Lookout ladies, it’s Partners for the PAC’s “Girls Night Out.” On Thursday, March 19, you’ll want to get your sweet selves over to the Performing Arts Center at 16th and Franklin in Astoria for an entertaining evening designed expressly with you in mind! A night of fashion and fun may be yours–just what’s needed with the kids home from school for spring break soon—for the price of a ticket ($10 at the door). Doors open at 7:00.
First, there’ll be a showing of the 1963 film classic, “Charade.” Then, you’ll sip bubbly and eat chocolate during intermission! Be sure and get glamorous before you arrive too, as there’ll be prizes for “best ensemble” in the audience. So, dust off those tiaras, get out the evening gloves. This will be your night to shine.
At 7:30 sharp, Charade will cast its spell on the big screen in sumptuous living color. “Charade is a classic cat-and-mouse, “Hitchcockian” romantic comedy and enigmatic thriller all-in-one from director Stanley Donen, known more for his musicals (Singing in the Rain, On The Town, etc.). The plot twisting, witty and suspenseful film is a sophisticated, yet off-balanced combination of thrills and comedy,” gushes one on-line writer at Filmsite.org.
A sixties gem—an early example of the spoofs and caper movies so popular during the decade—Charade stars the effervescent Audrey Hepburn. As widow Regina Lampert, Hepburn spends most of the movie looking for money her character’s late husband filched and romancing Cary Grant who, as Peter Joshua, is a distinctly suspicious character however devastatingly handsome he might be.
You’ll relish the delightful repartee in store—the sort of banter you’ve come to expect with this genre (think Hitchcock’s “The 39 Steps”). Hepburn’s character is clearly attracted to Grant’s mysterious hero but that doesn’t stop her from mocking him–for his gray hair, failing eyesight, and his famous chin cleft. “How do you shave in there,” she asks. About his general untrustworthiness, she sasses, “You won’t be able to lie on your back for a while,” she quips. “But then you can lie from any position can’t you?” (Dissolve.com)
A cadre of miscreants remains on their trail throughout—looking for the money as well–played by popular actors George Kennedy (Cool Hand Luke and Airport), James Coburn (In Like Flint and The Magnificent Seven) and other familiar faces from the sixties. The redoubtable Walter Matthieu (The Odd Couple, Bad News Bears and Charley Varrick) has a small, but key role as a private investigator.
While not exactly fluffy, Charade is not to be taken too seriously plot wise. Instead, we’re meant to thrill to a star-driven, international adventure. The action moves from one gorgeous location to another—from a ski lodge in the Alps in Haute-Savoie France and the glittering streets of Paris at night, to an outdoor Punch and Judy puppet show in the Jardin’s des Champs Elysees and many other famous locations in the legendary City of Light. Sigh.
With all it had going for it, it’s no surprise then that Charade was a huge hit and a defining (role) for Hepburn, establishing her as the ideal heroine for high-spirited movies combining romance, comedy and suspense and, lest we forget, beautiful clothes.
Hepburn’s onscreen persona
It’s interesting that Grant (who was 59 at the time he made Charade) had concerns about the age difference with Hepburn (34) which made the required romantic interplay uncomfortable for him. The filmmakers simply reworked the screenplay so that she was the one pursuing him. Over her career, Hepburn was regularly paired with “older” co-stars. The lineup included Humphrey Bogart, Gary Cooper, Gregory Peck, Henry Fonda, William Holden, Burt Lancaster and Fred Astaire, reflecting how “the studio” saw and “marketed” her.
While she may have played the innocent or “ princess type” who looks to a paternalistic figure to save her from herself, Hepburn had her own ideas about her career, how she dressed and what style and class meant. She was the quintessential 1950s “gamine,” a French term for a slim, often boyish, elegant, wide-eyed young woman who is, or is perceived to be, mischievous, teasing or sexually appealing. (Wikipedia).
“Audrey was always more about fashion than movies or acting,” said Donen (and not as an insult). Her elfin features and waif-like figure inspired renown fashion designer Givenchy who’s credited with creating her style.” Hepburn readily acknowledged as much, “Givenchy gave me a look, a kind, a silhouette. He has always been the best and he stayed the best. Because he kept the spare style that I love. What is more beautiful than a simple sheath made an extraordinary way (with) a special fabric and just two earrings.”
Givenchy created Hepburn’s outfits for several of her films, remaining her friend and ambassador (and she his muse) throughout her life. Experts affirmed that her longevity as a style-icon results from her sticking with a look that suited her: “clean lines, simple yet bold accessories, minimalist palette. At home, she preferred casual and comfortable clothes, though! Who’d have thought it?
Don’t miss this movie, if only for the clothes; the two leads and strong supporting cast; the locations; and, of course, the memorable music of composer Henry Mancini (words by Johnny Mercer) who took home the movie’s only Oscar for his wonderfully evocative score and haunting title song, “Charade”). Besides, it’s all for a good cause. This event is at the PAC for the PAC, which means it’s being sponsored by Partners for the PAC to raise money for the continued operation of the facility as a venue for affordable public arts and educational offerings. Talk about a win/win.