ALWAYS KEEPING AN EYE ON HOLLYWOOD!!!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

JOHNNY CHAZZ' TURN: CARY GRANT: REMEMBERING THE MAN & THE ACTOR

JOHNNY CHAZZ: Who wouldn't want to be Cary Grant? At the age of 62, actor Cary Grant made his final film. Yet, a career such as his could never be overstated as his performances were consistently charming, witty, timely and utilized a humor that was perfectly polished. Known primarily for his box-office hit "North by Northwest", Cary Grant made a number of films that made him one of the top actors in film history. Grant first appeared on the big screen across Marlene Dietrich in "Blonde Venus" in 1932. However, it was MGM's "Topper" in 1937 that really put Cary Grant on the map.
This week I would like to pay tribute to Cary Grant and a few of the films that I feel were his best.
Grant and Hepburn: THE PHILADELPHIA STORY
1. "THE PHILADELPHIA STORY": What a cast to say the least. Not only was Cary Grant the lead, but James Stewart and Katharine Hepburn also played major roles. "The Philadelphia Story" was originally set on Broadway and the idea of marrying and then re-marrying was becoming a hot topic on the big screen during the 1940's...and “Philadelphia Story” did not stray from that theme. The film is smartly directed, well performed by all and is an outstanding example of a comedy (much unlike comedies today) that was carried out in good taste.
Hitchcock's NORTH BY NORTHWEST

2. "NORTH BY NORTHWEST": Released in 1959, this film offers an outstanding cast with the likes of Cary Grant, James Mason and Eve Marie Saint. It would be safe to say that most people have either viewed this film countless times or have, at the very least, stumbled across it on AMC or TCM. Directed by Alfred Hitchcock, this could easily be considered on of his and Grant's best pictures. Elements of suspense balanced with paranoia and creative camera angles made it a classic which has stood the test of time. The climactic scene is also a signature of this film and set the stage for future films to follow.

3. "HIS GIRL FRIDAY": Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell hooked up in this 1930 comedy with some very intelligent and witty writing to hold it up. The comedy is quite tongue in cheek and the dialogue is a rapid banter throughout the films which really propels the plot and holds audience interest. Grant's role in “His Girl Friday” was convincing, yet relaxed and natural.
Enjoy the original trailer for HIS GIRL FRIDAY!

4. "NOTORIOUS": Many critics and film fans feel as though this may have very well been Cary Grant's best film. It's hard to disagree considering the suspense implemented by Hitchcock in this 1946 picture. Ingrid Bergman stars across Cary Grant and the two become tangled-up in an international espionage thriller. Focused on the era post WWII, "Notorious" is without a doubt one of Grant's top performances and the film must be considered one of Hitchcock’s best achievements as well.

5. "BRINGING UP BABY": This All-American comedy hit the theaters in 1938 and starred Cary Grant along with Kat Hepburn yet again. Grant plays the witty role of a scientist who becomes romantically involved with Hepburn's character who is equally witty, but quite eccentric and outrageous at the same time. While trying to qualify for a $1 donation, Cary Grant must learn to get along with Kat's character and her irritating ways as she trolleys along with her pet leopard named "Baby". "The love impulse of man frequently reveals itself in terms of conflict" serves as one of the classic lines in the film.

6. "CHARADE": Filmed in color, this 1963 film was directed by Stanley Donen and featured both Carey Grant and the lovely Audrey Hepburn who was perhaps the "actress of the decade" in American Cinema. Who could forget the profile of Audrey with her classic 60's hair-style in the arms of Cary Grant in the film? James Coburn and Walter Matthau also add to the film with their appearances. "Charade" was full of suspense and romance at the same time, but the strength of the film relied primarily in the writing as Hepburn and Grant are handed dialogue exchanges that are second to none. Henry Mancini wrote the score that gave the film an additional boost with all the flavors of Paris, France in the early 60’s.

It would be safe to say that the three names which immediately come to mind when we think of the classic actors in cinema are: Humphrey Bogart, James Stewart, and of course - Cary Grant. Grant had bee nominated for an Oscar twice and was never declared a winner during the awards. However, in 1970 an honorary award was given to him by the Academy. The comedy-aspect of his films may have hindered his chances (and we see the same trend today), but there is little doubt that Cary Grant was overlooked at the awards for at least 2 or 3 of his films. This week CINEMA: COUNTERPOINT wishes to acknowledge the lifetime achievements of on of America's greatest screen actors: Cary Grant. Grant passed away in 1982 at the age of 86 and is regarded as one of the top-10 actors of all times. His films will always be regarded with the highest degree of merit.

