Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant are a pair to be reckoned with.
From Notoriousto the duo’s incredible friendship, Bergman and Grant have always been two of classic Hollywood’s greats.
So, when I viewed the film, Indiscreet, I was in absolute heaven.
It may very well be a simple romantic comedy, but, I believe there’s more to it.
At this point in Bergman‘s career, she was essentially blacklisted from Hollywood.
From being denounced by the Catholic Church for her affair with Roberto Rossellini, to having the majority of her foreign films flop at the box office, Bergman was treading on thin ice.
In walks her good friend Cary Grant.
Friends for decades, co-workers for several movies, and close confidants, Grant has always stood by her side, even accepting her Oscar Award for Anastasiain 1956 when she couldn’t attend.
In a way, Indiscreet makes for perfect a movie. The film has two very likable leads, and the plot has quite an acquired taste. Think of Indiscreet as an Americano, something you only drink when you’re desperate for coffee, except it’s sweeter and has a richer taste.
Directed by my favorite filmmaker, Stanley Donen, the movie tells the story of Anna Kalman, played by Ingrid Bergman, a London based actress who has given up on finding love.
Through her brother in law, played by Cecil Parker, she meets Phillip Adams, played by Grant, an economist with a taste for the theatre.
Anna and Phillip eventually start dating, and everything appears to go well until Phillip reveals his secret.
All the while the couple were in their “honeymoon” stage of their relationship Phillip conveniently forgot to tell Anna that he actually wasn’t a married man. Anna believed that she was having an affair, so when Phillip told her the news, she didn’t take it too well.
The rest of the film sees Anna attempt to get back to Phillip, which she does with much hilarity and fanfare, inevitably deciding to get married in the end.
The movie isn’t too well known in the classic movie sphere, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t mean it fails to make a lasting impression. The coupling of Grant and Bergman not only made for a truly entertaining movie, it made sense.
If you were to look at the script and synopsis of the movie, it does have rather mature themes. I don’t think there could be another duo, besides Grant and Bergman, that could’ve taken these roles.
Donen did an incredible job with not only the script, but, the direction as well. The feel, mood, pacing and acting in this film, gives you a sense of real richness. Meaning, that it feels mature, this isn’t your typical classic Hollywood romance – it’s a romance for the older generation.
I’ve seen it multiple times, but with each viewing, I can’t shake this nagging feeling of hate I have for a particular character. Of course, this is your typical Hitchcock where there’s a double meaning to everything, but, you’d think that if your son was being falsely accused of something he didn’t do, you would have a little bit more urgency in your step, right?
The person in question I’m talking about Jessie Royce Landis‘ character, Clara Thornhill.
Oh, boy. Where do I begin?
As you may know, NBNW is a story about a man who’s been falsely accused of being a government agent. Roger Thornhill played by Cary Grant, is your average New York City white-collar type of guy. Working in the advertising business, Roger is well versed in the topic of double meanings and false identities.
The story progress and he’s eventually framed for murder. Understandably panicked about the situation, Roger reaches out to anyone the could help with fix the predicament he’s found himself in – including his ‘uncaring’ mother Clara.
Here’s where my problem lies.
It was rather irritating to see her look very nonchalant about this entire ordeal. Even when there was a CLEAR look of panic on her son’s face, she scoffed and brushed him off. I understand this is purely a work of fiction, but it truly annoyed me that a mother would downplay her son’s life or death situation.
Maybe she was hesitant to believe in something as ‘absurd’ as this, but I don’t think she should’ve excused Roger’s legitimate concerns. Thankfully, she came around, and my complaints may have very well been in vain, but this is something that always stuck with me whenever I watched this film.
Fortunately, Alfred Hitchcock was a master of his craft.
What might’ve looked like a character flaw, could’ve been an important piece of the Hitchcockian puzzle; I suppose I should put aside my grievances and enjoy the movie for what it is: a rather underrated masterpiece in a long list of movies in Hitchcock‘s brilliant filmography.
