Cary Grant behind Alfred Hitchcock’s audacious ‘double bluff’ that stunned viewers | Films | Entertainment


Trailer: Becoming Cary Grant by Mark Kidel

Filmstar Cary Grant is back on screens today as his celebrated flick His Girl Friday airs from 2.30pm on Film4. The 1940 comedy, which also stars Rosalind Russell, follows the story of newspaper editor Walter Burns, who discovers his best reporter is planning to quit her job — she’s also his ex-wife. In a desperate bid to win her back, Burns tries a number of different ploys to again secure the love of his old flame.

The Howard Hawks directed film was chosen for preservation in the United States National Film Registry of the Library of Congress as “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” in 1993.

It also holds an approval rating of 99 percent on film aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, which states: “Anchored by stellar performances from Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell, His Girl Friday is possibly the definitive screwball romantic comedy.”

British-born Grant is among the most cherished stars of Tinsel Town, and was named the second greatest male star of Golden Age Hollywood, behind only Humphrey Bogart.

Among his greatest roles include that featured in 1941’s Suspicion, the thriller directed by Sir Alfred Hitchcock.

Cary Grant behind Alfred Hitchcock’s audacious ‘double bluff’ that stunned viewers (Image: GETTY)

Alfred Hitchcock

Alfred Hitchcock (Image: GETTY)

Biographer Graham McCann, who wrote Cary Grant: A Class Apart, detailed how the actor and director managed to stun audiences with a famous “double bluff”.

Grant, who was born Archibald Leach, noted how “everybody wanted to be Cary Grant”, and that “even I want to be Cary Grant”.

Hitchcock, seemingly, also wanted to be Grant, as the pair would go on to collaborate a number of times, firstly on Suspicion, and later on Rebecca.

In the film Grant plays Johnnie Aysgarth opposite his on-screen wife Joan Fontaine, who would go on to clinch an Oscar for her role.

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Alfred Hitchcock was influential on Cary Grant's career

Alfred Hitchcock was influential on Cary Grant’s career (Image: GETTY)

Fontaine’s character is swept off her feet by Grant’s, though she soon learns of the financial turmoil he is in, and that he has no ambition beyond gambling.

McCann said: “Hitchcock had wanted Grant for the role precisely because of such audience expectations.

“He knew that audiences on seeing Johnnie Aysgarth would know that he was Cary Grant, so that however bleak the situation might become, they would not believe that a character played by Grant could really turn out to be a murderer.

“Hitchcock, therefore, planned to execute an audacious double-bluff, revealing Grant’s character to be as bad, as cold, as evil as he had seemed to be, thereby administering a shock far beyond anything that the plot itself could have been expected to deliver.”

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Filming locations in UK

Filming locations in UK (Image: EXPRESS)

Away from the camera, Grant’s personal life was often scrutinised.

Even years after his death in 1986, those linked with the Bristol-born actor shutdown claims of romances, including with Italian icon Sophia Loren.

Reports from the set of 1957 film The Pride and the Passion suggested an affair between Grant and Loren developed.

But in 2020, the star told the Radio Times exactly what happened.

Cary Grant and Alfred Hitchcock

Cary Grant and Alfred Hitchcock (Image: GETTY)

She said: “Cary Grant was a very handsome man and a wonderful actor, but he didn’t propose.”

Loren noted how it would have been “impossible” for Grant to propose while on set together, due to the huge age gap between the pair.

The actress was 23 during filming, more than three decades younger than her English counterpart.

In Loren’s 2014 memoir, Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow: My Life, the 87-year-old noted that while Grant was with his third wife at the time, he remained determined in his pursuit of the Italian.

His Girl Friday airs from 2.30pm on Film4.



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