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The Life, Loves, and Film Career of Cary Grant (1904-1986): the Film Music of Charade (1963) and Walk, Don’t Run (1966).

By John P. Walsh

Cary Grant made 72 films in a 34-year Hollywood career. Grant made his last six films in the 1960’s. After a successful acting career spanning four decades—Grant’s film debut was in 1932 for the Paramount Pictures’ comedy This is the Night and he received an honorary Oscar in 1970– he chose to retire from the silver screen in 1966. In that time, Cary Grant had become a household name synonymous with suavity, comedy, drama, romance, and his perpetually tanned-and-pressed good looks.

“Ours is a collaborative medium—we all need each other,” Cary Grant said as he accepted his honorary Oscar from presenter and friend Frank Sinatra at the 42nd Annual Academy Awards ceremony on April 7, 1970 at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles, California. He thanked the audience who gave him a standing ovation for “being privileged to be part of Hollywood’s most glorious era.”

Grant’s final film came in 1966 with the summer release of the comedy, Walk, Don’t Run. It was one more film made by one of Grant’s newly-formed production companies and distributed by Columbia Pictures. Not coincidentally, in February of that same year, the 62-year-old Grant, who had married his fourth wife, 29-year-old Dyan Cannon in June 1965, became a father for the first time. Grant called his baby daughter his “best production” and looked to give her the best of his attention and time. Grant opined: “My life changed the day Jennifer was born. I’ve come to think that the reason we’re put on this earth is to procreate. To leave something behind. Not films, because you know that I don’t think my films will last very long once I’m gone. But another human being. That’s what’s important.”

Cary Grant and wife Dyan Cannon with their baby daughter who was born on February 26, 1966.

Grant starting wooing Dyan Cannon in 1962. Within a three-year whirlwind courtship, as well as becoming eventually pregnant with Grant’s baby, a 28-year-old Dyan Cannon in 1965 sought once more a marriage proposal from one of cinema’s best, perhaps the best, and most important actors. But, once married, Dyan Cannon soon discovered that their marital relationship was more polite and frosty than she had expected to face with Hollywood’s quintessential leading man. On March 20, 1968, less than three years after tying the knot in a secret wedding ceremony in Las Vegas, Nevada, followed by flying to England in a private jet supplied by Grant’s longtime friend, magnate Howard Hughes, Cannon sought and was granted a divorce. As Cary Grant’s former wife and mother of his only child, Cannon did receive alimony from Grant to raise their daughter but the up-and-coming actress had to sort things out more completely after their break-up. Theirs had been a love affair with many memorable romantic moments. But Grant’s earlier confidence to Cannon when they were dating could have been seen as a warning of sorts if things happened to get more serious. “I don’t know what it is, but something happens to love when you formalize it,” Grant told her. “It cuts off the oxygen.”

Grant appears in character as an angel named Dudley in this promotional photograph for the 1947 fantasy romance film, The Bishop’s Wife. By seductively playing a certain song on the harp, Dudley convinces a rich woman to support the bishop’s cathedral building project. In real life, Grant was an ardent piano player.

When Grant asked to meet Dyan, she assumed it was for an acting part. Grant began his romance with then 25-year-old Dyan Cannon in 1962. By fall of 1962 the couple flew from California to New York where Cannon began rehearsing for The Fun Couple, a Broadway comedy play starring Jane Fonda and directed by Andreas Voutsinas. Grant meanwhile worked with film director Stanley Donen on Charade, an upcoming romantic comedy, pseudo-Hitchcock mystery thriller that Grant would co-star in with Audrey Hepburn. Hepburn had been filming another romantic comedy, Paris When it Sizzles, with William Holden.

Promotional poster for Stanley Donen’s Hitchcockian suspense thriller, Charade. The hit 1963 film was made in Paris in 1962 and 1963 and released at Christmas 1963. It starred Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn.