It’s almost a knockoff of most comedies from the mid-30s, but it has its own unique flavor and flair. Thanks to the performances of Rogers and Grant, the movie takes on a different dimension
Directed by the legendary Howard Hawks, Monkey Business is a witty, charming, slapstick-filled comedy about a husband and wife duo who are just crazy for each other.
Dr. Barnaby Fulton (played by Grant) is a chemist who is a bit dowdy. His wife, Edwina (played by Rogers), a dutiful woman who cares for Barnaby, is doing her best to get by. One day, being the mad scientist that he is, Mr. Fulton decides to concoct a “youth exilier” that – you guessed it, keeps you young.
In typical classic Hollywood fashion, it all goes horribly, horribly, wrong.
When testing his new potion on his lab monkeys (horrible, I know) one them escapes and ends up knocking over several vials thus mixing concoctions that shouldn’t go together. Somehow this gets poured into the office’s water cooler, and all hell breaks loose.
Barnaby, wanting to see if his mix actually worked, he takes a few swigs of the water hoping to see the effects.
Lucky for him, it does. He spends the rest of the day roaming around downtown with his secretary Lois (played by Monroe), acting like a stuck-up, 20-year-old young man.
He changes his hair, his attitude and his clothes – even his wife doesn’t recognize him.
Edwina sees this behavior and drinks some of this elixir to spite her husband. With both husband and wife affected by this brew, the rest of the film sees the Fultons go through a number of different situations.
From befriending some school children to getting into fights with the locals and even having their in-laws worrying about the state of their marriage.
The movie ends, funnily enough with a quote that says, “you’re only old when you’re young,” perfectly summarizing the entire ordeal in six words.
Lead by the direction of Howard Hawks, Monkey Business is your standard slapstick comedy, it isn’t the best and it certainly isn’t the worst.
It certainly is a funny movie.
It was one of the first pictures that I saw when I first got into classic films, I loved it, but now, looking back at it, it doesn’t have that same flair that it once did. Maybe my tastes have changed, I’m not sure, but I will say that this is a very solid picture.
If you haven’t seen it I suggest you do, if you haven’t and are dying to see it, please do. It isn’t the best comedy I’ve seen, but if you have a few hours to kill, I definitely suggest it. It’s funny, witty and a ton of fun, you definitely won’t regret it.
To read more pieces in this blogathon…click: here.
“An Italian bombshell and an English gentleman walk into a Roman bar…”
This is a story of the courtship, romance and eventual falling out between two classic Hollywood legends.
She’s from the eternal city of Naples, He’s from the cold, windy, rainy streets of Bristol in southern England. She grew up in the working class fishing town of Pozzuoli, He grew up with a mother who was very insistent on having her son become a star.
One was discovered during a flight to Rome, the other by a vaudeville act when he was expelled out of his, very strict, very expensive private secondary school. Despite all of this, both wanted nothing more than to be loved and cherished.
The tale of Cary Grant and Sophia Loren is one of classic Hollywood legend. They first met on the set of The Pride and The Passionin 1957 and from then on, their story takes on another life of its own.
So, sit back, relax and enjoy the tale of an old Hollywood romance that almost was.
When you read about on-set romances, they usually start on movies that are glamorous, exciting and well-received.
This isn’t the case.
The Pride and The Passion is an action adventure thatstars Frank Sinatra, Sophia Loren, and Cary Grant. Directed by Stanley Kramer, the film is a modern re-telling of a Napoleonic war era battle between the Spanish and the French.
Grant plays British Royal Navy Captain Anthony Trumbull, who is sent on a mission to retrieve a siege cannon in Spain, then return it to British forces. His orders are spoiled by a Spanish guerrilla leader, played by Sinatra, who wants to use the weapon to capture the town of Ávila before French forces stake their claim. As for Loren‘s character, well, she’s basically the ‘token’ woman that Sinatra and Grant fight over.
The picture didn’t do too well; It was critically and commercially panned with the worst reviews being reserved for the horrendous plot. Luckily for the duo, they’d get a second chance to redeem themselves with 1958’s Houseboat.
