January 18, 2012 – In honor of Cary Grant’s 108th birthday (born on January 18, 1904), here are five fun facts about the screen idol, and a top ten list of his best movies that are a “must see” for all classic movie fans.
Five Fun Facts
- During an interview a reporter told him, “Everybody would like to be Cary Grant,” and Grant replied, “So would I.”
- Born in England, Grant arrived in the U.S. at age 16. He forged his father’s signature on a form that allowed him to make the trip as part of a British comic acrobatic team, which kick started his career.
- Writer Ian Fleming modeled his famous James Bond character after Grant. Sidney Sheldon did the same with the character, Rhys Williams in his novel “Bloodline.”
- Did you know that Grant never actually uttered the phrase, “Judy, Judy, Judy,” in a movie? That credit goes to actor and comedian Larry Storch of “F-Troop” fame who was in the middle of a Cary Grant impression at a comedy club when Judy Garland walked in.
- Grant turned down the role of Professor Henry Higgins in “My Fair Lady” because he didn’t think he could ever be as good as Rex Harrison who had performed the role on Broadway. He also told the producer he wouldn’t see the film unless Harrison got the part.
Top Ten Best Movies
10. The Awful Truth – Funny lady Irene Dunn starred with Grant in this gem about a couple divorcing because of a misunderstanding. Since neither one really wants the divorce, they have lots of fun causing trouble for each of the new significant others in their lives.
9. My Favorite Wife – Irene Dunn stars again with Grant in a movie that may sound similar to “The Awful Truth” but it stands on its own with lots of laughs and charm. Grant plays a lawyer whose wife disappeared and is presumed dead (played by Dunn). Eight years later when he remarries, guess who’s found alive and well?
8. Holiday – Katharine Hepburn stars opposite Grant in his comedy classic. Although he’s set to marry Hepburn’s sister in the movie, he falls in love with Hepburn’s character. She’s definitely a better match, but it causes much chaos and confusion for everyone involved.
7. North by Northwest – Another Alfred Hitchcock classic, Grant plays Roger Thornhill, a Madison Avenue advertising executive, who is mistaken for a man wanted by foreign spies. Despite his plea, they refuse to believe they are pursuing the wrong man. Eva Marie Saint plays opposite Grant in a movie that’s famous for two major scenes; one has a crop duster chasing Grant through the corn fields of the Mid West, the other has Grant and his leading lady climbing Mount Rushmore.
6. The Philadelphia Story – Katharine Hepburn stars once again with Grant and Jimmy Stewart in this charming comedy. Hepburn plays a socialite whose wedding plans are complicated when her ex-husband (Grant) re-enters the scene. The story was remade as a musical about 10 years later as “High Society” with Grace Kelly, Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra, but the original is best.
5. To Catch a Thief – One of only two color films on the list, this movie is another Hitchcock classic. Grant was a bit gray and winding down his successful career when he played the former cat burglar in 1955, but he still sizzles next to the elegant Grace Kelly. Filmed on the French Riviera, the scenery is as breathtaking as the beautiful cast. Kelly married the Prince of Monaco the following year in 1956, making this one of her last roles as well.
4. Arsenic and Old Lace – Supposedly Grant hated his performance in this movie, believing it was way over the top, but to me it is pure comic genius. Grant plays the newly married Mortimer Brewster who’s trying to keep his family together and out of prison when he discovers that his two elderly aunts are murdering old men and burying them in the basement. Sight gags play a big role in this film, and it’s easy to spot Grant’s roots in comedic acrobats.
3. His Gal Friday – A laugh a minute is only way to describe this newsroom classic about a divorced couple reporting on the upcoming execution of a convicted murderer. The storyline may sound heavy, but it’s as funny and light-hearted as they come – and maybe a little sexist – as well as a good look into the world of investigative reporting back in its heyday. Rosalind Russell stars opposite Grant, who happens to be her slick editor and her ex-husband. He’s trying to break apart her new relationship with the man she is supposed to marry the next day, while she’s trying to save the convicted from execution. Uproarious fun! I swear!
2. Charade – Audrey Hepburn and Grant are a perfect combination in this fun Hitchcock like classic, despite their 25-year age difference. Supposedly Grant wanted it written in to the script, which is as thrilling as it is funny and charming, that Hepburn’s character is pursuing him rather than vice versa because he felt strange about the age difference. This is the other Technicolor movie on the list, and it was remade albeit poorly as “The Truth About Charlie” with Mark Wahlberg and Thandie Newton.
1. Notorious – Notorious is my favorite Grant movie, and possibly among my top five of all time, and it is the most dramatic movie on the list. Grant stars opposite Ingrid Bergman, the woman the FBI hires to get the goods on Nazis they believe are planning something in South America after WWII. Grant falls in love with Bergman’s character, who plays it wonderfully as the girl with the tainted past, and he is often as cruel and he is romantic with her. There are so many thrillingly tense scenes and fine performances in this movie, it has to be Hitchcock’s best.