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SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.85:1 Widescreen
  • English Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • Audio commentary: A conversation with Stanley Donen and screenwriter Peter Stone
  • The Films of Stanley Donen: A selected filmography, with an introduction by Donen biographer Stephen M. Silverman
  • Peter Stone's career highlights
  • Original theatrical trailer

Charade

1999 Non-Anamorphic Edition
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Stanley Donen
Starring: Audrey Hepburn, Cary Grant, Walter Matthau, James Coburn, George Kennedy, Ned Glass, Jacques Marin, Paul Bonifas, Dominique Minot, Thomas Chelimsky
1963 | 113 Minutes | Licensor: Universal Studios Home Entertainment

Release Information
DVD | MSRP: $39.95 | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #57 | Out of print
RLJ Entertainment

Release Date: November 2, 1999
Review Date: August 18, 2008

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SYNOPSIS

A young American in Paris (Audrey Hepburn) flees a trio of crooks, who are trying to recover the fortune her late husband stole from them. The only person she can trust is a suave stranger (Cary Grant). A deliciously dark comedic thriller, Stanley Donen's Charade dazzles with style and macabre wit to spare. Criterion is proud to present this '60s suspense classic in a gorgeous widescreen transfer.

Forum members rate this film 7.7/10

 

Discuss the film and DVD here   


PICTURE

Criterionís original release of Charade is presented in the original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 on this dual-layered disc. The original release, for whatever reason, was not enhanced for widescreen televisions.

Despite this one aspect the image actually comes off very strong and was one of Criterionís better non-anamorphic transfers at the time. The image is quite sharp overall, with only a few softer looking sequences. Blacks are pretty good for the most part, though some night sequences present muddier looking blacks. Flesh tones are quite good and colours overall come off looking bright with excellent saturation.

The print has some damage but not much. They either got their hands on a very nice print or did a spectacular clean-up job (or both.) There is grain but itís natural and not heavy.

This disc was discontinued just before the remake The Truth About Charlie came out, more than likely because Universal was hoping to cash-in in some way on the remake. When that didnít pan out (and the inclusion of Charade on the Charlie DVD didnít help sales) Criterion was able to get the rights to the film again and re-released the same edition, though this time with an anamorphic transfer. Most people will probably now go for the new in-print release, though I have to say in certain respects the film actually looks better on this release. On widescreen TVs youíre either going to have to put up with the black border around the whole image or zoom in and put up with heavier artifacts, so in that respect you will probably want the new anamorphic DVD, but on regular standard format televisions I actually found that the image on here looked better. Itís sharper and the colours actually look a bit better, whereas the new release looked softer and the colours werenít as good.

At any rate, itís not worth hunting down but if you come across this older DVD at a good price and own a standard format television, itís still worth picking up. Itís an excellent looking picture for what it is.

7/10

All DVD screen captures are presented in their original size from the source disc. Images have been compressed slightly to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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AUDIO

Audio for Charade is presented in Dolby Digital 1.0 mono. The audio for the most part is pretty good, though I thought the music could get a bit edgy at times. Spoken dialogue sounds decent, if nothing great. In the end itís a decent mono track.

6/10

SUPPLEMENTS

And although it's not a jam packed special edition, I found the extra features well worth my time on this disc.

The commentary is actually one of my favourites in my entire DVD collection. It presents director Stanley Donen and writer Peter Stone and I loved listening to them. They just go on and on like it were just the two of them reminiscing back. They give some great production notes and anecdotes, like the story Cary Grant was worried no one would understand why James Coburn was sticking a mirror under a corpses nose. They both talk about their careers somewhat as well, Stone more so, even bringing up that Charade actually started out as a novel.

I even liked it when they argued. My favourite moment would have to be when they argue over whether the one big twist should be given away. They argue and argue, Stone saying that if the audience is listening to the commentary then they've already watched the film and Donen saying that might not be the case. Of course, once they have the argument resolved, the scene is basically over. Stuff like this actually makes you feel more like an active participant. I also like some of the semi-put-downs they throw in such as when Stone states he wrote a certain shot to which Donen replies "You can't write a shot, Peter!" Itís quite a fun commentary that offers a lot of information about the filmís production and is one of the few filmmaker commentaries that may be just as entertaining as the movie theyíre talking about if not more so.

Biographies/filmographies are provided here for Stanley Donen and Peter Stone. The one for Donen (called The Films of Stanley Donen) is more extensive including photos and posters for some of his movies. The one for Stone is also good but not as thorough as the one for Donen. Both are presented as text and photos that you navigate through using the arrows on your remote. Both are excellent and worth working through.

The disc closes with your typical 60ís style trailer for a thriller, and then the release also comes with an insert that includes an excellent essay on the film by Bruce Eder. In the end itís not an extensive release, but I have to say I greatly enjoyed going through just these few extras than slogging through a lot of mediocre extras.

7/10

CLOSING

Since the disc is now out of print and there is technically a ďbetterĒ new DVD out there for this film now (still from Criterion) this review may not be too important. But I will say if one can come across the disc rather cheap either on an auction site or even in a used video section at a store itís still worth picking up if you have a standard format television. The image actually looks better to me in this case and since the extras are the same between both editions that makes it one heck of a deal.


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