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Cary Grant


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#1 canbelto

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Posted 16 October 2005 - 01:53 PM

Hard to believe this wonderful actor only got nominated twice for an Academy Award and never won. Of all the golden-age actors, I think he was by far the most diverse. He was equally at home in the madcap screwball comedies, the cold Hitchcock suspense movies, and the traditional romances. He's such a natural comedian. I love how he will do anything for a laugh, such as in Bringing Up Baby when he wears a fur-lined bathrobe and explains it by jumping up and down, pumping his fists, and screaming, "Because I just went GAY all of a sudden!" He is a natural scene-stealer -- in Notorious he steals scenes from Ingrid Bergman and Claude Rains, which is a tall feat. I'm watching him in Notorious currently and he does the impossible and makes this cold S.O.B. romantic.
Oh, words cant describe how perfect his is. Gush.

#2 Mel Johnson

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Posted 16 October 2005 - 10:40 PM

And how about Arsenic and Old Lace, which performance he hated. He said, "All I did was mug and run around." Ah, yes, but WHAT mugging and running around! It's the gold standard for that part. I can't help thinking that he didn't do Harvey because he was so very reasonable, he would have convinced the audience that they were deluded because they couldn't see the rabbit. James Stewart at least left a little question in the mind. (We still had a suspicion that the rabbit wasn't there)

#3 dirac

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Posted 18 October 2005 - 03:21 PM

I’m afraid I thought Grant’s performance in “Arsenic and Old Lace” was one of his very few out-and-out bad ones and that he summed up his own efforts quite well. But then I don’t much care for the material, either, which may have something to do with it.


As a light comedian I wouldn’t call Grant the equal of William Powell or Rex Harrison, but he was awfully good and as a star he was unique. All great stars are unique, of course, but Grant carved out his own special niche. I’d suggest that his range was actually pretty limited – the comedies, romances, and the thrillers he did all have elements in common, and he was not in any sense a character actor (not that that’s always bad, Gielgud wasn’t, either). He was not at home in most period dress, and I think he was wise to turn down the role of Professor Higgins in “My Fair Lady” -- I don’t think he would have been up to Harrison, or Leslie Howard for that matter. But who cares, none of it matters, he’s just – well, perfect, as canbelto observes, following Audrey Hepburn’s similar comments in “Charade.”


As for the lack of an Oscar in his resume, until he received a special award after retirement, there are a number of reasons for that. The Academy doesn’t give out many acting awards for comedy as a rule, and Grant himself had an equivocal relationship with the Hollywood powers that be. He was a freelancer, operating without a long term contract with one studio in an era where that was virtually unheard of. (Ronald Colman was another such.) He was also hugely successful at it, which engendered resentment. Because he was not allied to a particular studio, he had to resign from the Academy and so was not a member of the club, as it were. In addition, Grant could be highly contentious and litigious and he was forever disputing with one studio head or another, which didn’t add to his popularity. I think he was to be admired for all of the above, but you pay a price for swimming against the stream and he did. No Oscar for you, Cary.

My favorite Grants: Bringing Up Baby and The Awful Truth. And I thought he was excellent in the sentimental Penny Serenade -- a moving performance.

#4 carbro

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Posted 18 October 2005 - 04:17 PM

Cary Grant never quite did it for me, although I don't think I'm entirely blind to what others see in him.

I'm watching him in Notorious currently and he does the impossible and makes this cold S.O.B. romantic.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I think he was wise to turn down the role of Professor Higgins in “My Fair Lady”  -- I don’t think he would have been up to Harrison, or Leslie Howard for that matter. 

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Now, Rex Harrison as 'enry 'iggins! Talk about making an arrogant, childish and self-absorbed character :wallbash: lovable. . . :crying: !

#5 Mel Johnson

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Posted 18 October 2005 - 05:04 PM

And what about Father Goose, opposite Leslie Caron? Although there was no dancing involved, Grant seemed to be "partnering" Caron through shots, even though this movie was a throwaway war farce. He moved to support his co-stars.

#6 Giannina

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Posted 18 October 2005 - 05:13 PM

At the time I loved him in "Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House" and, even more so, "I Was A Male War Bride". They've lost some of their charm but I still love the fact that I loved them then.

Giannina

#7 canbelto

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Posted 18 October 2005 - 05:18 PM

Another thing I love about Cary Grant is his (apparently ad-libbed) wit and sarcasm. In his movies you didnt NEED the wisecracking sidekick character actor, because Cary Grant WAS the wiseacre. Very few actors IMO are able to portray true wit. Grant is. With many famous stars, you want to LOOK at them. For instance Greta Garbo or Marilyn Monroe or Vivien Leigh -- they transfix you with their luminous screen presence, and you just look at them. With Grant, I always want to LISTEN to him. In fact, as good looking as he is, very often I find myself just LISTENING to that voice when I watch his movies. I anticipate his next sarcastic, witty comment, or the way he pronounces names and places. If I were blind, I dont think I could necessarily enjoy a John Wayne or Greta Garbo movie. But I definitely could enjoy a Cary Grant movie -- his words are enough to transfix me.

#8 dirac

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Posted 18 October 2005 - 05:19 PM

Giannina, I'm still quite fond of "Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House" although I think Melvyn Douglas stole the movie from Grant and Myrna Loy!

Mel Johnson writes:

Although there was no dancing involved, Grant seemed to be "partnering" Caron through shots, even though this movie was a throwaway war farce. He moved to support his co-stars.


That's very true. Grant complements a woman, he doesn't try to take over the screen even when he could. Pauline Kael wrote a fine essay, "The Man From Dream City," about Grant, and she has some perceptive things to say about him in this regard.

#9 canbelto

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Posted 28 October 2005 - 06:20 AM

I watched His Girl Friday last night, and oh, it's so good to be reminded (once again) how perfect Cary Grant was. Rosalind Russell has more screentime, and is wonderfully tomboyish, plucky, and brash. But Cary Grant steals every scene he's in. Isn't it funny how the greatest scene stealers are often the most overtly passive of actors? Grant doesn't do much except giggle smugly, give that famous quizzical smile, click his tongue, and ad-lib lines. But every line is delivered with perfect comic timing. I love how he swears on his "mother's grave," and when reminded that his mother's still alive, impatiently spits back, "Oh ok then my grandmother's grave!" Or how he describes Bruce as "the guy in the movies, uh, Ralph Bellamy," or the mayor's wife as "the one with the wart." I wonder if anyone enjoyed working with Cary Grant, as some of the scene-stealing must have been intentional. For instance, the absurd carnation he wears on the lapel of his suit. The rude way he tosses matches to Hildy. Oh, he is just perfect. XOXO


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