Thursday, May 25, 2023

Only Angels Have Wings (1939)

      "...this Columbia film easily outranks most of its plane-crashing, sky-spectacular predecessors."

With Jean Arthur and Crew.

Only Angels Have Wings - Review is taken from 'The Films of Cary Grant' by Donald Deschner (1973):

"The year's output of aviation films subtracts none of the vigor and little of the freshness from Only Angels Have Wings.  More than a year in production, and coming at the tail end of an overworked screen cycle, this Columbia film easily outranks most of its plane-crashing, sky-spectacular predecessors.  

Produced, directed and written by Howard Hawks (Ceiling Zero and the Dawn Patrol of 1930), whose original story Jules Furthman has turned into a taut, economical script, this is the collective drama of a group of American aviators in the banana town of Barranca, set at the base of the mountains in the Latin-American tropics.  

Worthy of script, direction and particularly effective recreation of its tropical setting is the film's first-rate company.  Grant and Miss Arthur, perfectly cast in the leading roles, are supported by skillful and convincing characterizations, particularly by Sig Rumann as owner of the rickety plane service, Thomas Mitchell as a grounded flyer, and in lesser roles, Rita Hayworth, Allyn Joslyn, and Noah Beery, Jr.  Perhaps of most interest to screen fans is the fact that Richard Barthelmess, after a three-year absence from the screen, takes to the comeback road with a splendid performance."

- Newsweek

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Number 33 - Only Angels Have Wings Lobby Card Style)

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Saturday, May 20, 2023

Indiscreet (1958)

     " impeccably tailored and deft with a witty line as ever and looking very little older..."

With Ingrid Bergman.

Indiscreet - Review is taken from 'The Films of Cary Grant' by Donald Deschner (1973):

"Indiscreet  is an attempt to revive the kind of urbane romantic comedy that was popular some twenty years ago.  To qualify for this category it was necessary that the leading characters be rich and handsome and spectacularly well dressed and that they behave in the somewhat irresponsible fashion equated in the mind of the average audience with genuine sophistication.  It was also helpful, though not altogether obligatory, to have Cary Grant as the male star.  

Cary Grant, as impeccably tailored and deft with a witty line as ever and looking very little older, is on hand in this new one (in fact, with director Stanley Donen he also co-produced it).  Playing opposite him is a magnificently gowned Ingrid Bergman.  

The film was adapted by Norman Krasna from his play, Kind Sir.  It was not much of a play and the addition of some clever new dialogue does not make the movie version much better.  Even so, the two principals, though a trifle mature for this kind of shenanigans, are thoroughly expert and so are Phyllis Calvert and Cecil Parker.  And an ultra-handsome Technicolor production rounds out what I suppose could be called glamorous escapism."

- Moira Walsh, Catholic World

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Number 64 - Indiscreet (Lobby Card Style)

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Friday, May 19, 2023

The Eagle and The Hawk (1933)

     "Here is a drama told with a praiseworthy sense of realism..."

The Eagle and The Hawk - Review is taken from 'The Films of Cary Grant' by Donald Deschner (1973):

"In The Eagle and The Hawk, John Monk Saunders has written a vivid and impressive account of the effect of battles in the clouds upon an American ace.  It is, fortunately, devoid of the stereotyped ideas which have weakened most of such narratives.  Here is a drama told with a praiseworthy sense of realism, and the leading role is portrayed very efficiently by Frederic March.  

Stuart Walker's direction of this picture is thoroughly capable.  Nothing appears to be overdone and no episode is too prolonged.  Aside from the good work by Mr. March and Mr. Oakie, there are noteworthy impersonations by Cary Grant, Sir Guy Standing and Miss Lombard."

Mordaunt Hall, The New York Times Reviewer

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Number 10 - The Eagle and The Hawk (Lobby Card Style)

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Thursday, May 18, 2023

Born To Be Bad (1934)

     "...a hopelessly unintelligent hodgepodge, wherein Loretta Young and Cary Grant have the misfortune to be cast in the leading roles."

