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

Josh Steinberg

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#8 - His Girl Friday (1940)
Viewed on March 12, 2016
Viewing Format: DVD (Sony)

His Girl Friday is a film I've seen several times before, and one that always manages to charm me. While it is not my favorite Cary Grant movie, and one that I don't love quite as much as its critical acclaim would suggest, it's still an exciting movie that plays well to this day. For this viewing, I watched it with my younger brother (who is in his early 20s), his girlfriend, and my mother. My mom had seen it before but didn't really remember it; my brother and his girlfriend had not. When a movie can appeal across generations like that, I think that's a pretty cool thing. And for me, the most fun part about this viewing was watching it and hearing everyone laughing at the same thing.

By now, you probably know the story: Grant plays a newspaper editor who finds out that his best reporter (who happens to be his ex-wife) wants to get married and leave the paper business behind. Rosalind Russell inhabits the role fully, with a quality that seems both familiar and unique compared to his other leading ladies of the time. She's got a little bit of the frantic Hepburn quality from Bringing Up Baby, with more than a dash of Irene Dunne from the Awful Truth and even a touch of Margaret Sullivan from Shop Around The Corner. It came as little surprise when I read that all of those women were offered and turned down the role. Russell makes it her own, but the combination of styles makes her perhaps slightly less appealing than some of Grant's other leading ladies. (I suspect that my opinion here may be a minority view.) Ralph Bellamy has some great moments as Russell's rather ordinary fiance, and predictably, by the end of the film, Russell must choose between her love of her profession and her unresolved feelings for Grant or her engagement with Bellamy. She makes the choice you would expect.

Grant has two fabulous and famous ad-libs in the film. In one, he describes the horrific fate suffered by the last man who crossed him, a man he calls Archie Leach. (As fans know, this is Grant's real name. Supposedly in real life at one point Grant also named a dog Archie Leach.) My favorite of the two adlibs comes when Grant has to describe Ralph Bellamy's character. He sputters to find a description, and then finally says, "He looks like that fellow in the movies, you know, Ralph Bellamy!" (This is where you can see the disconnect between my perhaps over obsessive love of movies and normal people watching movies - I had forgotten about that line and nearly fell out of my chair laughing, and either my brother or his girlfriend looked over at me like I was a crazy person until I explained the joke.)

I'm not sure exactly how it happened, but somehow this movie entered the public domain. There are a variety of inexpensive DVDs and free streaming versions available that range from merely bad to truly terrible. This was originally a Columbia picture and fortunately Sony had issued a quality transfer on their "Columbia Classics" line back in 2000. This is the edition that I viewed. It includes a few short featurettes that I didn't watch, but the DVD quality is very good. It's a shame that the film's public domain status would probably make any Blu-ray release difficult to profit on; I'd love to see Sony put out an HD version. For fans of the film, there were two radio adaptations that featured Grant - one where he costars with Claudette Colbert (for the Lux Radio Theater) and another where he reteams with Russell (for the Screen Guild Theater). Though not included on the disc, they can be found online at archive.org for free download and are worth a listen.
 

Tony Bensley

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#8 - His Girl Friday (1940)
Viewed on March 12, 2016
Viewing Format: DVD (Sony)

His Girl Friday is a film I've seen several times before, and one that always manages to charm me. While it is not my favorite Cary Grant movie, and one that I don't love quite as much as its critical acclaim would suggest, it's still an exciting movie that plays well to this day. For this viewing, I watched it with my younger brother (who is in his early 20s), his girlfriend, and my mother. My mom had seen it before but didn't really remember it; my brother and his girlfriend had not. When a movie can appeal across generations like that, I think that's a pretty cool thing. And for me, the most fun part about this viewing was watching it and hearing everyone laughing at the same thing.

