Adam Canfield: Get ready for the story of my life.
Reggie Lampert: Fiction or nonfiction?
Charade is a light-hearted thriller film made in 1963, directed by Stanely Donen. Peter Stone and Marc Behn wrote the story that the movie was based on, and Peter Stone also worked on the screenplay. The screenplay was originally rejected from seven studios, and so Peter Stone made a novel out of the idea, which became famous through Redbook. It was then changed back into a screenplay that all of the seven studios wanted to purchase.

Regina Lambert is a rather normal person. She's married to a rich man. They live in Paris, France, but lately she's been having problems with their marriage. Her husband seems to be keeping secrets and telling lies. On a vacation with one of her friends, Sylvie Gaudel, she decides to get a divorce. She also meets with a nice gentleman, Peter Joshua.

What she doesn't know is that her husband has been killed. He was murdered and then thrown out of a moving train. Not only that, but he had sold all of their belongings, and was leaving the country. In his luggage there was a simple letter to her, not saying anything out of the ordinary.

The police are investigating the crime, and suspect that Regina might know something. But at her husband's funeral, more suspects show up. Other than the detective, Regina, and Sylvie, three people come to "pay their respects."

Leopold W. Gideon. A small man with glasses. Rather timid. He simply looks at the corpse, and begins to sneeze. He quickly walks away from the corpse and takes a seat.

Tex Panthollow. Tall with rather rugged looks. He looks at the corpse's face, unconvinced. He takes a mirror out of his pocket and places it next to the corpse's nose. He pulls it back, not noticing any steam. He walks towards Regina, and remarks that Charlie, her husband, wouldn't go this way. And that there was something up.

Herman Scobie. A huge man, storms into the place. One hand kept in his pocket. He walks quickly to the corpse. Takes a needle out of his trenchcoat, and stabs the corpse's hand with it. Not seeing any blood prick up, he throws the needle at the corpse in disgust, and storms out.

Then a messenger comes to give Regina a note that a man from the American Embassy wishes to see her. Hamilton Bartholomew not only works for the Embassy, but is also a CIA agent. He shows Regina a picture that has her husband, and the three people that showed at his funeral. The men had stolen a fortune of gold intended for the French resistance during World War II. Charles had returned for the gold before the rest, and ran away with it. The others have come back to retrieve it.

Even the friendly Peter Joshua doesn't seem to be the man he is. Arriving at exactly the right time in Regina's life.

But someone is killing off the others looking for the money. It will only be time, until it's Regina's turn.

This is one of my favorite Audrey Hepburn films. She does an excellent job playing the role. With Cary Grant cast next to her how could this movie lose. That's not even including the rest of the cast: James Coburn, Walter Mathau, and George Kennedy all have impressive roles. Also, if you like this film of Hepburn's, check out Wait Until Dark, the movie that proved that Hepburn was still impressive in her growing age. It's also much darker than this one. Another good choice would be How to Steal a Million, however, it is more comedic than Charade.

In October 2002, a remake of Charade was released. It will star Mark Wahlberg, Thandie Newton, and Tim Robbins and the director is Jonathan Demme. The title for this film is The Truth About Charlie.

Main Cast:
Cary Grant - Peter Joshua
Audrey Hepburn - Regina "Reggie" Lampert
Walter Matthau - Hamilton Bartholomew
James Coburn - Tex Panthollow
George Kennedy - Herman Scobie
Dominique Minot - Sylvie Gaudel
Ned Glass - Leopold W. Gideon
Jacques Marin - Inspector Edouard Grandpierre
Paul Bonifas - Mr. Felix
Thomas Chelimsky - Jean-Louis Gaudel
Analysis:(with spoilers, so don't read if you haven't seen it!)
I find the Army group interesting. All of them were rather resilient people. We have Charles, who we never learn much about. Obviously, he was one of the more secretive ones in the group. He was able to hide from all of them, except for Dyle.

We have Scobie, the brawn of the group. A towering man, and was able to survive his hand being riddled with bullets. Unfortunatly, his slow wits are probably what did him in the end. Or perhaps, Dyle just knew how to use his strength better than Scobie did.

We have Gideon, a thinker type. He's also remarked as being crueller than Tex. Perhaps, he was the torturer of the group. But we really don't get much of his character developed.

Tex is rather quick-witted, but doesn't seem to have the intelligence to put it to the fullest use. He's well-built, but not as amazingly strong as Scobie. But he does know how to put facts togethor, as witnessed in his last scenes. He's also determined, as was proven with his message on the floor.

Then we have Dyle. Smart. Quick. Strong. Deadly. And survived being completly riddled by bullets, and being left for dead. The man is amazing. He was everything that the others were. It even brings the idea of what Cary Grant's character said about him, that he might have been shot by his comrades. Perhaps, even they feared him in the beginning.
Source:
IMDB - http://www.imdb.com

The universe,
I hold,
is no charade,
No acted pun,
unriddled by a word.

-George Eliot, 1878.

