Sep 1, 2009

Gods of Cinema: Cary Grant

Boy, do we miss the likes of him. Nice assessment in the Times, due to the Cary Grant cycle about to begin at BAM Cinematek:
The character he created and then lived in for decades, a seemingly effortless production that was actually the result of years of practice and refinement and discipline, was an ideal of the ascendant American male (as observed by a young immigrant Cockney vaudevillian): urbane but athletic, absurdly handsome but self-effacing, a joker who could be a bit of a cad, even a little cruel, but would always do the right thing in the end. As (Pauline) Kael formulated it, he was the man women wanted and men wanted to be.

...none of those films would have been as charming or as satisfyingly adult, and none of the actresses as witty or desirable, without Grant’s presence. His in-on-the-joke sincerity, his not-quite-throwaway lines, the bits of physical business — the dancing way in which he kicks a door in “Holiday” or his graceful glide across the terrace as the gendarmes approach at the beginning of “To Catch a Thief” — serve less to glorify him than to flatter the intelligence of the women who can’t do without him.That might be the best reason to watch Grant today. Kael noted in 1975, during his lifetime, that it was impossible to imagine Grant in the macho action and crime films that were beginning to dominate Hollywood. It’s equally impossible to imagine him in the soggy, misogynistic, stealth-macho geekfests that pass for romantic comedy now. Watching him is to be reminded of a time when intelligence, grace and self-containment were their own rewards. The 21st century, so far, hasn’t deserved him.
According to the indomitable miss Kael, he made a lot of clunkers. True. But many of the ones that aren't clunkers are not just good movies, but magnificent classics of romantic comedy. He had a long and quite dignified career.
Think about it:
Philadelphia Story
Bringing Up Baby
The Awful Truth
Arsenic and Old Lace
His Girl Friday
Sylvia Scarlett
My Favorite Wife
And these are the romantic comedies.

Once told by an interviewer, "Everybody would like to be Cary Grant," Grant is said to have replied, "So would I".

No comments:

Post a Comment