With Loretta Young.

Born To Be Bad - Review is taken from 'The Films of Cary Grant' by Donald Deschner (1973):

"Ralph Graves, who has given several fairly interesting performances, is responsible for the narrative of Born To Be Bad.  If this opus is any criterion of Mr. Graves's literary skill, he is scarcely to be congratulated on having temporarily abandoned his acting.  It is a hopelessly unintelligent hodgepodge, wherein Loretta Young and Cary Grant have the misfortune to be cast in the leading roles." 

- Mordaunt Hall, The New York Times

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Number 15 - Born To Be Bad (Lobby Card Style)

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Thirty-Day Princess (1934)

     "Well, there are a lot of complications and funny situations which add up to a pretty good time if you enjoy light comedy."

With Sylvia Sidney.

Thirty-Day Princess - Review is taken from 'The Films of Cary Grant' by Donald Deschner (1973):

"Thirty-Day Princess is a jolly and amusing romantic comedy about a princess from Taronia who comes to the United States to create favorable publicity for a bond issue, but unfortunately gets the mumps.  In real life, of course, it is the investor in foreign bonds who gets the mumps and the megrims, while Mr. Morgan gets the commission.  Deciding that a substitute Princess must be shown to the public, banker Gresham has detectives search New York for an actress who resembles the Princess.  They find Nancy Lane (Sylvia Sidney) and set her on the trail of the city's most influential paper publisher, whose delight it has been to bait big bad bankers.  This publisher hasn't got any more chance of escaping Nancy than a little tailor has of escaping General Johnson and the NRA. Well, there are a lot of complications and funny situations which add up to a pretty good time if you enjoy light comedy.  Miss Sidney is fine in a dual role, and Cary Grant, Edward Arnold, Vince Barnett, Henry Stephenson and others render good support.  J. P. Morgan should see this picture: its comedy ideas may help him to sell some more Peruvian bonds." 

Cy Caldwell, New Outlook

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Number 14 - Thirty-Day Princess (Lobby Card Style)

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Wednesday, May 17, 2023

My Favorite Wife (1940)

     "...a very pleasant style of male-animal humor, with charm and a distinct sense of where to poise or throw his weight"

With Donald MacBride and Irene Dunne.

My Favorite Wife - Review is taken from 'The Films of Cary Grant' by Donald Deschner (1973):

"There is some of the best comedy work in My Favorite Wife, a sort of nonsense-sequel to The Awful Truth.  There is also some of the worst plot making, and Irene Dunne.  The story was written by Bella and Samuel Spewack and I am not going to tell it; but apart from its being quite impossible, which may be called comic license, it forces its best people to treat each other with an aimless viciousness that even Boris Karloff might hesitate to reveal to his public.  And while most of the characters can manage to cover up this bankruptcy of motivation with quips and tumbles, Miss Dunne has apparently become very interested in acting and what may be achieved with the Human Voice.  So it becomes her field day.  She is not one person but seven, and if she is not all seven at once she is seven in rapid succession without aid from script or meaning, running the gamut from Little Eva to Gracie Allen, from The Women to (by actual account) Amos and Andy.  What a lark.  

But this is a Garson Kanin picture and to miss it would not be sensible, for Mr Kanin is already first-string in comedy, and comedy is no steady boarder these last few months.  In addition, it shows Cary Grant developing a very pleasant style of male-animal humor, with charm and a distinct sense of where to poise or throw his weight.   ... The best indication of a director's presence is the opening scene in court, where Granville Bates as the Judge had himself a picnic.  Only four people, only one room, and it went on quite a time - but so easily you would not realize till afterwards that all the heavy exposition of Act I, Scene I, had run off in it like a shout.  There was another courtroom scene near the end, too, though with more people; and there were scenes here and there all the way through, covering the retreat of the story.  Such flowers will not bloom unseen, but it's a pity there has to be so damn much desert air around."