By now, you probably know the story: Grant plays a newspaper editor who finds out that his best reporter (who happens to be his ex-wife) wants to get married and leave the paper business behind. Rosalind Russell inhabits the role fully, with a quality that seems both familiar and unique compared to his other leading ladies of the time. She's got a little bit of the frantic Hepburn quality from Bringing Up Baby, with more than a dash of Irene Dunne from the Awful Truth and even a touch of Margaret Sullivan from Shop Around The Corner. It came as little surprise when I read that all of those women were offered and turned down the role. Russell makes it her own, but the combination of styles makes her perhaps slightly less appealing than some of Grant's other leading ladies. (I suspect that my opinion here may be a minority view.) Ralph Bellamy has some great moments as Russell's rather ordinary fiance, and predictably, by the end of the film, Russell must choose between her love of her profession and her unresolved feelings for Grant or her engagement with Bellamy. She makes the choice you would expect.

Grant has two fabulous and famous ad-libs in the film. In one, he describes the horrific fate suffered by the last man who crossed him, a man he calls Archie Leach. (As fans know, this is Grant's real name. Supposedly in real life at one point Grant also named a dog Archie Leach.) My favorite of the two adlibs comes when Grant has to describe Ralph Bellamy's character. He sputters to find a description, and then finally says, "He looks like that fellow in the movies, you know, Ralph Bellamy!" (This is where you can see the disconnect between my perhaps over obsessive love of movies and normal people watching movies - I had forgotten about that line and nearly fell out of my chair laughing, and either my brother or his girlfriend looked over at me like I was a crazy person until I explained the joke.)

I'm not sure exactly how it happened, but somehow this movie entered the public domain. There are a variety of inexpensive DVDs and free streaming versions available that range from merely bad to truly terrible. This was originally a Columbia picture and fortunately Sony had issued a quality transfer on their "Columbia Classics" line back in 2000. This is the edition that I viewed. It includes a few short featurettes that I didn't watch, but the DVD quality is very good. It's a shame that the film's public domain status would probably make any Blu-ray release difficult to profit on; I'd love to see Sony put out an HD version. For fans of the film, there were two radio adaptations that featured Grant - one where he costars with Claudette Colbert (for the Lux Radio Theater) and another where he reteams with Russell (for the Screen Guild Theater). Though not included on the disc, they can be found online at archive.org for free download and are worth a listen.
Hi Josh!

I really enjoyed your review of this one, and I'm totally with you regarding your reactions to the Archie Leach and Ralph Bellamy references!

About HIS GIRL FRIDAY'S Public Domain status, the previous 1931 cinematic version THE FRONT PAGE is also in the Public Domain , although the 1974 remake (Also titled THE FRONT PAGE) apparently isn't. A bit of insight, perhaps?

As for Sony remastering and reissuing this for Blu-ray, from what I've seen, I suspect that it's less an issue of potential profitability, and more that they seem to be currently sublicensing a lot of their previously released DVD titles to Millcreek Entertainment, who have reissued many of Sony's DVD titles and sets to DVD, and also some on Blu-ray. The problem with issuing HIS GIRL FRIDAY on the latter format would be that, as a 2000 release (Sony's HD only scanning policy dates from about the mid '00s, I believe!), it is almost certainly from an SD scanning, which would necessitate a fresh HD scanning for starters!

Still, it's been done with other Public Domain titles that might seem even less feasible on the surface. Heck, Laurel & Hardy's THE FLYING DEUCES (1939) had 3 Blu-ray releases last year (I highly recommend the UK Region Free Blu-ray by Network!), and there's several dozen DVD releases of that underrated (In my opinion!) Stan & Ollie RKO Released Feature floating around!

CHEERS! :)

Tony
 
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Frank Ha

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Reading about Gunga Din here inspired me to watch the DVD of it today. Very enjoyable. I wander if it would benefit much from an upgrade to Blu-Ray?

Josh, I'm very much enjoying keeping up with your viewing of Cary Grant movies and Jimmy Stewart westerns. It's motivating to watch some movies I haven't seen in quite some time.
 

davidmatychuk

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Thanks David for that info on those DVDs, I had not realized that was the case. I did see that a few are on blu-ray, so I think I'll be doing some shopping for the Olive discs. :)

Josh, that's the documentary! Cary Grant- A Class Apart. Thanks for reminding me. :). And thanks for the continuing reviews of the films you're viewing. I have not seen those last two yet.

