Cary Grant: A Brilliant Disguise

Scott Eyman. Simon & Schuster, $35 (576p) ISBN 978-1-5011-9211-1
Film historian Eyman (Hank and Jim) presents an enjoyable if overstuffed biography that reveals screen legend Cary Grant (1904–1986) as a man whose self-presentation as a “matchless specimen of masculine charm” masked deep insecurities. Born Archibald Alexander Leach in Bristol, England, Grant had an unsettled upbringing, thanks to his alcoholic father and neurotic, smothering mother, which would “leave him needing and rejecting love... almost simultaneously” throughout his life. The book is at its best when depicting Grant’s early years as an acrobat and vaudevillian, which took him to America. Eyman then chronicles Grant’s early—and often terrible—forays into film, followed by masterworks such as His Girl Friday, The Philadelphia Story, and Notorious. The back-lot gossip will most likely entertain casual fans more than the intricate box office and budget details. The longtime speculation about Grant’s bisexuality comes up often, but would benefit from more nuanced consideration. Other threads involve Grant’s multiple marriages and notorious stinginess (house guests reported receiving laundry and phone bills from the wealthy star). But also on display is his generosity of spirit with less experienced costars and colleagues, and his devotion to his only child, Jennifer, born late in his life to fourth wife Dyan Cannon. Though overlong and burdened by extraneous detail, this showbiz chronicle creates an insightful portrait of a man at war with himself. (Oct.)
Reviewed on : 06/24/2020
Release date: 10/01/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-7971-1410-1
Compact Disc - 978-1-7971-1412-5
Book - 978-1-5011-9139-8
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