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Cary Grant: The Complete Filmography - Watching All Of His Movies (2 Viewers)

Josh Steinberg

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Mr. Blandings caught my attention a long time ago before I'd seen too many of his films and I just really liked that movie, and Cary Grant and Myrna Loy's interplay. It felt like a real situation not taken too far into absurdity.

I agree completely. Ironically, I showed the movie recently to my fiance, figuring that she'd enjoy it for the reasons I did, but it did not play well with her. I don't want to go so far as to say that she hated it, but there are few movies that she's demonstrated such dislike for during the movie itself. She found the movie immensely frustrating, because she felt that Grant was just digging holes for himself that he didn't have to, and that the entire mess was his fault. For instance, Grant possibly overpays for the property, and doesn't get the house inspected by an engineer before purchasing. In today's world, it's pretty standard to have an engineer inspect a house before buying; having never bought a house myself I can't say for sure, but it's my understanding that the bank won't give you a mortgage until the house passes inspection. Makes sense. But was that standard in 1948? When I watch the movie, I see a city guy who's spent his entire life there making his first journey to suburban living, and having trouble adjusting - he doesn't know what he doesn't know. To my fiance though, all of the things that Grant didn't know to take care of were things she felt he should know about - so to her it was a movie about a guy acting inexplicably dumb. I didn't see it that way. Then again, when watching "Hot Saturday" I was having trouble putting myself into the time period that the movie took place in; I understood the historical context, but mere understanding wasn't enough to overcome my dislike of the story being told. I think it's just more frustrating when you make a point of showing someone a movie you like, and the person you're showing it to doesn't see the things in it you seeing.

That came to mind because you mentioned that Mr. Blandings felt like a real situation not taken too far; I agree completely with that assessment. I was surprised that my fiance found the whole thing incredibly absurd.
 

Josh Steinberg

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#56 - I'm No Angel (1933)
Viewed on August 20, 2016
Viewing Format: DVD (Universal)

I'm No Angel is the second and final collaboration between Mae West and Cary Grant. Previously appearing together in West's vehicle She Done Him Wrong, the two had good chemistry and the film was a hit, so it's understandable why they would reteam. For She Done Him Wrong, the movie was based on a play originally written by West; here, she writes the original screenplay herself. Both films are somewhat similar, although I'm No Angel runs nearly half an hour longer and has greater production values. For the rest of her life, West claimed credit for discovering Grant, which wasn't exactly true (he was already a Paramount contract player with several pictures under his belt before they first teamed up); and for the rest of his life, Grant was annoyed by this.

The film opens with West as burlesque dancer. We soon learn that in addition to her shows, she has a scam going wherein she'll accept an eager man's invitation for a date, and then West's secret boyfriend Slick will "catch" them together and blackmail the other (usually married) man into paying for their silence. One night, however, the intended victim doesn't fall for the trick, and Slick attacks him; they mistakenly think they have killed the man, and flee. But when the main regains consciousness and talks to the police, Slick is arrested. West is desperate not to be implicated in this scam and needs money for a lawyer, and agrees to perform daring circus tricks for Slick's boss (including one routine where she's supposed to stick her entire head inside a lion's mouth). The act is a success, and allows West to move up in the performing world to a major New York City show. There, she meets a wealthy but engaged man (played by Kent Taylor) who falls head over heels for her. Despite pleas from the man's fiance, West won't leave him be, but when the man's lawyer (played by Cary Grant) shows up to make the same request, West is intrigued by Grant and loses her fascination with Taylor. The two fall in love and become engaged, with West even stating that she'll give up performing. This upsets her manager, who devises a setup to convince Grant that West is two-timing him (she's not). Grant, falling for the deception, breaks off the engagement. West has a novel way of getting him back: she sues him for breach of contract. In court, West must use all of her tricks to try to convince Grant that she's been faithful, and that her sordid past doesn't mean that she doesn't love him today.

Viewed as part of the Cary Grant Vault Collection from Universal, I'm No Angel is one of the better presentations in the set. There's nice, clear audio with no hum. Picture quality is good, with the occasional blemish, but overall, it's one of the better looking titles in the set. English subtitles are provided.

