Overall | The Truth About Charlie (2002) | Charade (Universal) (1963)

Truth About Charlie, The/Charade (1963) (2002)

Truth About Charlie, The/Charade (1963) (2002)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 1-Sep-2003

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Overall Package

    I'm quite impressed with this presentation. It takes some courage to say "We remade this film. Here's our effort, and here's the original — compare them for yourself.". I'm glad they did, though.

    I've been looking for a good copy of Charade for some time. It has been released in Region 4 twice already, once by Avenue One, and once by CEL. Neither of these is a very good release. It has been released in Region 1 a great many times, and most of those are rather awful (most are full-screen). The Criterion Collection disc looked like the go, but it isn't 16x9 enhanced, which put me off. So it was a pleasant surprise to watch the copy of Charade tucked into this box and discover that it is a 16x9 enhanced transfer in the correct aspect ratio, and quite a decent one at that. So I felt I already had my money's worth — not a bad start when you haven't even watched the main feature...

    The main feature is good. It differs from Charade in a number of ways, and many of those are improvements. They obviously thought carefully through the process of updating the film to the current day. Definitely an example of that rare breed, a successful remake.

    The best part, however, is being able to compare the two films. Watching them in close succession makes it clear where each one is superior to the other. And I'd say it comes out pretty much even honours — both films have their strengths and weaknesses. I'd recommend this set to people studying film-making, because it makes an interesting comparison.

    Sadly, we miss out on the commentary and other extras included on the Region 1 disc of The Truth About Charlie, but the Region 1 disc is a double-sided effort with one movie on each side. I really don't like double-sided discs, so I'm very happy our package is on two separate discs.

    In the end, what you get is basically one plot and two good thrillers, both on good discs — good value.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Friday, October 03, 2003
Other Reviews
DVD Net - Anthony H (read my bio)

Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | The Truth About Charlie (2002) | Charade (Universal) (1963)

The Truth About Charlie (2002)

The Truth About Charlie (2002)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 1-Sep-2003

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller Main Menu Audio & Animation
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 99:43
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (54:13) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Jonathan Demme
Studio
Distributor

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Thandie Newton
Mark Wahlberg
Tim Robbins
Joong-Hoon Park
Ted Levine
Lisa Gay Hamilton
Christine Boisson
Stephen Dillane
Simon Abkarian
Frederique Meininger
Charles Aznavour
Anna Karina
Magalie Noel
Case ?
RPI Box Music Rachel Portman


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
French
German
Czech
Greek
Hungarian
Polish
English Titling
French Titling
German Titling
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, we see what happened to some of the characters

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    It's a brave team that remakes a classic film. This is a remake of Charade, with Mark Wahlberg taking Cary Grant's part, Thandie Newton for Audrey Hepburn, and Tim Robbins for Walter Matthau. Interesting casting choices. Not bad ones, though. Audrey Hepburn was stunningly beautiful (although less so in Charade than in other films), but Thandie Newton is equally beautiful. Tim Robbins is an excellent actor, just as good as Walter Matthau. I wouldn't class Mark Wahlberg as being as impressive a leading man as Cary Grant, but he does a very good job of this role.

    This film begins with some gratuitous nudity, perhaps intended to point out that Charles Lambert (Stephen Dillane) isn't faithful to his wife (or perhaps because the original couldn't include such things!), thus making Regina seem more justified in wanting to divorce him. He's rather drastically punished for this transgression, though.

    Next we have an apparently chance meeting between Regina Lambert (Thandie Newton) and Joshua Peters (Mark Wahlberg) while she's on holiday. She returns home to discover her apartment gutted, and bumps into a policeperson, Commandant Jeanne Dominique (Christine Boisson), who explains that Charles is dead. The Commandant asks a lot of questions, and reveals that Regina knew far less about him than she thought she did — perhaps most shocking was the four passports, in four names, that he was carrying. She returns to the apartment, and is surprised when Joshua Peters turns up — he explains that he heard about the death on TV. A message under her hotel room door that evening summons her to a meeting with Lewis Bartholomew (Tim Robbins), who shows her a photo of four people in army uniforms: one is Charlie Lake (the name by which she knew her husband), the other three are Il-Sang Lee (Joong-Hoon Park), Lola Jansco (Lisa Gay Hamilton), and Emil Zadopec (Ted Levine). Apparently these four were on a mission with a large sum of US government money ($6 million), and the money went missing. Bartholomew is convinced that Charlie betrayed the others, taking the money for himself. He's also convinced that Regina will be their target, because she is their only hope of getting the money. No one knows where the money is, but everyone thinks that Regina is the only one who can find it. It isn't long before Regina is warned not to trust Joshua Peters, but under the name Dyle (strange, because Bartholomew tells her that Dyle is dead) — she tricks him and discovers that he is Dyle.

