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Cary Grant Films: Average Debonair Man vs. the Vicissitudes of Life

Cary Grant Myrna Loy Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House
Cary Grant Gail Patrick Irene Dunne Randolph Scott My Favorite Wife
Cary Grant in Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House with Myrna Loy (top); Cary Grant, Gail Patrick, Irene Dunne, Randolph Scott in My Favorite Wife

Cary GrantCary Grant will have his “Summer Under the Stars” day on Sunday, Aug. 9.

Turner Classic Movies will not present any Cary Grant rarities or little-seen films, which is unfortunate, but if Cary Grant is in it, no matter what it may be, it will be worth a look. Or perhaps even a second (or third or fourth or fifth…) look as well.

Ramon Novarro biography Beyond Paradise

One look is more than enough for the dreary Irving Reis-directed comedy The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer (1947), which happened to be one of the biggest box office hits of the year and the Oscar winner for best original screenplay (written by Sidney Sheldon). Myrna Loy, Shirley Temple, and Rudy Vallee co-star, but it’s the always reliable Harry Davenport who steals the show in a small supporting role.

Now, the three Cary Grant comedies below are worthy of considerably more than a mere look:

  • My Favorite Wife (1940), in which he’s well paired with Irene Dunne and Gail Patrick; the former as his wife, the latter as his wife. Let me explain: Grant didn’t set out to become a bigamist; he just quite innocently thought that first wife Dunne was dead (drowned or something), so, like every good family man, he found himself another companion in matrimony. Little did he know that all that time wife #1 was stranded on an island with none other than Randolph Scott, Grant’s hunky real-life roommate in the mid-1930s. Garson Kanin directed from Sam and Bella Spewack’s screenplay, taken from the Oscar-nominated original story by the Spewacks and Leo McCarey, which in turn was inspired by Alfred Tennyson’s poem “Enoch Arden.” (Dunne’s character, in fact, is named Ellen Arden.)
  • Grant and Irene Dunne are perfectly matched in McCarey’s own The Awful Truth (1937), one of the best screwball comedies of the ’30s. Marital problems are also at the core of the humor, but this time the other man is played by Ralph Bellamy, who seems to have lost more girls during that decade than just about any other Hollywood actor. Dunne and Bellamy were both nominated for Oscars that year; Dunne should have won, but Luise Rainer took home the best actress statuette for The Good Earth. McCarey, for his part, won as best director. Viña Delmar was credited for the sparkling screenplay, taken from Arthur Richman’s play. (Will TCM one day show the 1929 version, starring Ina Claire and Henry Daniell? I believe that’s not a lost film – though I could be wrong.)
  • Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948) is a featherweight but enjoyable comedy about American bourgeois values, as papa Cary Grant and mama Myrna Loy move with their brood to the suburbs after having had enough of big-city life. Once there, they set out to build the family abode of their dreams. The result is chaos, but, needless to say, a home is eventually borne out of the couple’s middle-class mess. Melvyn Douglas is great as the family’s friend and lawyer, while the presence of former silent-screen star Reginald Denny is an added curiosity. (And so is the presence of silent superstar Ramon Novarro in Crisis, a so-so political thriller directed by Richard Brooks, who was a difficult taskmaster much disliked by the film’s crew.)

Cary Grant, Samantha Eggar in Walk, Don't Run

Another recommendation: Set during Tokyo’s Olympic Games in the mid-1960s, the Charles Walters-directed Walk, Don’t Run (1966) is the remake of George Stevens’ much more prestigious The More the Merrier (1943), with Grant in the old Charles Coburn role. But unprestigious or no, Walk, Don’t Run is a pleasure to watch, partly because of Grant – as suave as ever in his last screen appearance – and partly because of Samantha Eggar, an excellent actress who merited better roles than those she usually got in those days. Jim Hutton is also enjoyable as Eggar’s romantic interest.


Pacific Time

9 Sunday

3:00 AM Once Upon a Time (1944)
A Broadway producer finds fame with his new act – a dancing caterpillar. Cast: Cary Grant, Janet Blair, James Gleason. Director: Alexander Hall. Black and white. 88 min.

4:30 AM Every Girl Should Be Married (1949)
A young woman uses scientific research to trap a man into marriage. Cast: Cary Grant, Betsy Drake, Franchot Tone. Director: Don Hartman. Black and white. 85 min.

6:00 AM My Favorite Wife (1940)
A shipwrecked woman is rescued just in time for her husband’s re-marriage. Cast: Cary Grant, Irene Dunne, Randolph Scott. Director: Garson Kanin. Black and white. 88 min.

Cary Grant, Irene Dunne in The Awful Truth

7:45 AM Awful Truth, The (1937)
A divorced couple keeps getting mixed up in each other’s love lives. Cast: Cary Grant, Irene Dunne, Ralph Bellamy. Director: Leo McCarey. Black and white. 91 min.

9:30 AM Bachelor And The Bobby-Soxer, The (1947)
A teenage girl’s crush on a playboy spells trouble, particularly when he falls for her older sister. Cast: Cary Grant, Myrna Loy, Shirley Temple. Director: Irving Reis. Black and white. 95 min.

11:15 AM Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948)
A New York businessman’s dream of a country home is shattered when he buys a tumbledown rural shack. Cast: Cary Grant, Myrna Loy, Melvyn Douglas. Director: H.C. Potter. Black and white. 94 min.

1:00 PM Father Goose (1964)
A WWII drifter finds himself protecting schoolgirls and their beautiful teacher. Cast: Cary Grant, Leslie Caron, Trevor Howard. Director: Ralph Nelson. Color. 116 min.

Ramon Novarro biography Beyond Paradise

Cary Grant, Grace Kelly in To Catch a Thief

3:00 PM To Catch a Thief (1955)
A retired cat burglar fights to clear himself of a series of Riviera robberies committed in his style. Cast: Cary Grant, Grace Kelly, Jessie Royce Landis. Director: Alfred Hitchcock. Color. 106 min.

5:00 PM Notorious (1946)
A U.S. agent recruits a German expatriate to infiltrate a Nazi spy ring in Brazil. Cast: Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman, Claude Rains. Director: Alfred Hitchcock. Black and white. 101 min.

7:00 PM Houseboat (1958)
An Italian socialite on the run signs on as housekeeper for a widower with three children. Cast: Cary Grant, Sophia Loren, Martha Hyer. Director: Melville Shavelson. Color. 110 min.

9:00 PM Crisis (1950)
An American doctor gets caught in the middle of a revolution when he’s forced to operate on a South American dictator. Cast: Cary Grant, Jose Ferrer, Paula Raymond. Director: Richard Brooks. Black and white. 96 min.

11:00 PM Mr. Lucky (1943)
A gambling-ship owner is out to fleece a beautiful society woman, but falls in love. Cast: Cary Grant, Laraine Day, Charles Bickford. Director: H.C. Potter. Black and white. 100 min.

1:00 AM Walk, Don’t Run (1966)
Set during the Tokyo Olympics, one of three unlikely housemates plays matchmaker with the other two. Cast: Cary Grant, Samantha Eggar, Jim Hutton. Director: Charles Walters. Color. 114 min.

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Doug Johnson -

Refreshing that TCM screened a few lesser-known Grant films (Every Girl Should Be Married, Once Upon a Time, Mr. Lucky, etc.) in addition to the usual, available-on-DVD suspects.

CinD -

I love that man! I thought I’d seen all his movies, til “Crisis” is playing now. Interesting.


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