Ten Best Cary Grant Movies
Cary Grant is my all time favorite actor. His unique speaking style combined with his grace on-screen is simply unparalleled. During his career, Cary Grant starred in over 70 movies including some of the greatest films of all time including, North by Northwest, The Philadelphia Story and Bringing up Baby. It is a testament to his craft, that Alfred Hitchcock cast Cary Grant as his lead in four of his feature films. Surprisingly, Grant never won an Oscar for any of his role and was only nominated twice. I guess this is because of his penchant for comedy, action and suspense films versus the Oscar bias for drama movies.
Cary Grant was equally adept at comedy movies and action films. He paired up with Katherine Hepburn in three fantastic romantic comedies, The Philadelphia Story, Bringing up Baby and Holiday. The pair were magical together on screen and defilnitely left us wanting for more. His Girl Friday in which he paired with Rosalind Russell, is critically acclaimed as his best comedy film, but he had so many it is tough to gauge. Some of his other great comedies included Arsenic and Old Lace, Mr. Blandings Builds his Dream House, The Awful Truth and Monkey Business with Marilyn Monroe.
While comedies was is most frequent genre, he also was fantastic in the action and thriller genre especially when paired with Alfred Hitchcock. North by Northwest would definitely have to be included as one of his absolute best films, but his other Hitchcock films were also outstanding. If you have not seen To Catch a Thief, Suspicion and Notorious, you definitely should get them on your list. A few other action, war and adventure films starring Cary Grant that you should check out include Gunga Din, Only Angels Have Wings and The Pride and the Passion.
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10. An Affair to Remember (1957)
A Romantic Drama Film from Cary Grant
Cary Grant made this film when he was 53 years old but still very much a Sex Symbol and as elegant and dapper as ever. This beautiful love story was a bit of a departure for him as it was much more of a romance drama than his normal romantic comedy. It is a tearjerker which will keep you wondering what will happen with the two stars in the end.
Nicky Ferante (Cary Grant) is a handsome playboy who meets the beautiful Terry McKay (Deborah Kerr), a nightclub singer, on a cruise from Europe to New York. Despite both of them being engaged to other people (not on the cruise), the two of them fall in love during the cruise. They are torn by their relative situations and come up with a compromise to meet on the Empire State Building observation deck in six months. However, when Nicky arrives at the prescribed time, Terry does not show. Nicky is left to try to figure out why Terry has not shown and whether she has married her fiancée.
This film is one of Cary Grant's best drama films and a truly wonderful love story. If you aren't afraid to shed a tear, then you should enjoy this great Cary Grant film.
If you liked An Affair to Remember... - You might also like Roman Holiday
Not a Cary Grant film, but another great romantic comedy starring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck.
9. Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)
One of the Great Cary Grant Comedies
One of the funniest Cary Grant movies, Arsenic and Old Lace was adapted from a play of the same name. Mortimer Brewster (Cary Grant) is a well known drama critic and long-time bachelor who finally decides to take the plunge and marry Elaine Harper (Priscilla Lane). On their way out of town for a Niagara Falls honeymoon, they stop by the old Brewster home where Mortimer's two maiden aunts live. Aunt Abby (Josephine Hull) and Aunt Martha (Jean Adair) helped raise Mortimer and he is excited to let them know the news and introduce them to Elaine.
However, during the visit Mortimer learns that his Aunts have a very strange hobby; they like to poison lonely old men to help them find peace. Mortimer stumbles upon their latest victim is in the window seat of the home. Mortified and shocked, Mortimer spends the rest of the evening trying to keep the news from getting out and landing his favorite Aunts in the slammer.
The film is absolutely hilarious and Cary Grant's facial expression throughout the film are worth the price of admission. While the entire film takes place during a 24 hour period, it seems much longer as there are so many twists and turns in the film. There are some great performances throughout this movie including Raymond Massey as Jonathan Brewster, Mortimer's creepy estranged brother who has spent several years in prison for murder. Aunts Abby and Martha are also deliciously funny with their cavalier attitude toward "their hobby".
