Mark Kidel’s lively documentary Becoming Cary Grant is refreshingly different from the traditional actor portraits. This documentary does not follow the conventional biographical film form with a cavalcade of talking heads and film excerpts. Instead it focuses on specific time periods on the life of Grant the comedic master and one of Hitchcock’s brightest stars.
The documentary comes alive through unique excerpts from Grant’s own perfectly composed home videos. In his home movies, found in 8 mm, 16 mm, and 35 mm, Grant immortalises his wives through his lens, and more importantly portrays the problems this worldly man is facing. Grant’s fear of losing loved ones and the need for psychotherapy is portrayed as well as the use of drugs (LSD treatments are mentioned, apparently Cary Grant experienced over a hundred ‘trips’ in the 1950’s).
This documentary turns away from fluff and sensationalism and offers an interesting take on a major star’s life – both on a public and a personal level. In his old days the unforgettable charmer of such films as The Philadelphia Story and North by Northwest finds relief in the company of several women, while the appearance of his daughter brings meaning to life. (TM)