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STUDIO:  Republic  Pictures
MSRP: $34.98
RATED:  UNRATED
RUNNING TIME:  428 Minutes

SPECIAL FEATURES:
-None.





THE PITCH

Cary on my wayward son.

THE HUMANS

Cary Grant, although his acting persona would almost be considered more than human.  Also, Ingrid Bergman, Gig Young, Doris Day, Tony Curtis, Robert Mitchum, and others.


License to Ill


THE NUTSHELL

Indiscreet

Ingrid Bergman plays Anna Kalman, a famous European stage actress who meets and falls in love with Phillip Adams (man of the hour Cary Grant), a wealthy businessman in town on business.  The only hitch is that Grant is stuck in a marriage that he can’t possibly get out of even though the two are no longer in love.  From there Bergman plots to get her man despite a rather large obstacle standing in the way of their being united as one.


Women love Chamber cause he dress so fine.


Operation Petticoat

Tony Curtis co-stars as an incredibly industrious non-soldier who is brought aboard Lieutenant Commander Matt T. Sherman(Grant)’s battle sub.  When they rescue a handful of stranded army nurses, the men on board must learn to co-exist with the women, and perhaps even cohabitate, and yes, COPULATE.

That Touch of Mink

Cary Grant is yet again a wealthy businessman who is enamored with the virginal innocence of Cathy Timberlake (played by Doris Day).  Their conflicting views on marriage and sexual relations prior to nuptials looks to get in the way of the apparent chemistry and love they have for one another.  Gig “I fuckin’ killed my wife” Young co-stars.


Impressed with its range and projected growth, Steinbrenner signed Doris Day’s hair to a five year contract and immediately inserted it into left field at AA Tacoma.


The Grass is Greener

With a couple of Noel Coward-penned songs, this adaptation of a stage play stars Cary Grant and Robert Mitchum as men vying for the heart of Grant’s wife, as played by Deborah Kerr.  The idea of stability versus adventure and becoming stagnant in a relationship are both explored as Kerr has to choose between the man she’s loved for many a year and the man whom she might be in love with for many years to come.


The Nation’s Punched: now available for breakfast, lunch and dinner.


THE LOWDOWN

Cary Grant, born Archibald Leach, described by no less than film historian David Thomson as “the best and most important actor in the history of cinema”.  Pretty lofty praise, indeed.  There’s been nobody like him before or since, and the only modern corollary that even comes close to achieving what he did would be George Clooney, and it’s a severely flawed comparison: Clooney has the effortless cool and charm to be certain, but he isn’t the box office draw that Grant perennially was, and he often disappears into a role or mutes his personality, whereas Grant always had the same sly sophistication and hint of an edge (always a dark shadow lingered over the majority of his characters*) from role to role with little in the way of physical transformation.  Perhaps the notion of an actor coming across as mysterious is a lost cause in our age of constant information and paparazzi chases, but there was always a sense of danger surrounding Grant even in the laundry list of farces he worked on, you always felt there was something else lurking just beyond your reach as a viewer.  He was also paradoxical (the aforementioned dark/light that shone through in his best performances); he managed to play characters behind the eightball for the majority of a film’s running time, but still gave the viewer the feeling he was fully in control and unruffled.  There will never be another Cary Grant, that much is certain. 


Donen refused to create effects in post, instead insisting on reconstructive surgery for his leads’ hands.


You could go on about Grant’s abilities endlessly: he is the most reliable supplier of reaction shots since the silent era, never dominates the screen (the key behind him gelling so well with such a varied amount of esteemed professionals**) or spotlight in his films, and was also a hell of a physical comedian (see
Holiday for evidence of this) willing to use his entire body to sell a character or scene.  He leaves behind an almost insurpassable resume in his wake, staking his territory in a large portion of the greatest American movies ever made and leaving everyone (himself included) wishing they could be Cary Grant.  In summation, he’s the fucking goods; he knew it, everyone knows it.  These four movies are a prime example of ‘minor’ works in his oeuvre, the majority of them coming in the twilight of his career (only Charade and Father Goose lay ahead after the movies he completed here).  Even so, they provide concrete examples of what Grant had to offer in terms of (although a couple of these features aren’t Cary Grant-centric, and one is most certainly a Doris Day vehicle) his ability to raise the game of the actors around him and take a dull or tepid premise and breathe life into it by the virtue of his immense abilities; be it verbal dexterity or physical comedy.


