Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Favorite Actors, #4: Cary Grant

First Movie I Saw Him In: North By Northwest (1959; age 11 with my grandparents)

Three Favorite Movies: The Awful Truth (1937); The Philadelphia Story (1940); North By Northwest (1959)

Honorable Mention: His Girl Friday (1946)

Favorite Performance: The Awful Truth (1937)

Why I Like Him: [Cue Masterpiece Theater music] A sign that a lad is growing up is when he starts to appreciate movies where something doesn’t have to explode every second or have his ears insulted by constant gunfire only interrupted by a thick Austrian accent barely getting out a “catchy” one liner. Instead, the growing lad finds it stimulating when he can savor an actor with impeccable comic timing, a dark side when the material calls for it, and a well-attired gent with every hair on his head perfectly coiffed, as well as a wardrobe that does not consist of ragged, stained logo t-shirts and jeans. No, the maturation process begins with appreciating an actor with splendid sophistication and an appeal to women and an effortless charm and suavity. He’s also the template for any man to emulate. My dear boy, welcome to Cary Grant.

Cary Grant is another actor I’ve scrawled on and on about in these pages, so I won’t repeat what I’ve already posted. I use the name of one of his characters in one of his many, many great films. I’m sure there were dozens of leading men who should’ve sent Cary a case of his favorite liquor every year for the many roles that Cary didn’t accept—with the exception of a slow start in the early 1950s, Grant’s body of work is among the most impressive careers in the history of film. Once he got his start with 1937’s The Awful Truth, the Grant screen image was set. Here was a dashing, handsome, yet funny guy who wasn’t afraid to fall down for a gag and get that great head of hair disheveled. He’d play second fiddle to a wire-haired Terrier named Mr. Smith or George, be made a fool of by a screwball heiress. Here was a leading man who didn’t seem to take himself all that seriously on screen. But Grant could dangle on the darker end of the spectrum, too. He'd break down in tears and beg to keep his child or twist himself up emotionally over a love affair. Grant’s approach was unique and still modern. You could reach the moon climbing the also-rans who were labeled “The Next Cary Grant.” (The latest rung on that ladder is named Clooney).

Random Info: Was the opposite of his worldly, sophisticated screen image. Grant preferred pub food and casual clothes.


  1. He's absolutely one of my favorites also. I love his voice and could listen to him all day.

  2. exactly, "the next Cary Grant" -- who could ever be another Cary Grant?? Wow, he's only #4, I'm so curious to see who makes it to 3,2, and 1!

  3. Grant is probably my #2. I've never seen a film of his that he wasn't great in. Yet, he never won an Oscar. I'd have to say His Girl Friday is my favorite, with an honorable mention to Father Goose.


  4. Cary Grant is my number 1 (although Jimmy Stewart comes in at a close 2nd). He just brought a class to comedy that cannot be matched today (well William Powell would be my next favorite classy comedian).

    But I also liked that Grant could also do drama quite well even though he was definitely more of a comedian. He was just that perfect combination of class, humor, charm with a little side of mystery & darkness. They can try to find the next Cary Grant all they want but it's not going to happen.

    Like Robert above I can't believe he never won an Oscar or the fact that he wasn't even nominated for some of his best performances: like Awful Truth, Philadelphia Story, His Girl Friday. Just a perfect example why I don't put much faith on the Oscars.

  5. C.K., I'm with Kim. Cary Grant is my #1, followed by James Stewart. You certainly summed up both Grant's image and his appeal very succinctly. I once listed my 10 favorite Cary Grant performances ("North by Northwest" was #1), but it sure was hard to stop at 10 and even harder to rank them in order! Now I'm curious to see who your #1-3 will be. And can we expect a follow-up series on your 10 favorite actresses soon?

  6. I've been watching lots of Remington Steele lately, and Pierce Brosnan is another guy who has also been compared to Cary Grant and who has a reputation for the urbane but prefers informal living.

    I say Brosnan is Brosnan and Grant is Grant.

    I wonder why the constant need to compare the actors with their predecessors. Lots of actors are originals.

  7. I first saw Cary Grant in more serious, romantic roles, like Charade. As I delved more into classic movies I actually was shocked to see him in comedies like the Awful Truth and Arsenic and Old Lace. The scene where he falls off the chair at Irene Dunne's recital is one of my favorites.

  8. Another great choice C.K. and one of my favorites. It would be impossible for me to choose a favorite Cary Grant performance, there are just too many. However, here are a few in no particular order that I admire: North By Northwest, His Girl Friday, Notorious, The Philadelphia Story, and The Talk of the Town.

  9. I <3 Cary Grant. He did such a fantastic job morphing his career over time. Very handsome, talented and wonderful.

  10. Cary Grant is actually my favorite actor of all time. He's handsome, talented, stylish, etc. He was great whether he was doing comedy, suspense, etc.

  11. Cary Grant has been and always shall be my favorite actor. His talent is unsurpassed; his versatility unequaled by any actor before or since. His was a quintessential man who was without peer.


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