He's tall, dark, suave, debonair, and devastatingly handsome. What woman doesn't love the cleft in his chin? His Cary Grant persona comes through in all his films. Grant was a multi-talented actor, but in my opinion he excelled at comedy.
Grant's career in film spanned over 34 years and 76 films, so trying to narrow it down to the top 5 favorites will be a challenge, but here goes:
5.) Bringing Up Baby (1938) starring: Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn
Grant plays a mild-mannered, slightly nerdy zoologist, Dr. David Huxley, who is trying to get a million dollar grant to help fund the museum that he works at. While trying to obtain the grant, he is pursued by Susan Vance (Katharine Hepburn) an erratic and sometimes irksome heiress with a pet leopard named Baby! Chaos and hilarity ensue.
Even though Bringing Up Baby did not do well at the box office when it was initially released, it's garnered more attention and credit over the years. In 2006, Premiere Magazine ranks this film as one of "The 50 Greatest Comedies of All Time." Grant's performance as Dr. David Huxley was also ranked 68 on the list of "The 100 Greatest Performances of All Time."
Bringing Up Baby is not the first pairing of Grant and Hepburn. They would also be teamed up in Sylvia Scarlett (1935), Holiday (1938), and last, but not least The Philadelphia Story (1940).
Fun Film Trivia: Actor Christopher Reeves based his performance as Clark Kent in the "Superman" franchise on Cary Grant's character Dr. David Huxley.
Katharine Hepburn was generally 'fearless' of the leopard that played Baby and even enjoyed petting it. Grant, on the other hand, was not so much and often a double was used in the scenes where his character and the leopard had to make contact.
4.) Arsenic and Old Lace (1944) starring: Cary Grant, Priscilla Lane, Josephine Hull, Jean Adair, Jack Carson, and Peter Lorre.
Frank Capra directed this dark, madcap comedy. Capra is probably best known for directing It's A Wonderful Life (1946).
In this film, Grant shows off his talent for physical comedy. Whether he's tripping over chairs or finding bodies in window seats, he does it was class and humor. Some of Grant's facial expressions in this film are unforgettable....thankfully they are forever captured on film for audiences to still enjoy.
If dark comedies appeal to you, I would put Arsenic and Old Lace at the top of your list to watch.
Fun Film Trivia: Cary Grant donated his entire salary for this film ($100,000) to the U.S. War Relief Fund.
When Mortimer is sitting in the graveyard, one of the tombstones has the name Archie Leach on it. Archie Leach was Cary Grant's real name.
3.) Walk Don't Run (1966) starring: Cary Grant, Samantha Eggar, and Jim Hutton
Walk Don't Run is a re-working of a film done by George Stevens called The More the Merrier (1943) starring Jean Arthur, Joel McCrea, and Charles Colburn.
In Walk Don't Run two men (Cary Grant and Jim Hutton) share an apartment with a single woman (Samantha Eggar) during a housing shortage in Japan during the 1964 Summer Olympics.
Walk Don't Run was Grant's last film. He retired after this film at age 61. In part, I think he retired because he was getting too old to play the romantic lead and I think that perhaps he didn't want to see himself get 'old' on screen. His only daughter Jennifer Grant (with 4th wife Dyan Cannon) was born February 26, 1966 when Grant was 62 and I think that he also wanted to focus on being a father.
Fun Film Trivia: In a few scenes in this film, Grant is seen whistling theme music from two of his previous movies Charade (1963) and An Affair To Remember (1957).
Walk Don't Run is the only film where Grant doesn't get the girl, but plays the role of match-maker between Jim Hutton and Samantha Eggar.
2.) Father Goose (1964) starring: Cary Grant and Leslie Caron
Freneau (Leslie Caron) and her students, all female invade the island because they are on the run from the Japanese.
This movie derives it's title from Grant's character's code name: Mother Goose.
Due to enemy complications, Catherine and her students are unable to be evacuated safely and romance slowly develops between the feisty Miss Freneau and the stubborn Eckland.
Father Goose was shot on location in Jamaica. It has a very tropical feel. It's one of these films I like to watch in the middle of the winter.
This film became the 7th highest grossing film of 1964 grossing $12,500,000 at the domestic box office.
Fun Film Trivia: Grant was offered the role of Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady (1964), but turned it down to do this role in Father Goose. He wanted Audrey Hepburn to play Catherine, but she was already committed to My Fair Lady.
In later years, Grant claimed that his role in the film was most like his personality. Grant also kept in touch with most of the girls (the students) as they grew up and had families of their own.
1.) An Affair To Remember (1957) starring: Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr
Nickie Ferrante (Grant) and Terry McKay (Kerr) meet on an ocean voyage. He's engaged to an heiress and she's in a long term relationship. Both try to initially fight the attraction because they are involved with other people. But they end up falling in love and agreeing to meet 6 months later on top of the Empire State Building.
An Affair To Remember is my favorite film of Grant's. I feel like Grant is at the pinnacle of his career when he made this movie. He just looks so handsome and suave in this role. Grant has great chemistry with Kerr...you really believe that they are star-crossed lovers. I first watched this film when I was a teenager and still after countless viewings of this movie I still love it and I still cry at the end.
An Affair to Remember is a re-make of a film called Love Affair (1939) both films were directed by Leo McCarey.
If you love a good love story (no pun intended) you should watch An Affair To Remember.
Fun Film Trivia: Grant and Kerr improvised many of their scenes and lines throughout filming and many of those scenes/lines made it into the final cut of the movie that came from the actors improvisation.
References in Nora Ephron's Sleepless in Seattle (1993), revitalized interest in this movie again and led to an additional 2 million in VHS sales of the 1957 classic.
I hope that you enjoyed my list of top 5 favorite Cary Grant films.
Did your favorite Grant film make the cut? Any films I omitted that you would add?
Would love to hear your comments.