He was just so gorgeous right? And so very, very Cary Grant. That elocution, that accent: Cockney base, polished overlay. His comic timing, his dramatic line-readings. His credibility. His love-making, both on-screen and off. His pratfalls! His haberdashery. Everything under control; everything perfect. But then you would hear things to the contrary. That he was bisexual, that he was gay, unhappy, depressed. He was confused, panicked. Dissatisfied. High on LSD. A cheapskate, unkind. Every kind of scuttlebutt.
So who was the real Cary Grant? The best way to separate myth from mythmaker (that would have been Grant himself) and to understand this complicated creative man who seemed to sail successfully through the High Hollywood studio system, is to ask Santa for Cary Grant under the Christmas tree. Since Grant died in 1986, your best bet is a “perfect” holiday gift: Cary Grant: A Brilliant Disguise the latest distinguished Hollywood biography from the highly respected film historian Scott Eyman.
Born Archibald Leach in 1904 in England, Grant came to America as a teenaged acrobat on the vaudeville stage, but he was haunted by his past. His father was an irresponsible alcoholic, and his mother was committed to a mental asylum when Grant was just eleven years old. Partly due to his troubled childhood, Grant would have difficulty forming close attachments throughout his life. He had few truly close friends. He married five times and had affairs with both men and women. But Grant’s acting career was extraordinary. He was unsurpassed in romantic light comedies such as Bringing Up Baby, His Girl Friday, The Philadelphia Story, and many others. His titles from the 1950s working with Alfred Hitchcock to make some of his best and most famous films, including Suspicion, Notorious, To Catch a Thief, and North by Northwest.
Let’s hear what Leonard Maltin has to say about Eyman’s book.
“As always, Scott Eyman builds on a bedrock of scrupulous research, spiking his narrative with juicy behind-the-scenes stories. The result is a richly detailed portrait of the man whose greatest performance was the one that fooled moviegoers for decades: the belief that Archie Leach was just like the movie star we knew as Cary Grant.”-Leonard Maltin, film critic and historian
Santa, please. If you cannot get me my own Cary Grant, the least you can do is get this book under the tree!