Tag Archives: Cary Grant

Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House

1948

directed by: H.C. Potter

Cary Grant movie #54 of 74  .  This is the 2nd movie with Grant & Myrna Loy that I’ve reviewed, the other one being  The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer I think.  The one with Shirley Temple.  Adultish Shirley Temple.  Anyways, apparently the critics and the studios liked these two together, but Grant, like myself, didn’t really care for her.  So this is one pretentious film, if it were filmed today.  I’m sure back in the late 40’s, every Tom, Dick, and Harry were dreaming about moving to and building a house in Connecticut.

So the movie plays out like a G-rated Mad Men.  Grant plays a Manhattan Ad-Man, with Myrna, his loving wife, and 2 girls.  Melvyn Douglas, (pass), plays the best friend / ex-boyfriend of Myrna (think scandalous adultery!, then disregard scandalous adultery!).  Now Grant and Myrna basically just buy an old house in the boonies in Connecticut (Lansdale or something), knock it down, and build an extravagant (in the American dream 40’s middle-class Midwest persona) home.  Hijinks ensue. There are some great overtone/narration parts that play out like they’re mocking 50’s TV (which obviously doesn’t exist yet). Nothing too subversive though. And they live happily ever after.

Underrated Actors:   Reginald Denny as the Architect.  Man has a great proper British accent.  And he’s an architect. Can’t go wrong.


The Philadelphia Story

1940

directed by: George Cukor

Oscars: Best Actor – Jimmy Stewart; Best Adapted Screenplay

 

So this is the triumphant return to the blog! Huzzah!  Welp, I watched this movie more than a couple months ago, (last edit on this post was September 23 2011).  So here goes what I can remember.

Cary Grant movie # 39 of 74 .  He’s in his wheelhouse.  Now The Philadelphia Story is a movie which most (if not all) movie buffs have seen, and mostly everyone over 40 has as well and everyone remembers fondly.  But at least for me, it’s one of those movies where if someone asks you what it’s about, you kind of blank.  Like what exactly is The Philadelphia Story about?  Why is it so great? Hmm, I forget, I’ll watch it again.  And after every rewatching you fall in love with the movie again and like most people, completely forget about the premise , the plot, the lines, the jokes, everything, so that it’s as fresh as the first time you watched it.

Now that I’ve been dodging actually talking about it (intended), let’s dive in.  Grant plays a rich bachelor , C.K. Dexter Haven, (it sublimely rolls off the tongue), who returns to his house on the weekend his ex-wife (Hepburn) is getting remarried.   The first scene (either before or after or during the opening credits) has Grant literally stiff arming Hepburn to the ground.  Like picture a modern NFL highlight reel with … uh …. Barry Sanders just stiff arming a GB linebacker.  Now imagine that happening to a woman … .in a movie.  Awesome.  Anyways, now the curmudgeon kind of blah new fiance , George ( ” Hullo George ” , a priceless line)  doesn’t really play a huge role and gets shafted at the end.  But this isn’t about him, it’s about Kat Hepburn and Grant…and Jimmy Stewart.  Now Jimmy plays Mike , (ugh, I can hear Hepburn saying ‘Mike’ in her awful accent) (not much of a Kat Hepburn fan) (whatever)  a news reporter there to spy and write a gossipy tabloid esque article on the wedding.  Grant invites him and  a lady photographer who’s also interested in Mike.   Hijinks ensue.  Great script.  Great acting.  A classic.

Underrated actors:   Roland Young as Uncle Willie and Virginia Weidler as Dinah  ,  Kat Hepburn’s teenage sister


Room For One More

1952

directed by: Norman Taurog

Cary Grant movie #59 of 74.  This marks the 2nd and final film with his then-wife Betsy Drake.  Oh man this was a great film.  Whereas Every Girl Should Be Married was a bit dull and forced, Room For One More exhibited the best qualities in both Grant and Drake and they worked seamlessly together.

Room For One More centers around the Rose family, with Grant and Drake playing the parents and 3 children (Teenie, Tom, and Trot; 2 boys and a girl, all between like 6-10).  Drake is part of the PTA and the wives take a trip to an orphanage/placement center.  After little deliberation, she agrees to take on an abused and neglected 13-year old girl, Jane. Though Jane is cold and angry at first, she soon warms to the family (I mean with Cary Grant as your dad, how could you not?); later she goes to a junior prom with an upstanding boy.  Drake then brings home a 12-year old boy, Jimmy John (an excellent name)  who has leg braces and at first is mute (Think young Forrest Gump).  After a trip to the beach, he soon warms to the family and learns to ride a bike, learns to read, and joins the Boy Scouts (ultimately becoming an Eagle Scout).  So not too complex on the plot side, the movie is more an emotional exercise in patience, empathy, and doing the right thing.   I lost count of the amount of scenes where tears were getting in my eyes.  I’m not a robot, people.

