Cary Grant (book review)

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I can’t remember how old I was the first time I saw a Cary Grant film, but I do remember always wanting to be like Cary Grant. Graham McCann captures this sentiment that I apparently shared with many, many others in his book Cary Grant: A Class Apart.

Cary Grant was born Archie Leach, but he became Cary Grant. Although this was an attempt to expand beyond his lower class upbringing in Bristol, England, Cary never left Archie nor Bristol behind. Instead, he used these humble beginnings to keep himself grounded as he became more successful and more popular. 

Mr. McCann does an excellent job taking us through the growth of Cary Grant, and showing us how his maturing was seen in both the movie roles he accepted, and how he acted in those movies. After reading this book, I am seeing things differently in his movies than I saw them originally.

Cary remained very guarded about his personal life, not often giving interviews. And even when he did grant interviews, they seldom delved into his personal affairs. Mr. McCann is very studious about quoting others who were close to Cary, and deflating those “urban legend” reports that were based on mere hearsay. 

Throughout this very well-researched biography, you will appreciate Cary’s development as an actor, the precision he brought to all of his movie roles, and the behind-the-scenes work he did that rarely got noticed outside of Hollywood. Inside Hollywood, however, someone once quipped, “Cary has earned so many Oscars for all those who have worked with him.” 

Those who appreciate quality films, and especially those who have followed Cary Grant’s filmography, will learn so much more from this exceptional biography.

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