I'm No Angel primarily showcases Mae West, but Grant is an affable presence in the supporting role. If he's a little stiff and not yet in possession of his screen persona, the chemistry he and West share is visible from their first scene together. Though he doesn't appear until after the halfway mark, he easily sells that he's smitten with West (and really, by the time he shows up, who isn't?). Whether you end up liking this or She Done Him Wrong better is probably a matter of taste and a few mere degrees. I think I liked I'm No Angel ever so slightly more - West's timing seemed a little sharper, and I found myself laughing louder at her one-liners and double entendres - but both films are worth seeing.
 

Matt Hough

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There are more memorable lines in I'm No Angel than I believe there are in any of her other movies. The musical numbers are better songs than in She Done Him Wrong, too. It's really a first-rate production no matter what you might think of the over-the-top leading lady who preens and rolls her eyes for the camera every chance she gets.

"Oh, Beulah, peel me a grape."
 

Nelson Au

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Josh, your story about how your wife was annoyed with Grant in Mr. Blandings is probably a little how I felt about how I felt about Male War Bride. It just seemed like they jumped through hoops at the end to find a way to get around the system because the navy wasn't able to accept that Rochard was the male bride. So they had to concoct the crazy way they snuck him aboard the ship. Oh well, maybe I was just not in the right mood. :)

More reviews I see Josh, I'm trying not to read your whole post for the synopsis so I can view them freshly. I only read the early part where you set up the plot.
 

Josh Steinberg

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It's really a first-rate production no matter what you might think of the over-the-top leading lady who preens and rolls her eyes for the camera every chance she gets

Can't imagine what you might think :)

The only other Mae West film I had seen before these two was My Little Chickadee (I'm a huge W.C. Fields fan). I liked West in all three, but I think I probably respect her work more than I love it.
 

Josh Steinberg

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Josh, your story about how your wife was annoyed with Grant in Mr. Blandings is probably a little how I felt about how I felt about Male War Bride. It just seemed like they jumped through hoops at the end to find a way to get around the system because the navy wasn't able to accept that Rochard was the male bride. So they had to concoct the crazy way they snuck him aboard the ship. Oh well, maybe I was just not in the right mood. :)

More reviews I see Josh, I'm trying not to read your whole post for the synopsis so I can view them freshly. I only read the early part where you set up the plot.

I've been trying not to give away too much plot in these but I think that's the approach I'd take too. For some of these movies, I've gone in knowing almost nothing about them and it almost always improves the experience of watching them. I'm really glad you've stuck around the whole time.

I had completely forgotten this until I read this most recent reply from you, but I actually watched Male War Bride twice this year. I liked it so much the first time that I wanted to show it to my fiancé. She came home from work one day with the idea that we'd watch a movie, and I was about to suggest that one, but before I spoke she said, "I've had a really frustrating, annoying day at work and I don't want to watch anything that will make that worse" so I put it back on the shelf that night. She liked it when we eventually did watch it, but I think she just would have been annoyed if I had put it on then. I totally see how that can happen. I think I'm a little bit the opposite - I've had a lot of frustrating, annoying days this year and I've enjoyed watching fictional characters suffer similar annoyances with me!

On a more personal note... Earlier you wrote "your wife" and we're not yet married..but that's the first time I've ever seen her referred to that way (or heard the words "my wife" in my head instead of "girlfriend" or "fiancé" and it was just...really cool. I got a little sentimental reading that. I love the sound of it. I think that's probably a sign that I'm marrying the right woman. And the wedding is two months from today - wow. I don't know if it'll happen but id love to finish this project before then.
 

Nelson Au

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Josh, it must have been a slip of the tongue! I wasn't even thinking and I knew you said that you are engaged and not married yet. Sounds like you found the right girl if you're liking the sound of my slip up. :)
 

TravisR

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On a more personal note... Earlier you wrote "your wife" and we're not yet married..but that's the first time I've ever seen her referred to that way (or heard the words "my wife" in my head instead of "girlfriend" or "fiancé" and it was just...really cool. I got a little sentimental reading that. I love the sound of it.
It's like the episode of Seinfeld where Jerry is talking to Kramer about pretending to have a wife.
"I love saying 'my wife'. Once I started saying it, I couldn't stop. 'My wife this, my wife that'. It's an amazing way to begin a sentence"
"My wife has an inner ear infection."
"See?"
 

