109 years (and two days) ago Archibald Leach was born.
Thank god he changed that godawful name to Cary Grant.
Howard Hawks returns to the screwball comedy genre in the 50s with Monkey Business, where Cary Grant plays a chemist who is working on a formula that makes you young again. Ginger Rogers plays his wife, and Marilyn Monroe interprets a young secretary who develops a crush for Dr. Barnaby. Grant’s character is an introvert, absentminded scientist for half the film, and a silly teenager in the body of a grown man during the other half. What to love: his facial expressions when other characters are speaking; his early scenes with Rogers; that terrible haircut.
In this Hitchcockian comedy/thriller Audrey Hepburn (Regina Lampert) is chased through the streets of Paris by several man who are after the fortune her recently murdered husband stole. Cary Grant is Peter Joshua, a man she randomly met on a ski trip and is now helping her escape these supposed murderers. But his help soon becomes suspicious, and Reggie wonders if she can really trust him. What to love: jokes about Grant’s chin dimple; Grant showering in a full suit and eyeglasses; spontaneous silly faces; the orange game.
Cary Grant is a newspaper editor who is still in love with his ex-wife and former reporter, Hildy Johnson. When he meets her new fiancée one day before their wedding, he will stop at nothing to get her back. What to love: some of the wittiest lines of all time coming out of his mouth; self-referential jokes; Grant talking as fast as it’s humanly possible.
Lucy and Jerry are getting a divorce. They’re also trying to ruin each other’s chances at finding a new love – guess how it ends. What to love: his ridiculous face when laughing too much; Grant’s epic fall from a chair.
We take a break from screwball comedies and jump into the first Hitchcock-Grant collaboration, of which you know I’m very fond of. It begins like any typical love story: they meet, they fall in love, they get married. But soon she notices his gambling addiction, wonders if he has married her for the money, and begins to suspect he’s trying to kill her. Being Hitch, you know there will be murders. Had he had his way with the ending, Suspicion would be a dream come true. What to love: seeing Grant as a possible murderer; for once, despise the character he is playing; his brilliantly ambiguous lines.
Mortimer Brewster visits his aunts to tell them he just got married, but ends up finding out that they’ve been killing and burying people in the cellar for years. With Arsenic and Old Lace Frank Capra takes over the top dark humour to whole new level, and Cary Grant goes up and beyond to get there with him. What to love: Cary Grant looking like a complete fool; Cary Grant making faces that don’t flatter him; Cary Grant acting like a lunatic; Cary Grant talking gibberish; Cary Grant being the opposite of Cary Grant.
Roger O. Thornhill is a New York advertising executive with an impeccable sense of style, a man with a big ego and a couple of suave moves with the ladies. He’s also a full-grown momma’s boy and a very unfortunate man. When he’s kidnapped, mistaken for a government agent and chased across the country, he must rise above and act like a man, for once in his life. What to love: Grant driving a car, completely drunk; the legendary grey suit; a pair of sunglasses only he could rock.
Back to romance and epic love, An Affair to Remember teams up Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr in a timeless classic that has made a wreck out of women for over fifty years. They meet on a cruise ship and experience a new kind of love, but they both have someone waiting for them back home. What to love: an older, more serious and calm side of Cary Grant, but still with that old flame of good-natured humour; his facial expressions when not talking; the pain, oh the overwhelming pain!
Bringing up Baby was my first and still is my favorite Cary Grant screwball comedy. He is David Huxley, a paleontologist who is about to get married – this time around it’s him who’s at the hands of a manipulative, annoying, loving woman (Katharine Hepburn) who tries to prevent him from going through with the wedding. What to love: uncensored gay references; Grant in fluffy robe; Grant screaming like a little girl over a leopard; Cary Grant being a good old-fashion nerd.
Well, this comes as no surprise – I find Cary Grant’s performance as Devlin his finest work, and I’ve said it repeatedly on this blog. The sheer depth and mystery of this character can be overlooked at first sight, but a closer look will easily unravel the complexity of Mr. Devlin. As an intelligence agent torn between the woman he loves and his mission, Cary Grant delivers a deliciously nuanced performance that leaves many questions unanswered, in the best way.
What to love: like in An Affair to Remember and Monkey Business, his work in the background is something to behold; a character completely deprived of that merry humour and dashing personality we’re used to; his most serious and brave work, in my modest opinion, diving into emotions we’ve never seen from him before; the overwhelming chemistry he has with Bergman; the complete and grand destruction of the Cary Grant persona.
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