Wednesday, January 2, 2008

How Archie Leach became "Cary Grant"

An insipid, undefined pretty boy on screen, he appeared in twenty pictures in four years, nearly a quarter of the films he'd ever make, and failed to distinguish himself—though he woodenly received Mae West's most famous, and most misquoted, line: "Why don't you come up some time and see me?" Indeed, his pervasive, obvious discomfort in these creaky movies is the only evidence of his innate intelligence and taste as an actor. But in 1936, something clicked when he played a supporting role in Sylvia Scarlett. Though it was a mess of a picture, he shone as a Cockney swindler, a character close to his roots, rather than the stilted Valentino he usually played. The film's director, George Cukor, recalled that the nearly thirty-two-year-old Grant "flowered; he felt the ground under his feet.
Read on.