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Saturday, August 11, 2012

Grant Me One Favor!


by Anna Campbell

Last month, I was totally self-indulgent and put up some gorgeous fashion photos of the first real supermodel Lisa Fonssagrives (check out the pics here if you missed it, they really are beautiful: http://authorsoundrelations.blogspot.com.au/2012/07/gorgeous-fashion-photos.html).

Very kindly, a lot of you said how much you enjoyed the post so I thought I'd be self-indulgent again and talk about one of my favorite movie stars as a tribute to my late mother.

Part of the reason for this is that yesterday would have been her 84th birthday. So happy birthday, Mum! Here's Cary, just for you! A list of six of the best!

He played with all the great leading ladies and often more than once. I had to start with the wonderful pairing from AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER (1957) with Deborah Kerr. This was my mother's favorite movie. I can't tell you how many times she watched it. It's lush and romantic and witty and elegant and altogether one of the best love stories ever on film. I dare you not to cry!

Alfred Hitchcock loved working with Cary Grant who starred for the master all through his career from SUSPICION in 1941 through to NORTH BY NORTHWEST in 1959. One of the sexiest of those films features a very distinguished, older Cary Grant romancing a smart-mouthed and beautiful Grace Kelly, TO CATCH A THIEF (1955). The scene where Grace scares the life out of him driving like a maniac along the Grande Corniche cliff tops is particularly memorable. Look at that picture. Can't you just feel the chemistry sizzling between them? Just as an aside, my mother couldn't stand Grace Kelly! Thought she was a cold fish.

The next photo down is from my favorite film that Hitchcock did with CG and one of my favorite films ever, the sexy, romantic and passionate NOTORIOUS (1946).There's an amazing kiss scene towards the beginning where because censorship codes forbade kisses lasting more than a few seconds, CG and a luminous Ingrid Bergman kiss each other multiple times for 2.5 minutes, each kiss only lasting a few seconds. Phew! It's a very hot 2.5 minutes! If you haven't seen this film, get it. It's one of the best.

Another pairing of Cary Grant with a much younger actress that created cinematic fireworks is CHARADE (1963) where CG's costar is the radiant Audrey Hepburn. It's a really clever script with everybody doublecrossing everybody else and features some of the wittiest dialogue I've ever heard.

All of these films so far feature Cary in his suave man of the world persona. But one of the many things I love about Cary Grant is that he could play broad comedy better than nearly anyone else I can think of. Earlier in his career, in particular, he displayed his faultless timing and willingness to set himself up for a prat fall in a number of sparkling, uproarious comedies.

I couldn't do a piece on CG and not include BRINGING UP BABY (1938). He was the perfect bumbling, other-worldly, charmingly naive archeologist to Katharine Hepburn's madcap heiress who has a pet leopard, the Baby of the title. Classic slapstick!

I was torn for a last film between THE PHILADELPHIA STORY, HOUSEBOAT, THE BACHELOR AND THE BOBBY-SOXER and MY FAVORITE WIFE. I ended up choosing MY FAVORITE WIFE (1940) partly because Cary plays a man who finds the shenanigans of the women in his life completely bewildering in so many films, and this picture encapsulates his reactions perfectly.

Cary Grant is about to remarry after having lost his wife seven years earlier in a plane crash. Mayhem ensues when said wife, Irene Dunne, turns up out of the blue, alive. It emerges that she's been stuck on a tropical island with the very dishy Randolph Scott. Brilliantly clever script where every step the characters takes just digs them deeper into the holes they're in. They don't write films like that anymore!

So let's talk old movies. Do you like Cary Grant?
What's your favorite Cary Grant movie? Do you have another favorite male lead from the Golden Years of Hollywood?   

I'm actually going to be off the internet for a little while because I'm attending my oldest friend's birthday party.  I will however swing back to respond to comments late tonight, U.S. time. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

34 comments:

Lucy King said...

Anna, what a lovely post to wake up to. You are a woman after my own heart. Charade has to be one of my all time favourite films!

Kandy Shepherd said...

