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Cary Grant: The Complete Filmography - Watching All Of His Movies (1 Viewer)

David Weicker

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No, you may be onto something here, Nelson. The 1955 Sunbeam Alpine was new in the early Fall of 1954, which means that after John and Francie shared that night of "fireworks", Francie may have become pregnant and assuming a slightly shortened gestational period given birth on May 1, 1955, to...me! It all makes sense now!
You have a new name - you are Grace Grant's love-child
 

Nelson Au

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I watched Blonde Venus tonight. It wasn't what I expected. Though I knew it was mainly a Marlene Dietrich film, the plot wasn't what I expected. It was an interesting story of her character's journey, one I didn't expect when she took the nightclub gig and then got involved with Cary Grant's character,

I'm not sure I liked his early Paramount roles and they all seem to be the similar type. A well to do type whose a bit one dimensional. I guess even then in his early roles he was projecting that sophistication. But his characters where on the dark side.

The Marlene Dietrich character in this film always made me think was what was the model that Kate Mulgrew is basing her character on in the Voyager episodes when the Hirogen have the crew believing they are World War Two characters on the Holodeck. Janeway is running a French resistance underground. Though I've never seen a Marlene Dietrich film, I had this impression. Probably the white suit had something to do with it. It might have colored my impression of what Blonde Venus was about, not about a mother trying to support a child while her husband is away.

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Josh Steinberg

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Nelson, as always I enjoy your observations and think they're great. I agree with you on your assessment of his Paramount roles; I find the movies to be interesting as a curiosity, and a few I genuinely enjoyed on their own terms, but for the most part they don't play to Grant's strengths, and I think it's a testament to his foresight that he didn't renew his contract there so he could have more control over his parts.

Regarding Kate Mulgrew, that's a great catch. To be honest, I've always associated her with Katharine Hepburn, but I think that's probably because I saw her playing Hepburn onstage once. The play's script was mediocre, but she was fantastic!
 

Josh Steinberg

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#64 - When You're In Love (1937)
Viewed on December 1st, 2016
Viewing Format: HD Cable Broadcast (TCM)

When You're In Love is one of the rarest of Cary Grant's films, and one of the four that he disowned later in life. It's an unusual film for him, made at the conclusion of his Paramount contact for Columbia. Headlined by Grace Moore, it's a musical comedy with Grant second-billed in a co-starring role. The movie has never been released on home video or DVD, and at the beginning of this project, I worried that this would be a stumbling block towards completing his filmography. Fortunately, a network called GetTV aired what was billed as a restoration earlier in the year, though to my eye it didn't look all that good. It aired in standard definition and with commercials, and while I did record it on my DVR, I hoped for something better and delayed watching it. To my surprise and delight, Turner Classic Movies recently aired it in HD, and this version appeared to have been restored, though perhaps not as perfect as some of Sony's other recent Blu-ray releases of classics from the same period. But the TCM airing was more than acceptable.

The movie itself concerns Grace Moore, who plays a famous Australian singer who has just been deported from the United States to Mexico after overstaying her visa. For reasons both personal and professional, she's desperate to get back to the States. Enter Grant, an American artist about to get kicked out of her hotel for lack of funds. He knows her only by reputation as a rich tourist, and is shocked to discover that she's actually the singer whose records he's fallen for. A crazy scheme is hatched where they'll get married; this will allow her to return to the States, and in return, she'll pay off his debts. Though the marriage is meant to be temporary, he falls for her, complicating their lives.

Grant and Moore aren't bad together, but they don't spark the way his better pairings do. He's giving something more than his Paramount contract performance, but something more minimalist than his Awful Truth performance. The film is a musical, but with Moore's character being a singer, they find occasions for her to sing rather than having characters break randomly into song (though that does sorta happen once). An earlier musical number in a Mexican nightclub was terrific, but one midway through the film with a bunch of children at a school is dull enough to temporarily halt the picture before mercifully fading out. There's a moment where Grant eats an apple, and I suddenly got a flash of Gable and Colbert in It Happened One Night, which makes sense considering this film was written and directed by that film's writer, Robert Riskin. And there's a forest scene and song that could have been magical in a better film, but falls short here, unhelped by Grant and Moore's less than convincing chemistry. The movie is more interesting when it focuses on Grant and Moore individually, or within a larger group; the love scenes are more tepid. But it's not every movie you get to see Grant pantomiming on piano for Minnie The Moocher. The last third of the film is more fun, except for the musical number with Moore performing at the theater; it's not terrible, but it slows the momentum as the story is reaching the climax.

The HD broadcast on TCM, from a master provided by Sony, was pretty good. The signal appeared overcompressed, but that's almost certainly my cable company and not a problem with the transfer itself. The musical numbers weren't as aurally clear as the dialogue scenes, but they were more than acceptable. I imagine it would make a pretty good looking Blu-ray if Sony or one of their distribution partners ever chose to release it.

