Reel Rumbles: “Charade” vs. “Wait Until Dark”

David Conrad

David is the author of a forthcoming book on Japanese history and film. He has a Ph.D. in history from the University of Texas at Austin and loves period pieces, classics, and arthouse. He has also read nearly every word J.R.R. Tolkien ever wrote. @davidaconrad

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8 Responses

  1. Craig Zablo Craig Zablo says:

    Wait Until Dark!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Charade easily wins in my for me. The credits intro, score, plot, script, acting, ending… it’s just a wonderful film that has a certain magic and charm about it. It’s one of those films that just make you smile long after you’ve finished viewing it. Wait Until Dark was good but just not on the level of Charade. Charade is one of my 20 favorite films of all time.

  3. John Gray says:

    I do appreciate the direction of Wait Until Dark. I’m a Hitchcock fan, so I’ll compare these two films to two of his since they both have plots with which Hitchcock could’ve worked wonders. Wait Until Dark has a claustrophobic feel that compares to three of Hitchcock’s films: Rear Window, Rope, and Dial M for Murder. All three of these Hitchcock titles blow Wait Until Dark out the water though. But of the three, I think Wait Until Dark is most similar to Dial M for Murder. In both, there’s a helpless wife home alone an in terrible danger. For me though, the tension in Wait Until Dark isn’t nearly as good as it is in Dial M. Charade is a mystery thriller with twists and turns that keeps the protagonist on the move and the viewers guessing similar to Vertigo and North by Northwest. Charade isn’t nearly as serious in tone as Vertigo though. So the more natural comparison would be with North by Northwest. Neither Charade nor North by Northwest take themselves too serious. They are both lighthearted thrillers that effectively accomplish all that they set out to accomplish. Both have wonderful scores that are equal at least to my ears. Vertigo’s score tops both though. Bernard Herrmann and Henry Mancini are two of the best. Add in Ennio Morricone, and you’ve got my three favorite film scorers of all time. Anyway, Charade and North by Northwest are near-equals for me. North by Northwest is certainly the more heralded, and rightfully so since with it’s big budget and excellent editing and refinement. But from pure enjoyment, they’re near equals for me. As for the directing between Charade and Wait Until Dark, I can certainly see how you prefer WUD.

    Hey David, how do I get my user name to appear with my comments? I’m logged into Flickchart, but I’m anonymous with my comments here.

    • Anonymous says:

      Okay, figured out the name issue.

    • David Conrad says:

      That’s a good breakdown. I think I rank Charade above basically all Hitchcock movies (“best film Hitchcock never made,” right?) but I rank most of the big Hitchcocks above WUD. There are a couple of moments in WUD that I think could be tightened up, narratively — for example, she should have figured out that the crook playing her husband’s old army buddy was a crook several minutes before it actually dawned on her.

      I think it was Mancini as much as the basic premise (thieves try to get something valuable from Audrey Hepburn) that made me choose to match Charade with WUD, despite the fact that I knew how the matchup would turn out. Doing Charade against some Hitchcocks, like you’ve done, would be an absolutely agonizing rumble, but after some time has passed I may need to consider doing it…

  4. John says:

    For me, Hitchcock made one film that that is clearly better than Charade, and that’s Vertigo. I could go on and on about it, but I won’t. I will say their tones are totally opposite so much so that it makes for somewhat of an apples-and-oranges comparison. My deciding factor is the impact the movies had on me both during and after the films were finished. As much as Charade charmed me and made me smile, Vertigo mesmerized and hypnotized me even more. I also prefer Psycho over Charade, but the separation isn’t nearly as distinct as with Vertigo over Charade. Here again, Psycho is serious in tone whereas Charade frolics about. In the end though, without much deliberation, I simply side with Psycho. For what it’s worth, between Vertigo, Psycho, and Charade, you have three of my ten favorite plots and scores. Love them all.

    Oh, and I would love to see a rumble between Charade and NXNW.