Otis Ferguson, The New Republic

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Number 36 - My Favorite Wife (Lobby Card Style)

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Saturday, May 13, 2023

Without Reservations (1946)

     "Colbert and Wayne are rather charming in change-of-pace roles and there are cameos from Jack Benny and Cary Grant..."

With Claudette Colbert.

Without Reservations - Review is taken from Empire Online, 01.01.2000:

"Authoress Claudette Colbert is summoned to Hollywood to adapt her best-selling philosophical novel for the movies and happens, on the cross-country train, to run into Marine John Wayne, whom she thinks would be ideal for the role of her hero but who happens to think that her book is bunkum. A typical romantic comedy of cross-purposes banter, this also has a vicious anti-intellectual streak that winds up with the producer's wish-fulfilment plot twist of the novelist begging a Hollywood studio to leave all the intellectual business out of the film of her book. Colbert and Wayne are rather charming in change-of-pace roles and there are cameos from Jack Benny and Cary Grant, not to mention an amazingly dreadful turn from gossip diva Louella Parsons.

Kim Newman, Empire

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Cameo Without Reservations (Lobby Card Style)

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Sinners In The Sun (1932)

     "How fortunate we are who, in this era of science, are enabled by the talkie invention to hear, as well as see, the smacks which maidenly indignation administers to the cheek of importunate millionaires!"

Sinners In The Sun - Review is taken from 'The Films of Cary Grant' by Donald Deschner (1973):

"Sinners In The Sun is, in effect, a display of luxury, and the tale of a man and a girl who temporarily despise love in a cottage, but virtuously return to it at last as being of more importance than the limousines, the Long Island parties, the fashion-parades, and the underclothes that enrich their unregenerate interlude.  These things have now become so much a formula that Hollywood has learned not to take them too seriously, with the result that they are less tedious than they might otherwise be.  Miss Carole Lombard and Mr. Chester Morris discharge their sentimental duties with easy accomplishment, while Miss Adrienne Ames, though afflicted with dialogue of the utmost crudity, gives a genuine touch of character to the rich young woman whom our hero erroneously marries.  But the film's chief merit is the sickness of its luxurious accompaniment.  The dresses are good, the flow from scene to scene is smooth and glittering, and our heroine is eternally unruffled even when she has plunged into a moonlit sea, clambered upon a raft and been forcibly kissed by an amateur wrestler who applies his art to persuade her.  How fortunate we are who, in this era of science, are enabled by the talkie invention to hear, as well as see, the smacks which maidenly indignation administers to the cheek of importunate millionaires!"

- The Times (London)

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Number 2 - Sinners In The Sun (Lobby Card Style)

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Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Once Upon A Time (1944)

     "All this called, appropriately enough: Once Upon a Time."

With Janet Blair.

Once Upon A Time - Review is taken from 'The Films of Cary Grant' by Donald Deschner (1973):

"Just as if to prove that all their contemporary fables and romances don't have to be used as background for musical films, Hollywood presents a couple of glossy new movies that trip along their merry and escapist path without so much as a reference  to war, labor or even a song of social significance.  Perhaps these films were made to appeal to audiences who are "fed-up with war pictures."  Or perhaps they were made for soldiers who prefer non-war entertainment films.  In any case, their locale is a romantically realistic America that looks like New York and Indiana but excludes current events like invasions, strikes and coming elections.  Such are the places dreamed up in these films.  

Alexander Hall has directed this film well enough - though slowly.  In spite of the good acting and characterizations by Cary Grant and Janet Blair, and especially by James Gleason as Flynn's assistant and Ted Donaldson as the beaming kid with great faith, there just isn't enough material here for a full-length feature.  All this might have made a delightful short.  (It was originally a radio sketch by Norman Corwin.)  But even with its amusing satire on commercialism and uplifting message of optimism and goodness, the film runs dry and is too obviously prolonged.  The climax, in which Curly walks out on bickering mankind and teaches a lesson in nature, is quite effective.  All this called, appropriately enough: Once Upon a Time."

