List by-Jarrett Leahy
When you think of acting legend Cary Grant, some of the things that first come to mind for most film fans are: handsome, suave, classy, ladies’ man. But what about gifted comedian? While recently looking at a list of my favorite comedies on Flickchart, I was pleasantly surprised to see how many Cary Grant pictures were at or near the top. When you consider how many of his comedies have stood the test of time, remaining just as amusing as the day they were originally released, why doesn’t Grant’s name ever come up in conversations about the all-time great comedians? This week’s Top 6 List highlights some of Cary Grant’s best comedy films for those looking for hilarious classics to enjoy…
6. I Was A Male War Bride (1949) Teaming up with Ann Sheridan in this Howard Hawks directed, wacky wartime comedy, Grant plays French officer Cpt. Henri Rochard, Sheridan is American Army Lieutenant Catherine Gates. After rocky beginnings, the two eventually discover they are crazy for one another. When Lieut. Gates’ unit is reassigned back in the US, the only way Henri can go back with her is if they invoke the War Bride’s Act, a law allowing the spouse of US army personnel to enter the country. This turns out to be a bureaucratic nightmare and a comedic dream that includes Grant dressing up in drag in an attempt to sneak aboard Catherine’s ship. Just re-watching the trailer for this madcap comedy makes me chuckle.
5. The Philadelphia Story (1940) Directed by legendary filmmaker George Cukor, Grant is joined by fellow superstars Jimmy Stewart and Katharine Hepburn in this high society romantic comedy about a rich heiress whose plans to remarry get interrupted when her ex and a tabloid writer looking for an exclusive crash her wedding festivities. Philadelphia Story is comedy that gets better with each viewing. There truly may be no better on-screen chemistry than that shared between Grant and Hepburn. I’m sure some will wonder why this isn’t ranked higher. Well for me it simply came down to laughs. As much I as I LOVE The Philadelphia Story, I personally found the others listed ahead of it to be slightly more funny.
4. The Awful Truth (1937) This Leo McCarey screwball comedy is the best of the Cary Grant/Irene Dunne collaborations. After unsubstantiated suspicions lead Lucy and Jerry Warriner to begin divorce proceedings, comedic hijinks ensue when each tries to sabotage the other’s efforts to begin a new relationship. If there was any actress that could give Hepburn a run for her money for the title of best Cary Grant comedic partner it would have to be Irene Dunne. Watching these two play off each other is real treat. Leo McCarey won the Best Director Oscar for The Awful Truth while the film received five other nominations including one for Best Picture.
3. Holiday (1938) In the second George Cukor romantic comedy to star Grant and Hepburn on this list, Grant plays Johnny Case, a wide-eyed young man who has hastily fallen in love and become engaged to a young woman named Julie. Unbeknownst to Johnny, Julie is in fact a high-class well-to-do from a very affluent family. When Johnny shares his desire to go on an extended holiday to discover himself, instead of accepting her father’s job offer, the only family members who don’t find him to be completely foolhardy are his fiancee’s outlandish black sheep sister, played by Katharine Hepburn, and their miserable brother. Along with a touching message about living a life true to oneself, Holiday is known for Cary Grant’s surprising talent for performing his own acrobatic stunts including a handstand into a back flip. If that doesn’t pique your interest I don’t know what will.
2. His Girl Friday (1940) Yet another Howard Hawks/Cary Grant partnership, His Girl Friday teams Grant with spitfire comedienne Rosalind Russell in this satirical screwball comedy about a newspaper editor who will do just about anything to keep is his best reporter (and ex-wife) from remarrying. His Girl Friday has some of the sharpest, most rapid fire comedic dialogue you will ever find on screen, showing just how talented each of these two leads really is. With such fast paced delivery, I must admit that it took me two viewings to fully appreciate all the comedic genius this film has to offer.
1. Bringing Up Baby (1938) A clueless paleontologist gets caught up with a zany heiress and her new pet leopard Baby while trying to procure a $1 million donation for his natural history museum. The third, and best, Howard Hawks comedy to crack this list (can you tell Hawks knows how to make a great comedy?), some may find this screwball classic a little too over the top. But for me, watching the absurdly ridiculous shenanigans Grant and Hepburn’s characters get into never gets old. I do love Bringing Up Baby.-JL