Cary Grant

Cary Grant

A Class Apart

Book - 1996
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Baker & Taylor
A biography narrating how the English working-class boy Archie Leach transformed himself into the actor Cary Grant and a role model of elegance and class for the socially ambitious around the world

Book News
A biography narrating how the English working-class boy Archie Leach transformed himself into the actor Cary Grant and a role model of elegance and class for the socially ambitious around the world. Also points out vestiges of his past, and reveals secrets such as his spy work and his rumored homosexuality. Originally published in 1996 by Fourth Estate, London. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.

Publisher: New York : Columbia University Press, c1996.
ISBN: 9780231108843
0231108842
Branch Call Number: 920 GRANT, C.
Characteristics: xii, 346 p. : ill. ; 24 cm.

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BertBailey
Jan 27, 2013

I read another book on Grant (Nancy Nelson's Evenings with Cary Grant Recollections in His Own Words and by Those Who Knew Him Best), but grew impatient trying to find some insights about the man: it was all praise, praise, praise: what a gent, a charmer, broad-minded, tall and handsome, decent with women, etc. Yet it mentioned without explanation or 2nd thoughts that at least 3 of his 4 divorces were for his alleged "mental cruelty." Didn't add up. This book, by contrast, covers some material that shows he wasn't quite a saint - so that was a relief (shouted at the TV his objections about so much plastic surgery in Hollywood, a bit too controlling of his first wife, etc. - a real person, that is). It also analyzes his style and gifts as an actor with insight. More than this, though, its balanced, considered discussions of the man and his work fill the book. McCann also follows through with a thematic thread that intrigued Grant as well, namely, how the near-Cockney Brit Archie Leach converted himself into Yank gent Cary Grant, known for his common touch and no upper-class snobbery: how that happened, what it involved, who helped with the transformation, and why it was central to his career. While the organization is by themes, it's also more or less chronological. McCann is obviously intelligent, and his views are expressed carefully and well. [One exception: he uses "refute" (p129) as synonymous with 'strongly denied'! Grrr. But it was _not_ characteristic.) McCann's is as fine book on the man and semi-enigma that was Cary Grant, loved by everyone yet deeply private, whose films and popularity put him at the top of his field from the mid-30s to the mid-60s. No one else had ever done that in film, or is ever likely to again. Strongly recommended to all his fans.

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