Philip T. Hartung, The Commonweal

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Number 45 - Once Upon A Time (Lobby Card Style)

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Saturday, May 6, 2023

News Article Series: How Cary Grant lives: The movie star at home (1940) By Joseph Henry Steele.

Hollywood at home: Cary Grant’s house in Santa Monica
If a man’s castle is his life — past, present and future — you will find a famous life revealed on these pages!

By Joseph Henry Steele

“The happy marrid man dies in good stile at home, surrounded by his weeping wife and children. The old batchelor don’t die at all — he sort of rots away, like a pollywog’s tail.” – Artemus Ward in “The Draft in Baldinsville.”

Cary Grant can’t stand being shut in

Claustrophobia has driven Cary Grant to the sea.

Not into it or out on it, but to its sud-laced fringe. He has finally found what he’d always wanted — an unbounded front yard that would solace the wish to escape which forms the very core of his character.

Cary, one of the few surviving (and I do mean surviving) members of an imaginary Hollywood bachelor club, cannot stand being shut in. So he recently bought a two-storied, twelve-roomed stucco house on the exclusive beach at Santa Monica.

Bottom photo: Happy hermitage, with the seaward outlook so indispensable to Cary — interrupted only by an expanse of sand and passing bathers.

He got as close to the sea as possible; the only interruption to his horizon is an occasional distant ship which, instead of obstructing, seems rather to pause in the middle of a framing window the better to create a picture.

Cary says: “I like the ocean because no one can build a house in front of me or plant a high hedge or put up a billboard. Although I must qualify that last — all summer long, on Saturdays and Sundays, a big greasy motorboat keeps chugging up and down with a huge banner on it and a loud-speaker rasping out the virtues of a two-bit dance hall in Venice. But I guess you can’t have everything.”

Cary bought his house from Norma Talmadge. It was the house which formed the southern boundary of Hollywood’s beach society in the nostalgic talkless era. It was bounded on the north by the hotel des artistes known as Marion Davies.

When I walked through the house, I noted that Norma’s touches were still in evidence, decidedly feminine touches destined eventually to be obliterated by the masculine bachelorhood of its present owner.

There were three spare bedrooms, now called guest rooms, done in a variety of French periods; luxurious and gay and unmussable; gold and blue and royal red.

But this is supposed to be about Cary Grant. So, let’s at him.

Center of activity in this one-man home is the bar-living room — Cary uses the real living room mainly just for piano playing

About Cary Grant’s home in 1940

When at home, Cary does his living not in the living room, but in what he chooses to call the bar, which is more living room than bar. It is two thirds the width of the house, faced solidly with windows looking out over the pool, the beach and, still beyond, the ocean.

At one end is the bar proper, a small, half-circle affair, while the rest of the room is taken up with down-cushioned chairs from which rising becomes a problem.

Radio and victrola, old English prints, a long coffee table (made according to specifications so that when unfolded it reveals backgammon layouts) magazine racks, a ship’s model, a floor paved with irregular slate — these conspire to make a room to live in no matter what the mood.

The living room itself, so formal in its French gilt and burgundy, is rarely used. It is a room in which dinner jackets and low-bosomed gowns should be worn; where a sleek hostess should preside. (Cary ventured a try at the hostess idea several years ago when he married Virginia Cherrill, but it didn’t take. Maybe it was claustrophobia. I don’t know. And Cary won’t speak of it.)

Four features stand out in the living room; a grand piano, an oil painting of a horse by Ben Marshall, famous English painter, which hangs over the mantelpiece, a round table which again unfolds into a backgammon layout, and two great six-foot mirrors in heavy gilt frames fixed against the wall on either side of the fireplace. The carpet is the color of burgundy.

Indoors, you will probably find the host at backgammon — his opponent, in this case, being [article] author Steele himself.

