Monday, April 16, 2007

Favorite Actor Monday

David Thomson, a film writer I usually enjoy reading even though I rarely agree with him, is right on target when he says about Cary Grant, his favorite actor: " one else has or could have done so well for two directors [Alfred Hitchcock and Howard Hawks] as radically opposed in attitude." This is an important point for anyone to consider who thinks of Grant as merely a movie star or a light entertainer. When we think of capital-A actors, we are usually programmed to think of Brando, De Niro, Pacino, or some other very serious man with a name ending in "O." Not to take anything away from these men at their best, but Cary Grant deserves to be in their company, if not a few tiers higher. Hitchcock famously said that actors were cattle and dictatorially controlled and meticulously planned each frame of his films, while Hawks loved actors dearly and granted them many freedoms. That Cary Grant is such a central figure in both men's filmographies is testament to his complexity and talent.

Some random Cary Grant facts:
1) A reporter once wired Grant's agent "HOW OLD CARY GRANT?" Grant read the wire while in his agent's office and wired back "OLD CARY GRANT FINE. HOW YOU?"
2) Grant and Randolph Scott roomed together for several years and were rumored to be in a sexual relationship. Scott even jokingly referred to himself as "Cary Grant's wife." This made the studio unhappy. A recent Grant biography claimed both men were bisexuals and were open about their relationship, but this has also been disputed.
3) Grant was one of the first people to use LSD while it was still legal, as part of an experimental psychotherapy program. He was a vocal proponent of the drug.
4) He retired from the movies in 1966 and never appeared in a film again, despite offers from Stanley Kubrick, Billy Wilder, and Howard Hawks.
5) He once killed a man for spilling grape juice on his tie, later drinking the man's blood for its "rejuvenating powers."

One of these facts is not true. Guess which one and win a slice of old-fashioned loaf.

Bringing Up Baby (Howard Hawks, 1938)
Only Angels Have Wings (Howard Hawks, 1939)
His Girl Friday (Howard Hawks, 1940)
Suspicion (Alfred Hitchcock, 1941)
Arsenic and Old Lace (Frank Capra, 1944)
Notorious (Alfred Hitchcock, 1946)
To Catch a Thief (Alfred Hitchcock, 1955)
North By Northwest (Alfred Hitchcock, 1959)

Here he is with Siegfried and Roy in the late 1970s. Why does Roy look like a wax figure?

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