I just watched "Indiscreet" on Blu-Ray last night with a friend, who'd never seen it. The movie is thoroughly delightful, very much offering the experience of seeing Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman in the greatest stage production you ever saw. The Blu-Ray is such an improvement over the DVD that I have no words for the difference, other than it is beautiful. My friend also loved the Dior gowns, which were remarkable in their day, and they're remarkable now. Great stars, great fun.
 

Steve...O

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Great thread! The film I'd love to have a BD of is "Arsenic and Old Lace". Yes it is a farce and Grant plays it broadly but it is very funny and has a killer supporting cast. (See what I did there [emoji3])

Of course I'd buy the other suggested titles also.
 

Josh Steinberg

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Great thread! The film I'd love to have a BD of is "Arsenic and Old Lace". Yes it is a farce and Grant plays it broadly but it is very funny and has a killer supporting cast. (See what I did there [emoji3])

I love "Arsenic And Old Lace" which, funnily enough, Grant hated. He thought it was a great play, but that he played the part wrong. Having done the play back when I was a wee young high schooler, I disagree with Grant's self-assessment. The story is absolutely ridiculous, and it needs to be played that way. Besides, Grant still manages to come across as sane compared to everyone else in his orbit. I agree that the supporting cast is great. Raymond Massey does a good job as the disfigured brother Jonathan, but I do wish that they had been able to get Boris Karloff, who played the role on Broadway. As funny as it is to see Massey reacting to people saying he looks like Karloff, Karloff reacting that way must have been hilarious.

I'd definitely love to see this DVD upgraded to something better. The print is mediocre to good (lacking compared to many other Warner titles with Grant from the same period), and the disc includes no special features. I'd easily buy an upgrade. Until then, it's one of the titles in the TCM Grant Vol. 2 collection that can often be had for under $10 -- depending on when and where you shop, it may be cheaper to buy the movie in that set than on its own!
 

Josh Steinberg

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#9 - Operation Petticoat (1959)
Viewed on March 14, 2016 and May 30, 2016
Viewing Format: Blu-ray (Olive)

Earlier, when I had wrote about Destination Tokyo, I mentioned that Grant would make many WWII-themed movies later in his career, and Operation Petticoat is one of those movies. Though I had never seen it before, I was inspired to make a blind buy of the Blu-ray because I had read that this was another submarine movie, and I had enjoyed Destination Tokyo so much that I was eager to find a similar movie. There's good news, bad news on that front. The bad news is that besides being set on a submarine, Operation Petticoat has almost nothing in common with Destination Tokyo. The good news is that it doesn't matter; it's a delightfully entertaining movie that works best as a comedy, but has a few nice dramatic moments as well. In watching these Cary Grant comedies, I'm struck by the difference between most comedies produced today vs. the ones of years past. Although many of the situations in Operation Petticoat might seem improbable or ridiculous, the movie nonetheless remains believable. Everything that happens onscreen could probably happen in real life, and even if it couldn't, the filmmakers do such a great job of selling their story that the suspension of disbelief is total. Today, it seems that so many comedies (including ones I adore) have completely abandoned any pretext of being believable. The characters seem more like caricatures; in a modern comedy, it's often very difficult just to believe that the characters are actually capable of doing whatever jobs their stated profession are. Whereas in Operation Petticoat, I buy Grant as a submarine captain, and I buy Tony Curtis as an eager lieutenant. The movie might be a comedy, but the characters don't realize it, which is why we as an audience can laugh at their misadventures.

I went into this movie not knowing much about it, and if what I'm written so far sounds even remotely interesting to you, I'd recommend you do the same. Though the movie does have an overall narrative, it's mostly episodic in nature, as Grant finds himself and his crew dealing with one mishap after another towards the start of U.S. involvement in World War II.

