Cary and Irene (THE AWFUL TRUTH)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Happy Birthday Irene Dunne (1898 - 1990)

Irene Dunne and Cary Grant
Happy Birthday to Irene Dunne, a grand actress who starred in all kinds of films: musicals, westerns, dramas, and of course screwball comedies. Her pairings with Cary Grant are legendary with The Awful Truth, My Favorite Wife and Penny Serenade. And Irene was sensational in the screwball comedy classic Theodora Goes Wild. Other films include Love Affair (1939), A Guy Named Joe (1943), The White Cliffs Of dover (1944), and Life With Father (1947). Happy Birthday Dunnie, as my friend Renata calls her.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Christmas In Connecticut (1945) is my favorite Christmas movie

If I had to choose one Christmas movie to watch during the holidays I would probably choose Christmas In Connecticut (1945). I know there have been countless blogs and posts written about this classic so I won't add another review of this by now familiar tale. Suffice to say, this film works because of just two little words: Barbara Stanwyck. She is positively amazing as columnist Elizabeth Lane, viewed today as the Martha Stewart of her day. Except for the fact that Ms. Lane's description of herself and her abilities is all lies. She can't cook, doesn't know a thing about decorating or antiques, and definitely does not live the family life on a farm in Connecticut as she has told all her loyal readers. Needless to say her lack of skills will be tested when her publisher puts her on the spot to cook a family Christmas dinner for a wounded returning soldier (Dennis Morgan). I simply think this is one of the best of the Christmas films from yesteryear. And when you think about it, the film really is not about Christmas per se, but it's story just happens to take place during Christmas. That won't stop anyone from enjoying this film though. But you will find hearty laughs and a nice comfort feeling while watching this film. As I stated before Barbara Stanwyck is definitely the star of this movie and she carries it like a seasoned professional. Her comic timing, which was not used nearly enough in her stellar career, is perfection. She looks absolutely stunning and plays off her fellow co-stars with ease. Delivering some of the best lines with that sly twinkle in her eyes. One of the scenes I love is when the owner of the magazine requests that she do her sensational high pancake flip that she is famous for. Of course Elizabeth has never tossed a pancake in her life, so the look of her face as she steps up to the stove and grabs the pan to flip the pancake looks like a person marching to the electric chair. I recommend Christmas In Connecticut as a perfect movie to view with friends and family over the holidays. You won't regret it.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The More The Merrier (1943) is good whimsical fun

Charles Coburn and Jean Arthur in The More the Merrier

Delightful comedy set during the WW2 housing shortage in Washington, DC.

Connie Milligan (Jean Arthur) rents an apartment. Believing it to be her patriotic duty, Connie offers to sublet half of her apartment, fully expecting a suitable female tenent. But instead she gets a mischievous, middle-aged man named Benjamin Dingle (Charles Coburn). Dingle talks her into subletting to him and then promptly sublets half of his half to young, irreverent Joe Carter (Joel McCrea). Then the rest of the movie has Dingle playing matchmaker for Connie and Joe. This is a top notch comedy that was one of several similarly themed movies. The others include Pillow to Post with Ida Lupino and The Doughgirls with Jane Wyman and Ann Sheridan. The More The Merrier makes good use of it's talented cast with Jean Arthur, who by this time is a skilled comedienne thanks to earlier films such as The Devil and Miss Jones, and Easy Living. She makes it look so easy. Charles Coburn is also a delight as the meddlesome Dingle. And Joel McCrea, who had his share of other classic comedies such as The Palm Beach Story and Sullivan's Travels is pretty good too. And in the hands of skilled director George Stevens, everything clicks like a well oiled machine.
Jean Arthur in The More the Merrier

Monday, November 22, 2010

Planes, Trains and Automobiles(1987).

Planes, Trains and Automobiles(1987). It was written, produced and directed by John Hughes. Cast: Steve Martin and John Candy.

After being on a business trip in New York, Neal Page is traveling back home to be with his family in time for Thanksgiving. His journey begins with with Del Griffith stealing his taxi cab right out from under his nose. Their misadventure continues when their flight from LaGuardia Airport to O'Hare is diverted to Wichita because of a blizzard. What should have been a 1 hour and 45 minute New York-to-Chicago flight turns into a three-day adventure. To complicate matters even further, on the first night in Wichita, a thief breaks into their motel room and steals all their money.

