Cary Grant Screwball Comedies

One of the greatest leading men in Hollywood history. Cary Grant was charming, classically handsome, endlessly charismatic, and able to turn in a stunning dramatic performance. He also had no qualms about making himself look like a complete and udder fool for the betterment of a film. This made the Bristol native a staple of the screwball comedy during his storied career. These quick and zany pictures packed with gags seemed tailor-made for Grant. The dignified way he carries himself made him the perfect target for the high society-skewering these films often engaged in and his dashing good looks made him perfect for the romantic angles as well. Most importantly he perfected the art of comedic timing in both a verbal and physical style.

The Awful Truth (1937): While Cary Grant had been acting in Hollywood for a while, this flick proved to be his breakout role. A series of mishaps involving a vacation, a music teacher, and poor communication leads to Jerry (Grant) and his spouse Lucy (Irene Dunne) filing for divorce. But their time apart makes the two realize that they need each other and the two proceed to ruin any potential relationships they may try to forge while apart. With the amount of freedom allowed by director Leo McCarey, Grant and Dunne were able to crank up the funny to their potential for this film.

Bringing Up Baby (1938): Legendary director Howard Hawks needed a straight man to play off of Katharine Hepburn in this zany romantic comedy. Upon seeing Cary Grant in the Awful Truth, he knew he had found his unlikely actor. Stuffy paleontologist Dr. David Huxley (Grant) who finds himself unwittingly paired with the scatter-brained and eccentric Susan (Hepburn) to take care of transporting her new Baby to her family farm. In case you were wondering Baby is a leopard. Madness involving a wild jungle cat and a dog burying priceless artifacts ensues. It all culminates with the nonstop hilarity of a packed jailhouse. While it did not make many waves upon it’s initial release, Bringing Up Baby is now recognized as a certified classic of cinema.

His Girl Friday (1940):When Hawks made what is regarded by many as his definitive film, he reteamed with Grant who proved he was more than capable of handling the filmmaker’s rapidfire style. On the eve of an innocent man going to the gallows, newspaper editor Walter Burns (Grant) needs his top reporter Hildy (Rosalind Russell) on the case. Unfortunately, Hildy is his ex-wife and is prepping to marry a new man (Ralph Bellamy) and leave the newspaper business forever. But this case proves to juicy for the tenacious reporter to neglect and she dives right back behind the typewriter. The stage play which served as the source material featured two men, but after a run through with his secretary, Hawks realized things rolled better with the protagonists being former spouses and magic was made. Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell verbally spar with fast-paced hilarity, and in the process become one of cinema’s most iconic duos.

The Philadelphia Story (1940): Socialite Tracy Lord (Katharine Hepburn), the most sought after bachelorette in the country is getting married and tabloid professionals Mike and Liz (Jimmy Stewart and Ruth Hussey) see opportunity. Using Lord’s ex-husband, CK Dexter Haven (Grant) as their in to gain entry to the wedding they get tangled up in a grand hilarious relationship mess. Tracy falls for Mike who Liz is crushing on, all the while Dexter realizes he is still in love with his ex-wife and sets out to win her back. With a sharp script and an all-star cast, the Philadelphia Story has more than earned its place in movie history.

Arsenic and Old Lace (1944): Becoming the hottest hit on Broadway it was only a matter of time before someone brought this dark comedy masterpiece to the big screen. Recently married writer, Mortimer (Grant) returns home to make the big announcement to his kooky aunts (Josephine Hull and Jean Adair) as well as his brother Teddy who believes himself to be 26th president Teddy Roosevelt (John Alexander). During this visit he discovers his elderly Aunt Abby and Aunt Martha have taken up the hobby of serial murder. As if this is not enough, Mortimer’s brother Jonathan (Raymond Massey) and his nefarious friend Dr. Einstein (Peter Lorre) show up in the picture with their own murderous tendencies.

Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948): Advertising executive on the rise Jim Blandings (Grant) aspires to move his wife Muriel (Myrna Loy) and two daughters out of their cramped apartment and into a lovely, custom built home in the country. But when his big dreams meet reality nothing goes right from the start. From the moment he overpays for the property itself, the cost of everything begins to spiral out of control and to make matters worse the Blandings’ loose their current residence and are forced to move into the half-completed house. In addition to this, Jim and Muriel face marital issues and the new meat-type product he has to market is bringing professional woes. While the plot of this film provided plenty of opportunity for Mr. Blandings Builds his Dream House to be a downer, but Grant’s ability to take the worst like a champ makes it nonstop hilarity. He finds a perfect partner in Loy, who’s talent for dry sarcastic quips add just then right amount of zest to everything.