That grand piano standing by a window overlooking the sea is a favorite retreat of Cary’s. The only musical instrument he can play, it is a hangover from his comic-opera days.
Aside from backgammon, which amounts almost to a mania, Cary likes best to sit at the piano and finger familiar tunes. When he tires of that he’ll start improvising jazz melodies of his own.

Cary sings, too, in a highly agreeable baritone. I’ve often pondered the irony of the motion- picture business which does not avail itself of such versatility.

Cary Grant was born in Bristol, England, thirty-six years ago, and he’s been in the United States for nineteen years. He is thoroughly English for many generations back, and if you’ve wondered about his black hair and dark coloring lay it to a Spanish lady who married an early Grant in the days when Philip of Spain was pounding at England’s doors.

Vintage actor Cary Grant on the beach 1940s

The house manager, Frank Horn

Cary’s household is managed by his secretary, Frank Horn, the result of a promise made many years ago when Cary’s days were spent in hotels and his future was dubious.

In 1932, when Cary was a leading man with the St. Louis Municipal Opera Company, he first met Horn, a fellow actor. They became instant friends and when they daydreamed in the confines of a hotel room Cary would say, “Someday, Frank, I’m going to Hollywood. And if I click, I’ll have you with me.”

That day came. He remembered his promise and sent for Frank Horn, who has been with him ever since.

Horn supervises the duties of the married couple who serve as butler-cook-and-maid and a chauffeur who navigates the Buick limousine. The garden being mostly sand there is no gardener.

Horn himself drives a Ford convertible which is used for shopping and sundry household errands. He is allowed four cents a mile for the use of the car and recompensed weekly on presentation of an expense account.

Cary Grant Philadelphia Story movie 1940

A self-conscious star

The limousine is the only car Cary owns, and his eventual acquisition of it is an interesting sidelight on his character. Cary has ever dreaded the appellation, “going Hollywood.”

He liked big cars (who doesn’t?) and long dreamed of owning one. As soon as he could afford, it he bought one — a sporty Cord that would turn a Hollywood blonde’s hair back to its natural color.

And then he was utterly miserable. Suddenly he developed a flagellating self-consciousness. He could swear that everybody was staring at him and whispering, “There comes that movie actor.”

Then came stardom and its attendant activities. He found he was too busy to drive himself, and frequently had to study his script en route to the studio. It was simply impossible to drive and study at the same time.

He conquered the complex and got himself a chauffeur and limousine. It is worth recording here, too, something unique about Cary — he has no station wagon.

Secretary Horn presents the monthly bills to his boss, to which are attached corresponding bills for the previous month. This is Cary’s idea, enabling him to keep a close check on expenditures so that none may get out of hand. He questions each item carefully and signs his own checks. There is no specified budget.

Cary’s quirks and companions

Below stairs, the servants refer to Cary in affectionate broad English as The Mawster, while Cary himself has never acquired the habit of nicknaming his employees.

Their affection for him, however, has its momentary setbacks. Meals, for instance, are forever movable; that is to say, although he orders dinner for seven he may not show up until nine or even ten.

Cary is marked by meticulous adherence to little things. As he goes through the house, he is forever automatically emptying ash trays, rearranging magazines, moving objects two or three inches to where he thinks they should be, ad infinitum.

He is hypersensitive, and easily fazed by any criticism of an article he possesses, be it of ever so slight importance.

And being a homeowner for the first time in his life, he can’t quite understand why it might need repairs, since he bought it so recently. Cary has no inclination for grocery shopping, always ending in confusion and buying things he’ll never eat. But he has a weakness for haberdasheries, in which he can spend hours.

When he raids the refrigerator, it is usually for Camembert or Roquefort with crackers and milk. He is a dismal failure at fixing anything for himself and even has trouble preparing dinner for Archibald and Cholmondeley, his two Sealyhams.

