Saturday, January 13, 2007
Mae West: Cary -- Granted
Richard Torregrossa's new book is out on actor Cary Grant discussing the films he made that put him on the map, and also the ones in which he failed to distinguish himself — and how he woodenly received Mae West’s most famous invitation about coming up to see her, since she's always home in the evenings when they co-starred in She Done Him Wrong .
• • Meet the actor who transitioned from Broadway to Hollywood, a leading man who got a great deal of attention when Mae West put him in her two of her most successful movies. Here's a brief extract from Cary Grant: A Celebration of Style by Richard Torregrossa
• • I pretended to be somebody I wanted to be and I finally became that person. Or he became me. Or we met at some point.” That meeting — when Archie Leach, the Bristol-born son of a part-Jewish suit presser, came to be fully assimilated by his creation, Cary Grant — amounts to one of the great events in the annals of twentieth-century culture. It created what the critic David Thomson (in A Biographical Dictionary of Film, the finest reference book on the movies) flatly declares to be “the best and most important actor in the history of the cinema.” ...
• • In 1931, Archie Leach — one-time latch-key kid (when he was nine he came home from school one day to find his mother missing; his two-timing, alcoholic father had secretly committed her, despite her apparent sanity, to the Country Home for Mental Defectives; she would be lost to Grant until he was thirty-one) and erstwhile vaudevillian (from fourteen to twenty-three he’d performed as an acrobat, juggler, stilt walker, and mime; his experience in acrobatic troupes honed his phenomenal physical grace and exquisite comic timing, and inculcated in him his universally praised generosity and team-spiritedness as a performer) — interrupted his well-paying if unremarkable Broadway career to try Hollywood. The execs at Paramount put him under contract and told him to come up with a screen name; he chose one that conjured the image of the man he wished to become. . . .
• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
• • Photo: Mae West • • Cary Grant • • 1933 • •