After burning down the car, Neal blames Del for all their troubles. In turn Del accuses Neal of being too critical. After their heated argument, a bond forms between them and they pull their resources together to finally make their way home.

Believing that Del has a family of his own, the two men part ways. Neal later pieces together things Del said and realizes that Del is alone. Will Neal go back to the train station looking for Del?

In my opinion John Candy is underrated comedian. There are some important messages in this film.For example the argument scene: Del says, "You wanna hurt me? Go right ahead if it makes you feel any better. I'm an easy target. Yeah, you're right, I talk too much. But I also listen too much. I could be a cold-hearted cynical like you, but I don't like to hurt people's feelings. So you go right on and think what you like about me. But I'm not changing. I - I like me. My wife likes me. My customers like me. 'Cause I'm the real deal. Wotcha see is wotcha get. "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" is one of my favorite Comedies. Happy Thanksgiving. Sorry, I could only find part 1 of the documentary.

Laila Robins, performed in many film and television roles. In 2006, she played Nora Paxton in The Book of Daniel. She played Victoria Heller in Gabriel's Fire(1990). She also appeared in the television movie Dream Breakers (1989) and The Equalizer(1988). On The Sopranos, she portrayed the younger version of manipulative, conniving, abusive family matriarch Livia Soprano. In 1987, she played Steve Martin's wife in the movie Planes, Trains & Automobiles directed by the late John Hughes. In 2006, she played Toddy Allen in The Good Shepherd, directed by Robert De Niro. She made her film debut in the 1987 picture, A Walk on the Moon. In 2009, it was announced that she will be playing Claire Williams, on the daytime drama, All My Children.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Ginger Rogers Having Wonderful Time (1938)

Ginger headlines this terrific comedy as New York office girl Thelma "Teddy" Shaw who goes to the Catskills for some rest and relaxation and winds up being romanced by Douglas Fairbanks Jr. It's all entertaining fun with Ginger and Douglas making quite a good pair. And also the supporting cast is top notch with Eve Arden, Lucille Ball, and Jack Carson. Coincidentally these three had just worked with Rogers the year before on the classic film Stage Door. Having Wonderful Time is a breezy comedy that I enjoyed thoroughly.

Monday, November 1, 2010

New Poll Started

Vivacious Lady
Over on my other blog, All Good Things, Ginger Rogers is my classic movie goddess for the month of November. So I decided that my poll on this page would be about her. Of course everyone knows of her legendary run with Fred Astaire in those wonderful musicals. And her Oscar winning role in the film Kitty Foyle. But Ginger also did several screwball comedies that were some of the best of the genre. I pose the question which one was your favorite. The six choices are Stage Door; Tom, Dick & Harry; Monkey Business; Vivacious Lady; Roxie Hart; and Stage Door. There were a few more comedies I could have chosen but I decided to limit the choices to six. I may do another poll featuring Ginger before the month is out as well. So please drop by and vote for your favorite comedy of hers.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Happy Birthday Constance Bennett (1904 - 1965)

Noted for several screwball comedies including Merrily We Live, Topper, Topper Takes A Trip, and Ladies In Love. Constance was the older sister of Joan. And a fabulous comedienne. Her classy blonde looks, husky voice and unerring fashion sense gave her a distinctive style. In the 1940s she made fewer films, working in radio and theatre; shrewd in business, she invested wisely and started businesses marketing women's wear and cosmetics. Loving conflict, she feuded with the press and enjoyed lawsuits. Her last marriage, to a U.S. Air Force colonel, was happy and gave her a key role coordinating shows flown to Europe for occupying troops (1946-48) and the Berlin Airlift (1948-49), winning her military honors. Still young-looking, she died suddenly at age 60 shortly after completing the last of her 57 films. Happy Birthday Constance.

Woman of the Year (1942).