He doesn’t mind eating alone so long as the radio or a newspaper is near. When entertaining, he is a retiring host and behaves more like one of the guests. He has never been seen to carve.

His circle of friends includes Randolph Scott, Countess di Frasso, Robert Coote, Jack and Ann Warner, and Reginald Gardiner. He’ll go into a tap dance at the drop of hat.

Like no other bedroom

Aside from the bar, the only other room to achieve a measure of completion is Cary’s bedroom on the second floor. It is a complete expression of his tastes and attitudes. It belongs to no period or school of thought, unlike any bedroom I have ever seen.

Outside the windows, the ocean stretches beyond the horizon. The rich color scheme is chocolate brown and beige; there are a seven-by-eight- foot bed with convenient bookshelves holding radio, cigarettes, etc., at his head and a large, practical fireplace.

The walls, the ceiling and the carpet are in severe chocolate brown, relieved by trimmings in beige.

Over the fireplace hangs an oil painting that has puzzled many a guest. No one has ever been sure whether it was a modernist masterpiece or a lunatic’s self-portrait. But now it can be told — Cary bought it on the banks of the River Seine for ninety-three cents.

At the far end of this chocolate chamber is the private haberdashery — suits, dozens of shirts, a regiment of shoes, a horde of hats and kerchiefs, socks, neckties, suspenders and underwear.

The studied carelessness of Cary’s screen appearance, which contributes so much to his jaunty appeal, is achieved largely by his shirts. These are made to order in New York and have a collar designed by Cary to minimize what he thinks is an oversized neck. There is little basis for his delusion, but no one’s been able to dissuade him.

He wears a forty-two coat, eleven-and-a-half shoes, silk undershirts in solid pastel shades, slippers of a moccasin type made in Sweden. He never wears a smoking jacket, and can’t stand flowers in the bedroom.

Although he is not given to hobbies or collecting objects of art, he has a mania for keeping useless papers and periodicals for years, believing that someday they’ll come in handy.

He is meticulously tidy, never carries anything that will bulge his pockets, and has a collection of pipes that he never uses. He likes cigarettes, but can’t stand them before breakfast.

Due to a slight astigmatism, he always carries corrective glasses. He is an incurably bad correspondent; letters are inevitably shelved, pigeonholed and postponed, finally being answered by an elaborate and apologetic wire.

His library of records contains complete albums of Gershwin, English comic songs, and musical comedy things that he was in.

His attitude towards physical exercise has changed very little in ten years. The punching bag and rowing machine in a hidden little courtyard get a visit from him only at some friend’s mention of middle age or a crack about his waistline. He rides horseback only as called for in his work, never goes in for sailing, trapshooting, tennis or golf.

Cary’s philosophic attitudes

Cary’s philosophic attitudes may best be exemplified by this incident: Almost two years ago there were four of us dining at the Hollywood Brown Derby — Cary, Dick Barthelmess, John Carroll and I. It was early in March, and income tax was making its annual foray into complacent movie pocketbooks.

Cary was having his say: “Cripers! That’s a terrific slice out of a man’s income. A man works hard for years, lives in cheap hotels, packs his worldly goods in a trunk, looks for a job between the shows that flopped — then one day he gets a break. Then what happens? The government comes along and. . .”

Cary interrupted himself. “Oh, well!” he said. “What am I kicking about? Not so many years ago, I was wandering around New York, without a job, and had only one dream — that someday I might get set with an income of a hundred and twenty-five dollars a week. That was my idea of heaven. And here I am, kicking like everybody else in the big money.”

He speared a sizable piece of steak and holding it aloft as if it were a symbol of his point, said: “Let ’em take all they want. Whatever it is, it’s darned cheap for the privilege of living here.”

Cary Grant likes life and has a keen desire to face it honestly. He’s getting a great kick out of his homeownership, and someday he would like to have children. But children must have a mother, and mothers should be wives — I’m sure Cary will not long remain a polliwog’s tail.

Article from (vintage and retro memories).