Friday, July 31, 2009

How old Cary Grant?

As an impressionable young man, I remember watching with rapt enchantment, the suave and elegant Cary Grant. Even as a child, I recognized there was something special and charismatic about this man as he occupied the screen with his nonchalant charm. He moved effortlessly from one situation to another as a precursor to James Bond. Nothing really upset him or threw him off his game. Sure he would look concerned from time to time, just to let us know he was after all, one of us, but I never really bought it. He was NEVER one of us. I tried to analyze for many years, especially as an adolescent seeking an identity, what I could incorporate that might just be a smidgen of the Cary Grant persona. I decided it was his sense of humor and mild detachment that kept him apart from the fray that all too often envelopes the rest of us humans.

In college, I stumbled upon a brief story in Newsweek about a reporter doing a piece on Cary Grant. Wanting to determine Grant's age at the time, he sent a telegram to the revered actor (yes, yes, this was a time when telegrams were commonplace). He wrote in the shortened style of telegrams, "How old Cary Grant?" After a few days, he received his answer from Cary Grant, "Old Cary Grant fine, how you?" This only served to increase my appreciation and admiration for the actor. His movie screen persona was not just fabricated, it was really a reflection of the man himself!

Why do I bring up Cary Grant here? In yesterday's NY Times, there is an article about a Cary Grant retrospective being put on at the Brooklyn Academy of Music cintematek. The reporter, Mike Hale, it seems shares my admiration for the actor as well. Grant, he writes, "was an ideal of the ascendant American male . . . urbane but athletic, absurdly handsome, but self-effacing, a joker who could be a bit of a cad, even a little cruel, but would always do the right thing in the end."

He concludes, "Watching him is to be reminded of a time when intelligence, grace and self-containment were their own rewards. The 21st century, so far, hasn't deserved him."

1 comment:

Vicky Vengeance said...

I'm going to go to a Cary Grant movie tonight at BAM!