With Robert Riskin writing and directing, When You're In Love has a little bit of a Capra feel to it at times. Though the direction is a little stiff, it's a pleasure to see a "lost" Cary Grant performance from this period. That said, it's also understandable why this film hasn't endured the way many of his other films had. This is an enjoyable movie that is perhaps less than the sum of its parts, but not without merit.
 
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Josh Steinberg

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#65 - The Bishop's Wife (1947)
Viewed on December 4th, 2016
Viewing Format: Blu-ray (Warner)

The Bishop's Wife is a delightful Christmas-themed romantic comedy starring Cary Grant, Loretta Young and David Niven. Somehow I had managed never to see the film until now. It's an utter delight, and destined to become a Christmas favorite in my house.

The story concerns Niven, who plays a bishop trying to raise funds to build a giant cathedral. He struggles to raise the money, not wanting to compromise his devout designs for his donors' less than pious demands, but with few other options. Meanwhile, his wife (Young) and daughter have been neglected by his singleminded pursuit of the cathedral. Sensing that its all slipping away from him, Niven prays for guidance, and soon the angel Dudley (Grant) appears to answer his prayers. With Niven skeptical of Grant's origins and purpose, he refuses Grant's help, sending him off with his wife. Grant reminds Young of the romance she once felt for her husband, and finds himself tempted by her humanity. But the angel's true purpose is to inspire, and soon it becomes apparent that he has a way with people wherever he goes. Monty Woolley is fantastic in a supporting role as Niven and Young's friend from their more humble beginnings.

Made for Samuel Goldwyn and distributed by RKO during a prime run in Grant's career, The Bishop's Wife showcases Grant in an excellent, seemingly effortless performance. The special effects are convincing, but it's Grant's charm that really sells him as an angel. The cheer that his character spreads permeates the film, making Grant's presence felt even when he's offscreen. Simply put, Grant is excellent. It's one of the film's true joys that he's surrounded by equally excellent performances. Niven is fantastic as the bishop in danger of losing his way, and Young is equally impressive as the wife at a crossroads. Thirteen years earlier, Grant and Young appeared together in the rather forgettable Fox picture, Born To Be Bad; he was innocent and earnest, and she was harsh and cruel, and their chemistry didn't click. Here, they are wonderfully paired. It's a shame they didn't make more films together.

The Blu-ray from Warner is a good looking disc. The picture is generally good, and the audio is clear and easy to understand; English subtitles are also provided. There are more effects and opticals in the film than I would have imagined, and they tend to show, but the shots without effects all look very good, and the ones with them are certainly acceptable. The disc also includes a trailer. I've read that the Blu-ray omits a dialogue exchange in one scene, but as I had never seen the film before, I was unaware of the missing footage. The disc I have is the second pressing from Warner; apparently the original release contained another error which has since been corrected.

The Bishop's Wife is a delightful film, filled with holiday cheer, fantastic performances, a witty script and fine direction. I don't know how I had missed it up until now, but I look forward to seeing it again and again.
 

Josh Steinberg

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#66 - Arsenic And Old Lace (1944)
Viewed on December 4th, 2016
Viewing Format: DVD (Warner)

"Insanity doesn't just run in my family. It practically gallops."

The lone collaboration between legendary director Frank Capra and star Cary Grant, Arsenic And Old Lace is a delightful, completely over-the-top black comedy of lunatic proportions. This is quite possibly the first Cary Grant movie that I ever saw. When I was in high school, I was the assistant director for our school's production of the show, and in preparation for directing the play, I watched the film. It's not something I generally liked to do, but after reading the play's script and loving it, I wanted to get a sense of what this script was like in motion. The movie was a lot of fun, and working on the play remains one of my most cherished high school memories.

The less said the better, for one of the delights is seeing the utter ridiculousness of each situation topped, but in short: Grant has just married his childhood sweetheart (played by Priscilla Lane), and is returning to visit the aunts who raised him (Josephine Hull and Jean Adair, both fantastic). While there, he discovers that his aunts have picked up a peculiar habit: they take in drifters and relieve them of their suffering (and their lives) with a specially laced homebrewed elderberry wine, hiding the bodies in the windowseat. Also living with them is Grant's brother (John Alexander) who believes himself to be Teddy Roosevelt, and who has been burying his aunts victims in the basement, believing them to be casualties from the digging of the Panama Canal. And if that's not enough, his older brother (Raymond Massey), a serial killer surgically altered to look like Boris Karloff in a horror movie by his wacky surgeon partner (Peter Lorre), returns home, creating even more chaos.

