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

Josh Steinberg

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Ramin, thank you for the kind words - it's extraordinarily gratifying to know that you've been along for the ride!

I've actually thought about doing something similar for Bogart and Stewart - I watched about twenty of each of their films this year.

I think I could be persuaded to try this again, but I don't think I could do it under quite the same deadline. 70-something movies over a year isn't much, but when you factor in day to day life and that not every movie choice necessarily can be my first choice, it's not as easy as I assumed it would be to find the time. But as the year and this project comes to a close, I also share a desire to not have this be the end.

And on that note, I've got three left, which will be watched in this order: Room For One More, This Is The Night, and finally, Walk Don't Run.
 

benbess

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As for others here, Notorious is a favorite for me, and one that seems to get better each time I watch it. The costume design by Edith Head for Ingrid Bergman's character is remarkable. Alicia starts out in leopard prints with exposed skin, illustrating that her character is the notorious wild animal of the title. By the end, carried down the stairs by Devlin/Grant, she's been transformed into a character with a beautiful and "purified" white dress that's also suggestive of death.

Although everyone mentions it, the long dolly shot with the key always blows me away.

And this AFI tribute by Bergman to Hitch from 1979 is well known but worth watching:

 
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Nelson Au

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Nice post Ramin, Josh's Cary Grant thread has been great fun and encouraged me to finally really watch many of his films I've never seen before. It had me coming back often to compare notes.
 

Nelson Au

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About my above post about which holiday themed film to watch next, I was so tired from a long hard work week last week, I opted to wait a bit as I wasn't up to a whole movie. I'll be back though. I'm actually immersing my self back into Star Trek with all the new releases recently. :)
 

benbess

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Josh, I love HTF, but it's been a hectic year for me, and my visits here have been fitful. I can tell you though that this thread has been the one that has brought me back time and again to read your latest reviews, attended by the delightful, hilarious and insightful comments by David, Jose, Nelson and all the gang here. The cherry on top being the spliced-in slice of your nuptials.

If you're crazy enough to wish to follow this up sometime with other threads covering - I dunno - Stewart (expanding beyond his Westerns), Bogart, Mitchum, Power etc., I for one will make it my business to be there.

Many thanks and best wishes!

If you do another thread, I hope you'll maybe consider doing the movies in chronological order....
 

Josh Steinberg

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If you do another thread, I hope you'll maybe consider doing the movies in chronological order....

Ahh, you're killing me, man :)

I was thinking about my ordering choice last night, and I'm more or less satisfied with how it worked out. I didn't set out to watch all 72 Cary Grant movies. I set out to watch a DVD set I got as a birthday present and just kept going. I liked Destination Tokyo so much that I looked for another movie with Grant and a submarine, which led to Operation Petticoat, which lead to Father Goose, which led to Houseboat, etc. I think being able to jump around and find pairings and similarities is what got me hooked in the first place.

The early films, from the Paramount contract era, were in many ways the biggest challenge. On the surface, that seems crazy - most of those are little over an hour, how hard is it to sit through an hour? But the thing they all had in common was that the underutilized Grant, and I think if I had had to watch 20-30 movies of Cary Grant not being Cary Grant before I got to even one of his signature performances would have been tough for me.

I think there's merit to doing it in order and watching the growth, but I don't know if I'm disciplined enough to do that on my own. Bogart and Stewart fared a little better in the contract system so I imagine it would be easier to do their movies in order - but they also didn't quit when they were ahead like Grant did (though to be fair they didn't embarrass themselves either), so watching their last ten movies each wouldn't be as fun as it was with Grant.

Anything's possible. But at this point, if I did another one of these, I might have to cheat and count some of the viewings I did this year as part of it (I watched about twenty Stewart movies and twenty Bogarts this year too) and it might be too soon to rewatch that many things. But I've enjoyed the community we've had here too much to just dismiss the idea.
 

TravisR

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Ahh, you're killing me, man :)
If you're looking for a recommendation, I did a similar thing over the summer where I watched all of Alfred Hitchcock's movies in order which was really wonderful because due to the amount of movies he made and the length of time he worked, you can see his growth as an artist, you can put the work in context of its time and you can just see movies changing over the decades. It won't be quite the same but I may do the same thing with Spielberg soon.
 

