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Fun fact: Cary Grant set Rosalind Russell up with the man who became her (only) husband, Freddie Brisson. Grant was best man at their wedding.

I learned this by reading Russell's wonderful autobiography, "Life is a Banquet," recommended by the Siren. It's a wonderful breezy memoir.

El Jefe

Been awfully busy of late but had to come back from the cold for this one. "Father Goose" and "Petticoat" (which Ted Turner used to love showing on New Year's Eve back in the early to mid Eighties, when I was just old enough to stay up without surreptition but not old enough to make any proper use of the holiday) were formative movies for me too. "Married? Goodie Two-Shoes and the Filthy Beast?!?!?" is perhaps my father's favorite line in the cinema, ever, along with one or two things said by Jack Elam in the course of the "Support ..." movies. There's a little master class in the supporting role in there from that rouguish old pothead Trevor Howard as well, rather more over the hill than Grant (what, fifteen years out from "Brief Encounter" at that point I think?) Time does catch up with all of us, but as I watched those scenes again recently, I came to the slightly different conclusion that it helps an awful lot to be Cary Grant, or rather to have the certain timelessness of soul he does, which had by that point aged only in the way good liquor does, solely by experience. (For nearly all her performing life, I would put the entirely magnificent Lena Horne in the same sort of category.) In one of my two favorite movies -- as opposed to "films" -- Charade, it could be even creepier pairing young-enough-to-be-his-daughter Hepburn with Grant but the two of them do it with style. (It helps that Stanley Donen made that into a master class in how to make a movie aided by his own script, Henry Mancini, and the whole damn cast right down to the unobtrusive little boy and the magnificent old Frenchman who gives him his stamps back.) Hepburn's best line -- "You know what's wrong with you? Nothing." is my own favorite line in the movies and could only be delivered with such conviction to Grant. Not to Peter O'Toole (though "How To Steal a Million" is another favorite), nor Robert Mitchum, nor the likes of Stewart or Fonda, nor any of the Brits of the era, nor Louis Jourdan, etc., etc. Only to Grant.

Some long while ago you mentioned asking for films that you thought could be remade, or that should have been left alone rather than gone over again. "Petticoat" just can't be touched, partly because the sexual politics have changed so much, partly because it would have to be set back then. But if you set it back then, it might be possible to do "Father Goose." I'd put in Audrey Tatou for the Caron role, change things up a bit with Paul Bettany in Trevor Howard's part because he fits the real-world age of Howard's officer (pushing forty and given up on being a high-flyer in the service, rather than an old man out to pasture.) As for Grant's role, well that would have to be a man who, until the last five to six years I pegged as the Rod Taylor of his generation, especially since Taylor's the only other actor I could see playing Walter Eckland with conviction besides Grant: George Clooney.

Great post, Lance. Memory lane here too.

PS: Russell's memoir must be grand. Thanks for the title, Link.

Kevin Wolf

That there's no Atlantic City maybe exposes a hole in Grant's career plan. That there's no On Golden Pond perhaps refutes that.

Fun fact that Pauline Kael pointed out: The woman playing Cary Grant's mother in North By Northwest was younger than he.


El Jefe, I've learned that if you want good movie bios/auto-bios, you can't go wrong with the Siren's recommendations. I also read Myrna Loy's autobiography at her suggestion. Loy was an activist after her film career, mostly for UNICEF/UNESCO. I had no idea.

Russell was also an advocate for childhood disease research and later for arthritis sufferers, once she was diagnosed with the rheumatoid version and learned nobody knew much of anything about it.


I'm thinking it's not that you were less ageist, it's that people, even men (or maybe especially men, because there was less shame in it for them), used to show age much faster. Not that long ago, either.
Thanks for a great post (well, many great posts, really), and the reminder to watch more Cary Grant.


It always seemed to me that being Cary Grant was the role of a lifetime for Cary Grant and that he attended to the details of that role constantly and carefully. That physical stuff is such part of him from his acrobat days in his youth, he was always so completely in charge of his body, of his littlest movements, it was a joy to watch, it was like a ballet. The false accent likewise, he must have had to mind it all the time. Even while drinking! The utter concentration of playing himself while playing someone else always impressed me.


"Father Goose" is a movie that barely succeeded because of Grant and to a lesser extent Caron.

Which brings me in a roundabout way to "Pirate Radio," which you wrote about a while back prior to either of us seeing it. Well, I did over the weekend and can report that it barely barely succeeded because of the wonderful period music and to a lesser extent because of Bill Nighy. Plot spoiler: I kept waiting for the movie to sink but it never quite did. The ship did.


My favorite Cary Grant quip:

After receiving a telegram with the question, "How old Cary Grant?" Grant responded (also via telegram), "Old Cary Grant fine."

And I seem to remember reading somewhere that he had once said something to the effect that even Cary Grant wasn't really Cary Grant. He always knew that the public persona was a carefully crafted image (thanks, muddy) and he, at heart, was always Archie Leach.


Kevin Wolf: That there's no Atlantic City maybe exposes a hole in Grant's career plan. That there's no On Golden Pond perhaps refutes that.

Good one, KW!

El Jefe: ...the certain timelessness of soul...

Excellent phrase to describe both Grant and Lena Horne. Btw, Charade is coming up on the schedule for family movie night.

susana: I'm thinking it's not that you were less ageist, it's that people, even men (or maybe especially men, because there was less shame in it for them), used to show age much faster

I tend to agree and think it has something to do with nutrition and something to do with people cutting out smoking. Then I look in a mirror...

Lawrence Fechtenberger

For what it's worth, Grant did express an interest in appearing in two 1980s films, THE VERDICT and GORKY PARK. In the former he wanted to play the lead, which of course ultimately went to Paul Newman; in the latter he considered playing the American businessman, the role ultimately played by Lee Marvin.

It is very, very weird to think of Cary Grant and Lee Marvin being up for the same role.

Lawrence Fechtenberger

Oh, and one other bit of Cary Grant casting trivia: The Hammer Films version of PHANTOM OF THE OPERA was actually conceived as a vehicle for him. Almost certainly the only time Grant and Herbert Lom were up for the same role.

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