This post is a joint effort from two ardent Cary Grant fans (Jerry and Mary)!
During TCM’s Summer Under the Stars, a day (as usual) was given to Cary Grant films. Both of us love Cary Grant for his acting, his savoir fare, his elegant wardrobe, his unique and melodious voice. On Cary Grant Day, we noticed a movie of his that we hadn’t seen so of course that went into our DVR inventory and motivated us to watch a couple of favorites again. Say what you will, there’s no one like Cary Grant!
First, a movie we hadn’t seen. “Crisis”, a 1950 film available for streaming from (Amazon) Prime Video, stars Cary Grant, Jose Ferrer and Paula Raymond in what is billed as a film noir crime drama. It is the story of renowned brain surgeon Dr. Eugene Ferguson (Grant) and his wife Helen (Raymond) taken against their will to the country of a Latin American dictator who requires lifesaving brain surgery. Ferrer plays the dictator, Raoul Ferrago, who has built his regime on acts of brutality, largely through his enforcer, Col. Adragon, played by an aging Ramon Novarro. Suspense hinges on the ultimatum handed down by Ferrago’s political enemy, Roland Gonzales (played by Gilbert Roland) who has kidnapped Helen to bargain her life for a fatal surgical mistake Dr. Ferguson should make during surgery. No spoiler to the outcome from us! While the stars (and, supporting cast) turn in credible performances, it is hard to get past Grant playing a brain surgeon. It’s not a role that he appears to shine in! If you are a die-hard Cary Grant fan, you may want to venture into the film; however, we rate it on the low end of our scale at Good for an Afternoon. Finally, if you do decide to view this film, here’s an interesting piece of trivia: “Crisis” appears to be the only Grant film in which he wears a fedora (hat) – mostly in the early scenes; of course, the fedora was synonymous with ‘40’s and “50’s actors playing noir roles!
“Suspicion” is a 1941 Hitchcock film that’s being shown on TCM (and is also available to rent on Amazon). It’s billed as a “psychological romance” which nicely sums up the plot. Cary is playboy gambler Johnnie who woos lonely spinster Lina (Joan Fontaine, quite lovely even though the character is supposed to be plain) in hopes of financial gain. Of course, her parents adamantly object, the two elope, and return to a lavish lifestyle that Johnnie has installed on credit. This does not have any long-term possibility of success, and Lina persuades him to get a job. That does not go well, as Johnnie continues to gamble and finances his gambling through selling Lina’s treasures and embezzling from his employer/cousin. After his job is gone, he persuades his good friend Beaky to enter into a land deal with him that is fraught with potential downside. Through several twists and turns, Beaky dies and Lina is convinced that Johnnie is going to kill her. After all his lies, can she trust him, or must she fear for her life? After a (frankly unbelievable) accident, all comes right in the end. While it’s always entertaining to see Cary Grant play a charming scoundrel, some of the plot conventions strained credulity. As Cary Grant fans, we give this Grab It If It’s Leaving. For fans that are not quite so ardent, it’s likely Good for an Afternoon.
“To Catch a Thief”, a 1955 romantic thriller, is another Hitchcock film and this time Cary Grant is joined by Grace Kelly as his co-star (the year before she left acting to become Princess of Monaco). While perhaps not as suspenseful as other Grant/Hitchcock films, this movie is visually stunning with gorgeous French Riviera scenes, breathtaking gowns for Kelly designed by Edith Head, and sumptuous party scenes. And who can beat the cast? For those reasons alone, we have to give it Worth the Search. Grant plays John Robie, a retired cat burglar who is out to clear his name when his MO is copied by another burglar stealing high end jewels. John meets his old gang from the war (including the daughter of one, who has a crush on him) at a local bar; all of them blame him for new and unwelcome police attention. John devises a plan to flush out the new cat burglar identifying all the likely jewelry targets. He pretends to be a rich tourist so he has reason to attend parties that may include the owners of the aforementioned jewels and thus meets Frances (Kelly) and her mother (hilariously played by Jessie Royce Landis). Frances quickly discerns that John is not what he pretends, and wants to join him in capturing the new Cat. At a fancy-dress ball (one of the most beautiful scenes in the movie), John eventually succeeds in discovering that the new burglar is none other than the daughter of his old friend. Of course, the final scene is Frances convincing John that they need to be together. Altogether lovely.