The better of the two movies that this duo stars in, Houseboat, is a romantic comedy that I can not stand did significantly better than Grant and Loren‘s first cinematic go-round. Grant stars as a Tom Winton, a widower who’s struggling to raise his three kids after his wife’s tragic death.
No need to worry! In enters, a gorgeous, charming 23-year-old Italian named Cinzia Zaccardi who he meets at a concert and hires her to be his live-in nanny. Jokes on him, Cinzia is actually a wealthy socialite on the run from her tyrannical father and has no idea how to cook, clean or take care of children. On the bright side, she does have a romantic interest in the man who employed her.
Laughter and situational comedy ensue.
For the rest of the film, the pair goes through a number awkward situations and adventures all while falling in love. In the final moments of the movie, the pair ends up happily married and living permanently on the Houseboat they once loathed.
Unlike their widely criticized 1957 counterpart, Houseboat enjoyed a lot of success. It was critically and financially successful and was nominated for two Academy Awards. However, by the time filming wrapped on the romantic comedy, the intense passion between Grant and Loren, that started in 1957, started to fizzle out.
It all started in Spain.
In 1956, Sophia‘s husband Carlo Ponti landed his wife a role in the Stanley Kramer production The Pride and the Passion. Having his cast and crew assembled, Kramer threw a cocktail party to celebrate the start of filming. Sophia, who was so nervous she changed her dress multiple times, was one of the first ones to arrive.
Stricken with anxiety, she patiently waited for her fellow co-stars to show up to this little get-together. A couple of hours and martinis later, the nervousness swiftly melts away when Cary steps into the room.
When they first meet, Grant teases her by conflating her name with a fellow Italian actress Gina Lollobrigida, but, eventually that teasing escalated into deep conversations and late-night dining at Spanish restaurants.
They fell in love.
Grant, in particular, took this relationship – hard.
In anticipation of her arrival in America, Grant wrote Loren several letters detailing the trials and tribulations her career could face in an entirely new country. What was also enclosed in these letters were two gold bracelets he had given her. Grant was serious about her, he wanted marriage.
She was all for it until Sophia realized she was VERY involved with her FIANCÉ of 3 years Carlo Ponti.
It was a stroke of luck and Jayne Mansfield’s dress that changed the trajectory of Cary and Sophia‘s relationship.
How? Let’s find out…
After location shoots in Spain and Libya, Ponti and Loren flew to California and checked into the Beverly Hills Hotel to attend a reception held in her honor at Romanoff’s restaurant. The event was going smoothly until it was crashed by Jayne Mansfield.
If you’re a classic movie fan, then you’ve probably seen that infamous photo of Mansfield and Loren. It may seem like all fun and games now, but, at the time Sophia was very put off by this so-called “publicity stunt.”
This was the turning point.
Already turned off by the Hollywood lifestyle, this incident sent those feelings over the edge. On top of this, the studios didn’t really know the type of films to put her in. Was she a dramatic actress? A Comedienne?
“I know,” says your typical Hollywood producer, ” I’ll put her in as many stereotypical Italian roles as I can!”
So, Loren goes forth and does her due diligence in Hollywood until she can’t take it anymore. She was a hair’s breadth away from quitting altogether and returning to Italy until the script for Houseboat came along.
Re-united and feeling lonely, Grant and Loren fall even harder the 2nd time around. It was then where Carlo decided to do something drastic.
Fortunately for Mr. Ponti, he didn’t have to choose.
Sophia was faced with two choices.
Go back to Italy with a man (and a mentor) who, “belonged to my world,” as she would later put it. Or, stay in the United States and start a new life with a man that she met a year ago?
The choice was clear to her – she decided on Carlo. He gave her a sense of security and the confidence to go do great things, but, not in America. That’s the advantage that Carlo had over Cary: Italy.
Ultimately, Sophia loved her homeland and Carlo more than she ever could love the bright lights and glamour of Hollywood. Cary was disappointed, but, hell – he’s Cary Grant for crying out loud, he was bound to find someone else.
As for Sophia and Carlo? They lived happily ever after. What could possibly be more classic Hollywood than that?
