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There is no place like Paris in the springtime

"Charade" to be screened at Art Lab on May 27
"Charade" to be screened at Art Lab on May 27
Art Lab poster/Facebook

Charade (1963)

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Have you ever wanted to go to Paris in the spring time? Well on Staten Island directly following Memorial Day, Art Lab and Aquehonga Cinema are inviting you to do just that. Explore the romance and twists and turns of intrigue in Stanley Donen’s classic film “Charade” starring Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant on Tuesday May 27 at 7:30 p.m. Art Lab recommends a $5 donation at the door at the screening of the film at the Snug Harbor campus located at 1000 Richmond Terrace, Building H, 2nd floor. For more information about this and other screening events visit http://www.artlab.info.

Last month Art Lab hosted “Spring Daisies,” by Fringe Cinema in memory of Vera Chytilova, whose Czech film was so controversial in 1966 that it was banned at the time, according to Art Lab's Facebook page. In addition it was screened with "Once Upon A Time...2wice Upon A Clock” at Art Lab, to a packed crowd.

About "Charade"

Last December the 1963 film was the subject of a story by http://www.theguardian.com/film/2013/dec/13/charade-audrey-hepburn-cary-grant. “In early December 1963, only a couple of weeks after the Kennedy assassination, Stanley Donen's “Charade” opened at Radio City, Manhattan. According to Tom Wolfe, at 6 a.m. on a freezing December morning the crowds were already lining up down 50th Street and 6th Avenue to make sure they secured a seat. During "the dark days" after JFK's death, “Charade” offered Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn (the two most attractive people ever to appear on screen?) a Henry Mancini score, Givenchy dresses, suspense, glamour and Paris. In the midst of the dislocation and strangeness produced by JFK's assassination, it must have seemed one of the few signs that life was proceeding as normal; the world may have become strange, but Hollywood's illusions were intact.”

Added the report, “Yet some months later, Pauline Kael, the best of all American film reviewers, was writing: "I couldn't persuade friends to go to see “Charade”, which although no more than a charming confectionery trifle was, I think, probably the best American film of last year." For Kael, the film's invisibility was a sign of the times, a refusal of all that was vibrant and vulgar and wonderfully frivolous in American movies.”

Added http://www.theguardian.com: “Kennedy's murder signalled a crisis in American life; for some, nothing thereafter made much sense. And in the late 1950s there had already been talk of the perils of conformity, of a national failure of spontaneity, of women incarcerated behind their picket fences, of the death of the individual at the hands of the organization man. Yet in this dark American moment, this apparently moribund culture produced films such as “Rio Bravo,” Gigi,” “Some Like It Hot,”and “North By Northwest”, works of a wit, a freshness and an inner joy unrivalled by any other nation on earth. And there, in the moment of classic Hollywood's departure, just as the gilt of the golden age fades, stand “Charade.”

According to The Guardian, Grant only made two more films after "Charade" until he retired in 1966. "Hepburn played on through the 60s, and the films she went on to make –“How To Steal A Million”(1966),”Two For the Road,” for instance, and “Wait Until Dark”(both 1967) – are good; yet undoubtedly some glory has departed," added The Guardian. “Yet for all of its 113 minute “Charade” presents us with a temporary entry into that brighter place, into the possibility of adventure, the vicarious possession of beauty. Acted by two Europeans in a mythic, dangerous, beguiling Paris, it remains a quintessential Hollywood film: so soon after the half-centenary of Oswald's fatal gunshots, its anniversary serves to remind us of the brief, lost wonder of a specifically American beauty."

A 50th anniversary edition of “Charade” is now available on DVD. I have the film on DVD as part of an Audrey Hepburn boxed set and would highly recommend seeing this film to forget reality and take a ride in the glamorous, romantic world of 1963 Paris. Rekindle the fantasy and ride in style with Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn through the dips and turns of art and intrigue. Toast to Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn at Art Lab. This film is worth a trip to Snug Harbor Cultural and Botanical Center after dark.