I have this reoccurring dream where I’m lost in Paris, lost in Montmarte. Who am I running from? I swear I don’t know. More importantly where is my iPhone? I toss and turn and stumble down a dark alley…I’m a little drunk from the French champagne consumed rapidly at the local bar moments earlier. As I turn the corner I notice a sign that says ‘this way to Champs-Élysées’ and suddenly I find myself out front of the world-famous Moulin Rouge. A big chested gentleman with a blonde kiss curl waves me inside down a flight of stairs. Once inside, I notice that everyone is dressed in white underwear and frantically smoking Gauloises. I cough, the smoke hanging like a thick wedding veil over the room, just as I reach for a martini to calm my nerves, I wake up.
Paris has always fascinated me. I’ve watched many films set in Paris… Subway, Cyrano de Bergerac and Nikita to name a few. But, the one film I love even more today than I did yesterday, set in Paris…is…Charade with screen legend Audrey Hepburn.
Call me old-fashioned, call me queer, but if there was ever a film I wanted to disappear completely inside of, it would have to be Charade, directed by Stanley Donen in 1963.
Oh, what a marvelous experience that would be! To be lost inside the mystery, wear the 60’s fashion, experience the laughs and of course, find the postage stamps and all that money.
If you don’t know the story Audrey Hepburn plays Regina Lampert, a Paris based American, who has decided to divorce her Swiss husband, Charles Lampert, because of the secrets and lies that have pervaded their marriage. Before she can make that request to Charles, he is found dead, seemingly pushed off a Paris to Bordeaux train. So, Audrey’s romance with Paris and Charade’s mystery begin.
As a teenager I acted out scenes from Charade in the backyard, pretending to be French. I was a shy child with a vivid imaginative and I thought acting French made me exotic. But, of course it didn’t. There was something very artificial about my French accent that gave my charade away the minute anyone met me. At one stage I pretended to be Cary Grant, who isn’t French, but is the other star of the film Charade…I often got in trouble at school for pretending to be a someone else and for using a silly accent. I was told by my art teacher to stop behaving like an idiot. An idiot? Why couldn’t my teacher see I was French? In my imagination when pretending to be French, I can climb the highest of heights of Montmarte and be the person I want to be…if you know what I mean.
Cary Grant as Alexander Dyle: Alright, get set for the story of my life.
Audrey Hepburn as Reggie Lampert: Fiction or non Fiction darling?
No, this isn’t a blog about my life, it’s not even a blog about being French, it’s more about the importance of shedding layers as we move from one stage of life to the next. Audrey Hepburn as Reggie, knows in Charade that in order for her to move on she must first shed the things that are holding her back. So, the first thing to go of course is her husband (well he was murdered really but we’ll ignore that!) Now, free from any interpersonal relations, Reggie (Audrey Hepburn) is ready to explore, set for an adventure, up for romance…in the perfect city to fall in love…Paris!
I wake and take a deep breath. Charade with Audrey Hepburn is playing on the DVD, I must have dosed off. I glance out my window to the courtyard below. I can see two empty cans of Carlton and an ashtray full of cigarette butts on top of the neighbours outdoor setting. A pair of stained white undies flicker in the breeze on the clothes line below. I think for a moment. Yes, I think as I drink my coffee down…like Audrey Hepburn as Reggie in the film Charade, I think I love Paris… and I’m ready to shed more layers. I’m waiting now for adventure.
The meaning of Charade – an absurd pretense intended to create a pleasant or respectable appearance.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Noel Anderson became an Audrey Hepburn fan after watching her in Lilian Hellman’s ‘Children’s Hour’ and ‘Charade.’ He has directed many theatrical productions, written well into the night when in pain, worked with a helluva lot of people and had the odd breakdown. Noel is co-writer/director of the new Australian musical Audrey Hepburn and I Consider Our Assets which opens in Melbourne at the Melba Spiegeltent on 29th October for a two week season. It will be performed with a four piece band and choir, members from the Grace Notes Singers.
BOOKINGS: Audrey Hepburn And I Consider Our Assets