Cary Grant is an actor whose films I always make time to watch, at least once. Many of his films I own, have rented, seen on the big screen or stayed up late to watch on television. He was a remarkable physical comedian blessed with the timing and grace of an acrobat, the profession in which his career as an entertainer began. Cary Grant was also the personification of the suave, debonair sophisticate. His willingness to take a pratfall or participate in ridiculous situations always kept him human, and therefore sympathetic. So it was with great pleasure that I accepted the task of reviewing the new, Lionsgate Four- Disc Cary Grant Collector’s Set.
The four films included in this collection were made between 1958 and 1962, the final years of Grant’s acting career. They are not particularly memorable films, and they likely won't be the cornerstone of one's Cary Grant library. However, if you already own a collection of his great earlier films -- The Awful Truth, Bringing Up Baby, Only Angels Have Wings, His Girl Friday or The Philadelphia Story, for some examples -- this collection might be considered as a good addition. Although, for my money, the films to own from the later years of his career are 1955’s To Catch a Thief, 1957’s An Affair to Remember, 1959’s North by Northwest and 1963’s Charade.
The first film in this collection is 1958’s Indiscreet, co-starring the ever beautiful, tremendously talented, Ingrid Bergman. This film belongs to Ingrid Bergman, more than it does to Cary Grant. She plays a famous actress of the stage, beloved by many, but unable to find one to love. He is a successful businessman. They fall madly in love (of course) although somewhat hopelessly, because he claims to be married to, although separated from, a wife from whom he cannot ever divorce. He is (of course) not really married, and she (of course) finds out. This is not a bad movie so much as it is not great. It has some memorable lines including, “There is no sincerity like a woman telling a lie” and “How dare he make love to me and not be a married man!” It makes me think of, and want to watch, the great and much more interesting Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman film of 1946, directed by Alfred Hitchcock, Notorious.
Next is 1959’s Operation Petticoat. I enjoyed this film very much as a child and my three children like it as well. Grant is Lt. Commander Matt T. Sherman, the commanding officer of The Sea Tiger, a submarine bombed by Japanese planes before it can leave the dock and become actively involved in World War II. Grant’s co-star, Tony Curtis (who, earlier that year, wooed Marilyn Monroe with his Cary Grant impersonation in Billy Wilder’s Some Like It Hot), is Lt. Nick Holden, a junior officer as interested in getting out of the war as Commander Sherman is interested in getting back into it. Thrown together by fate, they, and the crew of the Sea Tiger manage -- through creative and illegal means -- to patch the submarine together enough to get it moving.
From there they continue on a decidedly irregular adventure, which includes picking up a stranded crew of female, American nurses and painting the Sea Tiger pink. Operation Petticoat is a good choice for family movie night because it appeals, on different levels, to viewers of all ages. It is a fun movie, but not necessarily a “must-own."
The 1960 picture, The Grass is Greener features a terrific cast including Grant, Deborah Kerr, Robert Mitchum and Jean Simmons. The story, however, leaves a lot to be desired. The entire premise strikes me as unbelievable. Kerr, Grant’s wife of 12 years, meets American tourist and oil millionaire Mitchum while he is touring the couple’s home, an English manor. Within approximately five minutes she falls madly in love with Mitchum, and shortly thereafter goes to London “to visit her hairdresser” and embarks on a torrid affair with him. In addition to this unbelievable situation, I am generally uncomfortable with stories revolving around characters, with whom we are supposed to by sympathetic, who are pursuing extra-marital affairs.
The final film in this collection, and my least favorite, is the 1962 picture, That Touch of Mink, co-starring Doris Day. This is basically a bedroom comedy that fails to be funny. She’s a “good girl” from a small town; he’s an extremely wealthy, cosmopolitan bachelor. He is charmed by her simple, straightforward ways; she is dazzled by his gorgeousness, wealth and magnanimity. Misunderstandings, mixed messages, and misbehaving ensue. Ultimately, and incomprehensively, they marry. Cary Grant is charming, graceful as ever, and totally believable in the role of wealthy, eligible bachelor of a certain age. Doris Day is believable as a cute, repressed, small town girl trying to make it in the big city. Not much else about this story, however, rings true.
In 2005 Premiere magazine named Cary Grant their "Number One Movie Star of All Time." I can think of no other actor whose appeal has so effectively transcended time and gender. His filmography spans more than three decades and over 70 titles. Assembling a collection of just four great Cary Grant films is difficult, primarily due to the fact that there are so many options from which to choose. Lionsgate’s new Four–Disc Collector’s Set does not contain any of the real gems. However, even a less-than-wonderful Cary Grant movie can be enticing, simply because it provides an opportunity to watch Cary Grant.
Sue "Mom on Film" Harvey is a mother of three who shares her passion
for film with bi-weekly, family-friendly movie recommendations.
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