Josh Steinberg

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#57 - Merrily We Go To Hell (1932)
Viewed on August 21st, 2016
Viewing Format: DVD-R (Universal)

Directed by Dorothy Arzner, Merrily We Go To Hell is a 1932 pre-code drama starring Sylvia Sidney and Frederich March, and featuring a very young Cary Grant in a minor role. March is an alcoholic newspaperman from Chicago who's also an aspiring playwright; Sidney comes from a wealthy, well-mannered family. They meet at a dinner party, and despite March's obvious intoxication, hit it off, soon falling in love. They are quickly married, and Sidney helps March sober up so that he can focus on his plays. After several rejections, a New York producer expresses interest in his writing, and they move to the big city to work on the play. But unbeknownst to Sidney, the lead actress in the play (portrayed by Adrianne Allen) is March's former squeeze, and before long, March is back to drinking and is having an affair. Grant appears late in the film as a man that Sidney meets at a ball; he also has a separate blink-and-you-miss-it role as one of the actors in the play.

Dorothy Arzner was one of the few women directing in Hollywood at that era, and she gets fantastic performances from her entire cast, particularly March and Sidney. Despite March's drunken boorishness, I like him very much early on, much the way Sidney does. They very much feel like real people. For Grant's late appearance, he enters in a tuxedo with the charm on full blast for his one big scene. The movie has a great opening and middle section, with characters well established and circumstances unfolding at a good pace. The ending, though, felt rushed to me. Overall, the movie was better than I expected.

The manufactured-on-demand DVD-R from Universal contains a pretty good looking transfer of the movie. The picture is good, mostly very clear and clean; there are a very dupey sections, but most of the movie looks very nice. The audio is good, dialogue clear and easy to understand. Unfortunately, the disc does not contain any subtitles or bonus features.

I'm not sure why this was not included in the Cary Grant Vault Collection, as it would have been the perfect addition to the set. Though the idea of a love story between an alcoholic writer and a wealthy young woman isn't groundbreaking territory, the movie has a certain grace and charm to its execution that makes it more enjoyable to watch than a lot of other similarly themed films. Cary Grant provides the necessarily charm in a brief role, but March and Sydney are so good that I was swept up in their story long before Grant arrived. The quality of the transfer is certainly good enough, but the bare bones nature of the disc, combined with Grant's tiny role, makes it hard to recommend as a blind buy solely as a Cary Grant endeavor. However, if you enjoy a good pre-code drama, or are interested in the work of Dorothy Arzner, it's worth a look.
 

Matt Hough

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When I was growing up, one of the local stations that licensed a large syndication package of 1930s movies played this Paramount film and the Universal film You're a Sweetheart all the time. I'm not quite sure why these turned up in the rotation more frequently than other movies, but they did, and I practically had them both memorized.

Funny thing is, I haven't seen them in probably forty years. I remember when Merrily was announced for DVD, it brought back a flood of memories but I never bought it. I would like to see them both again.
 

Josh Steinberg

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When I was growing up, one of the local stations that licensed a large syndication package of 1930s movies played this Paramount film and the Universal film You're a Sweetheart all the time. I'm not quite sure why these turned up in the rotation more frequently than other movies, but they did, and I practically had them both memorized.

Funny thing is, I haven't seen them in probably forty years. I remember when Merrily was announced for DVD, it brought back a flood of memories but I never bought it. I would like to see them both again.

Very cool. I think I got Merrily for under $15 on Amazon, so it didn't break the bank or anything. If you see it again, I'm curious to see how it holds up to your memory of it. I found it to be a surprisingly sensitive and well made drama.
 

Matt Hough

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Very cool. I think I got Merrily for under $15 on Amazon, so it didn't break the bank or anything. If you see it again, I'm curious to see how it holds up to your memory of it. I found it to be a surprisingly sensitive and well made drama.
Yes, I remember as a kid feeling very sorry for Sylvia Sidney's character. And I looked out for other films that she had made (along with more films featuring You're a Sweetheart's Alice Faye.)
 