This is definitely one of the best classic comedies and a great Cary Grant movie.
8. His Girl Friday (1940)
Newsman Grant Must Save his Ex from Remarrying
In 1940, Cary Grant was in two films with similar themes, His Girl Friday and The Philadelphia Story. While the settings are very different, in both films Cary Grant's ex-wife is engaged to be remarried unless Grant can stop it and win her back. It is a fun theme and perfectly suited for Grant's suave onscreen personality. While The Philadelphia Story got most of the accolades and awards, this film is also very good and some critics would say even better.
Walter Burns (Cary Grant) is a newspaper Editor who was married to Hildy Johnson (Rosalind Russell) until she divorced him because he is married to his job and took her for granted. Of course, Burns is still in love with Hildy and is in for a big surprise when she announces she is engaged to remarry. Burns kicks into high gear trying to break up the couple by discrediting her new fiancée, Bruce Baldwin (Ralph Bellamy), convincing Hildy that she still loves him.
It is a humorous film and Grant and Russell have great chemistry together. You will definitely be entertained by this lesser known Cary Grant film.
7. To Catch a Thief (1955)
Cary Grant is Suave and Sophisticated as a Retired Jewel Thief
To Catch a Thief is a great Cary Grant film that defies categorization. It is part suspense, part comedy and part drama. John Robie (Cary Grant) is a reformed jewel thief and former resistance fighter for the French in WWII who is living the high life in the French Riviera. Frances Stevens (Grace Kelly) is in town with her mother while vacationing and hoping to meet a potential husband. But there is also a jewel thief on the loose and of course Robie is one of the prime suspects.
In order to prove that he is not the thief, Robie is going to have to uncover the real thief. Grant is so much fun to watch and this role is perfectly suited for him. Stevens is a debutante that has the eye of every young man in the room, but Robie appears uninterested, which drives Stevens crazy. As a result, Stevens is the pursuer and Robie parries her advances as if uninterested. Of course, he is interested and Cary Grant plays this nonchalant suitor to perfection.
This is one of my favorite Cary Grant movie and can watch it over and over again.
6. Notorious (1946)
A Film Noir Cary Grant Thriller
Notorious is considered one of Hitchcock's best films and was nominated for two Oscars. It is the story of Alice Huberman (Ingrid Bergman), a US citizen whose German father is convicted of treason against the United States. Devlin (Cary Grant) is a government agent that approaches Huberman to spy on certain of her father's Nazi friends who live in Rio De Janeiro. Claude Rains plays the leader of the Nazis' Alexander Sebastian.
This is a suspenseful drama as Huberman is pulled into many dangerous situations investigating the Nazis, but it is also a romantic film as Huberman and Devlin begin to fall in love working with each other. As we see in so many great Alfred Hitchcock Films, there is both sexual and suspense tension building in many of the scenes. Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman are fantastic together and Claude Rains is excellent as the villainous Nazi.
5. Suspicion (1941)
What if You Suspected Your New Husband of Murder?
Suspicion is one of the most unusual of Hitchcock Films. It is not scary film, like Psycho or Rear Window, yet Hitchcock creates a great deal of tension throughout the film. It is not a thriller, like North by Northwest or Vertigo, in that there is not a tremendous amount of action and yet we are thrilled by the mystery that is unfolding.
Johnnie Aysgarth (Cary Grant) is a dashing playboy with a penchant for gambling. On a long train trip, he meets Lina McLaidlaw (Joan Fontaine), a prim well-off English lady. After a brief romance, they decide to elope. After the honeymoon, things start to unravel. Lina learns that Johnnie has no money, has large debts and has recently lost another job.
The tension in the film builds as Lina begins to investigate and learn more about Johnnie's life. Slowly, she begins to suspect his is responsible for some monstrous acts and fears that she may be in danger. Playing the villain is an unusual role for Cary Grant but he proves excellent in the role. This is one of my favorite Grant movies because of the depth of character that Grant is able to display.
I cannot provide much more explanation without spoiling the film, but this is definitely a film you should put on your must see list.
