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.