Becoming Cary Grant

In his blending of the urbane and the rambunctious, he found a way to be true to his own background, which he plainly adored, while reconciling that background to the vision of a suave man-about-town that he had aspired to as a working-class young man. Although Grant’s early Hollywood image seemed a denial of his former self, he kept Leach very much with him after he came into his own: he always spoke matter-of-factly and lovingly of his working-class origins, and he savored playing Cockney characters – see Sylvia Scarlett, Gunga Din, and the uncharacteristically sober None But the Lonely Heart, his most personal film; his references to “Archie Leach,” of course, would be an affectionate running gag in his pictures. The key to his appeal was that, as Kael noted decades ago, his “romantic elegance is wrapped around the resilient, tough core of a mutt, and Americans dream of thoroughbreds while identifying with mutts.”

—Benjamin Schwarz, “Becoming Cary Grant,” The Atlantic Monthly


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