The Blu-ray from Olive (licensed from Paramount's Melange holdings which include the Republic catalog and a variety of other independent features) is pretty good. After reading some negative reviews of their other titles, I didn't know what to expect here, but I shouldn't have worried. Operation Petticoat is a movie that has looked terrible in every previous home video incarnation - it's one of the reasons I had avoided seeing it all these years. All previous DVDs were created using a non-anamorphic letterboxed master from the VHS era. Even as a VHS tape, it looked horrendous. So to get a Blu-ray from Olive where the film actually looks like film is a tremendous improvement. In comparison to a state of the art Warner restoration, it might seem lacking, but compared to how this movie has looked since home video became a thing, it's damn near miraculous to have it looking this good. Most of the movie looks very good. The only areas of concern are near where the reel changes occur. The print tends to be a little dirties during those brief moments, with some extra scratches as well. But for the overwhelming majority of the movie, it looks fine, better than fine. The audio is clear and easy to understand. Unfortunately, the disc does not include English subtitles, which I enjoy using for late night viewing, but the audio is perfectly understandable without them. There are no bonus features with this disc. (I can't determine for sure, but the disc may have gone out of print - Amazon has plenty of copies available from third party sellers at reasonable prices, I got mine for $15 from them, but no longer is selling the disc themselves - fortunately it still seems easy to find.)

Operation Petticoat was a delightful surprise that's filled with great performances by likeable actors, a witty script, and quick paced direction from Blake Edwards that keeps the film moving along at all times. This is one of those blind buys that really paid off - I will revisit this movie again and again, and I look forward to sharing it with my movie-loving friends and family.
 
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Matt Hough

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Operation Petticoat was the film playing the very first time I attended Radio City Music Hall on our annual trips to New York City. Still have the little "Playbill" you were given back during those days when going there, so the film will always be close to my heart.
 

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Josh, I bought Father Goose and That Touch of Mink on Olive Blu quite some time ago, and was pleased with their quality; but stayed away from Olive's other Cary Grant releases due to negative reports.

Following yours and David's encouraging reports here, I'm going to order the Olive Blu-rays of Indiscreet and Operation Petticoat (any word on Penny Serenade?). Of course you understand I'll hold you both personally responsible if... ;)
 

davidmatychuk

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Josh, I bought Father Goose and That Touch of Mink on Olive Blu quite some time ago, and was pleased with their quality; but stayed away from Olive's other Cary Grant releases due to negative reports.

Following yours and David's encouraging reports here, I'm going to order the Olive Blu-rays of Indiscreet and Operation Petticoat (any word on Penny Serenade?). Of course you understand I'll hold you both personally responsible if... ;)

"Penny Serenade" is the only good, watchable version you can get, certainly on Blu-Ray. There's nothing I've seen to compare to it; if you've seen any of the Public Domain DVD's, you'll think it's a miracle.
 

Nelson Au

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I screened Destination Tokyo last night, the 2004 Warner DVD. This was my second viewing. Good film and interesting in that it is a so-called propaganda film. I haven't seen that many films of that era of that type. It did make me wonder about the use of asian actors and the situation in the US at the time. But I don't want to get into too heavy thoughts for this fun thread.

I think a comedy is up next. :)
 

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#10 - Father Goose (1964)
Viewed on March 17, 2016
Viewing Format: Blu-ray (Olive)

This has been my favorite Cary Grant movie since I started watching them this year. I bought this blindly on a whim: the Operation Petticoat disc from Olive had been so enjoyable that I went and got whichever Grant movie from Olive was on sale for the cheapest on Amazon, and it turned out to be this one. (I've had some pretty good luck on blind buys so far.)

In Father Goose, Grant is again in the World War II setting, this time as an older drunk who was quite content to drink his way through life in the islands until Pearl Harbor was bombed. The local Navy commander, played wonderfully by Trevor Howard, recruits an unwilling Grant to be a plane spotter, marooning him on one of the small islands and burying his booze, so that he must radio in each day with reports if he'd like to continue getting drunk. (I have to admit I'm a sucker for the cranky old drunk man comedic subgenre.) Howard is eventually able to find a replacement for Grant, but Grant must pick this man up at a neighboring island which gets attacked by the Japanese. When he gets there, he doesn't find a replacement, but instead a schoolteacher (played by Leslie Caron) and seven young schoolgirls of varying ages. They retreat to Grant's island, and must all figure out how to get along until a rescue attempt can be made. She's uptight and by the book, and Grant is a mess… so of course, they each have something to teach each other. There's lots of comedy, a little suspense, and eventually, a little romance. The writing (which won the Oscar for Best Screenplay) is superb, and with actors such as Grant, Howard and Caron, it's easy to fall in love with the characters and get swept up in the story.