Let’s see, other great things about the movie. Grant plays a City Engineer, awesome. Oh, probably the best scene is where the family is sitting around opening presents at Christmas.  Jane had her heart set on going to the junior prom, but doesn’t own a dress, and is distraught (so obviously a Cinderella reference).  Now Drake gives her an old dress which she hems and cuts down a bit.  Jane is ecstatic and quickly leaves to try it on.  When she comes back down to model for the family everyone is appreciative except Teenie (the youngest boy) who laconically remarks, “It stinks”.  This immediately shuts everyone up, and Drake starts backtracking that she’ll cut it up even more, to which he replies, “Yeah, but it still stinks”.   He’s got really great lines throughout the movie, sometimes with someone delivering a line, then turning to him and waiting a second or two for him to spit out his next zinger.  You always know he’ll have something great to say. And oh yeah, he’s 6.

Underrated Actors: George “Foghorn” Winslow as Teenie, Grant and Drake’s 6 year old son.   Kudos to Iris Mann and Clifford Tatum, Jr. for playing the foster kids real well.


Every Girl Should Be Married

1948

directed by: Don Hartman

Cary Grant movie #55 of 74.    So Betsy Drake is in this one, who would go on to marry Grant a year after this came out.  You really can’t see it when watching this film, but you really couldn’t see it either in Bundle of Joy with Eddie Fisher + Debbie Reynolds, but that’s another post.  But coincidentally Drake also plays a department store girl in this picture. I’m beginning to think that before 1970, women only played department store girls, were funemployed, actresses/theater/dancers,  or lived on a farm.  It’s kind of surreal.  Anyways, Grant plays a doctor, rather a pediatrician, who catches the eye and claws of Drake from the get go.  Again he’s the bachelor type that needs convincing that he in fact needs to marry Drake.  Don’t worry it all works out in the end.  But I knew you weren’t worried about that.

This movie is kind of hilarious, aside from the career aspect, of the Facebook-esque information stalking that goes on.  She finds out his favorite meals, champagne, where he went to school, about his past relationships, his favorite reading material, reads his book, etc. just by talking to everyone he comes in contact with.  So she basically stalks him.  And he calls her on it really early on, so it’s kind of an innocent running joke the rest of the movie. Grant’s humor was respectable in this and he honestly, I thought, did much better than Drake.   The end scene was the best part of the movie, as the rest is just pining for the most part.  Another random thought I had while watching was that if it was recast, you could put the starring cast of Pushing Daisies into it and it would work.  Ned as Cary Grant, Chuck as Betsy Drake, and Olive as Betsy Drake’s best friend.  They all look and act eerily similar.  Madison Brown (Grant)’s favorite soup is Turtle Soup, which I had to look up, and it does in fact contain Turtles, and also is the real life favorite meal of former President William Howard Taft.  Oh, final note, Betsy Drake uses “fetching” to describe what she’s wearing.  So there, Tina Fey.

Underrated Actors: Franchot Tone as Roger Sanford, Drake’s boss and Love-Triangle addition to get Cary jealous. Great voice and dude was married to Joan Crawford.


Born To Be Bad

1934

directed by: Lowell Sherman

 

Cary Grant #16 of 74.  This movie was 62 minutes.  Amazing. At the hour mark it just ended and I was like, “no wait there’s got to be a mistake, it says ‘The End'”.  But it is what it is.  So Cary plays a, get this, President of a milk company that for some reason is driving a milk truck, sort of a Undercover Boss.  Maybe the producers were watching this movie and were like Eureka! a show idea!.  Or they thought it was a joke, like I did. But apparently everyone in the movie bought that explanation.  Well you know what happens when a suit drives a truck, you hit punk kids on rollerskates in the middle of the road.  So this punk kid is the son of a single mother whore, wait let’s be PC, a pro, played by Loretta Young.  Verry risque costuming in 1934.  But apparently they gutted like 45 minutes of this movie because the editing was horrible.  Cary would be walking towards a door, cut to him at the door, cut to the door closing. And they would just start fading out scenes when it was obvious that there were more lines. Loretta Young was super annoying, not only because her character was supposed to be but she was like …hmm.. Scarlett Johansson , someone I find more annoying than attractive.  So anyways Cary leaves his wife for Loretta Young for some reason, even though I thought his wife (played by Marion Burns) was hotter and smarter…and not a whore.  But Burns and Young had some interesting conversations and felt like they pegged pretty well the thought processes of someone who would leave his wife for a whore.

