Saturday, May 30, 2020

"Lights, camera...action!" - The Directors - Part 3

The next director, who worked with Cary Grant on four films, was Stanley Donen.

Stanley Donen:

13th April 1924 - 21st February 2019

On Grant - "Cary was lavish in his giving to me. He gave me lots of gifts, always thoughtful ones. Something was always arriving."

Kiss Them For Me (1957)

With Ray Walston and Jayne Mansfield

Indiscreet (1958)

On set with Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman.

The Grass is Greener (1961)

With Deborah Kerr and Robert Mitchum

Charade (1963)

With Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn

Stanley Donen was behind many hit musicals including On The Town, Singing in the Rain and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.

Cary Grant, Stanley Fox and Stanley Donen set up Grandon Productions, Ltd in 1957.

Four directors worked on three films each with Cary Grant...

..."Lights, camera...action!" - The Directors - Part 4...

Thursday, May 28, 2020

On this Day...Mr. Lucky (1943)

Cary Grant's 43rd full length feature film was released on this date...Mr Lucky.

The story of Joe Adams, the owner of a gambling ship and a draft dodger, who in order to raise funds for a South Atlantic enterprise, turns his con-man's gaze on the ladies of the War Relief Inc.

Laraine Day stars along side Cary Grant.

Although critics enjoyed some of the visual techniques of the film most were left unimpressed by the theme of film; gambling and draft dodging. Remember this was 1943!

Philip T. Hartung of The Commonweal reported: "...Mr Lucky depends on Grant's ability to hold you. Perhaps this is just wherein the picture is dangerous; the first thing you know, you like this loose-moraled chiseler because of the way he tilts his hat or kids you so delightfully before he cheats you".

Manny Fabber of The New Republic commented that it was a "...disgusting story.." but praised the supporting cast, and concluded by saying, "Admirers of Cary Grant will be shocked: but after they have hardened themselves against the indecent exploitation of him, they will at least find Mr. Lucky interesting, like a bad salad with an intelligent dressing."

One of the lighter, funnier moments (one of my favourites) is the knitting scene within the War Relief's HQ.

"Knit one...."

Lobby Card:

Directed by H.C. Potter
Produced and distributed by RKO Radio
Running time: 100 minutes
Original Story: Bundles for Freedom by Milton Holmes

Monday, May 25, 2020

"Lights, Camera...Action!" - The Directors - Part 2

After Howard Hawks' five films with Cary Grant, there were two directors who completed four films each with Grant...Alfred Hitchcock and Stanley Donen.

Alfred Hitchcock:

13th August 1899 - 29th April 1990

"Hitch and I had a rapport and understanding deeper than words. He was a very agreeable human being, and we were very compatible. I always went to work whistling when I worked with him because everything on the set was just as you envisioned it would be. Nothing ever went wrong. He was so incredibly well prepared. I never knew anyone as capable. He was a tasteful, intelligent, decent, and patient man who knew the actor's business as well as he knew his own." 
- Grant on Hitchcock

Suspicion (1941)

On set with Joan Fontaine.

His appearance in the film.

Notorious (1946)

Hitchcock's appearance in a scene with Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman.

To Catch A Thief (1955)

On film with Grant.

On set with Grace Kelly and Cary Grant.

North By Northwest (1959)

An early appearance in the film.

On set and behind the scenes with Cary Grant, Eve Marie Saint and James Mason.

"Cary is marvelous, you see. One doesn't direct Cary Grant, one simply puts him in front of a camera. 
And, you see, he enables the audience to identify with the main character. I mean by that, Cary Grant represents a man we know. He's not a stranger."
- Hitchcock on Grant

To be continued...The Directors - Part 3 - Stanley Donen.

Friday, May 22, 2020

"Light, Camera...Action!" - The Directors - Part 1

When Cary Grant received his Academy Award for his unique mastery of the art of screen acting, in 1970, he thanked all those who had assisted in his career.

He thanked by name, six directors, Howard Hawks, Alfred Hitchcock, Leo McCarey, George Stevens, George Cukor and Stanley Donen.

So, that made me think about which directors he worked with and how often?

Howard Hawks:

30th May 1896 - 26th December 1977

Hawks and Grant worked on a total of six films together:

Bringing Up Baby (1938) with Katharine Hepburn

Only Angels Have Wings (1939) with Rita Haywood

His Girl Friday (1940) with Rosalind Russell

I Was a Male War Bride (1949) with Ann Sheridan

Monkey Business (1952)

Hawks on Grant - "He was so far the best that there isn't anybody to be compared to him."

Howard Hawks directed many films include those from the silent era, but as well as his first three films with Cary Grant he is probably most remembered for Scarface (1932), Twentieth Century (1934), Sergeant York (1941), To Have and Have Not (1944), The Big Sleep (1946), Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) and Rio Bravo (1959).

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

"A Rose by Any Other Name...."

This rose is called the 'Cary Grant'.

It was commissioned as a Valentine's gift in February 1986, for Cary Grant's 5th wife, Barbara Harris. 
They were planted along the driveway of their home.

The rose is categorized as a Hybrid Tea.

