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Monkey Business Between Cary Grant and Ginger Rogers

By Edited Feb 9, 2016 4 8

Cary Grant & Ginger Rogers Fail

Critics Got It Wrong

First, I admit a lack of discretion on my part. In Brownsville Girl, Bob Dylan said about Gregory Peck, "I'll see him in anything." I'm like that about Cary Grant.

Ginger Rogers too. 

So, even though the critics originally panned this movie, I wanted to see it anyway. It's possible that Cary Grant and Ginger Rogers could make a poor movie together, but it sure isn't likely. It was a calculated gamble, and I won.

Two sides of Grant's comic genius are in full play. In his base role as an inventor who gets lost in his ideas, frequently dampening his social life with Ginger Rogers, he thinks abstractly aloud and seems barely able to get through the simplest acts with Rogers gently guiding him.

His inventor persona makes a perfect foil for his antic behavior after accidentally drinking the formula after a mischievous monkey dumps it in a water cooler. 

Grant does a cartwheel before going off to buy a car. Instead of a conservative Ford, he lands a sports convertible. Marilyn Monroe, sent to find him by her boss, Charles Coburn, arrives just in time for a wild joy ride. Her efforts to seduce him are frustrated by the terror he strikes with his crazy driving. 

Pairing Rogers with Grant results in funnier results than we saw in Bringing Up Baby, the comedy in which Grant starred with Katharine Hepburn. I love Hepburn, but her comic gifts were better suited to the sardonic asides she delivered so deftly in The Lion In Winter.

She's no match for the much broader performing Ginger Rogers. An academy award winner for her role in Kitty Foyle and a long time compliment to Fred Astaire, Rogers spins her comic style at its best when she ingests the formula and evolves from the thoughtfully balanced wife of a man-child inventor into an emotionally unbalanced hysteric. 

 

 

Monkey Business with Cary Grant & Ginger Rogers

Two of the Best in Comic Roles

Monkey Business
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While it's easy to understand why the current distributor chose to use Marilyn Monroe (her curves accented by a costume she never wears in this movie) for the cover, this movie showcases the comic talents of Cary Grant and Ginger Rogers.

Grant plays an absentminded inventor developing a formula that retards the aging process and finds one that actually reverses it.

Laughs are all over the place as he, Ginger, a monkey, Charles Coburn and his company's board of directors accidentally dose themselves and emerge as adolescent incarnations of themselves.

Cary Grant, the Master of Cool

Cary Grant, the King of Cool
Credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cary_Grant

My Favorite Cary Grant Movie

I Was a Male War Bride
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After struggling to overcome some resistance, Grant marries Ann Sheridan.

The fun starts when she tries to bring him home to the States with her. The regulations are in place only for war brides. Grant is hilarious as he tries to cope.

The Legacy of Monkey Business

Cary Grant's "Last Movie"

It's true. Grant planned to retire after finishing Monkey Business. As smooth as he appeared in his movies, he hated making them. The time wasted sitting around with nothing to do while scenes were being set up and the endless takes bored him.

Fortunately, the critics didn't like the movie, though, because unwilling to go out with a flop, Grant went on to make movies for another fifteen years, including classics like Houseboat , Charade and Alfred Hitchcock's North by Northwest.

Ginger Rogers, Brilliant Dancer, Comic and Dramatic Actress

Ginger Rogers, Brilliant Dancer, Comic and Dramatic Actress
Credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ginger_Rogers

As history is remembered, Ginger Rogers will forever be thought of as Fred Astaire's dance partner, but along with her comic performance in Monkey Business, she won an Academy Award for her dramatic lead in Kitty Foyle

Frustrated at not being paid as much as Astaire, she went on her own and, flying solo, became the highest paid actress in Hollywood - without dancing a step.

A Surprising Treat with Ginger Rogers

Tom, Dick & Harry
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Fresh off her Academy Award winning performance in Kitty Foyle, Rogers plays ten years younger as a girl fresh out of high school in her first job as a switchboard operator.

She's pursued by three men, each of them taken by her bubbly innocence. I like her final choice for marriage, but what's most impressive is how, posed against her dramatic success, she's equally adept in a vastly different role full of comic playfulness and not a hint of tragedy.

Watch for Phil Silvers in a fun cameo role.
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Comments

Sep 5, 2014 7:16am
Ruth-Cox
Yes, a good thing Monkey Business was not Grant's last movie. North By Northwest is an all-time favorite of mine.
Sep 5, 2014 8:08am
David_Stone
Agreed, Ruth, but I think I'd miss Father Goose even more. Depending on mood.
Sep 9, 2014 12:16pm
kellapat
I saw most of these movies in my young adulthood. I had a big crush on Cary Grant; his good looks are only surpassed by his comic talent. It's nice that others remember these old-time favorites!
Sep 9, 2014 1:10pm
David_Stone
I don't remember them. I was an outdoor kid in the country who watched little television and rarely went to the movies. Although I saw this one once before, a lot of the oldies are brand new movies to me. That helps them be so great.
Sep 22, 2014 8:09am
shar-On
The old movies were great, especially as they did not have the trick photography and electronics that is used in todays movies. Loved movies with Cary Grant. rated up
Sep 22, 2014 8:13am
David_Stone
Thank you. I don't think Cary Grant had a bad movie in him. He seemed to lift everything up a bit higher
Sep 22, 2014 12:51pm
LeighGoessl
Sounds great. I haven't seen this one, but will keep it in mind and/or an eye out for it. My latest TV viewing the last couple of years is largely comprised of the Turner Classic Movies channel --- I never realized what I've been missing with a lot of actors!
Sep 22, 2014 1:29pm
David_Stone
You're right, Leigh. TCM is just packed full of great films we've yet to see.

Thank you.
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