Josh Steinberg

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#70 - Room For One More (1952)
Viewed on December 26th, 2016
Viewing Format: DVD-R (Warner Archive)

Room For One More is a family comedy pairing Cary Grant with his then-wife Betsy Drake. Made around the same period where Grant and Drake costarred in a radio sitcom adaptation of Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, the movie showcases a similar sense of humor. With a plot that's more episodic than cumulative, the story concerns Grant and Drake deciding to adopt a child after having three biological children of their own. Drake sets out hoping to adopt a baby, but while visiting the orphanage, the woman in charge essentially dumps a 13 year old from a broken home on her, pointing out that if Drake can adopt every stray animal in the neighborhood, surely she could handle a teenage girl. What starts as a two week trial turns into a permanent situation after the rest of the family takes a liking to her. A second child, a boy, is then adopted, but has both a physical handicap and a bad attitude, making him a tougher fit. Nonetheless, when the rest of the children learn how difficult his life has been, they begin to welcome him and he eventually opens up to them.

With its simple story and episodic structure, the idea here seems more geared towards a recurring television show than a feature; I wasn't surprised to discover that the same concept was tried on television shortly after. Though not a great movie, it's an entertaining piece made near Grant's first retirement, and features Grant in "family man" mode similar to his Mr. Blandings performance. He's got good screen chemistry with Betsy Drake, and Drake herself is wonderful as the impossibly perfect mother. The script is generally solid if predictable, though parts come off as if they're PSAs for the foster care system (such as one scene where Drake hosts a Q&A with community members curious about the adoption process) and the Boy Scouts (such as one scene where one of the kids receives a medal and grinds the film to a halt as the movie stops the plot long enough for us to watch an entire ceremonial presentation). The film's ending moments are hilariously unsubtle, as Grant and Drake rush home after discovering that they have someone to babysit for the evening. (They might as well shout "The kids are away, let's do it!") But at heart, it's a gentle, easygoing movie that was easy to enjoy. Earlier in the year, I listened to Grant's performances on the Mr. Blandings radio sitcom, and came away convinced that had he starred in a television sitcom, it would have been one for the ages. Watching this movie further cemented that idea in my head. Though the idea clearly didn't appeal to him, I would have loved to have seen Grant give it a try; this movie is perhaps the closest he came to one.

The DVD-R from Warner Archive was better than expected, and wound up being one of their better looking Grant discs. It's clean and clear, both visually and aurally. It's obviously an older transfer, but it's an older transfer of an element in good shape. As is typically with these discs, there are no subtitles available, and no bonus features or trailers.

Grant made two films with Betsy Drake (the other being Every Girl Should Be Married), and like Every Girl, Room For One More is an easygoing picture, completely predictable, but very enjoyable. The two stars have an easy chemistry and are believable as a couple in love, and the child actors are all adorable. Room For One More is the kind of movie that's perfect for a weeknight when you're feeling like the cinematic equivalent comfort food. I intentionally saved this film for near the end of my viewing because I wanted to have at least one more easygoing Grant comedy, something not terribly complex but that just allowed us to watch Grant be charming and be charmed by him. In that sense, the movie was exactly what I expected and hoped for.
 

Josh Steinberg

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#71 - This Is The Night (1932)
Viewed on December 29th, 2016
Viewing Format: DVD (Universal)

Cary Grant made his big screen feature debut in "This Is The Night," a 1932 precode picture from Universal that's hard to pin down. Though it was categorized as a "comedy" in the Universal Vault Collection set, I don't know that I'd call it one. It's not really a musical either, though it does have musical interludes. I guess it's sort of a melodrama with comedic undertones and musical flavoring.