Filmed in 1941 but not released until 1944, Grant himself was displeased with the final product. He felt that his performance was way too over-the-top, and that he had been unable to deliver what Capra had wanted. I humbly disagree. As a newly married man whose own childhood home featured a windowseat, I think if I came home to this, I'd react in exactly the same way. It's true that Grant is ludicrously over the top, but it's all in line with the "one sane man in a house of crazies" style of comedy that the script so expertly constructs. And it might be true that it has the potential to work better onstage; played on a single set, the stage version can build the tension and the hysterics simultaneously to a degree that's harder to sustain as believably onscreen. But I think Capra has done as good a job as possible in translating the material. Our prior familiarity with Grant as a more level-headed personality allows us to believe that Grant being over-the-top here isn't this character's everyday existence, but something he's been driven to by the situation at hand.

The DVD I have is from the Volume 2 of the TCM collection, which also includes Gunga Din, Destination Tokyo and Sylvia Scarlet. It can usually be purchased for Amazon at around the same price as the standalone Arsenic release, and both contain the exact same disc. The movie is the best looking and sounding I've ever seen it. The VHS version I had since high school looked and sounded like an "old" movie, scratched and worn. I saw it last year on TCM and found that presentation to be disappointing as well. The DVD, while not perfect, exceeds both of those prior presentations. The picture is generally clear, with sections that look quite good, and the audio is equally good. English subtitles are provided. There are no bonus features on this disc.

Arsenic And Old Lace is a special movie for me. While not a typical Grant performance, he's the perfect actor to bring the play's hysterics to the screen. It's a shame that Grant and Capra didn't have other occasions to work together, but their lone collaborations remains a ridiculous and ridiculously entertaining one.
 

Nelson Au

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I'm saving The Bishops Wife blu-ray to view this holiday as I've never seen the movie. I didn't realize it was a rom-com. I thought it was a heavy tear jerker. I'm thinking of another film where Cary is pleading to a judge for the guardianship of a child might have been this movie. ( I haven't read your review yet Josh. )

At any rate, I'm looking forward to it. In looking at Mr. Koster's credits, I didn't know My Man Godfrey was remade in 1957 with David Niven and directed by Mr. Koster. I just got the Criterion of the original Godfrey which I've only seen once years ago and I always wanted to see it again.
 

Nelson Au

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I viewed She Done Him Wrong last night! Unfortunately it was a tough viewing as I was tired from a hard work week. So I nodded off half way through. I'll have to rewatch that segment, I don't think it made things too much worse as I was having a hard time understanding who was who and what the plot was about. It wasn't till towards the end that I started to piece it together, I sort of figured who The Hawk was. And I was right. :) Cary seemed very Cary in this role. His gets the girl at the end. But I didn't feel like there was any kind of build up to that. It did t feel right, I got it that Lou was expressing interest in the Captain, as he was the only guy in the film who wasn't trying to woo her.

This is my very first viewing of a Mae West movie and I've heard for years what her shtick was. I didn't hear her famous line, maybe it's in another movie. I put off watching this movie for a long time and I decided after seeing Blond Venus last week to finally see this. I'll probably follow with the next West/Grant collaboration.

I'll check out Josh's review of She Done Him Wrong now. :)

Edit: I just replayed She Dome Him Wrong whilst doing some house chores. I saw the parts I missed, she did tell Cary to "come up and see him sometime". And I saw the sequence when Lou goes to the prison to visit her old boyfriend. The whole makes more sense now and I see the budding romance between Captain Cummings ans Lou. I agree Josh, thus was less a comedy and more a drama. Pretty dark too.
 
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Dick

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I don't wish to read this entire thread, so I will ask: have you yet seen ARSENIC AND OLD LACE and, if so, what were your thoughts?

I find Grant's mugging to be pretty egregious. His whinnys and over-the-top facial expressions pretty much kill this film for me, which is too bad because the two murderous women, Raymond Massey and others are quite entertaining. I have always thought this was a hugely overrated comedy, almost entirely because of Mr. Grant's idiotic performance, which was inexplicably given a pass by Frank Capra. Fortunately, Cary did slowly reign in this shtick and became a wonderful actor. I know that the ratings for this film are quite high, on IMDB and ROTTEN TOMATOES, etc., but I don't care. I find the movie so irritating that I will never watch it again.
 

Josh Steinberg

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Rick, while I humbly disagree with you, Grant himself wouldn't - he hated his performance in the film, for exactly the reasons you stated.
 

Josh Steinberg

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Absolutely!

As a little bit of trivia, Arsenic was filmed in 1941 but wasn't released until 1944. The play was a bigger smash than anyone imagined, and confined to run. The contract stipulated the movie couldn't be released until the play had concluded its run, so the film sat on the shelf. I imagine that by 1944, Grant would have given a different performance. But I find it fun to see him so completely over the top. I can't say I'd be any more subdued if I found myself in the same situation.

