‘Charade’ comes to Region A locked Blu-ray with an excellent 1080p, AVC/MPEG-4 transfer framed in the original widescreen 1.85:1 aspect ratio.
The only thing wrong with this transfer is the rather murky opening shot of the train passing camera. It just looks flat and grainy. The rest of the film has a superb image with just a thin veil of grain throughout to remind us that it comes from 1960’s stock. Colours are punchy, such as in the red coat worn by Ms Hepburn while walking by the Seine. Maurice Binder’s title sequence uses some strong, fully saturated colours produced by using filters on the optical printer. They would have lit up the whole cinema with their brilliance and they look amazing here. A fine range of skin tones is displayed, from Mr Grant’s Hollywood tan to Ms Hepburn’s paler visage. There’s plenty of detail to take in the outfits worn by Ms Hepburn as well as in the interior sets. There is also an impressive depth to the image, no doubt due to cinematographer Charles Lang’s lighting and the very good contrast in the 35mm interpositive used for the transfer. An interpositive is produced from the A & B roll cut film negative so that release prints may be struck from it rather than cause wear to the negatives. The transfer then went through several stages of digital clean up to make the end result look so good. Care has been taken not to destroy the original film grain. This is like having your very own 35mm print of the film with the benefit that it hasn’t turned magenta with age. Great job.
The audio on ‘Charade’ comes in an LPCM Mono track which was remastered from the original 35mm full coat magnetic tracks with hiss, snap, crackle and pop being removed digitally thereafter. As you’d expect, it’s clean, there are no sync issues and it sounds very good indeed. The sparkling dialogue is crisp and clean, but I was a bit disappointed that we didn’t get Henry Mancini’s great score in stereo. Purists will probably claim this is sacrilege but you can’t please everyone and I suppose it does remain true to the original release. It’s hard to find more to say about the soundtrack, other than the fact that it’s functional and in good condition.
- Audio Commentary
This track is entertaining due to the friendly bickering that goes on between Stanley Donen and Peter Stone as the movie plays. They sound like an old married couple as they disagree about such things as Audrey Hepburn’s height, but they fill us in on the background of the cast (including someone who only has one shot in the film), the work of cameraman Charles Lang, the contribution made by ‘Hank’ Mancini and others. It drags a bit towards the end but there is some interesting information to be gleaned.
- Trailer (HD, 3 mins)
This period trailer looks like it was taken from a ropey old 16mm print, but it gives us a style of trailer we don’t see these days as Cary Grant relates the tale in Voice Over mode and with superimposed titles. Nice to see it all the same.
- Booklet – Essay by Bruce Eder
An interesting 16pp booklet by film historian & journalist Bruce Eder rounds off the package with some background to the film and reflections upon trends of the period of its release.
That 1960’s classic Cary Grant & Audrey Hepburn romantic comedy thriller ‘Charade’ comes to Blu-ray as the latest addition to the Criterion Collection and with an excellent 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 transfer framed in the widescreen 1.85:1 aspect ratio. A clean, sharp image with excellent colour and contrast is no less than you’d expect from Criterion – and this release is no exception.
The audio comes as an LPCM Mono track that has been cleaned up to remove age related issues, so we get nice clean dialogue and a well balanced track.
An audio commentary from director Stanley Donen & writer Peter Stone, the original theatrical trailer and a 16pp booklet make up the extras.
The film itself is a wonderful whodunit with Audrey Hepburn being pursued across Paris by three desperate men intent on locating a fortune stolen by her murdered husband, while Cary Grant tries to help – or does he? James Coburn, Walter Matthau & Arthur Kennedy also turn in excellent performances. The best Hitchcock movie he never made. Cracking.
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