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SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • English PCM Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • Audio commentary featuring Stanley Donen and screenwriter Peter Stone
  • Original theatrical trailer

Charade

Blu-ray
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Stanley Donen
Starring: Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn, 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
Blu-ray | MSRP: $39.95 | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #57
RLJ Entertainment

Release Date: September 21, 2010
Review Date: September 18, 2010

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SYNOPSIS

In this comedic thriller, a trio of crooks relentlessly pursue a young American, played by Audrey Hepburn in gorgeous Givenchy, through Paris in an attempt to recover the fortune her dead husband stole from them. The only person she can trust is Cary Grant's suave, mysterious stranger. Director Stanley Donen goes deliciously dark for Charade, a glittering emblem of sixties style and macabre wit.

Forum members rate this film 8.4/10

 

Discuss the film and Blu-ray here   


PICTURE

Criterion presents Stanley Donenís Charade in a wonderful high-definition transfer, presented in 1080p/24hz, preserving the filmís original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 on a dual-layer Blu-ray disc.

The step up in picture quality over Criterionís previous editions (a non-anamorphic edition released in 1999, followed by an anamorphic edition in 2004) is rather large with sharpness and detail being the biggest and most notable improvement. While there are moments where the image can look slightly fuzzy around the edges, A majority of the image remains crisp and clean, and compared to the previous anamorphic DVD itís more consistent in this area. Grain remains and is fairly prominent but not all distracting, also coming off looking natural.

Colours look absolutely wonderful throughout, especially reds, which are perfectly rendered. Flesh tones also look quite natural, maybe leaning on the red side at times. There are no digital artifacts to speak of and that probably has to do with the amount of space allotted to the film on the disc; with no other video features to speak of on the dual-layer disc the film gets a lot of space to work with and it has a fairly high bitrate that hangs around just under the 40mbps mark through most of the film.

Other than a few minor marks in the source materials the image found on here is gorgeous and near-perfect, and I canít imagine the film looking any better on home video.

9/10

All Blu-ray screen captures come from the source disc and have been shrunk from 1920x1080 to 900x506 and slightly compressed to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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AUDIO

The lossless mono track provided here does offer a bit of an improvement over the previous DVD editions, but itís nothing I can really call significant. Manciniís score does sound much better here, with better range and fidelity, and doesnít sound as edgy, but voices, while articulate and clear, still come off weak and flat. But the soundtrack is very clean, free of any background noise and damage.

6/10

SUPPLEMENTS

This is where the release disappoints somewhat. Criterion ports over the commentary used on the previous two DVD editions but for some reason didnít bother with any of the other disc supplements.

Thankfully the audio commentary featuring Stanley Donen and Peter Stone is great, one of my favourites in all of my DVD and Blu-ray collection. Recorded for Criterionís original 1999 DVD edition, the two, recorded together, give some great production notes and anecdotes, and fears they had over people possibly not understanding what was happening in the film, like how 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, who brings up that Charade actually started out as a novel he was writing.

The two also argue quite a bit, which is often amusing. 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.

The disc then concludes with the filmís theatrical trailer, which has a surprising amount of macro-blocking in it.

The booklet contains an essay by Bruce Eder that is similar to the one found in the inserts of both previous DVD editions, covering how the film compares to other thrillers being released at the time and its overall appeal, but Eder has expanded on and altered it somewhat, though the overall subject matter is the same.

Both DVD editions had included text notes on the careers of Donen and Stone, which also included a number of photos. These were actually pretty good and also informative, but for some reason Criterion has decided to not port these over. Iím not sure why but the absence of them, along with the knowledge they were once there, makes the edition feel much slimmer.

6/10

CLOSING

The commentary is at least an excellent one and on its own itís an incredibly strong supplement, but the lack of anything else, and the fact that the one supplement was recorded over a decade ago and more than likely had its costs recouped with the previous DVD releases, makes this edition really disappointing, and it actually makes the high price point of $39.95 quite questionable.

But then I look at the transfer, which looks absolutely fantastic and is by far the best Iíve seen the film, making it hard to completely bad mouth the release. Charade had suffered in a public domain hell for years, receiving primarily sub-par VHS and DVD releases before Criterion released it on DVD, finally giving the fun comedy/thriller the release it so deserved. And despite some reservations and disappointments over the release as a whole I guess I should count my blessings that it gets such a gorgeous presentation on Blu-ray. In this regard Criterion has done a spectacular job and I must admit I was absolutely thrilled when I first popped this disc in and I have no doubt others will be just as thrilled as well.


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