DATELINE: Cary Grant Finale
Bad, Not Good
After watching the inimitable Cary Grant’s life in his own words in a brilliant documentary, it was time to look at his last film performance, one we had missed all these years.
In 1966, silver-haired and dapper, looking no different than he had for a decade, Cary was growing disenchanted with playing a leading man opposite young women, much younger women.
So, he took a page out of an old co-star’s catalogue of film roles. In Monkey Business, he worked with oldster Charles Coburn, who played for two decades the curmudgeon old man to great delight.
Grant found a film script for The More the Merrier that Coburn had brought to the screen in the mid-1940s. It was about an old reprobate who was forced to share an apartment with a girl young enough to be his grand-daughter because of a housing shortage.
Update twenty years later, and Cary played a British baronet in Tokyo for the Olympics too early and without a place to stay. For reasons ridiculous, he ends ups forcing his way into beautiful Samantha Eggar’s small flat.
If living with ‘gramps’ was meant to be full of generational embarrassments, this film misfired badly. It was not gramps, but attractive and youthful Cary Grant. He was no Charles Coburn. Try as he might, Cary could not pull off a curmudgeon, only a curdled performance.
It is disappointing and pathetic—and perhaps gave him full convincing that it was time to walk away from movies.
Hitchcock tried to give him a few good roles in the 1960s, but Cary was done with appearing as the star, either in comedy or drama.
It’s a sad state to see a great star floundering with his wonderful manner in a bad script, miscast, and poorly directed.
Run as fast as you can from Walk, Don’t Run. It’s terrible.