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Double Feature Movie Show: AUDREY’S FAUX HITCH

Audrey Hepburn was never in a Hitchcock film, which seems like such a strange fact.

I guess she wasn’t a blonde, but it just seems like she would have been a great Hitch lady.

She did, however, make two films in the mid-60s that may as well have been Hitchcock films.

Directed by Terence Young
Written by Robert Carrington/Jane-Howard Hammerstein
Based on a play by Frederick Knott

Susy Hendrix (Hepburn) was recently blinded in an accident. Her husband, Sam (Efram Zimbalist, Jr) is pressuring her to become “the best blind lady in the world.” (Maybe a little too hard, in my opinion.) While Sam is coming home from out of town, a young woman gives him a doll to keep for her. He doesn’t really understand why, but he does it. ‘Cause that’s what you did in the 60s.

Of course, the doll has heroin in it and there are bad people after it. The baddest of them is Harry Roat (Alan Arkin in a role that’s still one of his best). He’ll kill with hardly any provocation and doesn’t care one bit who his victims are. Richard Crenna and Jack Weston are the hoods that he blackmails into helping him get the doll.

Roat isn’t just a killer. He’s a psychopath. He likes to play with his kills. He could have just gone in and threatened Susy to get the doll, but he wanted to put REAL fear into her. And the final scene between the two of them is horrifying when, suddenly, all of the lights go out. Roat is in Susy’s world, but it’s a world that she’s not super comfortable in just yet.

Wait Until Dark
was directed by one of THE Bond directors (Dr No, From Russia With Love and Thunderball) and the original play was written by the writer of Dial M For Murder. It’s a tense film that just builds and builds until that climax that works best when watched in complete darkness.

CHARADE (1963)
Directed by Stanley Donen
Written by Peter Stone/Marc Behm

Even more Hitch inspired was this bit of confection by Stanley Donen. Regina Lampert (Audrey) is the wife of a man she apparently hardly knows. Just as she’s planning on divorcing him, he shows up dead. Thus begins the mystery of the missing money. Where did he put it? Who are all of these men trying to find it? (Including George Kennedy and James Coburn.)

Helping her figure things out are Hamilton Bartholomew (Walther Matthau) and Peter Joshua (Cary Grant). Hamilton works for the American Embassy and Peter is just a good samaritan who makes friends with Regina.

Or is he?

Much like Suspicion, Cary is of questionable loyalty throughout the film. He could just be a nice guy. Or he could be with the crew of men after the money. Or he could be with the CIA. Or he could be a thief on his own. Or maybe he’s just insane.

Charade is so much like Hitchcock that I really thought it was Hitch for years. It’s like one of his fun caper movies like North By Northwest or To Catch A Thief. It’s fun. It’s tense. And it’s one of the best fun caper films ever made. Somehow, it almost manages to out Hitch Hitch at times.

There are issues, of course. Regina seems to fall a little TOO quickly for Peter’s charms. Like, almost instantly. Even when she starts to question him, she still has eyes for him. But that’s a fairly small thing when you consider a) the time it was made in and b) the movie is just SO damn much fun.

If you’ve never quite understood the cult of Audrey Hepburn, there are hardly two better movies to start with. I mean, sure. Breakfast At Tiffany’s is amazing (except for Mickey Rooney’s incredibly racist character), but these two have been pushed to the side by that rather substantial monument.

Check them out and fall in love.

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