Charade in Paris

By Judy Berman

A train races down the tracks in a desolate country scene. Before the opening credits roll, one of its passengers tumbles out in his pajamas. Dead.

The widow – although she doesn’t it know it yet – also appears to be about to meet a violent end at a ski resort. As Reggie Lampert (played by Audrey Hepburn) sips a cup of coffee, a gun is aimed directly at her. Fortunately, it’s a water gun, and the shooter is her young nephew, Jean-Louis (Thomas Chelimsky).

His next water-soaked victim is Peter Joshua (Cary Grant). This Stanley Donen film, “Charade” (1963), is being re-released this year on DVD. It also can be seen online, and is well worth the view.

Most of the action in this romantic comedy/suspense thriller takes place in The City of Lights.  Several years ago, this movie inspired my husband, Dave, our daughters, and me, (all of us “Charade” aficionados) to check into the Hotel St. Jacques, stroll along the Seine River, dine on a riverboat, tour a market off the Champs-Elysees and take in other sites featured in the movie.

When Hepburn returns to Paris, she discovers her husband, Charles, had emptied out their place. She frantically runs from room to room, and is startled when Inspector Edouard Grandpierre (Jacques Marin) emerges. He asks her to come with him.

At the morgue, she identifies her husband’s body. The Inspector reveals her husband had multiple identities, planned to leave the country, and gives her Charles’ small duffle bag.

It contained an agenda listing his last appointment – Thursday at The Gardens, 4,000 francs, a letter to her – stamped and unsealed, keys to their apartment, a comb, a fountain pen, a toothbrush and tooth powder.

Not much to go on. When she returns to the apartment, the door creaks, and she hears steps across the floor. It’s Peter Joshua (Grant), and he suggests she go to a hotel where she’ll have a safe place to stay.

Hotel St. Jacques actually is a great place to stay. Some of the film’s interior shots were filmed here. But this turns out to be a bad choice for Hepburn. She no sooner opens the door to her room than she is confronted by George Kennedy (as Herman Scobie) – one of three men she wishes to avoid.

Kennedy threatens her. He and two others – James Coburn as “Tex” and Ned Glass as “Gideon” – are convinced Hepburn knows the whereabouts of the $250,000 that her husband stole from them.

Hepburn runs toward a winding antique staircase and screams for Grant. Grant rushes inside. You hear a scuffle and then silence. Hepburn tentatively opens the door and finds Grant on the floor. Kennedy is nowhere in sight. He escaped out the window. Grant follows.

When you step outside the hotel at night, you can almost visualize Grant leaping from one balcony to another in pursuit of Kennedy.

A fourth man, Hamilton Bartholemew (Walter Matthau), tells her that he’s with the CIA, and the money her husband stole really belongs to the U.S.government. Matthau tells her the government wants the money back. He warns Hepburn: “Now that he’s (Charles) dead, you’re their only lead.”

Grant and Hepburn also find time for romance over dinner aboard a riverboat along the Seine River. We took a similar cruise. In the dark, the Eiffel Tower looked golden and the view of the Notre Dame Cathedral from the river also is impressive.

Despite this idyllic setting, the body count and tension mount in the film.

The movie is a classic game of who do you trust. Donen keeps us guessing, even after Hepburn discovers where her husband hid the money.

If you can’t make it to Paris, check out this movie. Viewer discretion is advised. Shortly after you watch it, you’ll want to see the real thing.

** Post a comment below if you’d like to share what film from past decades is most memorable to you?

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COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Judy Berman and earthrider, 2011-14. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to (Judy Berman) and (earthrider, earth-rider.com, or earthriderdotcom) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

* Photos of Audrey Hepburn, Jacques Marin, Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn, George Kennedy, and Walter Matthau and Audrey Hepburn in the movie, “Charade” (1963)

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Charade

* “Charade” – movie trailer – about 3 minutes

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0056923/

* “Charade” – movie summary, cast on IMDb (Internet Movie Database)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0056923/

BUELLER? BUELLER?

By Judy Berman

Playing hooky. Taking a mental health day off from work. Did you ever wish you played it like Ferris Bueller? Breaking all the rules. Cool, charming and utterly over-the-top outrageous. That escapism appeals to me.

What would that innocent-looking scamp be up to today? Maybe he’d kick it up a notch when he ditches work.

