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MORE favourite dead not-American actors: an Advent Calendar

Day 12: Cary Grant

It’s incredibly hard to think of anything to say about Cary that hasn’t been said a million times, but one thing about him, which I find always interesting, is that the idea of Cary Grant - you know, suave, charming, unruffleable, amused by the world - is only one part of him, and one side of his acting, and the roles he plays. It’s got a lot to do with Hitchcock, of course, 1950s Hitch in particular, as well as a lot of those later-career roles (Charade, Indiscreet). And that Cary is awesome, obviously, but oh I do like the other Carys as well. 

There’s screwball Cary, of course, overwhelmed by Kate H, squawking through Arsenic and Old Lace, trading jibes and zingers with Rosalind Russell. But inbetween these two extremes there are a lot of enjoyable and interesting variations. The trouble with Cary is that he makes the suave and the screwball look so easy, and it’s a short leap to then think, well, he’s not really acting that much is he? He’s just being Cary Grant. 

But he is acting, and what’s more, he’s damn good. Comic acting is as much - if not more of - a skill than dramatic acting. Timing, lightness of touch, underplaying - all of these things count a great deal. And he’s adept at mixing comedy into his dramas, and vice versa - look at The Bishop’s Wife or Talk of the Town (both ace, watch those); and of course look at the other Hitch films, the 1940s ones. Really, look at them, because they’re terrific. Cary is pretty much always a joy to watch, but there’s a real sense of something greater, more interesting, in those films. 

Favourite Role: Johnny Case in Holiday (1938) which is my fave of the Grant/Hepburn films (seriously, why isn’t is as well feted as Bringing Up Baby or The Philadelphia Story?) - it manages to be a philosophical, anti-materialistic romantic comedy that is a constant delight. It has an awesome cast (shout out esp to Lew Ayres as the adorable Neddy) and a corker of a script, and is not afraid to think, as well as entertain. 

Another good place to start: if you ignore the studio-enforced ending, then Suspicion (1941) is one of the best roles and performances of Cary’s career. Who better than Cary to play the most charming of sociopaths? None, that’s who. Plus Joan Fontaine (*heart eyes*) and a wonderful Nigel Bruce. It’s tainted by the ending, and so never quite makes the list of top HItch films, but it’s terrific. (Notorious, of course, is also all round terrific, but I always rec that.) Also Indiscreet (1958) which re-teams him with Ingrid Bergman for a sassy, snappy, adult romantic comedy. Some of Cary’s later roles are a bit squicky, as he’s the romantic lead still to an increasingly younger female co-star. But Ingrid is his age, and his equal, and of course fucking amazing, and it’s a joy of a film. 

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I cannot even begin to explain how much I want them to finish this specific conversation, because I think that this is an important hurdle to them really being able to function in a relationship perfectly. There is so much unspoken tension, hurt and grief in this incident, and it’s never been resolved.

And the thing that pains me most is that they’re both right. Jemma - oh, how Jemma feels the responsibility for those who have laid their lives down for her. She feels responsible for Will’s death, saving her to get her back home. She bears the weight of the of the Inhumans killed by Lash. I’m certain she still feels responsible for Fitz’s aphasia. She even feels responsible over so much that isn’t even her fault (Trip’s death); that the poor girl is carrying more than she can bear on her back. So, it’s not surprising at all that she doesn’t want to add to that weight. Putting Lincoln through this - this is her contributing to that reckless behavior that gets everyone around her hurt or killed. This is guilt and grief that keeps her up at night, that threatens to suffocate her, she doesn’t want more.

But, Fitz is right, too. They’re SHIELD agents. They’ve been taught to put their lives on the line for others and for the good of humanity. Without (most of) Fitz’s reckless gestures, neither of them would be here. If he didn’t force Jemma to take the oxygen, they might have run out before they could have gotten out of the pod and died. If he hadn’t spent the six months searching for her despite all evidence telling him to stop, he never would have figured out what happened to Jemma. If he hadn’t jumped into the portal, Jemma might still be on Maveth. And, here, most importantly, Fitz knows the desperation and helplessness that Lincoln is feeling, the desire to help and just do something, the odds be damned because the other person is more important than the odds (and your life).

I’m looking forward to the moment where they finally lay these emotions on the table, where Jemma explains to Fitz that despite her gratitude for what he’s done for her, it does weigh on her. That she carries tremendous guilt and doesn’t want to live in a world without him, and yet he keeps making choices that could make them end up that way - make her live with that guilt for the rest of her life. Where Fitz tells her that he’s sorry, that making her feel responsible was never something he wanted to do, he just simply wanted to make sure that she made it out alive in the end. And, they can think back to moments where their roles were reversed, where Jemma hit Fitz in the back of the head with a fire hydrant just to make sure he wouldn’t interfere with her trying to save him and the team, where Fitz screamed for her, unable to envision a future without her, and understand where the other is coming from. And finally, come to an understanding and lay to rest a deep and difficult chapter in their lives.