Jennifer Grant will be watching Sunday (Aug. 21) as her screen-legend father inhabits Turner Classic Movies for 24 hours straight.
Still widely considered one of the most singular of all film stars, Cary Grant will have his turn in the channel’s annual, month-long “Summer Under the Stars” festival that showcases one actor’s work each day. The lineup includes such Grant staples as “Bringing Up Baby,” “Gunga Din,” “The Philadelphia Story” and the Alfred Hitchcock-directed “North by Northwest.”
Jennifer Grant’s book “Good Stuff: A Reminiscence of My Father, Cary Grant” was published in May. Regarding Sunday’s TCM picks, she tells Zap2it, “I love the movies they’re showing. I’d seen all of Dad’s films prior to writing the book, but the book really wasn’t about his career. Many people could write better books about his history in the cinema, but the way I know him is as a father. And I have the privilege of being the only one to know that.”
Through that prism, Grant admits it’s usually the man she knew herself when she looks at the screen, more than any character he played. “I see aspects of Dad in every film,” she reflects. “There isn’t one film that I think best embodies him, but his films were all made before I was born. He had retired by then, so he wore a different hat.
“In his earlier films, he’s very much the charming bachelor. He was good-looking throughout his life, but he was just playing a different role as a father. I didn’t see the romantic lead around the house. I saw the guy who was making the bed with me and making peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches and reading ‘Sleeping Beauty.’ He had plenty of charm to throw in there, but it was a different sort of thing.
“There’s a certain vulnerability he had with me, his child,” Grant adds, “a certain lilt in his voice and a certain joy. I don’t necessarily see that in his films. I might see a glimpse, but at home, all masks were removed.”
Grant connects particularly to movies in which her father starred with much younger performers, as with Shirley Temple in “The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer,” which TCM also will show Sunday. “That’s one of the first films of his I saw, and it was cute, so I could relate for different reasons. Pictures like ‘Father Goose’ and ‘Houseboat’ (which also involved children prominently) have a special resonance for me, because the subject matter translated better.”
Also the daughter of actress Dyan Cannon, Grant played Celeste, one of the girlfriends of Steve Sanders (Ian Ziering) on “Beverly Hills, 90210.” She has paid tribute to her father in another significant way, since her 3-year-old son’s name is … Cary Benjamin Grant.
“The other night, ‘His Girl Friday’ was on TCM and I sat there with my son and said, ‘We’re going to watch something of Grandpa Cary’s.’ And as we watched, he paused and said to me, ‘He has kind of a funny face.’ And my fiance and I just laughed, and I said, ‘Sweetheart, you’re probably the only one in the world who thinks that.’ “