Monday, December 01, 2014

TCM Star of the Month: Cary Grant

The month of December brings a wealth of good things to Turner Classic Movies, including Cary Grant as the December Star of the Month.

Starting this evening, December 1st, over 40 Cary Grant films will be shown on Monday evenings in December, wrapping into Tuesday morning.

Grant is right up there with Tyrone Power as one of my all-time favorite actors, and I know many of my fellow classic film fans feel the same way.

As I wrote a year ago, one year when I was in high school I saw Grant in person, when I sang in the Disneyland Christmas Candlelight Procession, which he narrated. I stood maybe three yards away from him at rehearsal and can personally attest that he was every bit as gorgeous and charming in person as he was in the movies!

Grant's movies were some of the earliest classic films I saw, thanks to my mother, another big Grant fan. With the exception of the early Grant films showing tonight, I've seen the vast majority of Grant films airing this month, though I've reviewed very few here on my blog. Some are especially good, but they're all worth seeing.

The series kicks off tonight with several pre-Code Grant titles, including SHE DONE HIM WRONG (1933) with Mae West and HOT SATURDAY (1932) with Nancy Carroll and Randolph Scott.

THE TOAST OF NEW YORK (1937) with Frances Farmer and the Cole Porter musical biography NIGHT AND DAY (1946) will also be shown.

On December 8th the evening starts with the classic romance AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER (1957), costarring Deborah Kerr. Favorites showing this evening include the fantasy TOPPER (1937) with Constance Bennett, the comedies MR. BLANDINGS BUILDS HIS DREAM HOUSE (1948) and THE BACHELOR AND THE BOBBY-SOXER (1947) with Myrna Loy, and ROOM FOR ONE MORE (1952), a family drama co-starring Grant's wife at the time, Betsy Drake.

December 15th spotlights war and adventure films, starting with the WWII submarine film DESTINATION TOKYO (1943) and continuing with the comedy I WAS A MALE WAR BRIDE (1949). George Stevens' GUNGA DIN (1939), which I saw last month at the Lone Pine Film Festival, and Howard Hawks' ONLY ANGELS HAVE WINGS (1939) are two of the best-known films showing that evening. GUNGA DIN costars Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Victor McLaglen, and Joan Fontaine, while ONLY ANGELS HAVE WINGS costars Jean Arthur, Rita Hayworth, and a deep cast of fine actors.

Among the other films showing on the 15th, I especially admire CRISIS (1950) which features Grant as a brain surgeon with an ego healthy enough to go toe to toe with a dictator. It's a lesser-known Grant film which I found really interesting when I finally caught up with it a couple of years ago. Jose Ferrer and Paula Raymond costar.

Comedies are showcased on December 22nd, particularly those Grant made with Irene Dunne and Katharine Hepburn. All the favorites are here, including THE AWFUL TRUTH (1937), MY FAVORITE WIFE (1940), BRINGING UP BABY (1938), and THE PHILADELPHIA STORY (1940). HIS GIRL FRIDAY (1940) with Rosalind Russell is also on the evening's agenda.

The last two films from this batch, airing early on December 23rd, are a pair of fine dramas: PENNY SERENADE (1941) with Irene Dunne and IN NAME ONLY (1940) with Carole Lombard. I watched PENNY SERENADE countless times on local television growing up; it also features a gem of a supporting performance by Edgar Buchanan. Grant received one of his two Best Actor nominations for PENNY SERENADE.

IN NAME ONLY is a glossy soaper with Kay Francis as the glamorous, vindictive wife who won't divorce Grant so he can marry Carole Lombard. Grant and Lombard are both impossibly gorgeous. It's a great exemplar of '30s romantic drama.

The final evening of Grant films on December 29th features several of his later films, including some of my childhood favorites, FATHER GOOSE (1964) and HOUSEBOAT (1958), not to mention the last of his classic Hitchcock films, NORTH BY NORTHWEST (1959).

The night concludes with a mixture of films including the comedy ARSENIC AND OLD LACE (1944), Grant's Oscar-nominated performance in NONE BUT THE LONELY HEART (1944), and Alfred Hitchcock's SUSPICION (1941), which won Grant's leading lady Joan Fontaine an Oscar.

There are a few favorite Grant films which aren't part of the December lineup, and I recommend seeking them out on DVD. These titles include THE BISHOP'S WIFE (1947), which is an all-time favorite Christmas film costarring Loretta Young and David Niven; THIRTY DAY PRINCESS (1934), a romantic comedy with Sylvia Sidney; Hitchcock's NOTORIOUS (1946), one of my two favorite Hitchcock films (the other is FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT); the 20th Century-Fox film PEOPLE WILL TALK (1952), a really interesting comedy-drama with Jeanne Crain; the first Hitchcock film I ever saw, TO CATCH A THIEF (1955); and one of my all-time favorite comedies and submarine movies, OPERATION PETTICOAT (1959) costarring Tony Curtis.

For more on TCM in December, please visit TCM in December: Highlights and TCM in December: Christmas Movies, TCM Friday Night Spotlight: Charles Walters, or visit the complete schedule on the TCM website.


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