The Main Title for Charade with its punchy animated titles by Maurice Binder (1918-1991) was composed by Henry Mancini (1924-1994). At 39 years old Mancini was an Academy Award-winning composer — Breakfast at Tiffany’s in 1961 and Days of Wine and Roses in 1962. Charade would begin a number of successful collaborations for Mancini with Stanley Donen in the 1960’s, including Arabesque in 1966 starring Sophia Loren and Gregory Peck and Two For the Road in 1967 with Audrey Hepburn and Albert Finney.

Henry Mancini, c. 1970. The Main Theme from Charade was the first of a number of successful film score collaborations Mancini had with director Stanley Donen in the 1960’s.

On the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart a slightly longer vocal version of Charade reached no. 36 and was one of two top-40 pop hits for Mancini in 1963. It peaked at no. 15 on the Adult Contemporary chart. Charade produced one of Mancini’s eighteen Academy Awards nominations (he won four) for Best Original Song. The Oscar that year went to Jimmy Van Heusen and Sammy Cahn for “Call Me Irresponsible” from Papa’s Delicate Condition, a comedy starring Jackie Gleason and Glynis Johns.

Maurice Binder did film title designs for dozens of films but is particularly known for ones he did for Stanley Donen such as Charade, as well as Indiscreet in 1958, The Grass Is Greener in 1960, and Bedazzled in 1967. Maurice Binder is also famous for 16 James Bond film titles he designed starting with the first Bond film, Dr. No, in 1962. In 1991 Binder explained the genesis of his main titles for Bond: “That was something I did in a hurry, because I had to get to a meeting with the producers in twenty minutes. I just happened to have little white, price tag stickers and I thought I’d use them as gun shots across the screen. We’d have James Bond walk through fire, at which point blood comes down onscreen. That was about a twenty-minute storyboard I did, and they said, this looks great!”

Bond Films Openings. Maurice Binder created the series’ first “Gun Barrel Sequence” for Dr. No in 1962.

Charade’s animated Main Title and music follows a wide screen shot of a quiet pre-dawn countryside in Europe as a speeding train eventually approaches and screeches past. A body is dumped out of the moving train, plunges down the ravine and stops in a ditch, the camera providing a close-up of the dead victim’s face. Colorful animation follows of pinwheels as the relentless wood-block-driven music heighten tension for what will be two charming lovers caught in a mysterious web of criminals after money.

Stills montage of Maurice Binder’s Main Title for Charade that accompanies Henry Mancini’s music.

Grant reluctantly left Cannon and the comforts of his suite at the Plaza in New York to make his way to Paris to shoot Charade (Hepburn’s home was near Paris). Walking along the left bank of the River Seine near Notre Dame is the Pont au Double bridge, just below the Quai de Montebello. During the filming of Charade, Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn walk along the riverbank below this bridge as they discuss who the killer is. Just outside of Parc Monceau is the Musée Cernuschi on the Avenue Velasquez. The museum is featured in Charade, where it is used as Reggie’s apartment which she finds ransacked after returning from a holiday ski trip. Located near the Louvre is the Palais Royal which was originally the residence of Cardinal Richelieu, and later the property of the King of France housing apartments, offices, shops and restaurants. The Palais Royal appears in Charade in its final scenes when the real Carson Dyle is revealed and shooting begins.

Shooting scenes for Charade involved many locations in Paris.

When Dyan Cannon had her first holiday break from Broadway rehearsals at Christmas, she hopped on a flight to Paris. Arriving on Boxer Day in 1962, Grant and Cannon spent the next several days together in his hotel. On New Year’s Eve, Grant and Cannon were the special guests of Audrey Hepburn and her husband Mel Ferrer at their castle. There was a sumptuous dinner and many flights of crisp and creamy French champagne. Cannon flew back to the States on January 2, 1963, after a most pleasant holiday. She resumed her theater work in New York City while Grant and friends stayed on in Paris to continue filming Charade.

Cary Grant, making his 70th film, was reluctant to leave the U.S. for Paris for the several months in late 1962 and early 1963 it took to film Charade. It premiered at Radio City Music Hall in New York City on Christmas Day 1963.