Anna, I adore Cary Grant. He was a favorite of my mother's, too, and she introduced me to his movies. My husband loves him too--we have watched To Catch A Thief together so many times I practically know it off by heart! You've made me want to watch all these movies again.

marybelle said...

One of my favorite Cary Grant movies is FATHER GOOSE. Cary Grant is a joy to watch.

Christina Hollis said...

A lovely post - Cary Grant was born only a few miles away from me (though a long time before, of course!). I think Philadelphia Story is a terrific film. Wasn't Grace Kelly in the "High Society" version?

Karen H in NC said...

I loved Cary Grant's films and while I loved all of the films you mentioned, I think my all-time favorite has to be Arsenic and Old Lace. Operation Petticoat was a good one too. Other favorite actors from the era were Gregory Peck and Gary Cooper. Thanks for the walk down memory lane!

Kathleen O said...

Gary Grant is one of my fav leading men.. I love him and Deborah Kerr in an An Affair to Remember, but a few more of my favs you did not mention were Operation Petticoat, Father Goose and Walk Don't Run... There will never be another like him...

Pat Cochran said...

DD1 and I are in agreement, there isn't a
Cary Grant film that we do not like! Spe-
cial favorites for us are An Affair To
Remember and The Philadelphia Story.

Leni said...

I love Cary Grant. My family introduced me to his work and we would have our own little movie marathons. One of my favorites was Suspicion.
There are a lot of movies and stars from all of the classics that I love and that era is a favorite.

Barbara E. said...

Cary Grant is one of my favorite of the "old time" actors - I loved Charade and Bringing Up Baby is another favorite, but really I'll watch anything he's in.

Annie West said...

Anna, what a treat this post was! Thanks for sharing your GC fascination. I've got most of the films you mentioned here to watch when I feel like a treat. My favourites most recently have been 'Bringing Up Baby' and 'My Favourite Wife' but 'Notorious' is up there with them and all the others. I enjoyed the fact that even as he grew older, he was just as charming and intriguing as ever. And it's great seeing him in some of the older films where he has a darker edge too!

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Karen H, I ADORE Operation Petticoat. Fab movie, isn't it?

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Like Barbara E (and you, Anna!)I'll watch anything Cary's in. Bringing up Baby is one of my all time favorites!!

Blythe Gifford said...

He's my all time favorite. Bar none! Love Charade. How could you leave out Indiscreet?

Anna Campbell said...

Lucy, I just love the dialogue. That bit when he's in the shower in the 'drip dry' suit - priceless! So glad you're another fan. Actually limiting myself to six with CG was the big problem! He was in so many great movies.

Anna Campbell said...

Kandy, I wanted to head off and see the films again too - although I think perhaps I'm not quite ready for an Affair to Remember. I must have sat through that with Mum 100 times in her last 18 months or so. I'm sure I've told you that that story inspired my Tempt the Devil.

Anna Campbell said...

Oh, Mary, HOW could I have forgotten Father Goose. He and Leslie Caron are magic together. And I love the song - I've got 10 fine toes to wiggle in the sand!

Anna Campbell said...

Christina, how cool about being born near Cary Grant. I remember seeing a TV doco about him and he actually had a really troubled childhood. Philadelphia Story is wonderful - I know it's non-PC but that bit where he pushes Kate Hepburn in the mush after she breaks his golf clubs? Priceless! Grace Kelly WAS in High Society with Bing Crosby who just doesn't come near measuring up to Cary!

Anna Campbell said...

You know, Jeanne and Karen, I don't think I've seen Operation Petticoat. I must get it out. I had a lot of fave leading men from that era - Gregory P and GC definitely feature, as does Errol Flynn (gotta go for an Aussie!) and Ronald Colman. I remember killing myself laughing in Arsenic and Old Lace - that was the film I was thinking about when I was talking about his brilliance with physical comedy.

Anna Campbell said...

Kathleen, I LOVE Walk, Don't Run. It's a film of his not a lot of people I know have seen and it's quite hard to get down here for some reason. I thought he made a lovely cupid to the young lovers in that movie - and that romance is beautifully done between Jim Hutton and Samantha Eggar.

Anna Campbell said...

