To those of you who think George Clooney is God’s gift, consider this: He’s doing a second-rate impression of Cary Grant. Don’t get me wrong, Clooney is a dreamy actor and can charm the pants off of any one (including the press, which is not always easy). But don’t think for one second that he's the originator of that charm. Check out any Cary Grant movie and you’ll see exactly what I mean. Then watch Leatherheads and try to tell me that Clooney’s not doing a textbook Grant imitation.
Cary Grant is awesome. Clooney knows it, and so do I. Now here are 10 reasons why.
10. His name. Ok, so it’s not his real name. His birth name is the illusion-shattering Archibald Leach (which kind of makes me picture a money-grubbing scumbag with hairy shoulders and a comb-over). ‘Cary’ came from a character he had recently played on stage, and ‘Grant’ was picked at random from a list of names the studio provided. And yet it completely suits the actor and his on-screen persona. It’s equal parts debonair sophistication and magnetic mystery. It’s a name cool enough to makes James Bond jealous!
9. Pratfalls. Cary Grant is a master at physical comedy. Credit his acrobatic training for that. Wanna see just how good he is at falling on his face? Watch Bringing Up Baby.
8. He looks good in a tux.
7. The older he got, the younger his co-stars got…and it never seemed weird. Why wouldn’t Grace Kelly fall for him in To Catch a Thief? Yes, he should end up with Audrey Hepburn in Charade! C’mon, he’s Cary Grant. Plus, in real-life, the older he got—the younger his wives got!
6. The way he dodges a plane in North by Northwest.
5. His improvisations in His Girl Friday. Grant references his real name at one point and also made up the film’s closing line: “Say, why don’t you carry that in your hand?” But the best in-joke was when Grant’s character is asked to describe actor Ralph Bellamy’s character in the film. “He looks like, uh, that fellow in the movies…you know, Ralph Bellamy,” Grant says.
4. His on-screen presence. Keep your eyes on him. In every scene of every one of his movies—even if he’s in the background or the scene isn’t focusing on him—I guarantee you he’s doing something. It could be an eye-roll, or a smirk, or the lighting of a cigarette—but it’s always something.
3. His rapport with James Stewart in The Philadelphia Story. It’s a shame these two never did a buddy comedy! Check out the scene where Mike shows up at Dexter’s house drunk. When they’re both sitting down, Stewart improvised a hiccup, and Grant, without missing a beat, deadpans, “Excuse me.” Look closely and you can see the amused looks on their faces as they try to hold back laughter.
2. The coat-tearing scene in Bringing Up Baby. Katharine Hepburn tears his coat, then he returns the favor by accidentally ripping off the back of her dress. It’s pure comedy gold.
1. The New Year’s scene in Holiday, once again with Katharine Hepburn (his best female co-star in my opinion). Quite possibly one of my favorite movie scenes ever. In the film, Grant is engaged to Hepburn’s sister, but in this scene he starts to realize that maybe Hepburn is the better match. Of course, we’ve known this all along.