"That's Typing" Tuesday, in which I share unpolished, unpublished writings from my vast store of unpolished, unpublished writings. On Tuesdays.
Raquelle at Out of the Past is celebrating her fourth "blogiversary" with a contest/giveaway, a copy of Jennifer Grant's memoir, Good Stuff: A Reminiscence of My Father, Cary Grant, about, yes, her father, screen legend Cary Grant.
To enter, all you have to do is zip over to her site (here) and tell her your favorite Cary Grant movie and why. But hurry—the deadline is this Thursday, June 30.
And what is my favorite Cary Grant movie? That turns out to be a simple question to ask, a hard one to answer, especially if you, like the Monkey, are an obsessive film nut.
For example, which is my favorite depends in no small part on whether we're talking about a movie with Cary Grant in it, or a Cary Grant movie. I mean, I love The Philadelphia Story, but it's primarily a Katharine Hepburn movie, and after that a Jimmy Stewart movie. Yes, Cary Grant was in The Philadelphia Story, and Cary Grant was wonderful in it, but the truth is Cary Grant was no more than a passive bystander in his own pursuit of true love.
The same is true to greater and lesser degrees of, say, Charade or Notorious or Suspicion, which are really Audrey Hepburn, Ingrid Bergman and Joan Fontaine movies, respectively.
But then I thought about such quintessentially Cary Grant movies as The Awful Truth, Bringing Up Baby or His Girl Friday and realized those are also very much Irene Dunne, Katharine Hepburn and Rosalind Russell movies, where each of those actresses give what are arguably the best performances of their careers—they're Cary Grant movies, sure, but they're not just Cary Grant movies.
But even in North By Northwest, where he's on screen for nearly every frame of the movie, Cary Grant allows actors as different as James Mason, Martin Landau and Eva Marie Saint room to dominate the screen, even tailoring his performance to fit the style of each of those actors—across from the cool, sleek Mason, Grant is animated; with the scenery-chewing Landau, Grant is very nearly still; and sharing the screen with the silky Saint, Grant is as overtly sexy as he ever was in his career.
Which made me realize that maybe Grant's most under-appreciated skill as actor was his almost preternatural ability to play well with others. I mean, is there anyone who didn't turn in a great performance while working with him? I doubt that in the history of Hollywood there's ever been a star so well-known and so well-loved who when it counted—which is to say, when the cameras were rolling—was more generous with his co-stars.
So as my favorite Cary Grant movie, I'm choosing the one where the character he played was as generous as the man playing him, Holiday, the wonderfully bittersweet romantic comedy co-starring Katharine Hepburn.
"You've got no faith in Johnny, have you, Julia? His little dream may fall flat, you think. Well, so it may, what if it should? There'll be another. Oh, I've got all the faith in the world in Johnny. Whatever he does is all right with me. If he wants to dream for a while, he can dream for a while, and if he wants to come back and sell peanuts, oh, how I'll believe in those peanuts!"
But you ask me again tomorrow and I'll probably pick something else—Only Angels Have Wings or To Catch A Thief, maybe. In fact, maybe that's the answer: my favorite Cary Grant movie is whichever one happens to be on at any given moment.