Essential Cary Grant: Five Films Starring Bristol's Favourite SonPosted on: 18 Jan 2017
On the occasion of what would have been his 113th birthday, we celebrate five of the greatest films made by Cary Grant, one of the all-time great Bristolians.
Alfred Hitchcock, arguably the greatest filmmaker of all-time, once said, “Cary Grant is the only actor I ever loved in my whole life,” while respected critic David Thomson pertinently asked, “How can anyone be ‘Cary Grant’? But how can anyone, ever after, not consider the attempt?” Such high praise is rarely heaped upon anyone, let alone anyone from the South West of England; yet such is actor’s reverence that any number of similar accolades glisten alongside the name of the man born in Bristol, 113 years ago today. Here we select the five best films in which he starred.
North By Northwest, 1959
Where else to begin but with North By Northwest, a film which is critically-acclaimed as one of the best of all time. The picture represents the zenith of the relationship between Cary Grant and Alfred Hitchcock, with the pair having worked together three times previously on Suspicion, Notorious and To Catch A Thief. This is the pick of them all, however, with Hitchcock’s slightly lighter direction perfectly suiting Grant’s innocent protagonist Roger O. Thornhill, who is pursued across America by agents of a secret organisation.
A darker aspect of Grant’s performance had been drawn out by Hitchcock in the decade previous, with the most refined and subtle example arriving in his 1946 spy flick Notorious, a film which marked a more mature watershed in the director’s oeuvre. Grant’s character, T.R. Devlin, falls for the woman (Ingrid Bergman, above) for whom he has set up a cloak-and-dagger marriage in order to catch a Nazi war criminal in a thriller which effortlessly blends espionage with romance.
Bringing Up Baby, 1938
Woody Allen, Rob Reiner, Richard Curtis and every other writer of romantic comedy owe a significant debt to Bringing Up Baby, which, with its humorous misadventures, awkward antics and star-crossing of its leads rendering it in many ways the original rom-com. Grant stars as the mild-mannered palaeontologist David Huxley, who is stumbled across by the whirlwind-spirited Susan Vance, played by Katharine Hepburn, and her pet leopard, Baby. Almost inevitably hijinks and romance ensue in the first of five films on which the Bristolian would work with director Howard Hawks.
Only Angels Have Wings, 1939
The year 1939 saw Grant feature in two action films, George Stevens’ Gunga Din, and Only Angels Have Wings. The latter, again directed by the suitably avian-named Hawks, is, set at an airstrip in an unnamed South American country, a completely different kettle of fish to the pair’s previous venture. Tasked with the unenviable job of flying mail over the surrounding mountains, Grant and his team of daredevil airman soar with exceptional performances in this hard-centred thriller.
Aging like a vintage bottle of red, one of Grant’s final films was also his finest. Starring alongside Audrey Hepburn in another of the romantic-thrillers that became his speciality, the chemistry between these two of the greats ensured that the Paris-set stunner was one of the more memorable.
An ardent Geordie minus the accent, Sam seemingly strove to get as far away from the Toon as possible, as soon as university beckoned. Three undergraduate years at UoB were more than ample time for Bristol (as it inevitably does) to get under his skin, and so here he remains: reporting, as Assistant Editor, on the cultural happenings which so infatuated him with the city. Catch him at firstname.lastname@example.org.