Cary Grant

The Ingredients is a column devoted to breaking down the components of a new film release with some focus on influential movies that came before. As always, these posts look at the entire plots of films and so include SPOILERS.  The James Bond series is something of a hub in the course of film and pop culture history. As iconic as it is on its own, it tends to be informed by other material as often as it does the informing. In the beginning, for example, the movies were highly influenced by the works of Alfred Hitchcock. Author Ian Fleming even wished for Hitch to direct the first movie adapted from his 007 novels. And Cary Grant was famously sought for the part of Bond, which would have been interesting had he continued with the second film, From Russia With Love, given how much it calls to mind North by Northwest. Instead, little-known Sean Connery embodied the character, and after the first two installments made the actor famous, Hitch cast him in Marnie. As usual, the director capitalized on a movie star’s pre-existing notoriety, his screen value, which makes it quite difficult for us to see Connery’s Marnie character, Mark Rutland, as anything but James Bond as a wife-raping publisher. Hitch went another step with his next film, Torn Curtain, which was an admitted direct response to the 007 films. He wrote to Francois Truffaut in 1965: “In realizing that James Bond and the imitators of James Bond were more or less making […]

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Culture Warrior

Tomorrow, the Sacha Baron Cohen-starring, Larry Charles-directed The Dictator opens. Unlike the previous two docu-prank collaborations between Charles and Cohen, the humor of the fully staged Dictator doesn’t so much rely on the reactions of ‘real people’ to an idiosyncratic foreigner as it uses its fish-out-of-water arc to chronicle the pseudo-enlightened changes that its eponymous character experiences (this is all based on the film’s advertising – I have yet to see it). With its riches-to-rags narrative, The Dictator seems to be the newest iteration of a long tradition in Hollywood comedy: the story of the redeemable asshole. It’s rather appropriate that the teaser trailer for Anchorman 2 will be premiering in front of The Dictator.  Will Ferrell has made the redeemable asshole into something of an art form in his collaborations with Adam McKay. Ferrell’s often narcissistic, privileged, ignorant, and empathy-challenged creations should, by any measure of any other genre (audiences are far less tolerant of asshole protags in, say, dramedys) be reviled by audiences. But we ultimately find something redeemable, even lovable, in Ferrell’s jerks, even if this surface-level redemption overshadows the fact that they never quite achieve the level of self-awareness that would actually redeem one from assholedom. These are characters we would likely avoid in nearly any real-life circumstance, but yet we go see movies about them learning life lessons which add up to little more than common knowledge for the rest of us. The redeemable asshole is often a white male who is conniving, manipulative, entitled, […]

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Culture Warrior

Imagine what some of our most beloved romantic films would look like if they were made in the 21st century. Laura and Alec of David Lean’s Brief Encounter could have managed their secret meetups over text. Harry and Sally could have checked each others’ okcupid accounts before explaining every aspect of what they seek in a partner over a cross-country road trip. And Ilsa would never have had to get on that plane because, y’know, the war’s over. This is a fruitless endeavor, I know, but it brings one thing into light which poses both problems and opportunities for the contemporary romance film, specifically the romantic comedy: politics, economic conditions, shifting gender roles, and technological evolution means different kinds of relationships and, thus, different kinds of romantic movies. How can the 21st century romance film expect the wedding-bell-chiming happy ending to work in a society full of emerging adults who feel less and less of a need to get married? How can new romantic comedies account for the fact that today’s working professional must move constantly – putting all their human relationships at risk – in order to find a job that suits them without only making films about the uber-privileged? Will there ever be a mainstream romantic comedy featuring a non-monogomous or non-heteronormative protagonist? Several recent screen romances have attempted to tackle the changing nature of relationships – or, at least, the type of relationship typically depicted in the Hollywood romance.

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While some lucky individuals have already had the chance to see Simon Curtis’ peek into the life of a sex icon My Week with Marilyn at the New York Film Festival, the rest of us plebeians have to wait until November for our own chance. Now, early buzz for the Michelle Williams (Marilyn Monroe) vehicle has been favorable, however that is not what’s piquing my interest in the project. Rather I’m curious to see the maudlin-looking Williams’ embodiment of the sexpot. Williams is of course a stunning actress when she’s dressed for award season, but we rarely see that beauty on screen as she tends to embrace homely, makeup free characters. Clearly she will add an intriguing element of wistful sadness to the woman many of us wish to be.

