The Return of Archibald Leach

Archibald Leach was a con man. Too harsh? He wouldn’t think so. But if you prefer, call him a self-made man. In Hollywood in the 1930s, Leach transformed himself from a gawky, overeager British vaudevillian into a dapper romantic lead with a rare flair for comedy. This fresh persona dovetailed nicely with his new name: Cary Grant. One of the greatest stars the cinema has ever produced, Grant had the self-deprecating charm to play well-off heels and morally challenged rakes without turning the audience against him. To the contrary, they wanted him to win. The weeklong series Cary Grant: Definitive Star proves the point time and again. Today, in Howard Hawks’ 1940 cynical and immortal newspaper yarn, His Girl Friday (2:50 and 7:50 p.m.), he schemes and scams as a shameless editor who cajoles his ex-wife (the equally sharp Rosalind Russell) — who is also his best ex-reporter — into covering a high-profile execution. In Hawks’ 1939 romantic drama Only Angels Have Wings (4:35 and 8:45 p.m.), Grant is a pilot operating a mail-delivery service over the Andes (Con Air, if you will). Grant adds some old-fashioned machismo to his witty, winning formula, which works wonders on Jean Arthur and Rita Hayworth. All these years later, it still has the desired effect on us.
Aug. 31-Sept. 6, 2011

 
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