Woman of the Year (1942). Cast: Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn with Fay Bainter, Reginald Owen, Minor Watson and William Bendix. It was directed by George Stevens, produced by Joseph L. Mankiewicz and written by Ring Lardner Jr. and Michael Kanin. The music score was by Franz Waxman and the cinematography by Joseph Ruttenberg. The art direction was by Cedric Gibbons and Randall Duell and the costume design by Adrian.

As New York Chronicle sports columnist Sam Craig sits and listens to the radio quiz program.. Information, Please,  he can not believe it, when political columnist Tess Harding, misses a question about baseball. After Sam writes an article criticising her, Tess retaliates. Their editor, orders them to meet in his office and stop their scrabbling. They both become immediately attracted to each other and Sam decides to invite her to a Yankees game to teach her about baseball. Later Tess, invites Sam to a party held at her apartment, along with dozens of her international friends. Despite Tess's busy life, This "romantic odd couple" fall in love and decide to marry. Sam wants a traditional wedding, but because of Tess's busy schedule, the wedding must take place immediately .

Tess's diplomat father and her aunt, are only able to stay a few minutes and Tess is called away for an important call just after the wedding, leaving Sam behind. The wedding night, just as they are about to go to bed,  Yugoslavian political refugee Dr. Lubbeck, shows up with a group of his friends. Sam is not happy with how married life is going. Tess seems to forget how to be a wife and Sam begins to feel neglected. Will their marriage survive?

I always love to watch films which team Spencer Tracy with Katharine Hepburn. Most of all... it is fun, to see Hepburn, showing a sexy side, which we rarely see in her films.

Fay Bainter's, movie debut was in, This Side of Heaven(1934), the same year she performed in, Dodsworth on Broadway and the film: It Happened One Day(1934). Bainter, became the first performer nominated for both the Academy Award for Best Actress, for White Banners (1937), and the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for Jezebel (1938), winning for the latter. Since then, only nine other actors have won dual nominations in a single year. She was again nominated for Best Supporting Actress for her role in The Children's Hour (1961).

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Bob Hope cuts loose in Nothing But The Truth (1941)

Bob is in rare form in this rarely seen comedy from 1941. In Nothing But The Truth he plays stock-broker Steve Bennett, who just took a job down in Miami for stockbroker head T.T. Ralston (the great Edward Arnold). T.T. has promised his niece Gwen (Paulette Goddard) to double any amount she can raise $20,000 for charity. But he connives so those she asks refuse to give her more than the $10,000 she's already raised. Gwen happens upon Steve who is blinded by her beauty and accepts the offer. This is the back story as the real story happens a few minutes later in a discussion with T.T., business partner Dick and client Van, about truth in business Steve bets the $10,000 that he can tell the truth for 24 hours. Having already accepted an invitation for a weekend on T.T.'s houseboat, Steve is subjected to 24 hours of attempts to get him to lie or divulge the bet, which would lose him (and Gwen) the $10,000. Hilarious comedy that lets Hope do his thing. Watching him try to not lie for 24 hours is priceless. It's much better here than when Jim Carrey did Liar, Liar 50 years later. Hope and Goddard continue their strong chemistry from The Cat and The Canary and The Ghost Breakers. And Paulette is such a breath of fresh air when she appears on screen. A sight to behold and she keeps up with Hope all the way. Treat yourself to a good time by watching Nothing But the Truth. Also look out for Helen Vinson as a scheming Broadway star wannabe. She is quite funny too.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Monkey Business (1952) is a hoot...

Cary Grant, Ginger Rogers and Marilyn Monroe

A wonderful comedy that re-teams director Howard Hawks and star Cary Grant. The duo have worked magic before in other screwball classics like His Girl Friday (my all time favorite movie) and I Was A Male War Bride. In this one, Grant is absent minded chemist Barney Fulton who discovers a fountain of youth potion that he has been testing on chimps. Well he accidentally takes it himself and reverts to being a teen-ager. Which includes spending time with his gorgeous secretary Miss Lois Laurel (played by Marilyn Monroe). Well Mrs. Fulton (a sharp and funny Ginger Rogers) takes an even bigger dose and reverts even further to a 9 year old and all kinds of chaos ensues. Monkey Business is a hilarious comedy that lets the stars just have all the fun they want. A must see.

