|Cary Grant And Eva Marie Saint|
North By Northwest — As you would expect there is disagreement about which of Alfred Hitchcock’s films is his greatest. This one is toward the top of my list. By fluke, a Manhattan advertising executive (Cary Grant) is mistaken for a CIA agent. He is kidnapped and marked for death by a smuggler, played by James Mason. Grant’s character escapes and the chase begins — trains, planes, cornfields and national landmarks. Enter a love interest. Eva Marie Saint portrays the smart (smarter than the usual Hitchcock blonde), beautiful, if not devious, damsel in distress. Martin Landau is strong in a supporting role. And I always like to see Leo G. Carroll. As usual, watch for Alfred’s trademark cameo
|Cary Grant And Audrey Hepburn|
Charade — A slightly darker film, but not all that dark, Charade is decidedly more of a mystery. A man is murdered, thrown off a train. His widow (Audrey Hepburn) soon realizes she had no idea who her husband really was. Unfortunately for her, his unsavory cohorts believe she has the money her husband stole from them. And they want it back. When a handsome and charming stranger (Cary Grant) enters her life, she believes he’s there to help her. Is he? Stanley Donen directed this 1963 film based on a short story, “The Unsuspecting Wife,” by Peter Stone and Mark Behm. The strong supporting cast includes Walter Matthau, James Coburn and George Kennedy. There are many good reasons to watch this film. One is the score by Henry Mancini. The other is Charles Lang’s stylish cinematography.
As a number of critics have pointed out over the years, Charade seems like a Hitchcock film. If it were, it would be among the legendary director’s best. This alone makes it an interesting double bill. The opening credits on both films are also worth watching.
Incidentally three years ago, Life Death and Fog polled visitors to vote on their favorite Hitchcock movies. Click here for this blog’s top ten by the master.
Libations: With the Hitchcock film, try a Gibson. This is the drink he orders on the train. It is really a gin martini, usually served with a small, silverskin onion. Stirred, not shaken. With Charade, we need to drink in the spirit of Paris. Perhaps now that it’s legal in the U.S., some absinthe. For those who want to keep a clear head in order to keep track of Grant’s identities, mix tonic, lemon, citrus bitters, and rock candy for a great mocktail.