His signature jaw line and charismatic characters made him an American symbol. His films, including Bringing Up Baby, The Philadelphia Story, and North by Northwest, were timeless classics. However, Grant was also married five times and sustained a tortured, obsessive relationship with money. In this beautifully illustrated and comprehensive book, Geoffrey Wansell traces the threads of both light and darkness in one of Holly-wood’s greatest stars. As his friend and co-star Deborah Kerr wrote, he was “one of the most outstanding personalities in the history of the cinema.”
The title of this handsomely produced coffee-table biography promises more than it delivers. British journalist Wansell writes that "there was a darker side to character that he took pain never to allow to surface in public." This biography offers no new revelations about Grant's private life, however, only a string of hints that readers are left to connect on their own, chiefly Grant's offscreen awkwardness with women and his long-standing friendship with actor Randolph Scott. Otherwise Wansell relies on previously published interviews and accounts, telling the well-known story of Archibald Leach's ascent from a hardscrabble British boyhood to his long stardom as Cary Grant, the very definition of debonair manhood. Oft-told anecdotes about the making of Grant's films are interspersed with boilerplate observations about Grant's charm from such colleagues as Sophia Loren. Even the juice stories of Grant's four marriages are nothing new. The text is secondary, however, to the beautifully reproduced photos (120 b&w, 30 color) showing the enviably graceful aging of the handsomest face in movies; but these photos, chiefly publicity shots and production stills, are also nothing new. While not perfect, Graham McCann's recent Cary Grant (Forecasts, Jan. 6) still offers a more extensive and considered appraisal of the actor's life and work.
Cart Grant, Dark Angel
I was fascinated reading about Cary Grant. Having only “ known” him for his screen performances, it was a good shock to read about his personal demons. He was very different, it appears in his private life. His sad relationship with his mother was unfortunate. But he kept trying to find that love she was incapable of giving. His role as a father was successful; too bad he couldn’t have had that experience a few years sooner. He seemed to have been much happier with his last marriage, probably owing to his maturity and no longer focused on building a career. I’d recommend reading.