Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Becoming Cary Grant

In my teenage years, I favored Humphrey Bogart among classic film stars. However, tastes do change. Yes, Bogie was a superb actor. But in mid-life, I have come to really appreciate Cary Grant, as have many other classic movie fans. His good looks make people forget what a gifted performer he was. Here is an article which explains why Cary was great. (Via LRC)
Moreover, with his sui generis accent (an amalgamation of low-born and refined, of West Country lilt and hard Cockney, overlaid with the clipped patter of baseball talk), his subtle phrasing, and the clean bite of his diction, he delivered lines with a precise sparkle never equaled (see in The Awful Truth how with cheery malice he turns the throwaway offer to sprinkle “a little nutmeg” on his rival’s eggnog into a threat). But he also joined a gift for quick, clever, complex dialogue with a brilliant comedic physicality. That physicality itself was at once delicate (watch him punctuate a joke by simply bending a knee or arching an eyebrow) and broad (James Agee wrote that the silent comedians “combined several of the more difficult accomplishments of the acrobat, the dancer, the clown, and the mime,” a skill set that was lost with the advent of the talkies; Grant more or less single-handedly recovered it, and could execute clumsy pratfalls without forfeiting his uncanny grace).
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1 comment:

A. Laughland said...

There has never been anyone like him. As an avid film buff I have not seen an actor in recent times that equals his style and grace.