The Blu-ray from Olive is probably the best of their Grant titles. This was another one of those movies that had very ugly non-amamorphic DVDs, so the Blu-ray is a major step up. It doesn't include any subtitles or bonus features, but the movie itself looks and sounds very good.

It's not every day you discover a new favorite movie, and I was absolutely delighted to find this one. I had a smile on my face from beginning to end, and I can't wait to see this again.
 

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Had plans to watch my German Blu of 'The Return of Frank James' to celebrate my birthday tonight. You've talked me into revisiting 'Father Goose' instead, Josh. I've tried unsuccessfully to entice my family to watch this glorious film with me on many occasions. Perhaps this time they won't deny the birthday boy.
 

Robert Crawford

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Had plans to watch my German Blu of 'The Return of Frank James' to celebrate my birthday tonight. You've talked me into revisiting 'Father Goose' instead, Josh. I've tried unsuccessfully to entice my family to watch this glorious film with me on many occasions. Perhaps this time they won't deny the birthday boy.
Happy Birthday! Let us know what you think of The Return of Frank James BD as I think it's just okay for a Technicolor film as I think the PQ could be much better if derived from better elements.
 

atfree

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#10 - Father Goose (1964)
Viewed on March 17, 2016
Viewing Format: Blu-ray (Olive)

This has been my favorite Cary Grant movie since I started watching them this year. I bought this blindly on a whim: the Operation Petticoat disc from Olive had been so enjoyable that I went and got whichever Grant movie from Olive was on sale for the cheapest on Amazon, and it turned out to be this one. (I've had some pretty good luck on blind buys so far.)

In Father Goose, Grant is again in the World War II setting, this time as an older drunk who was quite content to drink his way through life in the islands until Pearl Harbor was bombed. The local Navy commander, played wonderfully by Trevor Howard, recruits an unwilling Grant to be a plane spotter, marooning him on one of the small islands and burying his booze, so that he must radio in each day with reports if he'd like to continue getting drunk. (I have to admit I'm a sucker for the cranky old drunk man comedic subgenre.) Howard is eventually able to find a replacement for Grant, but Grant must pick this man up at a neighboring island which gets attacked by the Japanese. When he gets there, he doesn't find a replacement, but instead a schoolteacher (played by Leslie Caron) and seven young schoolgirls of varying ages. They retreat to Grant's island, and must all figure out how to get along until a rescue attempt can be made. She's uptight and by the book, and Grant is a mess… so of course, they each have something to teach each other. There's lots of comedy, a little suspense, and eventually, a little romance. The writing (which won the Oscar for Best Screenplay) is superb, and with actors such as Grant, Howard and Caron, it's easy to fall in love with the characters and get swept up in the story.

The Blu-ray from Olive is probably the best of their Grant titles. This was another one of those movies that had very ugly non-amamorphic DVDs, so the Blu-ray is a major step up. It doesn't include any subtitles or bonus features, but the movie itself looks and sounds very good.

It's not every day you discover a new favorite movie, and I was absolutely delighted to find this one. I had a smile on my face from beginning to end, and I can't wait to see this again.
Father Goose is one of my all-time favorite films, just a well-written and superbly acted film. First saw it on the old "NBC Saturday Night at the Movies" in the early 70's, probably seen it 50 times since then. The Olive BD, while not perfect, is perfect enough for me and one of the treasured titles in my library. .
 

Josh Steinberg

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I have to say, it is a thrill to see that so many of you also hold Father Goose in such high regard. Before seeing it, I had never heard anyone talk about it, and just knowing its history of pretty dreadful looking VHS and DVD releases, I figured it might not have been a good movie or not a well liked one. I couldn't have been more wrong, and I'm glad for that.
 

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