A short clip of an ad that will run during the Super Bowl on Feb. 5th is already teasing the audience about the prospects of a grown-up Bueller. Matthew Broderick, who played Ferris in John Hughes’ 1986 film, will be 50 in March. (The complete ad was released Monday, Jan. 30th, after I wrote this. Its link has been added below.)

Broderick is at it again. Just like Bueller did in the opening of the movie, Broderick opens the curtains and looks directly at the camera. He confides to the audience, “How can I handle work on a day like today?”

I skipped work once when I was about 21 at my first job. Like Bueller, I also headed downtown. No, I didn’t jump on a parade float as Ferris did and serenade the crowd with Wayne Newton’s “Danke Schoen” or The Beatles’ version of “Twist and Shout.”

But there was a crowd. It was lunchtime, and among those milling about the shoppers was my boss – an older gent.

We briefly exchanged glances. I had on shades and a white winter parka. I continued walking with my friends, hoping – no, fervently praying – that he’d think he must be mistaken.

When I returned to work the next day, my boss never quizzed me about my absence. We never talked about this. But I didn’t repeat that escapade ever again in ANY of my jobs.

I still aspire to be Ferris, to have his savoir faire in dealing with a snooty waiter at an exclusive restaurant. Or in putting one over on the school dean as Ferris did to his, Edward R. Rooney, played by Jeffrey Jones. Rooney is bound and determined to catch Ferris and end the teen’s deception once and for all.

Ferris wasn’t the only one in the film milking an opportunity. He convinced his best friend, Cameron (Alan Ruck), to let him borrow his Dad’s prized convertible, a 1961 Ferrari GT California. (“The insert shots of the Ferrari were of the real 250 GT California,” Hughes explains in a DVD commentary, according to Wikipedia. “The cars we used in the wide shots were obviously reproductions. There were only 100 of these cars, so it was way too expensive to destroy.”)

Someone as devious as Ferris couldn’t wait to get his hands on that hot convertible’s steering wheel. The teens – Ferris, Cameron and Ferris’ girlfriend, Sloane Peterson (played by Mia Sara) – dropped the car off at a parking garage. Then, a scheme worthy of Ferris quickly unfolded. Ferris and friends barely had their backs turned when the garage attendants peeled out of the garage and took the rare car for a joy ride. As they did, Yello’s “Oh, Yeah” blared thru the streets.

An enviable heist. It was returned unharmed. But the garage attendants had racked up several hundred miles on the odometer.

Ferris, whatever you might be up to, I hope it’s another glorious romp. If it is, I’d love to be along for the ride.

COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Judy Berman and earthrider, 2011-14. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to (Judy Berman) and (earthrider, earth-rider.com, or earthriderdotcom) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Photo: of Matthew Broderick as Ferris Bueller

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ferris_Bueller

Yello’s “Oh, Yeah” music video:

http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=Yello+Oh+Yeah+Ferris+Bueller+video&mid=EAB5AA7D103A829F7731EAB5AA7D103A829F7731&view=detail&FORM=VIRE1

The full ad was revealed Monday, Jan. 30th. (This is in no way an endorsement of any product. The reveal is just to show you what will be on Super Bowl on Sunday that was the subject of my original blog.)

http://tv.msn.com/tv/article.aspx?news=699644

Titanic: Final Destination

By Judy Berman

Do you want A Night to Remember? A night on an ill-fated cruise ship?

I’d bail on this “voyage of a lifetime.” But others apparently are eager to board the 100th anniversary 12-night Titanic Memorial Cruise. The cruise on the MS Balmoral will follow the same route as the RMS Titanic.

First of all, this heartbreaking news bulletin: Neither Jack Dawson nor Rose DeWitt Bukater will be on board to greet you. Both characters in director James Cameron’s 1997 movie, “Titanic,” were fictional. There is, however, an effort to resuscitate Jack for a sequel. More on that later in this story.

While the Balmoral is already full, chances are there might still be some seats left on the eight-night Titanic Anniversary Cruise aboard the Azamara Journey. That’s set to sail from New York on April 10, exactly 100 years to the day the Titanic departed Southampton,England.

For a mere $14,850 a person, you can book a Club World Owners Suite. Some space still remains in the less pricey Interior Stateroom, for $4,900 a person.

Why the interest? The “Titanic” movie renewed fascination with the ship’s maiden voyage. Walter Lord, author of “A Night to Remember,” also portrayed the wrenching, human toll taken. He wrote that there were only 20 lifeboats for the 2,207 passengers aboard. Of those, 1,517 passengers and crew sank along with the ship after it hit an iceberg.