The story is pretty simple. Grant is a javelin thrower competing in the 1932 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles; while out there, his wife (played by Thelma Todd) is having an affair (with Roland Young). When Grant returns home ahead of schedule, he discovers train tickets for a European trip for Todd and Young left out on the table. One of Young's friends (played by Charles Ruggles) discovers Grant with the tickets and starts spinning lies, saying that the tickets are actually for Young and his wife and that the plan was always for both couples to go to Venice together - only problem is, Young isn't married. Grant claims to believe him, and before long, Young must find someone to pretend to be his wife so they can go on this trip and keep the affair hidden. But the girl that Young hires to pretend to be his wife (Lili Damita) ends up being attractive to all three men, which complicates matters further.

Though he never disowned it, Grant found the finished film to be distasteful, and thought it was a stretch that a man discovering his wife having an affair would be so calm about. (Ironically, Grant would make The Grass Is Greener near the end of the career, where he does calmly discover his wife having an affair - of course, that's a better movie, but it's interesting that he objected to the plotline as a young man, but accepted a part in a similarly themed story later on.) As for Grant himself, he both is and isn't recognizable. He enters the picture carrying a bag of javelins and practically singing his lines, and immediately discovers his wife is having an affair - in other words, starting about as far away from the image he'd cultivate as possible. But he still has a way about him, even if he's not quite himself. There are glimmers of the star he'd become, but he hasn't refined it yet. He's a little stiff in the movie, but so is the entire cast; it's as if they're all waiting for their turn to speak their lines rather than actually conversing.

The version on Universal's Vault collection is one of the finer looking titles on the set. The picture is very clean, and the audio is very clear. Though there are no bonus features, English subtitles are provided. I actually would have been very happy with how this title looked except for one issue I discovered in my research. When the movie was first released in 1932, select scenes were given a blue tint, as the filmmakers intended. This version on the Vault set is strictly black & white, with no tinting. I was prepared to live with that without complaint until I discovered that the single disc version of the film does include the tinting. So Universal has a copy of this on their shelf, already mastered and ready to go, that presents the movie as the filmmaker intended, and yet they left it off here. The Vault Collection had great potential to be the definitive early Cary Grant set, but the amount of errors made by Universal in putting it together is staggering - multiple films with audio mastering issues that weren't present on standalone releases, and now this. It is to my great frustration that I have been unable to reach out to anyone at Universal regarding these issues. I received no response from letters to their official website feedback address or their social media accounts. These all seem like later-stage mastering errors that would be inexpensive to fix, and with this set likely to be the last release these titles ever get, it's a huge disappointment that the product was so poorly put together. I realize at this point this will be in vain, but if anyone out there has any contact information for anyone at Universal Home Entertainment, if they would be willing to either share that contact or pass on a message, I would be indebted for the opportunity. I've seen sets recalled for far less. As before, I still feel that I must hold my nose and recommend this set - five of the titles in it aren't available anywhere else, all of the titles feature at the very least decent video quality and some have very good video, and about half of the titles don't have any audio issues. But that means about half of the titles do have audio issues, audio issues that aren't part of the film element but a result of a mastering error when the discs were being authored. As it stands, the version of This Is The Night on this set is certainly watchable, but it lacks the tints which Universal did have available. I'm not sure that I cared for the film enough to repurchase it just for that.

This Is The Night features a very young Grant making the best of some awkward material. Filled with uneven performances, strange timing, a bizarre blend of musical sensibilities and melodramatic flourishes, and even a little precode sexiness from Lili Damita, it's hard to know exactly what to make of the film. Though it's easy to forgive 1932 audiences for not noticing that the greatest movie star of all time just entered the scene, for those who were paying attention there were a few hints of what was to come.
 
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Konstantinos

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After the 2 Cary Grant films Criterion released/announced recently i hope Arsenic and Old Lace is the 3rd!!

