Monday, August 31, 2009

The 5 Film Collaberations of Howard Hawks & Cary Grant

My wife and have thrown ourselves into classic films, and in the process have watched each of the five Howard Hawks & Cary Grant collaborations.

Below is my take on the film, as well as "her" take on the film.

Bringing Up Baby (1938)
Her take: I liked this movie the most of the Hawks & Grant films. I think that Cary Grant & Katherine Hepburn have a charm together, and that was especially true in this film. Even though the story line is silly and goofy, it was enjoyable.

My take: I love the witty dialogue, and I think while Grant is a great actor, he plays great to a powerful woman who's energy is stronger than his own, and Hepburn delivers. I think what Hawks created in this film is unreplicatable and is just wonderful, there are so many memorable scenes and moments, and the insanity of it all is a true pleasure.

Only Angels Have Wings (1939)
Her take: This movie was painful at points to watch, it was my least favorite of the Hawks and Grant films. There is very little plot and storyline. I didn't think Cary Grant did that good of a job acting, either that, or his character is not that endearing. Jean Arthur is lame as an actress in this film. This story drags on, and I kept hoping and thinking that the movie was over. The special effects were probably impressive then, were extremely unimpressive now, and so they don't carry the film the way the might have in 1939.

My take: I actually thought some of the special effects and airplane piloting tricks were pretty impressive especially for that time. But the dialogue truly is week, and the characters are written somewhat inconsistently. While this film is different from many other films in this time, in it's style and story, it lacks the charm that make some of these other films a little more magical. Even the more emotional scenes don't carry the punch you would hope for or expect.

His Girl Friday (1940)
Her take:
I have seen this one eight years ago. I think Cary Grant does a good job, but I think that Roslind Russell is not that endearing of a character. This one seems more like a period piece with the way journalist interacted with the police and the government, it's okay.

My take: I actually enjoyed Russell's performance, again Grant really benefits from a strong female co-lead. I thought that some of the fast-talk scenes were more refined than Bringing Up Baby, but I wasn't sure if I thought this more refined story was a full benefit. Grant's charm is lacking, but his strong screen presence certainly is not. Besides the phone scenes with the reporters, I actually most enjoyed the scenes with Grant and Ralph Bellamy (Bruce Baldwin, Hildy's screen fiance).

I Was A Male War Bride (1949)
Her take: This was not one of my least favorites, but I didn't like the pairing of Cary Grant and Ann Sheridan. I thought that this was a funny movie, it just wasn't one of my favorites, because it kind of drags on at points. I also think this movie is less timeless than some of the other ones with the topic of military war brides.

My take: I actually think this film is under-loved. I think this biggest problem with this film is that Grant is horribly unimpressive in acting like a Frenchman. In fact, his acting as a woman in this film exceeds his acting like a military man from France. Beyond that though, I felt like the writing was fun, and there was something incredibly brilliant in the creative premise, not to mention the scenes where Grant is forced to sleep in the most uncomfortable of locations, it really was exceptional physical comedy.

Monkey Business (1952)
Her take: This was probably one of my favorites, I thought Cary Grant acting, but maybe he just did a really good job playing a dorky scientist, Nutty-Professor type of character. I thought the story line was cute, and fairly interesting. The Monkey acting is pretty impressive. I think Marilyn Monroe's part is kind of lame, and I thought Ginger Roger did a good job playing this role.

My take: I actually was least impressed with this film. I thought it was completely gimmicky with the Monkey's and the story line. Definitely Nutty Professor style. There was definitely a lot less romantic intrigue as well because Grant and Ginger Rogers played a married couple, and so the slight bit of tension created by Marilyn Monroe's character, only seemed slightly out of place. Not to mention, there was a change in the humor from previous films, it wasn't quite as fast paced, and it relied a little more on alluding to sex.


Andrew K. said...

BRINGING UP BABY definitely wins for me with HIS GAL FRIDAY as a distant second

Dad of Divas said...

My wife and I have come to really like Cary Grant Films. There is a great biography out there about Grant that I would also recommend as it truly illuminates who he was as a person...I can say that I learned more than I would ever ave known!

kat said...

Cary Grant is easily my all time favorite actor. His on screen performances still zing and resonate in a way that many of his contemporaries do not. I'm intrigued by your decision to review all the Grant/Hawks films. (Next you could do Grant/Hitchcock--there are 4 of them, "Notorious" and "North by Northwest" amongst Grant's best, in my opinion.) He's the king of the screwball comedy and in addition to LOVING Bringing Up Baby and His Girl Friday, I highly, highly recommend "The Awful Truth." His work with Irene Dunne in that movie was simply divine.

Also, a very compelling documentary was produced about him a few years back called "Cary Grant: A Class Apart." Very well done.

Anonymous said...

I was commenting with someone a couple of months ago about how we didn't think Only Angels Have Wings was all that. I've tried to love it multiple times, but just can't.

His Girl Friday, though, has my vote for one of the best films ever made, and Bringing Up Baby's not far behind. I pretty much agree with you the other two - I Was a Male War Bride is fun but not great, and Monkey Business is okay. It actually grated on me a bit at times, though.

It was fun to see both your and your wife's reactions together!