    There are layers upon layers of secrecy, lies, and deceit. Who can Regina trust? Peters / Dyle? Bartholomew? The policewoman? No-one?

    This is a rather good thriller, told well. Sure, it's a remake of Charade, with some early scenes lifted almost word-for-word from the original, but there are enough differences (particularly as the film winds on) to make it interesting. There are some aspects where I consider the remake superior to the original — for example, I think the artificial hand they stuck on George Kennedy in the original was an unnecessary affectation (he is plenty menacing enough without it). The interplay between Regina and the policewoman is good. The tango sequence provides some interesting insights. I even liked the climax to this version a little more than the original. I'm just not convinced about the old woman. And why did they bother to change the name from Lampert (in Charade) to Lambert (here)? And from Peter Joshua to Joshua Peters?

    They have confidence in this film. They know you will inevitably compare it with Charade, so they make it easy, putting a copy of Charade in the same case. I like that.

    Even if you usually don't like remakes, I recommend giving this one a chance. And if you decide that you prefer the original, well, heck, you get a copy of that as well.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    The DVD is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and is 16x9 enhanced. That's the original aspect ratio, which is always a good thing.

    The picture is sharp and detailed. Shadow detail is rather good in all but the darkest scenes (the tango scene). There is no low level noise. Film grain is never an issue.

    Colour is excellently rendered, and is very realistic. There are no colour-related artefacts.

    There are no film artefacts in the film proper — the film was only made last year — but there are some in scenes in the credits, which seems odd.

    There is more than a little aliasing, but I didn't find it troubling. There are occasional moments of moirι, with the worst and most obvious being at 28:12 on a roller door, although there are other instances on the more usual culprits, like a finely checked overcoat. I was only bothered by the roller door. There are no MPEG artefacts, not even a trace of background shimmer.

    There are subtitles in several languages, including English. I watched the English subtitles — they are close to word-for-word, well-timed, and easy to read. There is an extra subtitle stream that translates the French dialogue into English when you're watching the English soundtrack (there are similar tracks for French and German).

    The disc is single sided, formatted RSDL. The layer change is at 54:13, and it's quite good on one player I tried, but involved a fairly long pause on another player — not the greatest layer change you've ever seen.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The soundtracks is provided in English, French, and German, all Dolby Digital 5.1. I only listened to the English version.

    Dialogue is clear and readily comprehended, providing you understand both English and French (there's a default subtitle stream for the bits of French dialogue). Audio sync is no problem.

    Rachel Portman's score is rather good, blending musical styles from a variety of countries (there's even one section scored for didgeridoo). It was a little surprising to see Charles Aznavour singing in the denouement, but it was a nice touch.

    The surrounds are used sparingly, but effectively — this is mostly a frontal soundtrack, not a surround extravaganza.

    The subwoofer doesn't star, either, but it does get occasional use. It really isn't needed.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    There are no extras. Well, none except a copy of Charade, the film on which this one is based. That's quite a decent extra.

Menu

    The menu is animated with music. It's simple, but has an interesting presentation of the film's title: The Truth About Charlie. Cute.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 disc is also presented in a double case with Charade. But the Region 1 disc gets extras...

    The Region 4 retail disc is missing:

    The Region 1 disc is missing:

    That's a whole lot of extras, and a dts soundtrack. Reports have it that the R1 transfer is very good, too. I have to award the gold-plated peanut to the R1 because of the extra features, even though I strongly prefer having separate discs for the two movies — I bought the Region 4 version for my own collection.

Summary

    That rare animal, a good remake, presented well on DVD.

    The video quality is very good.

    The audio quality is very good.

    The extras are completely absent (unlike the R1), except for having the disc accompanied by the original film.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Thursday, October 02, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left, Centre, Right: Krix Euphonix; Rears: Krix KDX-M; Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

Other Reviews
The DVD Bits - Chris A
DVD Net - Anthony H (read my bio)
Web Wombat - James A

Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | The Truth About Charlie (2002) | Charade (Universal) (1963)

Charade (Universal) (1963)

Charade (Universal) (1963)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 1-Sep-2003

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller None
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1963
Running Time 108:45
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (49:28) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Stanley Donen
Studio
Distributor

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Cary Grant
Audrey Hepburn
Walter Matthau
James Coburn
George Kennedy
Case ?
RPI Box Music Henry Mancini


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
French
German
Italian
Spanish
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant made just one movie together: this one. That's a shame, because they have some real chemistry between them (despite reports that Cary Grant was nervous about playing the romantic lead to a girl young enough to be his daughter).