Pat, the only one I can think of that I wasn't crazy about was Suspicion - mind you, I'm not a Joan Fontaine fan so that could be the problem there. I love Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream Home too. SOOOO funny! Hey, I'm so glad I've fallen into a nest of Cary Grant fans! It's a fun place to be!

Anna Campbell said...

Leni, I have to laugh. I've just been telling Pat that I'm not crazy about Suspicion. But I think it's her, not him. Do you know that the original screenplay had him BEING a baddie after all? Wouldn't that have been interesting ending?

Anna Campbell said...

Barbara, he's just so easy on the eye, isn't he? And he aged beautifully too. Sigh. As I said, I think my ma had excellent taste in crush worthy stars!

Anna Campbell said...

Annie, there are some really interesting earlier films where he plays a charming rotter and he's darn good at it. Kind of like a darker version of the charming rotter who has been Hugh Grant's staple in recent years. I think however that he was unmatched when it came to romantic comedy. And oh, the lucky heroine who ended up with him. He was so gorgeous! My Favourite Wife is such a witty movie, isn't it? Do you remember when she tries to get the shoe salesman to pretend to be the man she was stuck on the island with so Cary wouldn't get jealous. And then Cary SEES Randolph Scott, the marvel of physical perfection, and his reaction is priceless. I must watch it again. It's been a while!

Anna Campbell said...

Jeanne, we must have a CG fest next time I visit - or when you get over to visit me! I think he was extremely underestimated as an actor too - it's hard to play those parts with conviction and he always gave an impression of emotional depth beneath the charm. You know, when he fell in love with the leading lady, he's STAY in love with the leading lady. Sigh.

Anna Campbell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anna Campbell said...

Blythe, I knew you were a woman of exemplary taste! ;-) How wonderful he's your all-time favourite. I have to say I can be a little fickle but he's always up there in the top ten. And I LOVE Indiscreet. He and Ingrid made such a wonderful pairing, didn't they?

PJ said...

Great post, Anna! I adore Cary Grant and would watch him in anything. Some of his early work is fantastic but I have throw my vote with Marybelle on this one. FATHER GOOSE is one of my very favorite movies. Grant and Caron were perfection!

Anna Campbell said...

PJ, I really wish I'd remembered FATHER GOOSE for this post. Seriously, I was spoilt for choice. Actually I love his gradual reformation in that. And I love it when the kids called him the filthy beast.

Keziah Hill said...

I love North by North West with that wonderful crop dusting scene. And the theme music by Bernard Hermann is a favorite of mine.

Thea said...

Two old movies - both dramas - that are my favorites in addition to all of them - honestly, do I have a CG movie I don't like?
Try Mr. Lucky - he actually plays a bad guy!!! clever dialogue and Penny Serenade- with Irene Dunne - where they struggle to have children. a real tear jerker esp when he goes off the deep end. there was one other movie he made with betsy drake (on of his for real wives) where they keep adopting kids. that was a great movie as well.

Anna Campbell said...

Keziah, I love that movie too. There's a wonderful scene on the train where he and Eva Marie Saint get, um, close!

Anna Campbell said...

I haven't seen Mr. Lucky, Thea. Thanks for the tip. They play Penny Serenade on TCM and I cried buckets when I saw it. I think Irene Dunne was such a great actress - she played really smart, strong women but she always had that twinkle in her eye too. She was wonderful in the original Showboat. She was also - and you probably already know this - in the Deborah Kerr role in the original of An Affair to Remember, Love Affair in 1939. Charles Boyer did the Cary Grant part. It's a wonderful film - has quite a different feel to the later adaptation even while a lot of the script is the same.

Anna Campbell said...

Wow, thank you so much for giving me such a great reception to my Cary Grant post. I wasn't sure whether he'd be a little on the old-fashioned side for the groovers who hang around here (among whom, obviously, I count myself, LOL!). And thanks for the recommendations - I thought I'd seen all the CG movies but clearly there are a few gaps in my list. Now there's a tough assignment to take on - watching CG movies! See you next month!

elainec said...

This was a very nice post. Thanks, Anna, for doing it. I loved Cary Grant, too. The movies named were terrific ones.
Elaine C.