Gus had seen his share of things during the years working for the company, so the old ‘penis matador’ bit was nothing new to him.


The better pictures on the set can be attributed both to Stanley Donen and stellar casting.  Grant has a worthy romantic foil in Ingrid Bergman in Indiscreet (it’s quite nice to see her in a comedic performance instead of being psychologically tormented for a change of pace) and a frenetically paced farce adapted from the stage to challenge his otherworldly ability to spew dialogue that would feel wooden and unnatural from just about any other source on Earth.  Grass is Greener does suffer from that cloistered, claustrophobic feeling one sometime gets from material from the stage which is translated to the screen in an equally static setting, but the dialogue is often times worthy of being classified “whip smart’ and Grant is more than capable of handling the heavy lifting required to make such work feel organic and lived-in instead of overly stagey.  Donen’s work here shouldn’t be overlooked, as he does a magnificent job of conveying a simple idea through montage without it feeling like a cheat.  It feels more like the accelerated passage of time instead of a way of getting around earning audience emotion or sympathy.


Before Richard Gere, there was Cary Grant.


Unfortunately the weakest movie in the set is Operation Petticoat, the Blake Edwards-helmed comedy at sea.  It’s so slight that you’re stricken with temporary amnesia as you watch it, forgetting what you just had seen immediately after the next scene begins.  The romantic interests are woefully undeveloped, and when the film sends these characters towards their predictable conclusions you feel confused as an audience member, there hasn’t been enough time devoted to these characters warming to each other that this feels organic or necessary.  Tony Curtis is the best part of the film, putting on the charm as a soldier with no particular interest in the war, while Cary Grant is rather wasted as the straight man/ship captain leaving very little room for the best parts of his on-screen charisma to shine through.  He’s mostly dour or orderly, and this isn’t how we want to see Cary Grant.  We want the belligerent drunk of Father Goose at the very least.  Rounding out the set is That Touch of Mink, featuring Doris Day’s patented ‘original forty year old virgin’ character and is of the same ilk as many of the sex farces of that era.  Grant and Day have a nice easygoing chemistry and even if the film is mostly forgettable, it’s never outright bad and has plenty of energy going for it.

All in all, it’s a decent collection of his work, although not essential by any sense of the word.  The Stanley Donen-fronted pictures are the strongest entries in the set, and a seventy-five percent success rate with only one picture that’s inherent weak isn’t anything to sneeze at.  These movies are a showcase of the fact that, even in the late stages of his career, Cary Grant was still at the peak of his game in terms of making the actors around him better simply by performing in the same scene with them.  Recommended, just to watch one of the American greats show what made him so special.


Though no one dared to mention it, Ensign Tony Balducci’s swim team background left most of the crew feeling vaguely uncomfortable.


THE PACKAGE

The cover art puts the emphasis firmly on the star of the set, although the ghost of photoshop’s past is haunting him in the left hand corner.  Each film is on its own disc, and the transfers are exceptionally poor, only enhancing the level of cash-grabbery at hand here.. As for extras, these are barer than the three-score aged Cary Grant bones housed in the earth’s loving embrace.  You get a theatrical trailer on a couple of the discs, and That Touch of Mink houses some biographies, but otherwise it’s a smash-and-cash-grab operation on Artisan entertainment’s part.  Not a bad thing to get a decently priced collection of Cary Grant operating in peak form (I don’t really feel he ever lagged as a performer, continuing to deliver strong performances in movies like Charade and Father Goose at the tail-end of his career) though, although a little historical context or supplemental material about the man would’ve been appreciated.  No room for such flourishes in a cash-smash-and-grab, though.



“Whatsamatta’, you don’t like poached face?”


6.0 out of 10


*Most notably his reference to his namesake in His Girl Friday, for me, not to mention the strange mess that is Hitchcock’s Suspicion.
**For my money, there was no better pairing than he and Irene Dunne.