Charade (1963 song)
|Single by Henry Mancini|
|from the album Charade|
|Label||RCA Victor 1383|
|Writer(s)||Henry Mancini, Johnny Mercer|
|Henry Mancini singles chronology|
"Charade" is a sad, lonely parisian waltz composed by Henry Mancini with lyrics by Johnny Mercer performed in the 1963 film of the same name starring by Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn. It was nominated that year for the Academy Award for Best Original Song.
Fate seemed to pull the strings
Stanley Donen had heard and been charmed by Henry Mancini's song "Baby Elephant Walk" from the film Hatari!, so he contacted Mancini from London to tell him about his current picture. Donen had directed several famous musical films throughout the 1950s and he now intended to put his own slant on a Hitchcock-like thriller and he wanted a strong melody in the background score.
As Henry Mancini had become a friend of Audrey Hepburn while scoring Breakfast at Tiffany's, he composed the song for Charade thinking of her. As he said: "Our next film together was Charade in 1963. Stanley Donen directed Peter Stone's screenplay. There is a scene in the movie where Audrey returns from a happy winter holiday to her Paris flat to find it stripped of everything of value. Bare floors and the walls are all that remain. Her loutish husband had absconded with all of her worldly goods. She enters the dimly-lit apartment with her suitcase and surveys the scene. Her feelings are of sadness, loneliness and vulnerability. To me, it translated into a sad little Parisian waltz. With that image of Audrey in my mind, I went to the piano and within less than an hour 'Charade' was written. I played it for Audrey and Stanley. Both felt it was just right for the movie. Johnny Mercer added his poetry, and the song was nominated for an Oscar that year".
Henry Mancini's version reached #15 on the adult contemporary chart and #36 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1963. Andy Williams released a version that reached #100 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1964. Sammy Kaye also released a version in 1964 that reached #10 on the adult contemporary chart and #36 on the Billboard Hot 100.
As with "Moon River" and "The Days of Wine and Roses," the song is subjugated, at various places in the film, to the role of source music. Though the Mancini-Mercer team lost the Oscar that year, Johnny Mercer said it was his favourite Mancini melody. Donen was impressed with Mancini as a working partner, using phrases like "just a lovely man to work with" and "elegant, meticulous, very organized" to describe him.
In popular culture
The song was prominently featured in the Columbo fifth season episode "Now You See Him..." It is sung twice onscreen by a cabaret singer (portrayed by Patrick Culliton) and later plays in an instrumental version over the episode's closing credits.