Charade is the story of a widow unwittingly caught up in a long-standing international heist that finds trust in short supply. Regina, a young woman living in Paris, finds that her husband, whom she was about to divorce, has died and that documents found on him indicate he was not who she thought he was. In fact, he was not who many thought he was. His death attracts several men who think Regina knows the whereabouts of a quarter of a million dollars that was connected to her husband. She receives advice from two others, one claiming to be a U.S. government official and the other claiming to be a friend, but her sense of trust quickly begins to break down as the intensity of events increases. And that's just the first half hour.
As Regina encounters stranger and more dangerous circumstances, her instinct is to trust officials and those who help her, which is a path most people would take in a crisis. However, she starts to learn that niceness might not equal honesty, and she begins to wonder if her trust in certain people might have been misplaced, only to find that it is not that simple. The web she is trying to extricate herself from masks a deeper, more distressing mystery that can only lead to a showdown from which she might not escape alive.
Director Stanley Donen was compared to Hitchcock for his masterful use of twists, turns, and clues to keep the audience just as on the edge as he did the character of Regina. False turns and visual tricks keep viewers guessing about what will happen next, only to find their guesses are wrong. The quick wit also present in the film and the chemistry between Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant as Regina Lampert and Peter Joshua transformed the film into a favorite and a classic.