Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Grant & Stewart -v- Cooper & Gable ...

Cary Grant and James Stewart now seem the most popular and timeless of the classic male stars – maybe each having done 4 films with Hitchcock, which are always on show somewhere, helps? (NOTORIOUS, REAR WINDOW, VERTIGO, NORTH BY NORTHWEST are certainly timeless classics). Whereas Clark Gable and Gary Cooper seem not as popular now and did not leave any late classics for us to mull over –well, apart from the elegaic THE MISFITS for Gable …

Both Grant and Stewart also had runs of popular films in the second half of the Fiftes; Grant squiring the likes of Kelly, Kerr, Bergman, Loren and continuing into the Sixties with the tailormade hit CHARADE, before bowing out in 1966; whereas Stewart also had that good run of Anthony Mann westerns and popular hits like THE GLENN MILLER STORY and ANATOMY OF A MURDER, he too continued into the Sixties playing bumbling fathers in Fox comedies and still busy in westerns.

Gable and Cooper though had gone by the dawn of the Sixties – Gable dying at 59 in 1960, and Cooper aged 60 in 1961. Like Spencer Tracy they seem to have aged rapidly, perhaps after years of hard living. Their later films, while entertaining and popular enough at the time, do not get much exposure these days ... 

Wyler’s FRIENDLY PERSUASION may be Coop’s last big hit, in 1956, we like it a lot and he is perfect in it.. He followed this with LOVE IN THE AFTERNOON which - despite Audrey Hepburn -  was a lesser-seen Wilder (which did not work for me at all), then a Jerry Wald literary adaptation (from O’Hara) for Fox: TEN NORTH FREDERICK, and two tough westerns: Mann’s MAN OF THE WEST and Daves’ THE HANGING TREE, in Rossen’s turgid THEY CAME TO CORDURA in 1959 he and Rita Hayworth are both touching – two beauties ravaged by time (what a difference 20 years makes), and he finished with two Michael Anderson thrillers made in England: he is effective in THE WRECK OF THE MARY DEARE with Heston, but ill-at-ease as the murder suspect (as if he would kill Deborah Kerr!) in the weak THE NAKED EDGE in 1961.

Gable after some routine westerns scored with Doris Day in TEACHER’S PET, and guyed his older image in the delightful BUT NOT FOR ME with Lilli Palmer and Carroll Baker in 1959, and was then off to romance Sophia Loren (30 years younger than him) in the popular IT STARTED IN NAPLES (left) before returning to the States for the tough shoot of THE MISFITS for Huston. Did all the delays and doing those stunts with the horses bring on his early demise? He certainly looked sadly aged here.

Perhaps if they – Coop and Gable – had the longevity of Grant and Stewart we may have seen more from them and maybe some more classics – not from Hitchcock though, by the Sixties he was using younger actors: Rod Taylor, Connery, Newman. 

Perhaps the Grant and Stewart personas with their constant sense of humour (even in serious roles)  fitted in better with suit-and-tie mid-century America, and those Hitchcocks certainly helped, Gable and Coop seemed more at home at war or out west. Gable used to finish at 5.00pm every day regardless and seemed happy doing mainly routine fare, cast with the likes of Lana Turner, Jane Russell or Ava Gardner. At least his later films got him Doris Day, Sophia Loren and Marilyn Monroe, and of course he had those constant revivals of GONE WITH THE WIND to keep his brand alive. 


  1. not from Hitchcock though, by the Sixties he was using younger actors: Rod Taylor, Connery, Newman.

    Didn't Hitchcock try to get Cary Grant for TORN CURTAIN?