Cary Grant made his final film in 1966, promptly retiring from the business.
He felt like it was time, refusing efforts to coax him back to the screen. His final five films were not awful, but they were not up to his prior work.
With the exception of Father Goose, he seemed to walk through his 1960s films.
His last four films of the 1950s were: Indiscreet, Houseboat, North By Northwest and Operation Petticoat. All terrific films. By the time of Operation Petticoat, Grant was 55 years old and beginning to look it. Grant usually played younger men, with his trim build and handsome appearance, he could pass for younger. His character in Operation Petticoat, was supposed to be 10-15 years younger than his actual age, but that was pushing it. Grant co-produced the film and his starring role was smaller than co-star Tony Curtis. Grant was making a transition away from his usual roles. Perhaps he saw the end in sight.
The final five.
The Grass is Greener (1960) Grant co-stars with Deborah Kerr, Robert Mitchum and Jean Simmons in this light comedy. An adult comedy of a love triangle with Grant’s character trying to win back his wife. Based on a successful English play, I found this a very talkie and uninteresting film. The Grass is Greener is a bit like The Bishop’s Wife with Grant playing the David Niven role.
That Touch of Mink (1962) This film, although having some enjoyable comedic moments, seems all to familiar. Grant is rich and debonair, Doris Day is virginal, but falls under his charms. Grant’s character wants to sleep with her, while she is reluctant to have that kind of relationship. Will she or won’t she? Grant does not have much to do in this film. He plays Cary Grant. This film wants to be hip but is usually just an old fashioned retread.
Charade (1963) Grant plays a shadowy character, really supporting Audrey Hepburn. Charade has a fine supporting cast including Walter Matthau, James Coburn and George Kennedy. Directed by Stanley Donen, this film attempts to cover a lot of bases: thriller, romance and light comedy. Charade is compared to similar Hitchcock films. Grant does not dominate the film, although his relationship with the Hepburn character is the spine of the film. Something about this film never clicked with me, and still does not. Viewing it the other night, I still didn’t make it all the way to the finish. Grant plays a lesser version of Robey, the debonair character from To Catch a Thief.
Father Goose (1964) The best of the five, Grant plays against type. Scruffy and irritable, he does not like the woman or the kids he gets stuck with. His character is a WWII coast watcher who tries to do his job while keeping the woman and kids out of his hair and from causing problems. Exasperated, but gradually worn down, they find his soft spot. A warm and funny film.
Walk Don’t Run (1966) Not a bad film, just an inconsequential one. A remake of a better film, Grant plays a matchmaker, trying to encourage a budding romance of two young people. Grant was looking his age at this point. I would have preferred Grant to have chosen a meatier role for his last one.
Nobody played Cary Grant characters better than Cary Grant. He made a few clinkers, but his output was consistently good. Grant was not an actor of any era, he had style and good-natured confidence that transcended any genre or time period. That’s why his final films mostly lack the Grant charisma.
2 thoughts on “Cary Grant’s Final Five”
To me, Cary Grant was one of the great Hollywood actors. I loved him in “North By Northwest.” That being said, I’m not a movie expert – if anything less so today than in my teenage years and 20s when I watched many more movies than I do nowadays. In particular, I liked old pictures with the likes of Humphrey Bogart, Edward G. Robinson and Cary Grant, for the matter.
Sadly, Hollywood is completely obsessed with age and looks, especially when it comes to actresses. It’s quite disgusting, in my view.
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I rarely go to the movies, even before the pandemic. I love the old movies and am content to pick something like The African Queen, Chinatown, To Kill a Mockingbird or Butch Cassidy over taking a chance on a new film; I will sample new films but I need a bit of convincing to do so. Give me North By Northwest or El Dorado any day.
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