Lois Laurel: [at her secretrial desk, responding to Barnaby's remark that she is at work early] Mr. Oxley's been complaining about my punctuation, so I'm careful to get here before nine.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Ghost Breakers (1940) is perfect viewing for this Halloween season...

A radio broadcaster (Bob Hope), his quaking manservant (Willie Best) and an heiress (Paulette Goddard) investigate the mystery of a haunted castle in Cuba. After the success of 1939's The Cat and the Canary, Hope and Goddard reteam for this hilarious comedy about haunted houses and a menacing zombie. Hope fires off zingers left and right. Gets great support from Best and Paulette is very good as well. Perfect movie for this Halloween season.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Twentieth Century (1934).

Twentieth Century (1934). A screwball comedy film. Much of the film is set on the 20th Century Limited train as it travels from Chicago to New York. The film was directed by Howard Hawks. Cast: John Barrymore, Carole Lombard, Walter Connolly, Roscoe Karns and Edgar Kennedy.

Theater impressario Oscar Jaffe changes the name of his new discovery, former lingerie model Mildred Plotka, to Lily Garland, and begins rehearsals for his play. On opening night, Oscar says that a true star belongs to no man and so begins their professional partnership, and a troubled personal relationship. Lily, driven crazy by Oscar's possessiveness, wants to end their relationship. Soon She becomes a star as Oscar seems to be on his way out, until he meets Lily once again, on the Twentieth Century Limited. Oscar tries to win her over, but Lily, wants to have nothing to do with him. The dialogue in this film is witty and the acting is perfect. Carol Lombard deserves to be called the queen of comedy and John Barrymore is equally as good.

Memorable quote:

Oscar Jaffe: I never thought I should sink so low as to become an actor.

Carole Lombard and Friend

Here is a wonderful photo of Carole and her friend that my very good friend Dawn found and posted first on the Noir & Chick Flicks Blog. I think it's one of the best photos I have ever seen. Just another reason why I love Carole Lombard so much.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Happy Birthday Carole Lombard (1908-1942)

Happy Birthday to my favorite actress of all time, Carole Lombard. I love Carole. She is awesome.

The 5' 2" beauty was a comedy hit during the 30s and 40s. Born in Fort Wayne, Indiana on October 6, 1908 under the name of Jane Alice Peters. Young Jane Alice loved the Friday night movie night with her family and would perform the night before's show in the morning. Her mother and her father divorced in October of 1914. Jane Alice, her two older brothers, and their mother, Elizabeth Knight Peters moved to Los Angeles. When she was 12 she had a small part in a silent film called a Perfect Crime. An executive in 1925 from FOX PICTURES asked her to do a screen test, which was a success, but the film, which was to be her first spy film, Marriage In Transit(1925), wasn't. Carole Lombard, the actress, was born. In early 1927 she was tested by the Mack Sennet Studio, who put her under contract, only this time it was a comedy, not a spy film. Lombard became the top comedienne at the studio as she molded herself into the comedy life. Paul Stei, a Pathe director, saw her in a Sennet comedy and immediately put her under contract for $150 a week. Several films later she took a side step when director, Cecil B. DeMille called for her and then changed his mind. When she left Pathe in 1930 at the age of 18 she returned to FOX. She soon signed with Paramount for $300 a week but after 6 years was earning the sum of $35,000 a week! In October 1930 she met William Powell and then eight months later they were married on the day of June 26, 1931. Carole age 23 and William age 39 were married for 23 months but divorced in 1933. They stayed friends and film partners. In 1937 in My Man Godfrey (1936) (with Powell) earned her an Academy Award Nomination.