    A body falls from a train before the dizzying spirals of the opening credits. Then we see a woman eating, and a hand pointing a Luger at her head. This one happens to be a water pistol, but it's symbolic of what is to come. Then comes a chance meeting with a handsome stranger, who introduces himself as Peter Joshua (Cary Grant) to Regina Lampert (Audrey Hepburn). Both of them happen to be returning to Paris the following day. Regina opens her apartment door to discover the place empty save for scattered rubbish. Her first impulse is to check her wardrobes (empty). As she's rushing about, she bumps into a man who introduces himself as Inspector Ιdouard Grandpierre (Jacques Marin) of the Police Judiciare (he looks a lot like Hercules Poirot). He explains that her husband is dead, and that he had left home with a lot of money (a quarter million in US dollars), but the money was not to be found on his body or in the one bag he had with him. Strangely, there were four passports in that bag, and Regina discovers that she knew less about Charles than she thought.

    At the funeral a number of strangers appear, one by one, with some of them checking to see that Charles is really dead. One of them hands Regina a letter, inviting her to meet a Hamilton Bartholomew at the US embassy. She goes, and Mr Batholomew (Walter Matthau) shows her a photograph featuring Charles, and three men (all of whom showed up at the funeral): Tex Panhallow (James Coburn), Leopold Gideon (Ned Glass) and Herman Scobie (George Kennedy). He tells her that Charles was wanted by the US government for stealing the $250,000 from them. He also tells her that the three men will be looking for her to get the money. She turns to Peter Joshua for help, but soon discovers that that is not his real name.

    The men find her quickly, and start menacing her to get the money. Will she find the money? Who can she trust?

    This is a good thriller, with plenty of twists and turns, the occasional throw-away one-liner, and a couple of running gags. It has its flaws (mostly holes in the plot), but it's quite entertaining.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    The original theatrical aspect of this film was 1.85:1. This DVD is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, and is 16x9 enhanced. We can hardly complain about that, now can we?

    The image is a little soft, due to light film grain. Shadow detail is limited, but adequate. Low-level noise is absent.

    Colour is fairly well-rendered, but not marvellous; there is a bit of inconsistency in skin tones and red clothes — not too surprising in an older Technicolor film. There is a bit of colour bleed on Audrey Hepburn's red outfit, but it's minor

    There are somewhat infrequent spots and flecks, but remarkably few for a film that's 40 years old. There are none worth mentioning.

    There's more than a little aliasing, such as at 6:51 on the car grille, and a bit of moirι (on fabrics), but both are sufficiently minor as to be untroubling. There are no MPEG artefacts other than a fairly frequent light touch of shimmer.

    There are subtitles in five languages, including English. I watched the English subtitles — they are easy to read, well-timed, and fairly accurate, albeit a little abbreviated.

    The disc is single sided and dual layered, formatted RSDL. The layer change is at 49:28. It's fairly obvious, but not disturbing.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The soundtrack is provided in five languages, all in Dolby Digital 2.0, not surround-encoded, at 192kbps. I only listened to the English.

    The dialogue is clear and comprehensible. There are no obvious audio sync problems, although there's a scene or two where the sync looks very slightly out (perhaps slightly sloppy ADR?).

    This film has a Henry Mancini score, but I'm not thrilled by it. Still, it does the job fairly well.

    The surrounds and subwoofer are not used by this soundtrack.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    There are no extras on this disc. Nothing at all.

Menu

    The menu is static and silent, but perfectly functional.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 version of this disc sounds identical to this one (even down to having a similarly good transfer), excepting only that the R4 disc is PAL, and the R1 is NTSC. Oh, and unlike this one, it's stuck on the reverse of their version of The Truth About Charlie — ours is a separate disc included in the same box. I prefer having the discs separate, and I dislike double-sided DVDs — single-sided are easier to handle.

    There are several other versions of this movie in Region 1, including a Criterion Collection version that is reported to be rather good. Others are from Delta Entertainment, Madacy Entertainment, Koch Vision Entertainment, VCI/FFI, Laserlight Video, Diamond Entertainment, Gotham Distribution, Unicorn Video, Ventura Distribution, and United American Video — do we get the impression that the copyright has lapsed? I get the impression that most of these opportunistic releases are not very good (they are full-screen).

    I'm definitely in favour of the R4 disc this time. If you were looking for the best copy of this movie, the Criterion Collection disc might be worth a look — it includes a commentary by the director and screen-writer, amongst other extras; the one drawback is that it is not 16x9 enhanced (and it's apparently out-of-print).

Summary

    A classic movie on a rather good DVD. This is the best version available of this film, and it is amusing that you have to buy The Truth About Charlie to get it.

    The video quality is good.

    The audio quality is good.

    The extras are completely absent.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Tuesday, September 30, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left, Centre, Right: Krix Euphonix; Rears: Krix KDX-M; Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Regarding CHARADE - Criterion Collection, Charlie, and comments on the film - REPLY POSTED
Charade criterion Collection - REPLY POSTED
Criterion Charade vs R4 Universal Charade - Jace