M.A.S.T.E.R.s – Cary Grant

23 Mar

Greetings boys and girls, and welcome to the ball-tingling debut of a new column I’ll be throwing atcha whenever I feel like it. This painfully special segment is not to be confused with the “Maestro of the Week” offering from (your friend and mine) Sonia, who Dom Cobb’d my brain and stole my damn idea before I could crank out a post. I reacted rationally and calmly punched the doomsday button, activating my laser satellites and razing her country’s defenseless farm belt. After a few localized guerilla strikes, we called a cease-fire, laid down our arms, and under the naked bulb of the conference cellar agreed that maybe great minds just do think alike.

In any case, I am proud to present M.A.S.T.E.R.s, or Mortals of Astronomically Superior Traits and Eminent Repute, a sporadic shrine built to honour the glory of those in our universe I find compelling, admirable, or inspiring. Before long we’ll have collected a pantheon of heroes so stirring, a visit here is all you’ll ever need for a pick-me-up.

And who better to kick off proceedings than the fireside champion of my youth: a man so classy, he makes Sean Connery look like The Situation. Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Cary Grant.

Oh, mercy.

Now I realize many of you may not be familiar with Mr. Grant, but trust me when I tell you, this man is the man. And if you don’t trust me, then trust Wikipedia’s opening blurb: “With his distinctive yet not quite placeable Mid-Atlantic accent, he was noted as perhaps the foremost exemplar of the debonair leading man: handsome, virile, charismatic, and charming”. Which, of course, is a flowery way of saying Cary Grant was to manhood what Einstein was to theoretical physics.


His career began in the 1930s, but it was in the late 40s and 50s that he really sank his teeth into Hollywood’s Golden Age and carved out his spot on Badass Boulevard. He had leading roles in movies (that you may not have heard of but I assure you are excellent) like Suspicion, The Philadelphia Story, Arsenic and Old Lace, To Catch A Thief, and Notorious, but it was perhaps his performance as the sardonic Roger Thornhill (or is it George Caplan?) in Alfred Hitchcock’s North By Northwest that affected 10-year-old me in the most profound way.

He even makes blurry hands sexy.

Grant’s urbane wit, stirling good looks, and sensuous masculinity slithered into my young and impressionable mind like a velvety drop of martini. If you recognize the above image, then you’ve seen the movie, and you know why I love it. A timeless tale of mistaken identity, globe-trotting adventure, and thrilling suspense. Chases, escapes, guns, cars, trains, liquor, daggers, disguises…and behind it all, a beautiful woman. I mean come on. North By Northwest lifted the curtain on a world of glamour and intrigue I’d never known, and my tiny eyes shone behind my glasses as I sat cross-legged in front of the TV, in awe of the man on the screen. He was like a Roman god, carved from marble, come to life.

But interestingly, it wasn’t just the thinly-veiled homoeroticism that made me love Cary Grant. What I enjoyed most about watching him was his lack of ego and, honestly, his sense of humour. His comic timing was unmatched for a serious actor, and he had a penchant for impish mischief both on and off-screen. Apparently – and this is again culled from Wikipedia’s groaning, sumptuous crop – he would poke fun at himself with statements like “Everyone wants to be Cary Grant—even I want to be Cary Grant”; a sort of melancholy half-joke that hinted at his damaged youth (and his birth name, the less-than-suave Archibald Leach). And this is what made me love him: a man who rose from the ashes of a hostile, confusing childhood and became a symbol for his kind, and an inspiration to many, without ever understanding how, or why.

This was enough to yank an unexpected belly laugh out of me while I was researching this post: “After seeing a telegram from a magazine editor to his agent asking “HOW OLD CARY GRANT?”, Grant reportedly responded with “OLD CARY GRANT FINE. HOW YOU?””

If there is such thing as a certain impossibility, it is that I will never be the man Cary Grant was – but that can’t stop me from trying. Whenever I hold the door open for a girl, they see my gormless grin and book it. But in my mind, my hair is slick and fragrant, my stature tall and proud, my clothing impeccably tailored, and my bearing elegant, and powerful, and sad, and smiling.

I think in some small way, that lets me be a little bit more Cary Grant. And I think he’d sympathize with that.


2 Responses to “M.A.S.T.E.R.s – Cary Grant”

  1. Rage Cage March 23, 2011 at 2:40 pm #

    NORTH BY NORTHWEST rocks my socks. I can’t even begin to explain my disappointment towards the Richy Rich Mt. Rushmore knockoff fight…

  2. Kim March 23, 2011 at 8:34 pm #

    lolololol…. “Old Cary Grant Fine. How you?”

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