JER: Gary Grant will always be considered, in my eyes, an “actor’s actor.” Meaning, he was the role model for what Hollywood titled as the ‘Leading Man’: Grant had the physical qualifications from his chiseled face down to his physique, his interesting accent stemming from his early years growing up in Bristol, England and his sense of timing when delivering lines. Grant could do straight drama and goofball comedies and one thing never changed about him no matter what the role required: he remained a gentleman. Even the name roles off the tongue with a regal flair… good thing he changed his name from his original birth name of (wait for it…) Archibald Alexander Leach!

I would have to agree with the likes of J.C.’s choice of films that best describe the body of work that Grant left behind. In particular, I must say that I have always enjoyed his collaborations with famed director Alfred Hitchcock. There were a number of films that both director and actor teamed up for, they include: SUSPICION (1941), NOTORIOUS (1946), TO CATCH A THIEF (1955) and NORTH BY NORTHWEST (1959). Come to think of it, Grant acted quite often in returning roles for other directors including Frank Capra, Stanley Donen and Howard Hawks.

Cary Grant’s life can almost play out in the style of some of his very own films.  Born on January 18, 1904, Grant spent the better part of his youth in the town he was born in. At the age of nine, after coming home from school, he was told that his mother had gone off to a seaside resort. The truth of the matter was that she was actually sent to a mental institution and he would be completely unaware of the truth… he wouldn’t see his mother again until his late 20s. After lying about his age, he left school at the age of 14, forged his father’s signature and enrolled himself into the Bob Pender’s Troupe of Knockout Comedians. Soon after, Grant was learning the arts of pantomime and acrobatics and toured with the Pender troupe throughout England. During his years on the road, he would pick up his signature cockney accent from hanging around the music halls of London. IN July 1920, Grant was one of eight boys selected to perform in the U.S. The show was called “Good Times” and it ran on Broadway for 456 performances. Grant was bit by the acting bug once moving to America and decided to stay. Mae West enlisted Grant for her film SHE DONE HIM WRONG in 1933 stating that he had the right mixture of virility, sexuality and the aura and beaming of a gentleman. Grant had an illustrious career and lived to be 82 years old when he died on November 29, 1986 in Davenport, Iowa.
A wonderful tribute created by amal19. Thanks!
Noted actor, leading man and the overall role model of a gentleman, a reporter once told him, “everyone would like to be Cary Grant”… his reply was said to had been, “so do I.”

Dear readers, do you feel that Cary Grant is one of Hollywood's best Leading Men? Or was he just an overly- rated actor that got lucky? What is your favorite Grant moment or memory? We always look forward to your comments and we reply to ALL!
Tune in next time when JER types up a storm on his following turn and make sure you check back on Wednesday July 25th! As always, thank you so much for checking in.
Have you visited the official CINEMA: COUNTERPOINT page on YOUTUBE? Check out classic and contemporary trailers, scenes and other great trips down memory lane! Just click the link and check out the "Favorites" on our site! Enjoy!

4 comments:

  1. Super topic this week on your blog. I have always been a big fan of the older movies and especilly the ones with Cary Grant starring in them. Your list of top Cary Grant films is pretty consistent with mine and it is hard to top. Actors really connot duoplicate the things that the classic actors did on screen so many years ago. - Dwight, NM

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    1. Hi Dwight and thanks for your comments! It is hard to try to remember and recognize the classics in today's day and age but we here at CINEMA: COUNTERPOINT would like to think that we keep things on an even basis. So many great actors and actresses from the Golden Age of Hollywood that it is hard to give them all of their due recognitions...we'd like to think we did well with Cary Grant!

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  2. Cary Grant was simply one of the best and really defined American cinema for so many years during hi peak. Cary Grant remains the quintessential elegant and comic movie star. I am not sure we will see another one like hi ever again. - Kyle

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    1. Hi Kyle and thanks for stopping by and dropping a line to us! Totally agree with your statements and you will not hear an arguement otherwise! An actor who deserves some serious recognition and respects for his contribution in classic cinematic history!

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