If you would like to read more entries in this blogathon click: here.
Sure, it’s Grace Kelly and Cary Grant in the French Riviera.
Yeah, it’s Alfred Hitchcock in his prime, but, the movie lacks…..something.
Released in 1955, To Catch a Thief stars Cary Grant, Grace Kelly and Jessie Royce Landis in what could be the worst of the three films Kelly did with Hitchcock. I don’t mean that in a malicious way; I believe, objectively, that the plot in this film compared to Dial M for Murder and Rear Window is hands down the weakest of the Kelly/Hitchcock films.
My main gripe?
Cary Grant plays John “The Cat” Robie, a retired cat burglar who now lives a secluded life on the French Riviera.
After a string robberies that were made to imitate his style, Robie immediately returns to being public enemy number one. The police show up to his seaside villa to arrest him, but Robie manages to escape out the back.
Naturally, running away from police builds up an appetite, so, John visits a restaurant.
He walks into the kitchen and instantly recognizes the staff. The cooks, busboys, and sous chefs are all old buddies from John’s French Resistance days.
They harbor a bit of resentment towards John because they were granted parole based on how patriotic they were. Because of John’s new ‘adventure,’ they’re all under suspicion of colluding as long as ‘The Cat’ is still active. Things get hostile for a minute, then calm down when the police see Robie and he makes a run for it.
Conveniently enough, the restaurant’s owner’s teenaged daughter named Danielle (played by Brigitte Auber) shuttles him away to safety.
Robie desperately wants to clear his name.
In order to do that, he seeks the help of a man named H.H Hughson (played by John Williams.) Hughson is an insurance man who gives Robie a list of, as he puts it, the “most expensive jewelry owners currently on the Riviera.”
First on that list? A woman named Jessie Stevens (played by Jessie Royce Landis) and her very charming daughter Frances (played by Grace Kelly.) John, posing as an Oregon lumber magnate, strikes up a conversation with them later that night at dinner.
So the trio and John start a dialogue about a multitude of different subjects. The discussion, embarrassingly, culminates in Jessie Stevens asking John why he hasn’t made a move on her daughter.
Frances, or “Francie” as her mother calls her, originally shows no interest. However, that all changes when John walks her back to her hotel room and Francie proceeds to give him a good night kiss.
The next morning, Robie receives a note claiming that his life in danger as he’s tanning on the beach with Frances. Danielle walks by with an inquisitive look on her face as she dives into the water. John, not one to miss out, follows her.
Danielle goes on to tell Robie that there are a group of ex-convicts that are out to kill him.
Later that day on a picnic, Frances tells John that she knows he isn’t an American businessman. In fact, not only does she know that he’s John Robie “The Cat”, she also begs him to be his accomplice. Robie, bending but not breaking, maintains his innocence and agrees to meet Frances in her hotel room later that night.
If you’ve seen this movie, then you know that this next scene is THE scene.
Robie shows up to Frances’ hotel room and Frances tries to tempt him with the jewels she’s wearing. Jokes on her though, John quickly recognizes that her necklace is fake. As the moment progresses and the fireworks build up behind them, the pair shares a very passionate kiss as the screen fades to black.
This quiet moment lasted for about 8 hours.
The morning after Frances and John’s rendezvous, she storms his hotel room asking where her mother’s jewels were. Robie admits that he’s “The Cat” but, he didn’t steal the jewelry. Francie doesn’t care, she calls the police anyway. But, before they got there, John has already slipped out of the window.
Sick and tired of being accused of a crime, John decides to surveil the area for that night. In case something goes wrong, Robie calls the police as a preventative measure.
Well, what do you know, something does happen.
John struggles with an attacker and accidentally shoves him off the building.
The next scene we see is everyone gathered around a casket. The man inside is Danielle’s father, Foussard. While walking out of the cathedral, a policeman tells John that they’ve identified the body and that he’s cleared of all suspicion.
“Oh, no!” says John.
Robie claims it couldn’t have been Foussard because he had a peg leg. Understandably, the police let him go to find the real ‘Cat’ later that night at a masquerade party.