Radio City Music Hall in 2008.

The film Charade is well-known for its Hitchcock-style inspiration and screenplay by the original story’s author Peter Stone (1930-2003). From Stone’s 1961 short story, The Unsuspecting Wife, the film Charade offers witty lines and a head-knocking, heart-pounding whodunit. In Charade, Regina “Reggie” Lampert (Hepburn) is on winter holiday in the French Alps. Returning to her home in Paris, she is shocked to find that it has been ransacked of everything of value. The mysterious victim in the Main Title and the mysterious man Reggie just met on holiday in Grenoble– Peter Joshua, alias Alexander Dyle, alias Adam Canfield, alias Brian Cruikshank (Cary Grant) –merge into her life to help her solve the mystery of why these crimes have occurred and what they mean. Charade is about hidden money, spies and larcenists, double-crossing and being on the run. Besides that, it’s a love story. Charade was one of the last of a long line of suspense-screwball comedy films –a staple Hollywood film genre since the 1930’s–that faded out during the tumultuous 1960’s and not to reappear until the 1980’s.

Charade opened on December 25, 1963 at Radio City Music Hall. The film made six million dollars while the reviews, though mixed, were mostly positive. Critics did remark on the age difference between the romantic leads –a 59-year-old Cary Grant and 34-year-old Audrey Hepburn. By early 1964 the perfectly suave and likeable leading man for over 30 years was beginning to think about retirement. But there were still some things he hoped to accomplish first.

Charade in the rear view mirror, Grant came home just as Cannon became mostly absent. Throughout 1964 and much of 1965 Cannon had done no film work yet but continued her theater career as she was touring the country in the musical How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. Looking for something to do with his time, Grant formed a production company and made Father Goose.

Grant’s character, Walter Eckland, played against Grant’s film type. Ecklund was a bedraggled loner in the South Pacific during World War II who reluctantly takes under his protection an unmarried French school teacher (Leslie Caron) and her seven grade school students. They were suddenly made refugees from the war during a Japanese bombing raid. The heart-warming Father Goose was a mega-hit at its release during Christmas 1964 and made millions of dollars. Receipts, however, were significantly less than in each of Grant’s three previous films — Operation Petticoat in 1959 with Tony Curtis, That Touch of Mink in 1962 with Doris Day, and Charade. Despite a lot of pre-Oscar buzz, Grant wasn’t even nominated for his performance. It was one more disappointment for Grant as he worked to possibly be given an Academy Award before he might retire.

Above and below: Cary Grant in Operation Petticoat.

Cary Grant and Doris Day in the hit romantic comedy, That Touch of Mink. Grant was dismayed that his 1964 romantic comedy adventure film Father Goose made less money than Charade and almost $6 million less than That Touch of Mink in 1962 and Operation Petticoat in 1959 combined.

In June 1965, with Father Goose and the Oscars behind him and Dyan Cannon’s national tour ended—Grant and Cannon, who was now pregnant, got married. After a secret marriage ceremony in Las Vegas and a honeymoon, their news was eventually publicized. As the excitement began to settle down, Grant informed Cannon he would be making another film—and was traveling to Japan by himself for the next many months.

Newly married in June 1965 to Dyan Cannon who was expecting their baby, Grant announced he was flying to Japan to make another movie. Grant returned to California permanently just in time to drive his wife to the hospital to deliver their first child, a baby daughter, born on February 26, 1966.

Grant had formed another production company and with producer Sol C. Siegel, signed with Columbia Pictures to distribute his new film. Buying the rights to The More the Merrier, a World War II-era comedy, Grant took the role that had been nominated in the early 1940’s for an Academy Award. Grant’s 1966 remake was called Walk, Don’t Run in which he played a British industrialist, Sir William Rutland,

The music is by Quincy Jones including its main title, “Happy Feet.”

The story concerns three strangers—Sir William (Grant), American Olympic competitor Steve Davis (Jim Hutton), and a young single British expat Christine Easton (Samantha Eggar). Leading different lives they suddenly come together to share a cramped apartment in Tokyo during the busy 1964 Olympics. Grant personally selected Hutton and Eggar for their roles.