4. Charade (1963)
A Suspenseful Murder Mystery with a Comedy Backdrop
Peter Joshua (Cary Grant) and his partners and criminals that are interested in finding money that they think Regina Lampert's (Audrey Hepburn) dead husband stole from them. it turns out Regina was going to divorce her husband but before she could, he converted all their assets to cash and then turned up dead. Now she is left without any money and an unwinding mystery as to her husband's murder.
While Joshua is a criminal, he develops a conscience as he begins to feel from Lampert and tries to hold his partners at bay while they he and Regina try to unravel the mystery to find the missing cash.
Audrey is as lovely as ever and develops a nice chemistry with Grant. Their chemistry is not as good as Grant and Hepburn's chemistry but it is still very good. This is a fun comedy mystery suspense film that will keep you guessing to the end.
3. The Philadelphia Story (1940)
The Best Cary Grant Comedy Movie
While North by Northwest is my favorite Cary Grant thriller, The Philadelphia Story is by far my favorite Cary Grant comedy. Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn are great together just as they were in Bringing up Baby. Unlike in Baby where Hepburn was the aggressor, Grant is the aggressor in this film and I think this role fits him perfectly.
CK Dexter Haven (Cary Grant) and Tracy Lord (Katherine Hepburn) were married briefly after a passionate affair but they quickly divorced because of Dexter's drinking. Of course, Dexter drank as a coping mechanism from Tracy's demanding perfectionism. Its been several years and Tracy is getting remarried to George Kittredge (John Howard). Since Lord is a socialite and Kittredge is an aspiring politician, the media is dying to cover the wedding. One magazine sends Macauley "Mike" Connor (Jimmy Stewart) to cover the story and while he should not be able to get into the house, Dexter is able to introduce him.
While their marriage was a volatile ride, Dexter is still in love with Lord and is hanging around for the weekend to try to break-up the wedding. Connor is also quickly smitten with Lord and somehow they all end up staying at the Lord mansion for the weekend. This is a hilarious love triangle. Jimmy, Katherine and Cary have never been better than in this film.
The Philadelphia Story was nominated for 6 Academy Awards and won two including Best Actor (Stewart) and Best Screenplay. If you were only going to watch one Cary Grant film, this is the one you should watch.
2. Bringing Up Baby (1938)
Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn are Fantastic Together
When people think of Cary Grant movies, this is one of the three or four films they point to. This is a classic romantic comedy starring two of the best at the genre; Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn.
David Huxley (Cary Grant) is an engaged paleontologist, who is attempting to raise $1.0 million for his foundation, but along the way he meets Susan Vance (Hepburn). In fact, Vance is stalking Huxley who has her sights on "getting him" but instead ends up getting into a series of screwball travails. Cary Grant plays the straight man in this romantic comedy to Hepburn's crazy persona. Surprisingly, this Cary Grant film was a box-office failure, but it endures today as a one of the best romantic comedies on many critics' all time favorite lists.
1. North by Northwest (1959)
One of Hitchock's Best is also Cary Grant's Best
North by Northwest is a classic thriller and one of the first films to use the 'accidental detective' themes that is so often copied these days. Roger Thornhill (Cary Grant) is an advertising executive in New York City where he is mistaken for a CIA operative by a group of foreign spies. He ends up in a cross country chase with Eve Kendall (Eva Marie Saint) who herself has ties to government agents, we are just not sure which ones.
Along the way, a spark develops between Thornhill and Kendall while the plot twists and turns several times until we don't know which end is up. Cary Grant is brilliant as the reluctant sleuth and of course his artistry with the spoken word is unrivaled. Hitchcock weaves an amazing story with outstanding cinematography. The Mt. Rushmore setting and the beautiful Western landscapes provide the perfect backdrop for Hitchcock's suspenseful scenes.
North by Northwest is definitely one of my favorite Cary Grant films and a top historic thriller.
If you liked North by Northwest... - You might also like the Hitchcock thriller, Vertigo
This Hitchcock thriller has lots of plot twists. It is a truly fantastic film starring Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak