22 February, 2002 at 7:55 pm (charade)

I received my sixth copy of the 1963 film Charade on DVD the other day from Amazon. This was a bit of a departure for me in my Charade acquitions, as four of the five others were tripped over serendipitously. This one I ordered.

Criterion Collection: CharadeLast year, having just purchased a DVD player, I was having fun window shopping as retail joints were suddenly flush with DVDs. The most outrageously bad films were being offered for “bargain” prices of more than $25USD, a price justified seemingly because of the fancy new uber-technology. As a true capitalist reactionary, I found myself pawing through Bargain Bins, laughing at the public domain options.

And then I found a copy of Charade for eight bucks. Audrey Hepburn, Cary Grant, Walter Matthau, James Coburn… these were names to be conjured with, not relegated to remainder bins! I snagged it, brough it home, and found out why. The producer, Diamond Entertainment, had acquired a dingy old 35mm print of the film, made the transfer to digital, and printed the DVD. No artisan cleaning job was done on the content: when the film jumped, when there were scratches and pops on the soundtrack, they were all preserved perfectly.

I howled with laughter. The version produced by D3K uses stock footage photos of the stars on the cover and doesn’t allow you to get to the first or last chapter from the “scene selections” menu. It also has a “digitized” soundtrack that makes everything sound like a MIDI played through a tin-can telephone. Madacy Entertainment has Audrey Hepburn’s biographical information under James Coburn’s name and photograph in the “Special Features” biographies, and includes the special feature of a completely unrelated film, also called Charade! Front Row Entertainment’s offering claims to be widescreen and is anything but.

Each one of these prints has it’s own flaws and cuts and crimps and pops, and I adore them all. DVD Profiler lists five more prints by different companies out there. I will have them all.

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