In the film, Christine, whose tiny apartment it is, would prefer a female roommate. She sublets to Sir William because he is pushy, charming and a fellow Brit in need. But he immediately sublets half of his portion to Hutton, making for three.

Comedy results from three outsized adults sharing an acutely small living space as they pursue as normally as possible their lives’ conflicting schedules. In Grant’s last film he intentionally worked it so he did not get the girl. Rather Sir William tries to get Christine, who is engaged to a boring British diplomat, to hook up with Hutton.

Walk, Don’t Run was one of Quincy Jones’s first big breaks. The 33-year-old Chicago-born Jones came to score the film after its star and Executive Producer, Cary Grant, recommended him for the job. Grant met him briefly through their mutual friend, singer Peggy Lee. From that meeting Grant felt Jones’ style would be perfect for the film and he made sure he was hired. Jones went on to enormous success as the composer of numerous film scores such as In the Heat of the Night in 1967 and The Color Purple in 1985 as well as the producer of successful pop rock recordings such as Michael Jackson’s bestselling albums, Off the Wall in 1979, Thriller in 1982, and Bad in 1987. Jones was executive producer of the 1985 global recording phenomenon, We Are The World. That collaborative recording project raised funds for victims in Ethiopia when one million people died in that country’s 1983–1985 famine. In 2013, Quincy Jones was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

After Grant returned from Asia and the baby was born, he was adamant in private and public that Walk, Don’t Run, released in June 1966, was his last film. That proved to be true. Grant stated he would not make a film with his wife, Dyan Cannon, a talented actress whose career was in front of her. Instead, Grant insisted Cannon should retire from acting and be a stay-at-home mother. None of these ideas were welcome news to Dyan Cannon, 33 years Grant’s junior. Already in 1966 she mused that, following an exciting courtship, her recent marriage to Cary Grant might already be in trouble.

NOTES:

Best production— “Hollywood loses a legend”. Montreal Gazette. December 1, 1986. p. 1. 

That’s what’s important— McCann, Graham (1997). Cary Grant: A Class Apart. Columbia University Press, 1998.

Cuts off the oxygen— http://worldnewsblogx.blogspot.com/2011/10/my-husband-cary-grant-force-fed-me-lsd.html

Charade film locations—https://www.wessexscene.co.uk/travel/2017/02/21/audrey-hepburn-in-paris/

Last film—Eliot, Marc, Cary Grant A Biography, Harmony Books, NY 2004.

Might be in trouble—Cannon, Dyan, Dear Cary: My Life with Cary Grant, 2011.

PHOTO CREDITS:

1-Cary Grant by classic film scans is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

2-Cary Grant by classic film scans is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

3-Fair use.

4-Cary Grant by twm1340 is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

5-CHARADE by Laurel L. Russwurm is marked with CC0 1.0.

6-Public domain published in a collective work i.e. periodical in the US between 1925 and 1977 and no Copyright.

7-Bond Films Openings Montage (Amalgamation) by avhell is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

8-Charade titles by Maurice Bender by Stewf is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

9-Charade_1963_Audrey_Hepburn_and_Cary_Grant public domain because it was published in the United States between 1925 and 1963 and although there may or may not have been a copyright notice, the copyright was not renewed.

10- Cary Grant, in Charade 1963 by Movie-Fan is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

11- Let’s continue this little Charade by Thiophene_Guy is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

12-Radio City Music Hall (2008) by jpellgen (@1179_jp) is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

13-Cary Grant by classic film scans is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

14-MM008600-39 by Florida Keys–Public Libraries is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

15- Cary Grant and Doris Day by classic film scans is licensed under CC BY 2.0,

16-1947 Bristol-born Hollywood film star Cary Grant alighting from Bristol Freighter G-AGVC at Los Angeles, 13 Jan 1947. by Gary Danvers is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

17- Walk, Don’t Run poster. Fair use.

18-Fair use.