So I was thinking about Lana Turner yesterday—I think about her a lot, more than I think about Troy Donohue and he frequently comes to mind, but less than I think about Myrna Loy. I mean Myrna Loy and her house painter discussing room color choices in Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House is a brilliant movie scene just as each black-and-white shot of her radiant face in Greg Tolland’s luminous sequence of her realizing that husband Frederic March is home from the war in The Best Years of Our Lives is picture perfect. Myrna Loy never won the Oscar for any of her perceptive performances‒not even her iconic recurrent role as Nora Charles. She was never even nominated for a competitive Oscar, and won her only Oscar as a lifetime achievement honor in 1991 two years before the end of her life‒sort of an eleventh-hour apology from the Academy. I don’t remember anybody being outraged, at least I don’t think I heard of protests. Anyway, Frederic March did win the Oscar, twice, and the second time was for Best Actor in The Best Years of Our Lives. I never think about Frederic March. That’s no indictment of Frederic March’s acting, but he is just not a leading man you think about‒unlike Cary Grant, whom I think about almost as much as I do Myrna Loy.
Grant and Loy made a great couple paired on screen. In their first pairing, Wings in the Dark, Grant is a sightless pilot for whom daring aviatrix Loy proves her love by intentionally crashing their planes at Roosevelt Field. A dozen years later in The Bachelor and the Bobbysoxer, Grant is as charming as a playboy attracted to Loy, a no-nonsense jurist who has sentenced him to date her impressionable teenage sister. And then in their third pairing, Grant is Loy’s charming husband, the film’s title character, Mr. Blandings.
A decade later, the older Grant remained just as charming without Loy as his leading lady in his Return to the screen (remember Norma Desmond abhorred “Come back,” a real star made a “Return”), charming enough to obscure the film’s color photography of the French Riviera in To Catch A Thief. However no one, not even Cary Grant, is charming enough to obscure leading lady Grace Kelly‒a novice, more than 50 films, as well as 29 years Grant’s junior (Kelly was born in 1929). In Kelly’s brief 6-year Hollywood career (1951–1956), although she won her Best Actress Oscar stealing the screen from Bing Crosby, she steals it as easily from Clark Gable, William Holden, Stewart Granger, Jimmy Stewart, Ray Milland, Alec Guiness, Gary Cooper, and again from Crosby by obliterating both Crosby and Sinatra in a musical tag team, before she bolted to marry a prince. The camera loves Grace Kelly. Can anybody forget that shot of her leaning into the screen to kiss Jimmy Stewart in Rear Window? Recently, I was talking about how beautiful she is on the screen and a young film student countered, “OK so she’s perfect looking, but looking perfect doesn’t mean looking beautiful.”
And Grant is still as charming‒perhaps his most charming‒8 years after To Catch a Thief when pursued by the gamine Audrey Hepburn (like Kelly, born in 1929, Hepburn is 25 years younger than Cary Grant, but who’s counting?) in Charade. Although twice nominated, he never won the Oscar, but Cary Grant indeed became the screen’s classic man-of-the-world. And once told by an interviewer, "Everybody would like to be Cary Grant," Grant is said to have replied, "So would I."
In his long career, in addition to Myrna Loy, Grace Kelly, and Audrey Hepburn, Cary Grant worked with leading ladies Mae West, Leslie Caron, Katherine Hepburn, Sophia Loren, Anne Sheridan, Jean Arthur, Doris Day, sisters Joan and Constance Bennett, Ethel Barrymore, Jean Harlow, Marlene Dietrich, Suzy Parker, Deborah Kerr, Eva Marie Saint, Ginger Rogers, Marilyn Monroe, Ingrid Bergman, Loretta Young, Laraine Day, Joan Fontaine, Rosalind Russell, Irene Dunne, and Carole Lombard, among many others. And Cary Grant even worked twice with Lana Turner—both appear in the clips compiled for That’s Entertainment II and Grant stars in Topper where Turner briefly appears as a “nightclub patron.”