As much as I enjoy Raymond Massey and think he was good in the role, I would have loved to have seen Boris Karloff reprising his Broadway role. On the dream list of things I'd see if I had a time machine, this has to be near the top of the list. To be in the audience when Jonathan explodes "He said I looked like Karloff!!" - that must've been great fun.
 

Dick

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Just go back 5 posts as Josh posted his review of Arsenic. We discussed at some length a few months back. Starting with Post 525.

Yes; as I said, though, I didn't want to read the entire thread. Post 525 is quite good and thank you for pointing me toward it, I can understand its arguments in support of Grant's performance, I just don't happen to like it personally.
 

Nelson Au

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Not everyone has the same reactions to things. I can understand why you may not like Grant's performance in Arsenic. Assuming you read Josh, David and Lee's posts 529 to 535. I thought they had great insight, particularly one description where a stage production lacked the same humor levels when Mortimer was played more straight.
 

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#67 - An Affair To Remember (1957)
Viewed on December 5th, 2016
Viewing Format; Blu-ray (Fox)

One of the most famous romance films of all time, An Affair To Remember is the second of three pairings of Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr, and also reunites Grant with director Leo McCarey. For viewers not around in 1957, this film is also famous today for providing inspiration to the characters in Nora Ephron's delightful comedy "Sleepless In Seattle". Because of its connection to Sleepless In Seattle, I had mistakenly thought that I had seen this movie in its entirety, when in fact I just knew the clips from Sleepless. Frankly, I had not been looking forward to watching this movie, but was completely charmed by it. It wound up being very different from what I had expected.

Everyone more or less knows the setup: Nickie (Grant) and Terry (Kerr) meet on a cruise ship and sense an instant chemistry, but are both engaged to others back home. At first, Kerr just tries to shake Grant off, and given Grant's reputation as a former playboy now settled into a high-profile engagement, both must avoid snooping reporters and prying eyes. Once they finally have a chance to talk to each other, Grant invites Kerr to join him visiting his grandmother during an afternoon layover in Italy. Away from the ship, the passengers, and their partners, Kerr and Grant fall in love. They agree not to pursue it immediately, instead wanting to do things honorably; they will break up with their fiances at home, and if the feelings still remain after six months of waiting, they will meet on top of the Empire State Building. Though each is sure they've made the right choice, when tragedy keeps the meeting from happening, they start to second guess their feelings.

I think what had turned me off from the idea of the movie before watching it was a misunderstanding coming from the movie's title. Called "An Affair To Remember," I had thought the film would be about two people who were cheating on their spouses, and I wasn't enthused about watching a movie that glorified cheating. What I didn't realize was how delicately the movie itself would handle this topic, and what delights would come in not getting instant gratification. I had no idea of the wonderful scenes of Grant and Kerr in Italy or flirting on the cruise, nor of the fantastic middle section where Grant and Kerr separately try to build up their lives. I was impressed that their characters acknowledged that if their love was to last long term, they both needed to establish themselves as independent people capable of taking care of themselves (since both characters relied on fiances that were wealthier than they were). There's something about the chemistry between the actors and characters that transcends mere movie love and feels like something more real, and I think a great deal of that is because the characters act as if their actions have consequences.

The Blu-ray from Fox contains a beautiful presentation of the movie and is loaded with bonus features. (Unfortunately, I have not yet had time to view the bonus material.) The CinemaScope photography looks fantastic and near pristine. I listened to the DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless track (most of the audio is channeled through the front speakers, so it's not surround sound demo material, but it was pleasing), but an English 2.0 stereo track is also provided. Bonus features include a commentary with film historian Joseph McBridge and singer Marni Nixon (who provided Kerr's vocals in the film), multiple featurettes on the two leads and director, and the AMC Backstory episode concerning the film. I purchased the version that came in Blu-ray book format (similar to the Capra releases Sony is putting out), but the exact same disc is also available in standard BD packaging.

An Affair To Remember was the perfect reminder to me that knowing everything about a movie isn't the same as actually knowing the movie. I came in with a bunch of preconceived notions of what I expected the movie to be, and was delighted to discover that the film itself handled any possible criticism I could have had about it. Grant's charm is, as expected, effortless, and Kerr is equally radiant. McCarey's direction is unsurprisingly great; he works with a light touch here, allowing his actors to carry the day. This is a movie that deserves every bit of the reputation its earned in its nearly 60 year history.
 

Mike2001

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I am a big fan of the earlier Love Affair with Charles Boyer and Irene Dunne, such that the first time I saw this, it felt like a cheap knockoff. I appreciated it more on subsequent viewings, although I still prefer the original.
 

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