It has large blooms, size of a fist, that are bright orange, with a long stem and glossy green foliage.
Easy to care for, blooming from late February to November.

The rose is believed to only exist in one country outside the USA; Monaco, in Princess Grace's garden in her memory.

On this Day...Indiscreet (1958)

This was Cary Grant's 64th full length feature film, and his second pairing with Ingrid Bergman.

An adaptation of Norman Krasna's play Kind Sir. A comedy of manners between Grant and Bergman's characters that leads to romance.

The New Republic called it "..a trifle..." but acknowledged Grant and co-star Cecil Parker as "..gifted farceurs".

One of the most memorable scenes is the Eight-some Reel, that shows off Cary Grant's comedic timing!
(See blog: "Oh... we ought to learn that!" under Inspirations label)

Paired together again for the first time since Notorious (1946)

This was the first film by independent production company Grandon Productions, which was setup by Cary Grant and the film's director Stanley Donen.

Directed by Stanley Donen
Produced by Grandon Productions
Running time: 100 minutes

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

On this Day...The Eagle and the Hawk (1933)

The Eagle and the Hawk was Cary Grant's 10th full length feature film.

Also starring Fredric March and Carole Lombard, the story of flying aces and  the trauma of war.

The New York Times noted,"Here is a drama told with a praiseworthy sense of realism, and the leading role portrayed very efficiently by Fredric March....there are noteworthy impersonations by Cary Grant, Sir Guy Standing,and Miss Lombard."

Lobby Cards:

Directed by Stuart Walker
Produced and distributed by Paramount Publix
Running time: 72 minutes

Monday, May 18, 2020

Cary Grant and the Pre-Code Era

Between the widespread adoption of sound, in films, from 1929 to the mid 1930's enforcement of the Motion Picture Production Code (Hays Code), a Pre-Code period existed.

Although the Hays Code was adopted in 1930, it wasn't enforced until July 1st, 1934.

Before that date film content was regulated between the Studio Relations Committee(SRC), local law and popular opinion. Needless to say, much of the guidelines were ignored by film makers in Hollywood.

What was the Hays Code?

A Hollywood board was set up, and led by Will Hays and Joseph Breen with other prominent members of the Catholic community.
It put together a list of guidelines for film production based on "The Don'ts and Be Carefuls", with became known as the Hays Code.
These were to be voluntarily applied as a form of censorship to avoid the setting up of a censorship board by the federal government.

It was formulated in 1929, presented in 1930 and rigidly enforced from 1934. It was in force until 1965, finally replaced by an age-based system, that is still used today.

The Code was divided into two parts:
  • General Principles 
  • Particular Applications
General Principles:
  1. Prohibited a movie from "lowering the moral standards of those who see it"
  2. Called for depictions of the correct "standards of life"
  3. Forbade a movie from showing any sort of ridicule towards the law or "creating sympathy for its violation".

Particular Applications was a list of items which could not be depicted in a movie. Headings on such items included; Crimes against the Law, Sex, Vulgarity, Obscenity, Profanity, Costumes, Dances, Religion, Locations, National Feelings and Repellent Subjects.

Examples of the Hays Code Application:
  • The Hays Code required that women, in love scenes, at all time have "at least one foot on the floor".
  • People could not be in a horizontal position if they were kissing.
  • Betty Boop had to be "cleaned up". Her skirts lengthened to the knee, and necklines of her dress were raised, so as not to cause offence. Winking and shaking hips were deemed to be "suggestive of immorality". The clean up effectively ruined her on-screen career.
  • Gone With the Wind producer, David O. Selznick had to convince Hays and Breen, that the line "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn" was not prejudicial to public morals, under the profanity guidelines.
Cary Grant Films:

Cary Grant appeared in 15 films during this unenforced period of 1929 to 1934.

They were (with examples of what would have been code infractions, if they had been enforced):

This Is the Night (1932)
Sinners in the Sun (1932)
Merrily We Go to Hell (1932)

The title alone shows that it is  pre-code. Also contains infidelity and includes a female as and editor of a newspaper!

Devil and the Deep (1932)
Blonde Venus (1932)

Pre-code contents include women skinny dipping in flesh colored underwear, suggestive dialogue, suggested domestic violence, prostitution, songs including "Hot Voodoo" and "You Little So-and-So", and more including Marlene Dietrich's performance.

Hot Saturday (1932)

Suggestive dialogue, suggested potential rape scene, removal of underwear, view of legs and suggestive grabbing of a females chest.

Madame Butterfly (1932)
She Done Him Wrong (1933)

Portrayal of alcohol and a drunken cop, robbery, murder, counterfeiting, violence, white slavery and Mae West...and a discreetly covered picture.

The Woman Accused (1933)

Murder, decadence, innuendo, suggestive dialogue.

The Eagle and the Hawk (1933)

Violence and combat scenes. Suggestive dialogue.

Gambling Ship (1933)
I'm No Angel (1933)

Suggestive dancing and dialogue. Costumes are provocative, multiple spouses and Mae West again!

Alice in Wonderland (1933)
Thirty Day Princess (1934)


Born to Be Bad (1934)

Suggestive images, single motherhood, child abuse, cheating and infidelity.