Charades is a whimsical sport much older than the 1968 mystery/romance characterized in the movie. Traditionally the diversion has been the catch phrase for a number of games that involve guessing words or phrases. It’s mentioned time and again in literature through out the 19th and 20th centuries similar to the way that bridge or whist is.

No doubt Scrooge and the Cratchit's amused themselves with the pastime during yuletide, once Ebenezer's heart was saved. This form of entertainment has been described as “A ridiculous pretence” or a farce. Primarily charades are riddles where syllables are to be guessed. Players would rely on enigmatic descriptions of the words or syllables. The silent form is called dumb charades and more recent versions are mimed in a dramatic presentation commonly referred to as acted charades.

The recorded history of charades dates back to the 16th century France where popular parlor games called Petit Jeux were composed of intellectual exercises created for evening fun. Some became so engaging that a few of the famous evenings have even been documented. One enthusiast at games-collector.com/ noted in 1985:

In 1654, King Louie XIV (sic) ballet danced the clues to a comedy of proverbs in front of his entourage. Queen Catherine the Great, in 18th Century Russia, used to make up her own dramatic proverbs to be acted out and solved by her court. The noted poet Alfred de Musset wrote his own proverbs for the game in 1831, and by the mid 19th Century Charades became the rage in England.

Many times charades were presented in prose or verse. A good example is the following taken from the more well known ones created by Winthrop Mackworth Praed:

My first is company;
my second shuns company;
my third collects company;
and my whole amuses company.

The Atlantic Puzzler (The Atlantic Monthly) explains how to make up the spoken riddle form of the game by breaking, ”the answer into two or more convenient parts and define them sequentially, as in …FARMING (agriculture) breaks into "far" (remote) and "Ming" (Chinese dynasty), and could be clued as "Agriculture in remote Chinese dynasty.”

Today’s most fashionable form of this delight is the acted charade in which the meaning of the different syllables is acted out on a stage where players mime each syllable of a word, a book title or movie and so on in consecutive acts, while the audience attempts to deduce the whole word or title. A stunning illustration of the acted charade is demonstrated in William Makepeace Thackeray's novel Vanity Fair written as a serial beginning in 1847 and ending in1848. Many have hailed it as a clever and absorbing critique of early 19th-century society. In chapter 51 entitled In Which a Charade Is Acted Which May or May Not Puzzle the Reader the King has come to dinner and following the meal a game of charades is played. Thackeray’s scheming and manipulative main character Becky is at the heart of the tale. She portrays a symbolic role in the game as Clytemnestra who murdered her husband, Agamemnon when her lover's courage failed. Thus Becky’s inclination for bumping off her significant other is implicit in her successful rendering because she plays the Greek goddess so believably the audience is horrified leaving one member convinced that Becky could commit murder.

By now the party game has gained such legendary status that pretty much everyone knows the rules. Some examples of a few of the standard signals in common use today are: to indicate a book title, a player puts their hands together as if praying, then unfolds them flat. To signify a film title the player forms an O with one hand to mime a lens while cranking the other hand as if they are running an old-fashioned movie camera. To show that one word sounds like another a player typically pulls on their ear. Players usually hold up fingers to show the number of words in the phase, then they hold up a number of fingers once more to point out which word they want the audience guess, finally holding their fingers against their arm indicates the number of syllables in a particular word.

Even though the nature of the game has changed it’s been around a long time. No one really knows when or where the game arose, but historians say that the record keeping from the middle ages tells that the name of the game came from the French Provencal word charrado meaning a "long talk” or “chatter." Some say it could be of an echoic origin of charrar implying more specially "to chatter” and “gossip." Etymologists add that the Welsh word siarad is borrowed from French or English and its sense of "speak, a talk" is close to the original Provencal. Eventually the word reached a metaphorical meaning as a, “readily perceived pretense; a travesty: went through the charade of a public apology.

Sources:

The American Heritage Dictionary , charade:
www.bartleby.com/61/72/C0247200.html Accessed May 26, 2005.

Charades:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charades Accessed May 26, 2005.

games2collect, Charades:

www.games-collector.com/ games-c/204023-charades-1985.htm
Accessed May 26, 2005.

LoveToKnow Article on CHARADE:
89.1911encyclopedia.org/C/CH/CHARADE.htm
Accessed May 26, 2005.

OED, charade:
http://dictionary.oed.com. Accessed May 26, 2005.

Online Etymology Dictionary, charade:
www.etymonline.com/index.php?l=c&p=9 Accessed May 26, 2005.

Puzzler Instructions:
www.theatlantic.com/issues/puzzclue.htm
Accessed May 26,2005

Shade_Jon, BoardGameGeek:
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geekforum.php3?action=viewthread&threadid=35932
Accessed May 26, 2005.

Cha*rade" (?), n. [F. charade, cf. Pr. charrada long chat, It ciarlare to chat, whence E. charlatan.]

A verbal or acted enigma based upon a word which has two or more significant syllables or parts, each of which, as well as the word itself, is to be guessed from the descriptions or representations.

 

© Webster 1913.

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