I'm reminded that the great director Billy Wilder said "you have to remember with these movies we made -- they were supposed to last about three weeks or so, and then on to the next one."
Charade has lasted longer than that -- but back in the three weeks(and more) that it was a major hit at the Xmas end of 1963 into 1964, it was a blockbuster hit.
It was a very big deal to finally get Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn together as co-stars -- despite the age difference, they were, together, the epitome of smooth(British) voiced cool and sex appeal that was almost entirely "verbal and cerebral."
For co-stars, they got two actors who were about to be offbeat leading man stars on their own -- Walter Matthau and James Coburn...plus a character star aborning(George Kennedy, who, like Matthau would win the Best Supporting Actor Oscar in the 60's.) And Sneezy Ned Glass to round out the baddies.
The movie had the great 60's element of a jazzy/romantic/suspenseful Henry Mancini score(and theme song) and, yes, a very witty script by Peter Stone, including a scene with two diplomats who are bit parts:
Diplomat 1: So I bluffed him with a pair of fours.
Diplomat 2: So?
Diplomat 1: Well, if I can do that to him, what are the Russians doing to him?
Not to mention the Hitchcockian idea(borrowed from North by Northwest) of the illusive nature of identity (Cary Grant's name changes many times over in this film, though as he notes to Hepburn "but the man is the same."
For its time(1963) and surprisingly for a film with Grant and Hepburn, Charade also had a reputation as a pretty violent film -- rather "Psycho meets North by Northwest" -- one victim gets his throat slashed in an elevator; another smothers to death with a plastic bag tied round his head.
Director Stanley Donen(Singin in the Rain, Damn Yankees, Funny Face) -- usually a musical maker, here proved stylish enough in his suspense direction to rival Hitchcock, this one time. (With Arabesque in 1966 -- not so much.)
It actually reminds me of that recent movie with Johnny Depp - The Tourist. It's no better than that film - but because it has Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn and it's old it has a high rating? Stop the hype with this one folks.
Well, Grant and Hepburn were a bigger deal than Deep and Jolie -- and the script for Charade was much better, and the danger was much more dangerous, and the co-stars(Matthau, Coburn and Kennedy) would become big stars themselves and...no , The Tourist is no Charade.
Plus..Charade may be old now...but it was new when it was released. And it was a big, big, big beloved hit. Much bigger hit than The Tourist.