It turns out that at the gathering, everything falls into to place for John.
In the end, John catches the woman *gasp* that was posing as him (it was Danielle), clears his name, and starts a long-term relationship with Frances.
How perfect is that?
The Bone I Have To Pick With This Movie
Where do I begin? I love Cary Grant and Grace Kelly equally. I love their movies. I love them in this movie together, but, this film lacks something.
I know, I know, there are A LOT of folks who adore this movie. I don’t want to take that away from anybody, but, there are some glaring issues in this movie for me.
My main issue with it is that it’s non-existent. It’s very compelling for the first 20 or so minutes and then it sort of….drops off. There were a lot of ‘lull’ moments in the film. At times, I didn’t really care about the side stories, I just wanted to know who stole the darn jewels.
Heck, even Hitchcock called this picture a “lightweight” story.
I never felt that anyone was in real danger in this movie. In Dial M, and Rear Window I was genuinely afraid for certain characters. Not once did I believe that Cary Grant was going to get harmed in any way in this film.
The moments between Cary and Grace, however, were excellent and dripping with innuendo, as only Hitchcock can do. But, other than that, it didn’t give that same thrill that I got from other films from Hitch.
In the end, my opinion is just an opinion. I may not enjoy this movie as much as other Hitchcock features, but that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate it. The shooting locations are gorgeous and the coincidence of Grace Kelly shooting one of her last movies in Monaco isn’t lost on me.
I do enjoy the film, I truly do. Sometimes, movies you think you were going to like don’t always go the way you plan, and that’s okay.
If you would like to read more entries in this blogathon click: here.
It’s no surprise that his movies have made such a lasting impact on the film industry. From comedies, romantic dramas and even musicals, Stanley Donen was the renaissance man of the golden age. In no other film does this exemplify his versatility than 1963’s Charade, starring Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant.
I think this movie showcases the best of Donen as a director, and that’s the main reason why I chose this film for the Favorite Director Blogathon. Starring Audrey Hepburn (at her loveliest), Cary Grant and Walter Matthau, Charadehas one of the funniest and most intriguing plots of any Donen film I’ve ever watched. Often times, I hear a lot of classic movie fans say that this is the most ‘Hitchcockian‘ movie they’ve seen without it being directed by ‘Hitch‘ himself.
So, without further ado, let’s explore why this movie is a perfect example of Stanley Donen‘s talents.
The plot of the movie revolves around Regina ‘Reggie’ Lambert, played by Audrey Hepburn. While on a skiing trip in the east of France, she tells her best friend Sylvie Gaudel, played by Dominique Minot that she’s divorcing her husband. Shocked and dismayed at this decision, Sylvie tries to argue against this- to no avail.
Suddenly, a handsome stranger approaches the table where the two are sitting and introduces himself. This man, played by Cary Grant, is Peter Joshua. After a bit of back and forth, he eventually leaves the two women alone.
Cut to the next scene.
We see Reggie back in Paris, only to find out that her apartment has been completely emptied. The police inspector that was in her apartment investigating what happened tells Reggie that her husband has been murdered.
Before he met his demise, he sold off all of their belongs which are now missing. As if this couldn’t get any more strange, her husband left behind a duffle bag containing some passports in different names, some stamps, a ticket to Venezuela and letter that’s addressed to her. A few days later, she attends his funeral. As she’s sitting there mourning the loss of her husband, 3 rather unfamiliar men walk in.
She brushes this off, merely believing that these men were just old friends until she meets with a CIA administrator named Hamilton Bartholomew, played by Walter Matthau. He tells her that three men that showed up were survivors of a failed OSS operation in World War II.
Their mission (including a man named Carson Dyle and her husband) was to deliver $250,000 in gold to the French Resistance, but instead of doing the right thing, they stole it
This leaves Reggie in a predicament.
Now that her husband is dead, these 3 men were searching for the missing loot. Not only do these louts want the money, the US Government is also looking for it also. Perplexed at what she does next, Regina refuses all help.