 There was a new person now, the crowned King of Hollywood" Clark Gable. They had made one movie together No Man Of Her Own (1932) in 1932. They were married, in March 1939, after Gable was separated from his wife Rhea Langham. They bought and lived in a 20 acre ranch in San Fernando Valley. They weren't Hollywood Socialites; they weren't glamorous; they wanted a simple life out of Hollywood's bright lights. They nick named each other Ma and Pa and were role modeled as the ideal marriage. Tragedy struck on a war bond tour that Carole and her mother were on. The plane they were traveling in (TWA Flight #3) crashed. Her last words, in her home state of Indiana, to all the people were just before boarding the plane, "Before I say goodbye to you all - come on - join me in a big cheer- V for victory!" All 22 passengers died in the crash.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Poll Results...and the winner is Irene Dunne as favorite leading lady in screwball comedies

Last month I asked the question who is your favorite screwball comedy leading lady. The choices were Carole Lombard, Irene Dunne, Myrna Loy, Claudette Colbert, Constance Bennett and Jean Arthur. I had a big turnout of voters totaling 60. Now my personal favorite Carole came in 2nd with 15 votes and 25% of the total vote. Carole was pretty much neck and neck with Jean Arthur for the whole time. She edged out Jean by 1 vote. Myrna Loy grabbed 6 votes while Claudette and Constance didn't do that good. The winner and undisputed favorite screwball leading lady is Irene Dunne with a huge 21 votes and 35% of the total vote. That should make my friend Renata very happy as she is a big Irene fan. I am too, she is my 3rd favorite actress of all time. So I thought this turned out pretty well. I want to thank all those who stopped by and took the time to vote. I will have a new poll up shortly.

Who's That Lady?(1960)

Who Was That Lady? Comedy film. Directed by George Sidney and produced by Norman Krasna who also wrote the screenplay, based on his Broadway play Who Was That Lady I Saw You With? The music score was by Andre Previn and the cinematography by Harry Stradling. The costume design was by Jean Louis. The title song was written by Sammy Cahn.

Cast: Tony Curtis, Dean Martin, and Janet Leigh with James Whitmore, John McIntire, Barbara Nichols, Larry Keating, Larry Storch, Simon Oakland, Joi Lansing. Jack Benny appears as himself.

Ann Wilson walks in on her husband David, a chemistry professor at Columbia University, kissing one of his students. Heartbroken she runs out of his lab, yelling that she wants a divorce and wants David to move out of their apartment by 7 p.m.

Soon after, David's good friend, television writer Michael Haney, comes to the chemistry lab. David tells him about what just happened. Mike can not believe that Ann would be so upset over a little kiss. As David and Mike drink the alcoholic potion he has whipped up in the lab, Mike come up with a far fetched plan that would justify David's behavior. David should confess to Ann that he is an FBI agent and had to kiss the student, in the line of duty. Ann, excited about her husband's secret life, may not be able to keep her husband's occupation a secret. And when the real FBI get wind of their plans they may be able to use David to their advantage.

I just saw the film, Who's That lady(1960). Three major stars, close to their peak of fame at the time, make this a fun movie.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Tennis, Anyone?

Here are some wonderful photos of classic movie stars on the tennis courts. I know you will get a kick out of this Robin.

Leave it to Clark and Carole to be in formal wear to play some tennis.

Looks like Ginger's net is falling

Ava looking lovely as always

Louise Brooks looks ready to play

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Underrated Gail Patrick

 I wanted to write a post about one of the most underrated actresses of all time...the lovely and very talented Gail Patrick. Born in 1911 as Margaret LaVelle Fitzpatrick in Alabama, She received a B.A. and was a dean of women at her alma mater, Howard College, for a time. She was studying pre-law at the University of Alabama at the time she, by happenstance, became a finalist in a nationwide contest for a Paramount film role (which she did not get). This led her to going to Hollywood and, despite her loss, the studio wound up offering her a studio contract at $50 a week.
Gail appeared in a lot films early in her career including Death Takes A Holiday (1934), Mississippi (1935), and Early To Bed (1936). Just making her way along until she finally secured a notable role in a great film. It was My Man Godfrey (1936) with Carole Lombard and William Powell, with Gail cast as Carole's spoiled sister. Gail held her own in this marvelous screwball classic and she would add two more certifiable screwball classics: 1937's Stage Door, trading wisecracks with Ginger Rogers and 1940's My Favorite Wife as Cary Grant's second wife who had to deal with the unexpected return of Cary's presumed dead first wife, Irene Dunne. So if Gail didn't do anything else in her film career, she could say she starred in these three all time comedy classics.
Gail would wind up making over 60 films before retiring in 1947 and after a stint designing clothes, she was an executive producer on one of the most successful TV shows ever made, Perry Mason. How's that for post film career success. Gail would marry four times and was also a diabetic.