Underrated actors: Marion Burns as Grant’s wife, who gets thrown under the milk truck.  (See what I did there?)


Suspicion

1941

directed by: Alfred Hitchcock

Oscars: Best Actress – Joan Fontaine

 

Cary Grant film #41 of 74.   Grant plays a roguish playboy (I’m seeing a theme to the parts the man gets).  Being a Hitchcock film, the plot is a bit nuanced for the general paintstrokes I’m going to give it, but it’ll have to suffice for now.  Fontaine (a babe) (an unnecessary paranthetical) plays a timid naive bookish girl, Lina, still living with her parents in their gigantic home.  Grant, it is assumed, is broke and latches on to her money/her almost immediately.  But the beauty of it is that’s not how the film, to me, played out in the first 20 minutes.  It was more like a genuine love story, and you were wondering…wait…this is a Hitchcock film, something has to go horribly wrong.  And then it just starts getting worse and worse for Lina.  First she finds out that Johnnie (Grant) is broke and assuming that she will pay for everything.  As things spiral down, people start dying, and Lina thinks she’s next.  However, the ending was totally confusing, and I was left scratching my head.  Soooo, did he want to kill her? …. or not?  Boom, Suspicion.

Grant, as a definite departure, played a convincing menace/not?menace.  I’ve read since that the studio made Hitchcock change the ending of the film, well that makes a little more sense.  As a retrospect I think people can swallow Cary Grant murdering someone, but at the time midway through his career, he had that laughable, carefree, comedic image to keep up with people.  So there’s that.  Also Joan Fontaine, my oh my, what a babe.  Great hairstyles, great dresses, great, great, great acting.

Underrated Actors: well Fontaine won Best Actress, so she’s not underrated… let’s go with Nigel Bruce as Beaky, who kept referring to Johnnie as OB or ‘Ol’ Bean’ and Lina as ‘Ol’ Girl’


Gunga Din

1939

directed by: George Stevens

First action movie. Here we go.  Cary Grant movie #33 of 74.  Grant plays a British Sergeant in India in the late 19th century.  Along with his two fellow Sgts. Grant is always causing trouble, getting into fights, causing a raucous in the barracks, etc.  He’s also convinced there is gold and treasures out there to be had.  Very reminiscent of Three Kings with George Clooney, mixing lots of humor in a military film.  So anyways, there’s this tribe of cultish Indians that have been raiding towns and taking out communications and just causing a lot of mayhem.  So the Sgts. are deployed to the latest town and they come upon an ambush from the cult, but narrowly escape.  Enter Joan Fontaine as the love interest of one of the Sergeants about to finish his active duty.  They should have at least tripled her screen time.  (ggggrowl)  Anyways, Gunga Din , this Indian servant of the British Army, tells Grant where there’s tons of gold and treasure and they set off to find it.  The other two dudes follow after they disappear.  Turns out they all get captured by the cult who worships Kali (Think Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom).  Although no one’s still beating heart gets ripped out, these dudes are evil (and the 2 main ones , along with Gunga Din, played by an Italian, a guy from Milwaukee, and a Jew, respectively).  So after all 3 go missing, they send out the entire battalion or regiment or whatever, complete with bagpipes.  But these cult guys have hidden an army of their own waiting to ambush them.  However, the 3 and Gunga Din manage to break out of their cell, and Gunga Din warns the oncoming Brits of the ambush, ultimately causing his demise.

Let’s see, this film was okay.  I didn’t expect the level of comedy it had (or at least attempted to have).  It seemed like there should have been a ton more British casualties at the end/ throughout the movie, and Grant got STABBED in the back with a BAYONET, yet walked off on his own a couple minutes later.  Talk about a warrior.  At the end of the day, the sets and battles were pretty neat, enough to get you through the attempts at humor.  And Joan Fontaine was in it.

Underrated Actors: besides Joan Fontaine, Sam Jaffe was pretty likeable and good as Gunga Din