OK. I have to 'fess up here to being a huge Cary Grant fan. I think all of the adjectives that he's been labelled with during his career (suave, witty, urbane, charming...) have stuck for one very good reason. They're all true! Well... I say that. Of course, I never met Cary Grant in real life unfortunately and let's face it, the guy was an actor. So I suspect only those that knew him well, know where the reality of the man parted ways from the persona he portrayed. They say, you should never meet your heroes. I would have loved to have met Cary Grant, I don't think he would have disappointed in at the very least meeting those expectations of the 'consummate all-round good guy' and the 'quintessential English gentleman'. The quote of his that most makes me smile, is one where he acknowledges the fact that the line between who he was and the characters he played had blurred:
"Everyone wants to be Cary Grant — even I want to be Cary Grant"
The only one, other than Archie Leach who's ever come close to being Cary Grant, is probably George Clooney, but alas the trappings of modern day Hollywood, have probably hindered him from doing so.
In this list of mine, there are three films starring Cary Grant, I could quite easily have filled it all with his movies. I don't think he ever made a bad film. There are loads of his films that are not quite my cup of tea, but I could still sit and watch them. There was just something about what he brought to the screen that made anything he did so completely watchable.
Anyway, enough of the fawning.
This is definitely one of my favourites of his. I suspect there's probably a review somewhere that calls this a 'sparkling screwball comedy' or something similar. But it's not 'just' a comedy. Toward the end it darkens considerably in order to get it's messages about capital punishment, corrupt government officials and the failing legal system across. The reason it works as both a genius of a comedy though and as an documentary piece, is wholly to do with Rosalind Russell's feisty and intelligent Hildy Johnson in my opinion. Russell's character matches Grant's Walter Burns — probably in hell for the way he treats some of the other characters in this film — joke for joke, quip for quip and barb for barb. One of the early scenes, sees them arguing ten to the dozen and talking over the top of each other. Neither of them willing to give way and listen to the opinion of the other. How many takes did it require to get that right! You could see the two characters being married, but the marriage lasting ten minutes. They are much too similar to be able to live under one roof these two. But similarly, they can't stand to be outside of each other's orbit.
There are numerous sub-plots, any of which could have made a film on its own! Such as the fact that Johnson needs Burns to sign their divorce paperwork as she wants to remarry. Burns wants to win his ex back away from what he sees as a life of drudgery as her husband to be is the dull and insipid insurance salesman, Bruce Baldwin. The lengths he goes to in order to insure she doesn't leave to get married to him, lead to some true comedy gold.
Absolute genius! They really don't make 'em like this anymore.