She is one of my favorite actresses of all time and she ranks pretty high on my top actress list, which you will see once I finally post it. But I'm sure most classic movie lovers have seen her before..definitely in one of those three classics mentioned above. She was very talented and beautiful and could handle the on screen antics of screwball comedies very well. I dedicate this blog to Gail who was a class act.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Photo Of The Day - Carole and Clark at home

Here is a lovely pic of Carole and Clark at their home in Encino, Caliornia circa 1939. Not really a pic of their home but of their wooded fence. Still it's a great photo I think.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Women (1939) Catfight clip...

Click on the link below for this funny scene. Whoever posted the video didn't
sync the dialogue with the video, but it's still enjoyable.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Photos from My Man Godfrey (1936)

Here are some photos from the wonderful screwball comedy My Man Godfrey (1936) with Carole Lombard and William Powell.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Nutty Professor(1963).

The Nutty Professor(1963). Science fiction comedy film produced, directed, co-written with Bill Richmond and Jerry Lewis. The score was composed by Walter Scharf.

Professor Julius Kelp (Jerry Lewis), is a nerdy, introverted, accident prone, university professor who always seems to find himself in trouble with the university by continually destroying the classroom lab. When a football-player bullies Kelp he decides to join a gym, with no results. He then invents a potion that turns him into the handsome, smooth, obnoxious, Buddy Love.

As Buddy Love, he now as the confidence to date one of his students, Stella Purdy (Stella Stevens). Who finds herself strangely attracted to him. Buddy impresses the crowd with his jazzy personality at the Purple Pit, a nightclub where everyone hangs out. He also teaches the bartender, how to mix the cocktail, The "Alaskan Polar Bear Heater". Which is two shots of vodka, a little rum, some bitters, a smidgen of vinegar, a shot of vermouth, a shot of gin, a shot of scotch, a little brandy, a lemon peel, orange peel, cherry, some more scotch. At one point the bartender says "You going to drink this here, or are you going to take it home and rub it on your chest?

Love says "mix it nice" and pour it into a tall glass. The bartender asks if he can take a sip, when he does he freezes like a statue. While the drink started as fictional, it now listed among real drinks.

Later that night, Buddy performs at the student dance, and while on stage, the formula starts to wear off. Will this Jekyll and Hyde's real identity be revealed?

I thought Jerry Lewis must be a very talented actor to be able to manage two very distinct characters with two distinct personalities.

Fun Facts:

Film debut of Henry Gibson.

Buddy Love is often thought to be Lewis' former show business partner Dean Martin. Film Critic Danny Peary wrote in his book Cult Movies that the character of Love is actually the real counterpart of Jerry Lewis. Les Brown and his Band play themselves in the senior prom scenes. Stella Steven's costumes (and the rest of the casts costumes as well) were designed by Edith Head.

The Nutty Professor was filmed mostly on the campus of Arizona State University (Tempe, AZ) in 1962 with the prom portion filmed in the newly completed Gammage Auditorium Hall (designed by Frank Lloyd Wright).
Stella Stevens was first under contract to 20th Century Fox. Then after performing in the role for the musical, Li'l Abner (1959), she signed a contract with Paramount Pictures (1959-1963) and later Columbia Pictures (1964-1968). She shared the 1960 Golden Globe Award for "Most Promising Newcomer - Female", with Tuesday Weld, Angie Dickinson and Janet Munro for the film, Say One For Me.

In 1962, Stevens performed with Elvis Presley in the movie, Girls! Girls! Girls!. Later that year, she played Jerry Lewis's love interest in The Nutty Professor. This was followed by other comedy, The Courtship of Eddie's Father and opposite Dean Martin in the "Matt Helm", The Silencers.
Plus How to Save a Marriage and Ruin Your Life.

Stevens was featured in the western, The Ballad of Cable Hogue(1970). She also performed in the film, The Poseidon Adventure(1972), as the wife of Ernest Borgnine's character.

Stevens was a regular on the 1981-1982 prime time soap opera Flamingo Road. She teamed with Sandy Dennis in a touring production of an all-female version of Neil Simon's The Odd Couple, playing the Oscar Madison character. She had a contract role on NBC's daytime drama Santa Barbara as Phyllis Blake from 1989 to 1990.

