"Not quite as fucked as Cary Grants other roles" Please shame Cary Grant movies. Please.
okay to be clear i love cary grant movies, i really do, but i have also accepted that his romances can pretty much be summarized as, “lady, you’re a huge asshole, and if you marry this normal man you will ruin his life, but i’m also an asshole and that means we belong together in an asshole quarantine of a relationship regardless of how often you insist that you’re not normally an asshole and i just bring out the worst in you”
His Girl Friday is pretty bad in this regard, but it’s pretty easy to see the intent and how the execution falls flat when viewed through a modern lens. the intent is that an exceptional woman is trying to make herself something she’s not in order to fit with what she believes she’s supposed to want, and because cary grant loves her he wants to save her from herself by reminding her of who she really is. but since he was enough of a shithead that she divorced him and he’s shown no signs of fixing his fuck-ups and they keep telling instead of showing that hildy and bruce won’t work, he just comes off as a lying, manipulative, gaslighting fuckhead (and also, as discussed, p racist).
Philadelphia Story runs into similar problems, and honestly, most of them could be fixed by just letting tracy and dexter stay married and getting rid of george entirely. george is symptomatic of the worst of the fucked politics of the movie, since his whole deal is that he’s kind of a rude jerk who sucks - because he’s nouveau riche and gauche and lacking the literal class of the old money characters. this is also a movie where they specifically had to film in a house much less nice than a real mansion, because the filmmakers thought that seeing the actual level of opulence enjoyed by the truly rich would be too shocking for the average american. so just… get rid of george and the code-necessitated marriage conceit and give mike a different reason to show up as a scandalmongering tabloid reporter and make the movie about infidelity and let dexter actually defend tracy against her shitty father and focus his criticisms on actual flaws like being a judgey hypocrite.
i don’t know when this post turned into trying to fix those movies to better adhere to the intent versus the results but i’m exhausted right now so here we are, this is what’s happening
in sylvia scarlett… okay i can’t actually tell you the plot of sylvia scarlett, i spent the whole movie distracted by the fact that katharine hepburn in drag looks just like david bowie and is unbelievably hot.
(hepburn on the left, bowie on the right)
i’m sure it sticks to the general “let’s be in asshole quarantine together” theme but who can pay attention to plots with a view like that. was she kinda gay in this or am i just remembering what i wanted to be true?
anyway the worst of the worst in terms of cary grant movies with really fucked politics is probably That Touch Of Mink, it’s just, god where do i even start. cary grant plays a benevolent millionaire (billionaires weren’t really a thing yet) who is unimpeachably good in every possible way including his donations to charity and participation in world politics except that he likes to have lots of one night stands. his assistant hates him, because he is rich and gets mad laid, even though he is well paid and gets lots of benefits and his benevolent boss keeps giving him bonuses, because he is a neurotic prude who just hates rich people for no reason. cary grant, a Real Man, has to pay for his assistant’s therapy, because he is a Modern Man who is foppish and weak as well as resentful of the Real Man’s hard-earned wealth and scrooge mcduck vault of vaginas. cary grant brings a broke young woman with him to bermuda and doesn’t have sex with her despite The Implication which is how you know how good and patient he is. did i mention the assistant? look: it’s bizarre. it’s so goddamn bizarre. i was so distracted by the sheer fuckedness of it all that i couldn’t even appreciate… anything. apparently cary grant hated this movie, which would be reassuring except that he also disliked Arsenic and Old Lace which was a goddamn triumph and contains no problematic elements aside from all the murder as far as i can recall.
anyway: code-era hollywood films had a lot of issues in general, and in some cases it’s not even really worth mentioning imho (i.e.: “this movie is casually heteronormatively sexist” yeah no shit “this latina is played by a white lady with dark hair” that still happens) but in other cases it is super distracting because did someone actually believe this (i.e.: “the corrupt government punishes white men to appease black voters” what “people hate nice rich people even though the nice rich people let their wealth trickle down” uh)