hepburn, Cary Grant and Walter Matthau capering around Paris with absurd misunderstandings and cases of mistaken identities? Sign me up! This wonderful film stars people for whom I would love to bake cookies. Sure, Audrey might not eat any, but I’m sure she would appreciate the gesture. In Charade, these three performers come together to teach me some valuable lessons about life.
1) Your husband is not all that important.
When the film opens, Regina (Audrey Hepburn) doesn’t know exactly what her husband does for a living. She doesn’t even know his real last name. All she knows is that because of him, she’s outfitted in an awesome Givenchy wardrobe and goes on incredible ski trips to the Alps. Since she’s not too attached, she doesn’t get that upset when turns up dead. It’s not like she gets up in an outrage when a man sticks his dead body with a pin at his funeral, so clearly she couldn’t have been too enamored with her husband. This is a great lesson: so as long as you don’t really love your husband but you have access to his fortune, you’re good to go. Then there’s no need to get into a depressed tizzy when you get to that unpleasant ‘til death do us part’ business. Life is all about you and you are all about fun.
2) Always trust a guy you met once on vacation and don’t be creeped out when he randomly shows up at your house.
After briefly meeting Peter (Cary Grant), Regina returns from the Alps and she finds her home has been ransacked. Immediately Peter appears inside her apartment and while she is surprised, she isn’t the least bit suspicious about it. This is a great lesson – when you’re in a confusing and perilous situation, you should always let a charming stranger take care of you. It’s not at all weird that he showed up at your house – you told him you were in the phone book, after all. Isn’t that basically an invitation to come over whenever he wants? I think it is. Even if you discovers he’s been using fake name, don’t worry! So what if he’s not really “Peter”? Does it really matter if it’s actually “Dyle”? Or “Adam”? Who cares? He’s just being flirty! Trust him! What, like you’re going to take care of yourself? I should think not! You’re just a tiny woman with a small brain. It’s always better to let an older man of questionable integrity do your thinking for you.
3) Never change hotels.
Regina ends up staying at the same hotel as the three men who’ve been threatening her life because they think she’s hiding her dead husband’s money from them. Despite several incidents of violence and murders between Regina or Peter/Dyle/Adam and these men, she never decides that moving hotels is a good idea. The three men kidnap her friend’s kid at one point and hold him captive in the hotel – but he was fine. You know why? Because obviously the hotel is a great place for kids! Peter/Dyle/Adam won’t even move hotel rooms after a dude is drowned in his bathtub. It would just be such a hassle and it’s probably a super nice bathroom. A tub big enough to drown an enormous man in is probably pretty luxurious and once you find a place you’re comfortable, you should stick around. Otherwise you have to find a new hotel, cancel the rest of your reservation at your current one, repack, schlep all your luggage somewhere, get a cab… Ugh, I’m tired just thinking about it! Besides, everyone knows criminals hate cowards. Better to stick around to stare your would-be assassins right in the face.
4) Always accept free sandwiches!
Regina almost makes a crucial mistake when she meets Mr. Bartholomew (Walter Matthau) – she rejects his friendly offer of a sandwich. Ultimately, she accepts several sandwiches after receiving some anxiety-inducing news. Always accept a free sandwich. There’s never a good reason not to.
5) Puppet shows are good at inducing mental breakdowns.
If you’re out strolling in the park hoping to relax and escape the tension of having killers on your tail, don’t stop to watch a Punch and Judy puppet show. It seems like it’s all fun ‘n’ games until you realize you’re watching a puppet show parallel of your life. Regina really feels for Judy’s innocence when Punch tries to frame her for his murder. She breaks down and realizes how much she is like Judy. This is just like me when I was a kid! I was at a birthday party watching a puppet show starring the California raisins when I realized how alike we were – purple, shriveled and incapable of not dancing. This led to a complete mental collapse, from which I have yet to recover.
But I’m starting to now, thanks to Charade.