This changes quickly as soon as Peter Joshua, coincidentally, tracks Reggie down in Paris and helps her move into a hotel. On three separate occasions, these men individually come to Reggie’s hotel room, demanding that they tell her where the money is.
Now, the next part is a bit tricky.
One of the criminals, named Scobie, tells Reggie that this ‘Peter Joshua’ fellow was one of the men alongside them during the attempted heist.
Caught in a lie, ‘Peter Joshua’ confesses that he really isn’t ‘Peter Joshua’, but a man named Alexander, the brother of the heist member Carson Dyle. According to “Alexander”, he’s convinced that one of these 3 men killed his brother. Despite this little bump in the road, the five continue their search for this missing ‘treasure.’
The plot thickens.
While walking around the hotel, one of the men dies, leaving only two left. Naturally, per usual in films like this, Reggie ends up falling in love with Alexander. But, before the two get all ‘lovey-dovey’, one of the two remaining criminals admits that, once again, Alexander isn’t who he says he is.
Stuck in a bit of a pickle, he admits that he’s not any of the men he said he was. In actuality, he’s a man named Adam Canfield and he’s only here to steal the money for himself. Even though he admits this, Reggie still finds him attractive.
Anyway, the two go to an outdoor market where Reggie’s husband had one last ‘appointment’ before he died. Adam sees stamps traders and realizes that her deceased husband must have purchased some rare stamps that were now in Reggie’s possession.
The only problem is that these stamps are now missing and Reggie is the only person who knows where they are. She accidentally gave those stamps away to her best friend’s nephew while on vacation in France and a few days earlier.
Ironically Sylvie and her nephew, named Jean-Louis, happen to be at the same stamp collectors that Adam and Reggie were at a few minutes earlier. Before Jean-Louis could trade in his stamps, thankfully, Reggie stops him.
Exhausted, Reggie returns to the hotel room where she finds ANOTHER one of the henchmen murdered. Chillingly, before the man died, he wrote in blood on the floor of his hotel room the name ‘Dyle.’ Reggie, understanding who that is, calls Hamilton Bartholomew, who wishes to meet with her.
While on her way to meet the CIA administrator, ‘Peter/Alexander/Adam’ spots her and proceeds to chase her through the streets of Paris. She manages to evade him and finds Bartholomew at the spot where they’re supposed to meet up.
Before she could actually talk to him, she gets stopped by Adam, who tells her that Bartholomew is actually Carson Dyle. He claims that he wasn’t killed in the heist only wounded. Reggie doesn’t understand how this could be possible, seeing that they met in his office only days before.
Adam tells her that he cleverly scheduled their appointments so that when the real Bartholomew was on his lunch break, they could meet uninterrupted.
The chase continues through an empty theatre where ultimately Bartholomew is shot and killed by Adam. After that whole ordeal, the two go to the US Embassy the next morning to return the stamps. Inside, they’re escorted to the office of Brian Cruikshank, a Treasury official who is responsible for stolen items.
They go inside the office and Reggie finds out that Adam is actually Brian Cruikshank. Reggie, who still isn’t dismayed that this guy lied to her throughout this whole entire ordeal, wants to marry him. Finally, the movie ends with Brian relenting, while Reggie sits on his lap, promising him that they’ll have four kids based on the four names that he used during their escapades.
Why This Perfectly Captures Stanley Donen’s Career
Stanley Donen really outdid himself on this one.
Charade is one of the most interesting, funny and exhilarating films I’ve ever seen. It definitely pays to watch this film without any spoilers. I know that the first time I watched it, I wanted more, and I think that’s a testament to Stanley Donen as a director.
From cheery movies likeSingin’ In The Rain, and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers to more grounded ones like, Indiscreetand Two For the Road, Charade is that happy medium. With a perfect blend of drama, sex and comedy, Stanley Donen took a script that could’ve been a Hitchcock copy and turned it into his own. This is why Stanley Donen is my favorite director. He isn’t some knock-off of a director that came before him, he’s unique in his own right, and for that, I thank him.