Alternate Top 5 Cary Grant Films

Posted by Wade Sheeler April 5, 2013 5 Comments 5473 views

We all love him; one of the greatest movie stars of all time. And we’ve seen the famous and favorite films of Cary Grant. Quick – how fast can you list them? Go! His Girl Friday, Bringing Up Baby, North by Northwest, The Philadelphia Story, To Catch a Thief. Now, what are the back-ups – the ones you keep meaning to see – or see but forget to list? Here are mine: Open to arguments, objections and death threats-

Alternate Top 5 Cary Grant Films

Sylvia Scarlett (1936)

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The first role that allowed Cary Grant to be more than a flat leading man, this was the scandalous film that assured director George Cukor would never work for RKO again and it still surprises today. With a cross-dressing, androgynous Katharine Hepburn as his partner, Grant’s performance as a cockney con man saved him from ever more churning out one-dimensional melodramas. A must see curiosity!

 

Only Angels Have Wings (1939)

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I’ve waxed hackneyed poetics on this (read it here), one of my all-time favorites before, but for the purposes here, I’ll just quickly mention how very good Grant is in this Hemingway-esque tale of daring mail pilots. Played by anyone else, Grant’s hard edged Geoff Carter would be thoroughly unlikable – so it’s a testament to his trust in director Howard Hawks and confidence in his own good looks to deliver a performance of a broken, bitter misogynist that still exuded sophistication and charm beyond the written word.

 

Penny Serenade (1941)

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This is by no means a great film, but the high drama of George Stevens’ tear-jerker grabs hold of you and chokes you into weeping submission. So much tragedy strikes couple Cary Grant and Irene Dunne that it is almost – almost — laughable, but I’ll admit to bawling my eyes out more than once. Grant was nominated for Best Actor, and the depths that his performance pulls from are still quite astonishing. It helps that he’s ably assisted by his frequent partner in crime, Irene Dunne (The Awful Truth and My Favorite Wife). If you dare to watch, have a box of Kleenex and a pint of ice cream at your side. And if you’re a guy, watch it alone with the blinds drawn. You’ve been warned!

 

The Bachelor & The Bobby-Soxer (1947)

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After a cathartic viewing of Penny Serenade, you gotta make it real light and real fast. This breezy comedy allows Grant to take another successful swing at comedy. Everyone, from Myrna Loy to teenaged Shirley Temple are excellent, but the highlight in this far-fetched plot is Grant’s attempts at being a “hip” teenager. He would successfully cover the same ground in Hawks’ under-appreciated Monkey Business, but his style, effortless charm and obvious joy with the material was never more evident then here: “You remind me of a man.”, “What man?”, “Man with the power.” ,“What power?”, “Power of hoodoo.” “Hoodoo?”, “You do.”, “Do what?”, “Remind me of a man…”

 

Charade (1963)

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Charade(1963) They were only paired together once, and in this, Grant’s third to last film, he and Audrey Hepburn had such amazing onscreen chemistry, it’s a pity they didn’t do more together. Their age difference aside, they made a great couple. Combined with To Catch a Thief and North by Northwest, Charade is part of a latter career trilogy that offered the best argument for Grant as James Bond. Lithe, funny, charming and able to hold his own in larger than life scenarios, the twists and turns of Stanley Donen’s fun and funny whodunit is one of his all time best.

About Wade Sheeler

TV Producer & Director, Writer, Frustrated lover of film and obscure music. I still make mixed tapes if I like you enough.

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There are 5 Comments

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  2. - June 9, 2013
      -   Reply

    Suspicion is another great performance that’s often overlooked. It’s a high-wire act of charming deceit and deceitful charm that no other leading man of that era could have managed.

  3. - June 9, 2013
      -   Reply

    This is an excellent “Alternate Top 5.” If you look at his entire body of work, he made very few missteps, especially after he took control of his career post-Paramount. Of course there are exceptions: The Pride and the Passion is one. It’s horrific. But I can’t blame the man–Stanley Kramer took the production on location and Cary was involved in a steamy affair with Sophia. And he has a little Captain Tightpants action going on. As far as I’m concerned, all is forgiven.

    As for my Alternate Top 5, I would pick:

    1) Notorious
    2) Indiscreet
    3) Only Angels Have Wings
    4)Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House
    5) Gunga Din

    (Whoa, that was HARD!)

    Really great list, Wade.

  4. CLW
    - January 4, 2014
      -   Reply

    I’ll admit to enjoying ‘Kiss Them For Me’ more than most folk but if I have ti pick an alternative Five (in no order):
    People Will Talk
    (for how well he plays against the other slightly more layered characters)
    Mr Lucky
    (another charming rogue but this one with a bit more grit)
    The Bishops Wife
    (the innocence of an angel is nicely played and by being deft smooth charming Cary Grant David Niven gets to be even funnier and more human)
    Holiday
    (caught it on TV as a kid and became fascinated by Cary nearly at first sight as thsi carefree but melancholy man)
    Topper
    (Great fun all round but here you see teh first signs of just how much Archie Macleish will perfect the role of Cary Grant)
    Bonus Picks:
    Amy of his films with Joan Bennett, they have a wonderful chemistry.
    Singapore Sue (“Oh Judy” very young long limb Cary in sailor togs)

  5. Michael Khalsa
    - February 23, 2014
      -   Reply

    My top 5 are:

    North By Northwest
    Notorious
    None But The Lonely Heart
    Penny Serenade
    His Girl Friday

    I will happily watch any of his films though.
    I

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