Look at the F and H!
clues-guide.png
 

Josh Steinberg

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#72 - Walk, Don't Run (1966)
Viewed on December 30th, 2016
Viewing Format: Vudu HDX 1080p Streaming Rental (Sony)

Well, here we are. After nearly an entire year, and over seventy films, I've finally come to the end. It seemed fitting from the start to end with Walk, Don't Run, the last of Cary Grant's 72 features. As a 62-year-old leading man, Grant isn't afraid to show his age here. Not hiding his greys, and making more than one reference to not being a young man anymore, Grant stars as an English businessman visiting Tokyo to conclude an important deal. His plan to arrive a few days in advance ends up backfiring, as the presence of the 1966 Tokyo Olympics has resulted in a shortage of available rooms. With nowhere to stay, and the British embassy unimpressed by his credentials, he talks his way into subletting a room with a British woman who had been hoping to find a female roommate (Samantha Eggar). Soon after, Grant meets an architect-turned-Olympian (Jim Hutton) who finds himself in a similar predicament, and ends up sub-subletting half of his room to him, much to the dismay of Eggar. The buttoned-up Eggar reveals that she has a fiance (and a personality, for that matter); in fact, its the embassy worker who was so dismissive of Grant in the first place. Grant notices that there's an unspoken chemistry between Eggar and Hutton, and quietly begins trying to push them towards each other.

In an interesting departure from Grant's other romantic comedies (and this film must be considered at least partially a romantic comedy), while Grant is the film's star, he's not the romantic lead. (Though I greatly enjoyed his combination of distinguished sophistication and slight befuddlement.) His character has been married for twenty five years to a wife we never see onscreen, but of whom he speaks fondly. Instead, any of the sparks that fly are flown between Eggar and Hutton. They're good, but its a little bit amateur hour compared to the kind of screen romance you'd see with Grant. Samantha Eggar is gorgeous, and she plays the role well, allowing us to see her character's rigid exterior slowly crumble as the movie progresses. Jim Hutton is a little more uneven, but I can't decide if that's him or just how the character is written. Teru Shimada (Mr. Osato in "You Only Live Twice") and George Takei (Sulu in "Star Trek") both have small roles, and it's always welcome to see familiar faces in different parts. The movie is a minor entry in Grant's filmography; it's not bad and quite pleasant in fact, but not at the level of its immediate predecessors. (This movie immediately followed Father Goose, Charade and That Touch Of Mink). In many ways, this reminded me tonally of the string of minor comedies that Grant made right before his first retirement, movies like Room For One More and Dream Wife; they're all enjoyable to watch but don't have the substance of his best works. Walk, Don't Run might have been one film too many, and I think Grant recognized that. But though the film rarely reaches the heights of his best work, it does have a few genuinely hilarious moments, culminating with Grant's race walking posture, which has to be seen to be believed.

The 1080p HDX stream from Vudu of a master provided by Sony was very nice. The audio is very good, and the video quality is similarly high. It's not completely spotless, but nearly so. It didn't appear to be a brand new master, nor did it appear to be ancient; if I had to guess, I would suspect that it was probably created as the source for the DVD version. It goes without saying that I would happily purchase a Blu-ray on Day One if Sony were to make one available.

Walk, Don't Run is an unremarkable end to a remarkable career, and while it probably won't be at the top of anyone's list, it's an entertaining film that gives Grant a chance to do his Cary Grant thing one last time. As the movie was playing, I realized a fun coincidence. In Grant's first film, he plays a javelin thrower in the 1932 Olympics and the entire plot is set in motion when he returns home early from the event. In his last film, Grant is a businessman in Tokyo during the 1966 Olympics, and the entire plot is set in motion when he arrives early for the event. There's a nice symmetry to that; I wonder if he was aware of it at the time.
 

Josh Steinberg

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Thanks Matt, I really appreciate that - especially coming from someone who writes reviews professionally here! I'm generally not my own best boss, so the fact that I actually made it through all of the movies, and managed to write about them all, is kinda amazing. I don't mean to say I'm impressed with myself, but I'm pleased that I actually accomplished what I set out to do. I think you guys were all a tremendous help in keeping me honest and on track!
 

Nelson Au

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Hey Josh, congratulations you have completed your task! And before the end of the year.

I feel a bit sad as I think you implied as by the completion of this project, you have no more Grant films to see. I'll be interested in reading your wrap ups. However, I haven't read your last three reviews because I haven't seen those titles yet. I'm still catching up with you. Though this week has been a Star Trek diversion with two Star Wars detours.

In response to an earlier post you made, the Paramount titles have been a bit of hit and miss, though I still have several left to see, they've been interesting to so far. The most memorable though for me so far is Madame Butterfly.
 

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