House Logo
Explore categories +

Cary Grant (#110 of 11)

Sinful Cinema Fair Game

Comments Comments (...)

Sinful Cinema: Fair Game
Sinful Cinema: Fair Game

“You wanna watch headline news with me? No? It’s not gonna kill ya.” This is what Miami attorney Kate McQuean (Cindy Crawford) says to her cat just before clicking on the the television, detonating a bomb that leaves pussy and apartment incinerated, and sends Kate soaring over her balcony and into a boat-filled inlet. It’s one of countless bullet-to-the-brain lines in 1995’s Fair Game, a damsel-in-distress disasterpiece that marked Crawford’s big screen debut. Not to be confused with Naomi Watt’s 2010 C.I.A. vehicle, which, by comparison, looks like some kind of espionage classic, this second adaptation of Paula Gosling’s novel (the first being the 1986 Stallone dud Cobra) is the sort of movie that shocks viewers as they learn it’s in no way aiming for camp. When I recently rewatched it at home (yes, I own it), and got to the scene in which Kate seduces a computer store employee who’s “fiddling with his joystick,” my partner did a whip-around from the next room, demanding to know if this movie was for real. “Just wait,” I replied. Kate goes on to tell Adam, the dumbfounded nerd in this technologically ancient flick, that she’s not interested in software, but “hardware,” and that she “was hoping to demo [his] unit.” Granted, this is one of few scenes in the film that, however puerile, is intentionally ironic, but it’s also one of many to highlight Crawford’s outright horrendous acting, which is defined by line readings that seem punctuated by periods. “I’m. out. I’m. gone. I’m. just. going. to. get. away. from. all. of. this!” Kate barks in monotone to Det. Max Kirkpatrick (William Baldwin), the cop who winds up protecting her from a team of Russian assassins. That’s right: Crawford, it turns out, had the jump on the meme generation in regard to “Best. _____. Ever.” accentuation.

15 Famous Movie Phone Calls

Comments Comments (...)

15 Famous Movie Phone Calls
15 Famous Movie Phone Calls

Budding blonde Ari Graynor continues the R-rated femme comedy trend this weekend in For a Good Time, Call…, a naughty film that pairs the funny gal with brunette Lauren Miller (otherwise known as Mrs. Seth Rogen). Inspired by Miller’s college exploits with roommate and co-writer Katie Ann Naylon, the movie casts the leading pair as sparring roomies turned phone sex operators, a scenario that soon proves especially lucrative. Phones may have undergone a lot of makeovers in recent years, but their effectiveness on screen has been solid since the days of the candlestick model. In honor of the new fantasy-fulfilling comedy’s basis in ring-a-ding-ding, we’ve gathered up 15 films with highly memorable phone calls, which run the gamut from disarming to terrifying.

If I Had a Sight & Sound Film Ballot Elise Nakhnikian’s Top 10 Films of All Time

Comments Comments (...)

If I Had a Sight & Sound Film Ballot: Elise Nakhnikian’s Top 10 Films of All Time
If I Had a Sight & Sound Film Ballot: Elise Nakhnikian’s Top 10 Films of All Time

Maybe it’s just coincidence, but the most creative periods for the movies seem to occur about every 30 years, usually triggered by the advent of some new technology. First came that short burst of experimentation by people like Georges Méliès during the last few years of the 19th century, right after the medium was invented. The latest is the digital revolution that started around the turn of this century, making it possible for almost anyone to make a movie (and enabling a whole new level of intimacy between filmmaker and subject) by eliminating the need for expensive film processing and slashing the cost and size of professional-quality cameras. But my favorite golden age is the one that stretched from the late ’20s to the early ’40s in Hollywood. Old pros who’d cut their teeth on countless shorts showed us what could be done with silent film while upstarts like Howard Hawks and the Marx Brothers played with synchronous sound, that shiny new toy, in movies crammed to the brim with fast, funny talk. That probably explains why half of my 10 favorites were made during a 14-year period that ended as WWII began.

15 Famous Fights to the Death

Comments Comments (...)

15 Famous Fights to the Death
15 Famous Fights to the Death

Nearly two dozen teens bite the big one in The Hunger Games, sure to be cinema’s most popular source of adolescent bloodshed. There’s no darker vicarious thrill than watching someone perish on screen, as many an action junkie will certainly tell you. In light of Jennifer Lawrence’s blockbuster standoff against her oppressed peers, we’ve got 15 Famous Fights to the Death, which, together, should sate even the bloodthirstiest film fans.

My Favorite Film Festival of 2011: Alive and Well, In Love and War, at the TCM Classic Film Festival

Comments Comments (...)

My Favorite Film Festival of 2011: Alive and Well, In Love and War, at the TCM Classic Film Festival
My Favorite Film Festival of 2011: Alive and Well, In Love and War, at the TCM Classic Film Festival

I suppose it’s inevitable that some of the bloom would have come off the rose that was last year’s first annual TCM Classic Film Festival. I am, after all, a year older, and the time spent in between the first festival and this year’s model has found life getting more complicated, with less room for the study of cinema, classic or not, than my selfish patterns would prefer. But just because I may be mired in a sophomore slump of sorts doesn’t mean that in 2011 the TCM Festival was equally bogged down. Familiarity hardly bred contempt this time around, or complacency. If anything, there was a certain comfort factor built into the festival for me this year, a feeling that, while not radiating the kind of freshman excitement generated by last year’s fun (and my own initiation into the rites of festival film-going), certainly resonated with the buzz of discovery, of learning, about films unfamiliar, and blessedly, seemingly genetically remembered, and even of the value of an adrenaline rush of straight-up nostalgia. Without a doubt, this 2011 edition was the film festival experience of the year for me.

