Cary Grant

Cary GrantOn this day in 1904, the great actor Cary Grant was born. I’ve never been too clear on what a “man crush” is, but I must have one on Grant. Or more accurately, I want to be Cary Grant. Not the actual person, of course. I want to be suave and witty like the Cary Grant character. Because I’m kind of the opposite. Oh, it’s true, my “stand in the corner and flinch easily” act can, at times, be seen as charming. And I have been known to say witty things at times. But mostly, I’m just insecure and banal. I’m not even special in wanting to be Cary Grant. As the great man himself said, “Everyone wants to be Cary Grant. Even I want to be Cary Grant.”

What is there to say about Cary Grant? His given name was Archie Leach. In fact, I named a drink after him. But I’m really not that interested in his life. It’s the usual: terrible childhood, crazy mother, got into acting, traveled to the United States, became a star. It was either that or be Rosemary Clooney’s cousin, get cast on ER, become a star. Oh, I’m just kidding George, but he does seem to me the only modern Cary Grant type star.

For forty years, Grant starred in some of the best movies that Hollywood made. Here is video that puts together his ten highest rated films on IMDb. I very much disagree with the ordering and even the inclusion of these films. For example, Gunga Din is not on the list yet somehow Charade is? That’s not to say that I don’t like Charade, but it is hardly great. And North by Northwest is number one? Whatever. This is all fun though.

Happy birthday Cary Grant!

4 thoughts on “Cary Grant

  1. “North By Northwest” has one very good scene and one brilliant scene. The very good scene is James Mason playing a sophisticated super-spy interrogating sophisticated Grant and Grant being utterly clueless what Mason is talking about. The brilliant scene is Grant at an art auction behaving boorishly to get arrested by police so the hitmen waiting at the back don’t kill him. Grant clearly self-created his charming persona as a rebellion against his crummy childhood, and that charming persona is never funnier than when he’s sloughing it off. I don’t know if Ernest Lehmann wrote that auction scene with Grant in mind; I suspect he did. It’s priceless.

    I think of Clooney as more Bogart than Grant. Grant was a very good actor but his best movies were comedies. Bogart was quite funny quite often, but he seemed adrift in straight-up comedies. Clooney is very funny yet his clowning doesn’t work for me in comedies.

    I’m not trying to diminish what Clooney’s done by suggesting he’s a mishmash of earlier stars. Bogart was Bogart, Grant was Grant, Clooney is Clooney. I don’t pretend to imagine what goes on in their heads and why they created the personas they did. (They were all liberals; Grant and Bogart hated HUAC and Clooney’s best effort as a director was about the Communist witch trials.)

    Bogart, Grant, Clooney all used their star power in later years to choose what movies they appeared in. Sometimes they chose wrong, it happens. More often than not, the movies they chose to be in were way more interesting than other movies.

    I’d have put “Bringing Up Baby,” with Grant as the fusby scientist, at the top. “Charade” is OK but basically a Bond film. (Grant was offered the Bond role and turned it down.) I can’t believe I forgot about “Notorious”! I’ve watched tons of old Hitchcocks with the SO, the SO likes the Hitchcocks, and I forgot “Notorious”! That’s a sexy movie and has Claude Rains. It’s going straight on my library list right now.

    • I still think Clooney is very much like Grant, but you are right that Clooney is not the comedic genius that Grant was. Just the same: O Brother, Where Art Thou? and The Men Who Stare At Goats. Pretty funny stuff!

      I would have to put His Girl Friday at the top of my list. But I love Bringing Up Baby and would likely put it next. The Philadelphia Story is also quite good, but I just don’t like Stewart, and he is particularly annoying in that film.

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