Stevens produced and directed two films, The Ranch (1989) and The American Heroine (1979).

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

My Top 10 Favorite Screwball Films of Cary Grant recently did a top 25 of my favorite Cary Grant films which covered all genres: action, thriller, comedies, etc. So for here I decided to condense it to a top 10 list of my favorite screwball comedies starring Cary. Enjoy.

10.) TOPPER (1937) Manic screwball farce with Grant and Constance Bennett as fun loving couple George and Marion Kerby who after dying in a car crash, return as ghosts. They take it upon themselves to lighten up the life of their stuffy banker Cosmo Topper (played by Roland Young). Entertaining fantasy/comedy, that was followed by two sequels but without the services of Cary.

9.) I WAS A MALE WAR BRIDE (1949) Terrific comedy by Howard Hawks and co-starring Ann Sheridan. Cary plays Captain Henri Rochard, a French officer assigned to work with Lieut. Catherine Gates (Sheridan). Through a wacky series of misadventures, they fall in love and marry. When the war ends, Capt. Rochard tries to return to America with the other female war brides. Of course things are not that easy and Henri must resort to dressing in drag to get home. A very funny movie.

8.) MR. BLANDINGS BUILDS HIS DREAM HOUSE (1948) And now begins the screwball run of Cary films as my top 8 films are all comedies starting with this one. He and Myrna Loy play a married couple who are fed up with the city and move out to the country and buy this ramshackle of a house. The situations they have to deal with while trying to fix the place up are hysterical.

7.) THE BACHELOR & THE BOBBY-SOXER (1947) Another team up with Myrna Loy and it's even better than Mr. Blandings. Cary is perfect as a playboy who runs afoul of Judge Turner (Loy) and must date her younger sister (Shirley Temple) or face jail. It's a complicated story but it's funny as can be. Grant is in top form for this one.

6.) THE AWFUL TRUTH (1937) The first pairing of Cary and Irene is an absolute delight. They play a married couple who are getting a divorce and comic mishaps occur along the way. Classic screwball comedy at it's best.

5.) THE PHILADELPHIA STORY (1940) How's this for star power: Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn, and Jimmy Stewart. Cary plays CK Dexter haven, the ex-husband to Kate's Tracy Lord. Well Tracy is planning on re-marrying much to the dismay of CK and a reporter (Stewart). A sophisticated comedy with three legends giving great performances.

4.) ARSENIC & OLD LACE (1944) Wicked black comedy with Cary as writer Mortimer Brewster who returns home to visit his two kind aunts and realize they are murdering elderly men who come a calling. Mortimer also has to deal with a visiting brother who has just escaped from prison (Raymond Massey) and his sidekick (Peter Lorre). And wonderfully directed by Frank Capra.

3.) MY FAVORITE WIFE (1940) This movie is hilarious. And I give all the credit to Irene Dunne in this one. She plays Ellen, a woman who was shipwrecked on a deserted island and declared dead. Well Nick, her husband (Grant) decides to move on with his life and re-marries. Lo and behold when Ellen returns home. Cary is good as usual but Irene is simply amazing. She makes the movie.

2.) BRINGING UP BABY (1938) The classic film with Grant, Katherine Hepburn, Skippy the dog (Asta from the Thin Man movies), a pet leopard named Baby, an escaped dangerous leopard, and an inept town sheriff all combine for a riot of a movie. And you won't be able to get that song out of your head, "I can't give you anything but love, Baby!"

1.) HIS GIRL FRIDAY (1940) No need to go into detail here. Not only is this my favorite Cary Grant movie, but it's my favorite movie, period. Grant as newspaper editor Walter Burns is terrific and Rosalind Russell is just as good as Hildy Johnson, his ace reporter and ex-wife. This has to be the fastest talking movie ever made. The wisecracks fly by every few seconds and you rarely have time to catch your breath. I watch it a few times every year.

There you have it my ten favorite Cary Grant screwball films. Note that on my original list that 8 of the top ten films were all screwball comedies. If you're curious about that list just click on the link to check it out.