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The voice over in this trailer is exactly the kind of thing that gets parodied today, but it’s sort of perfect for this flick. That Touch of Mink was a fairly standard romantic comedy starring Cary Grant and Doris Day. Surprisingly, Grant just wants to fool around, but Day wants to save her precious purity for marriage. The man wants something casual and the woman something serious? Unheard of! It’s a fun movie – one that Cary Grant reportedly hated.

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Every day, come rain or shine or internet tubes breaking, Film School Rejects showcases a trailer from the past. How do you know Cary Grant isn’t a murderer? You don’t. Summer is coming up fast, and instead of sunburn and back injury, you can go around the country with Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint from the safety of your own home. From the streets of New York City to the faces of Mount Rushmore, this travel packages includes everything (and puts a knife in your hand at just the wrong moment). Check out the trailer for yourself:

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Every day, come rain or shine or internet tubes breaking, Film School Rejects showcases a trailer from the past. What’s fascinating about this trailer is that it takes one of the wordiest movies ever made and puts all of the actors on mute for a significant amount of its run time. If you’re irritated by comedy trailers showcasing all the best jokes in an effort to spoil the movie, this trailer should be a breath of fresh air. And after listening to the speaking speed of Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell, you’ll hope they eventually come up for that air, too. Think you know what it is? Check the trailer out for yourself:

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Criterion Files

On March 10, 1938, Leo McCarey accepted his Academy Award for Best Directing and kindly thanked his audience before stating that they gave him an award for “the wrong picture.” McCarey had won for The Awful Truth (1937), the brilliant Cary Grant/Irene Dunne screwball romantic comedy. McCarey was a talented comedy director and no doubt deserved the award (and it’s hard to imagine anybody today winning an Oscar for directing a comedy), but he was equally deserving of the award for directing a more personal and less conventional film that very same year, Make Way For Tomorrow. A film beloved by cinephiles and filmmakers as a sincerely moving emotional experience (Orson Wells reportedly said that Make Way For Tomorrow would make a stone cry), it still remains one of few Hollywood films that concerns itself seriously with the lives of senior citizens. But it also represents the incredible range of an underrated filmmaker, which can be seen most evidently by the fact that he directed a great romantic comedy and a great adult drama in the very same year.

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Every Sunday, Film School Rejects presents a movie that was made before you were born and tells you why you should like it. This week, Old Ass Movies presents the story of two women who kill old men for charity, their nephew who wants to get married without being sent to prison, his brother who thinks he’s Teddy Roosevelt and his other brother who looks like Boris Karloff and has killed plenty of people himself. Insanity might run in the family, but it’s also the story of the bodies buried in the basement and the one still hanging around the living room. Yes. It’s a comedy.

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A married couple sets out to build a beautiful home in Connecticut. This does not go exactly as smoothly as they’d like. Hilarity, of course, ensues.

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Let me start with one very important commandment that must be obeyed in the world of film: Thou shalt not remake Casablanca, Citizen Kane, Gone With The Wind, 2001 a Space Odyssey (to name a handful of classic films) and anything directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Anything. Even if one day a reel containing a commercial shot by the man shows up, it cannot be remade.

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All month long we celebrate Best Picture Nominees that didn’t win. This week we take a look at a doomed production that churned out a brilliant film.

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oam-northbynorthwest

One of the best filmmakers of all time makes his best film. Shouldn’t you give it a shot?

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OldAssReleases

A bunch of old flicks are being released this Halloween with more greats slated for the end of the year.

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oam-tocatchathief

For the holiday weekend, we take a trip to the South of France. But we’re skipping Cannes in order to catch up with Cary Grant and Grace Kelly as they try to stop a devastatingly talented jewel thief.

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culturewarrior-rogenstar

For better or for worse, Hollywood works differently now, and a pretty face just doesn’t sell tickets anymore.

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Operation Petticoat

Throw a bunch of free-spirited, unqualified men and women together in uniform and see where the wacky antics leads.

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Fast-taking, strong women, and Cary Grant being Cary Grant. His Girl Friday is a film over 70 years ahead of its time.

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