No word on how many lifeboats will be available for this trip. One flaw aboard the original cruise that I’m certain will be remedied this time around will be communications. Wikipedia states that, in 1912, the wireless radio operators were “paid primarily to relay messages to and from the passengers. They were not focused on relaying ‘non-essential’ ice messages to the bridge.”  (Read: also known as “iceberg ahead.”)

The cruise has booked Titanic historians and lecturers, offers a chance to experience the same dining pleasures offered in 1912 on the Titanic, and a chance to wear period costumes.

There will be a time for reflection to honor the victims on the Atlantic Ocean. “On April 14 at ll:40 p.m., Balmoral is scheduled to arrive at the spot where Titanic struck an iceberg, and a memorial service will be held at 2:20 a.m. on April 15, to coincide with the time the massive ship went down,” according to http://failuremag.com.

The Azamara Journey also will have a memorial service.

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather watch the movie and avoid a freezing trip aboard a ship.

As for a movie sequel, there’s a fake trailer of “Titanic 2: Jack’s Back” or “Titanic 2: The Surface.” Clips from various movies featuring Leonardo DiCaprio are used to update the original. With the help of modern science, Jack comes back from his watery grave only to discover that much has changed since the ship he was on went down in 1912.

COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Judy Berman and earthrider, 2011-14. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to (Judy Berman) and (earthrider, earth-rider.com, or earthriderdotcom) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

To read more Titanic facts and to see the fake movie trailer, click on:

http://www.titanic-facts.com/titanic-movie.html

Jimmy Stewart’s Bedford Falls Comes to Life

by Judy Berman    

The actors packed up long ago. The cameras and props are no doubt in storage. But I believe the setting for “It’s a Wonderful Life” remains intact.

Many believe that Seneca Falls, N.Y., is the inspirational backdrop for Bedford Falls. That iconic movie is now celebrating its 65th anniversary. As I walked the streets of Seneca Falls with my family one Christmas evening, I was convinced it was as well.

Amid a gentle snowfall, angels playing trumpets light up the village’s main street. Streets named “Bedford Falls Blvd.” and “George Bailey Lane” reinforce the connection to the movie.

Another indicator that George Bailey and his guardian angel, Clarence Odbody (played by Henry Travers), might be just around the corner is the village’s steel truss bridge over the canal.

We took this road trip – about an hour from our home – to stroll along the streets that we believe Jimmy Stewart (George) ran down in the movie. We stopped on that bridge and looked over the icy-cold water below. There, it’s easy to feel Stewart’s/Bailey’s anguish about wanting to end his pain. George, who had always put everyone else first, now feels the world would be better off without him.

It’s Christmas Eve, and it’s up to Clarence to change George’s mind. If he succeeds, Clarence will earn his wings. Clarence’s plan is to show George what life would be like if he’d never been born.

As Clarence tells Stewart, “Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives, and when he isn’t around, he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?”

George comes to realize that, despite some bad turns in life, there really is much to enjoy. The movie’s message – since it first came out in 1946 – is that we just need to stop and consider what we really value. For George, it was his family and friends.

What a wonderful legacy for a community to have. While some dispute that Frank Capra had Seneca Falls on his mind when he made this movie, there are some amazing coincidences.

The script mentions Rochester, Buffalo and Elmira. They are close to this village which was – like Bedford Falls – a mill town back in 1945 when this movie was shot.

There’s one other intriguing note. On that bridge that I stood on, there “was a plaque honoring Seneca Falls resident Antonio Varacalli, who had leaped into the icy waters of the canal in April 1917 to rescue a girl who had just attempted suicide by jumping off the bridge. Varacalli saved her but was overcome by fatigue from the rescue and drowned,” according to The Real Bedford Falls website.

That’s not a huge leap for a director to make from one heroic gesture to George jumping in to save Clarence, who pretends to be drowning.

Whether or not Capra did, we felt like we were part of movie history when we were in Seneca Falls. That night, we felt that Jimmy Stewart and Clarence were there with us. Maybe it was just wishful thinking, but I’m sure it was him who shouted “Merry Christmas” as he ran by.

COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Judy Berman and earthrider, 2011-14. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to (Judy Berman) and (earthrider, earth-rider.com, or earthriderdotcom) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Photo credit: Margaret McCormick

For more information on The Real Bedford Falls “Too Many Coincidences to Ignore,” click on the link below:

http://therealbedfordfalls.com/therealbedfordfalls.php