Josh Steinberg

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#58 - Alice In Wonderland (1933)
Viewed on August 21st, 2016
Viewing Format: DVD (Universal)

Double feature night! After finishing Merrily We Go To Hell, I realized that outside of This Is The Night (which, being Grant's first film, I decided to save for the end), I only had one Paramount contract picture left. Released in 1933, Paramount's production of Alice In Wonderland was an all-star affair, led by Charlotte Henry as Alice, and featuring (among others) Gary Cooper as the White Night, W.C. Fields as Humpty Dumpty, Sterling Holloway as the Frog, Edward Everett Horton as the Mad Hatter, Roscoe Karns and Jack Oakie as Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum respectively, and of course, Cary Grant as the Mock Turtle. I had previously seen this version of Alice In Wonderland during a W.C. Fields restrospective at the Film Forum in New York City. In the interest of full disclosure, I'll admit that Alice In Wonderland isn't one of my favorite stories; I appreciate it more than I enjoy it. What makes this particular adaptation so enjoyable to me is seeing all of the early special effects and makeup jobs from the period. There's a delightful handmade quality to it, and I find it very easy to suspend disbelief and accept everything that happens onscreen, which is a tribute to the great craftsmen who pulled this off. And speaking of which, I should mention that it was directed by the great Norman Z. McLeod, who also directed the two great Marx Brothers films Monkey Business and Horse Feathers, as well as my favorite Fields movie, It's A Gift. McLeod would work with Grant again a few years after this on the delightful supernatural comedy Topper. The screenplay was written by Joseph L. Mankiewicz and William Cameron Menzies.

The film is episodic in natural; Alice encounters different members from Paramount's roster of stars in little vignettes. My favorite is Humpty Dumpty with Fields, but Grant as the Mock Turtle is a close second. He's buried under a costume (we only see his face on a still shown during the main credits), but he sells his performance with his voice, delightfully and hysterically over the top, leaking an insane amount of tears as he recounts his literal sob story to Alice. It's an absurd but enjoyable moment within an absurd and enjoyable film.

The bare-bones DVD from Universal is generally good. The picture looks a little more worn than Merrily We Go To Hell, but there were no major distractions. The audio was equally good, and English subtitles were provided. It matches my memory of what the 35mm print I saw about five or six years ago looked like. Apparently the film originally ran 90 minutes, but was cut down sometime in the 1950s. The version presented on the disc runs 77 minutes.

I wish this title had been included in the Cary Grant Vault Collection. So many of the actors who appear here also appear in other films within that set, and it would have been the perfect addition to it. To me, this is a fun movie, but not an essential one. Both times I've seen it, it was as the second half of a double feature; even though it would have been an "A" picture upon its original release, it plays well now as the second part of a double header.
 

Josh Steinberg

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As an asterisk to their shared role as C.K. Dexter-Haven, Grant and Bing Crosby share some Mock Turtle history here. Crosby was the original choice for the role, but he really didn't like the role or the movie, and essentially refused to participate.

I had no idea, thanks for sharing! I could also see Crosby doing a good job with it, though having seen (or at least heard) Grant playing the part, I'm not sure I can imagine the movie without him now.
 

FanCollector

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Paramount always loved doing those movies in which all their contract stars made appearances. Later, the stars mostly got to appear as themselves, and Crosby didn't mind doing those. He didn't like the costuming gimmick in the earlier Alice in Wonderland movie.

Speaking of Paramount, these last reviews remind me of how innovative and courageous Grant was to leave the studio system when he did. Contracting with studios one or two movies at a time wouldn't become common practice for stars for another 20 years, but he struck out on his own and the risky move paid off both commercially and artistically. Would he ever have become "Cary Grant" in the studio system? Counterfactuals are impossible to prove, but it's certainly questionable given his stay at Paramount. I think his career move was especially gutsy given the fact that he wasn't the most confident and secure actor in those years, and he took a big risk that put all the decisions in his own hands.
 

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