Take Two #9: Love Affair (1939) & An Affair to Remember (1957), with Some Unavoidable Complaining About Sleepless in Seattle (1993)

Comments Comments (...)

Take Two #9: <em>Love Affair</em> (1939) & <em>An Affair to Remember</em> (1957), with Some Unavoidable Complaining About <em>Sleepless in Seattle</em> (1993)
Take Two #9: <em>Love Affair</em> (1939) & <em>An Affair to Remember</em> (1957), with Some Unavoidable Complaining About <em>Sleepless in Seattle</em> (1993)

[Editor’s Note: Take Two is an occasional series about remakes, reboots, relaunches, ripoffs, and do-overs in every cinematic genre.]

The stereotype that “men like action movies and women like romances” has, I think, less to do with the genders’ respective love for action or romance per se, and more to do with our different beliefs in what makes a character complete. Action movies will always require heroes and romances will obviously require at least two characters to qualify as such, so while it might be similarly crude to say so, I’m slightly less queasy about a stereotype that posits, “Men like to celebrate great individual accomplishments and women prefer to consider the ways individuals interact.” But a great romance, one between two fully self-contained people that requires them both to grow and change, can theoretically satisfy both these urges. This is what Leo McCarey understood, and he managed to think up such a perfect story to illustrate the point that he had to tell it twice.

A Movie a Day, Day 89: His Girl Friday

Comments Comments (...)

A Movie a Day, Day 89: <em>His Girl Friday</em>
A Movie a Day, Day 89: <em>His Girl Friday</em>

I hate to be asked what my favorite movie is (how can you pick just one when there are so many great films, which you love for so many different reasons?), but I was asked in an interview a few years ago, so I had to come up with an answer. The one I eventually came up with—His Girl Friday—is still what I’d say if anyone asked. Other movies (not a lot, but some) may be as wonderful as Howard Hawks’s brilliant adaptation of The Front Page, but I don’t think any others mean quite as much to me personally. So I watched it again this morning, as I have every couple of years since I first saw it in a revival theater in Austin.

Love on the Run: Cary Grant @ BAM

Comments Comments (...)

Love on the Run: Cary Grant @ BAM
Love on the Run: Cary Grant @ BAM

“Everybody wants to be Cary Grant. Even I want to be Cary Grant.”

—Cary Grant, née Archie Leach

Viewership is by nature bisexual. It compels us to take on the perspectives of men desiring women, of women desiring men, of lesbians and gay men desiring each other, and of the omnipresent (a-)sexual outside observer. Art doesn’t hold a mirror up to nature; it creates its own nature, and allows us to enter other people. Yet pun aside, bisexuality isn’t only a form of lust. It’s also a lifestyle. One can be bi in one’s tastes for avant-garde and for commercial art, for health food and for junk food, for football and for ballet. It suggests an ability to turn two differing states of mind into one—openness—and then to occupy the space between them as well.

The Conversations: Minor Hitchcock

Comments Comments (...)

The Conversations: Minor Hitchcock
The Conversations: Minor Hitchcock

Ed Howard: Alfred Hitchcock is one of the eternal touchstones of the cinema. He’s been a major influence for many of the best filmmakers to work in his wake, and films like Psycho, The Birds, North by Northwest, Rear Window and many others remain cultural markers that would be recognizable even to those who have never actually seen them. With a director this major, very little of his career hasn’t been explored in depth, with the possible exception of his fertile British period, which seems to get less attention than his later work. However, we’ve decided to discuss two of the master’s Hollywood films that, while perhaps not overlooked (indeed, both are remembered more or less fondly), are generally considered to be “minor” Hitchcock: Rope (1948) and To Catch a Thief (1955). My own perspective is that these supposedly “minor” films are, in their own ways, keeping in mind their quirks and undeniable limitations, major works nearly as rich and rewarding as Hitchcock’s better-known milestones.

They’re very different films, though, and there are very different reasons for their somewhat lesser stature in Hitchcock’s oeuvre. Psycho is mostly remembered for its audacious formal gimmick: it is composed entirely of a series of unbroken 10-minute-or-less takes, and the cuts between shots are often disguised in ostentatious ways to create the (not very convincing) illusion of a single take weaving through the enclosed set. This trick dominates the film to such an extent that it’s all many people remember about it, and I think this is unfortunate. If Psycho is remembered as a formal experiment and little more, To Catch a Thief is often viewed as Hitchcock making a hangout movie with some of his favorite stars, Grace Kelly and Cary Grant, on the French Riviera. Hitchcock said as much, and even opened the film with a shot of a tourism office’s front window (setting up the dark humor of the second shot, an abrupt cut to a screaming woman). So what we have here is one film that’s usually cited as a simple formal exercise, and another that’s considered a fun, sugary entertainment. Are these minor works from a major director? Or are they two more examples of Hitchcock’s mastery and genius, as well as his often-underappreciated range?