Archie Review 2023 Tv Show Series Cast Crew Online
If pushed, I’d say Cary Grant was my all-time favourite movie actor. Him or James Stewart. From the mid 30’s to the mid 60’s he was the supreme leading man, equally at home in screwball comedies, tragic melodramas, action movies and mystery thrillers. I’ve read his biography so I had a good idea of what to expect in this four-part British-made bio-series of what was a long and certainly varied life, the question is could this show do his life and times justice.
Well, I’m not sure it did. For me, the real Grant represented the epitome of good looks, debonair style and smooth confidence, in a word, cool, appealing in very different ways to both men, who admired him and women, who adored him. Of course, it was probably asking too much but in portraying Grant at four key stages in his life, firstly as an infant who grows into a young adult, then develops into his fully-grown screen persona and finally matures into the silver-haired old man who dominates most of the screen-time, I just felt the lack of resemblance to the real thing of any of the actors chosen for these parts greatly detracted from the veracity of the piece. Jason Isaacs who plays the elderly Grant, in addition appears to be way too short for his role, remembering that Cary measured over 6′ in real-life.
As the title credits show, this production is overseen by his daughter Jennifer and is very obviously based on the memoir of his wife of only two years, the then aspiring young actress Dyan Cannon, which means that the focus is very much on his and Cannon’s marriage. For me this skews the narrative especially when you consider he was wed five times in all and gives something of a safe, authorised-biography feel to proceedings.
It does however show in honest detail his fraught childhood with a father who abandoned him as a young boy and a mother who was committed to a psychiatric asylum for many years before he finally learned of her whereabouts (his father had callously told him she had died) and had her sprung from her institutionalised captivity to try and re-build a relationship with her.
It also goes into similar detail on the marriage with Cannon and is unsparingly critical of Grant showing him to be selfish, controlling and OCD into the bargain, squashing her attempts to make a career of her own, which viewpoint reaches its nadir when he refuses to let her work at all, instead demanding she be a full-time mother to their child. All this, while he still went away for months on location for his own movies. I guess today you would call it coercive behaviour but at least it was the liberated 60’s and Cannon had the sense to leave him after just two years of wedlock when it becomes obvious he couldn’t change his over-possessive ways.
The production uses the four interchanging timelines corresponding to the four key periods of Grant’s life as indicated above with the focus mainly on the older, reflective Grant looking back on his life, often whilst on meet-the-audience lecture tours across America after he’d retired from acting.
There were some nice directorial touches dropped into the story but I didn’t think the back and forth structure flowed well. For me though, the major drawback all the way through was the unconvincing representation of Grant by the chosen actors. I’d also have thought that the distinctive accent of this most impersonated of actors would have been more easily assimilated by the leads but here too, I was unconvinced.
I’d love to say that this series illuminated, informed and entertained me about this most enigmatic of vintage Hollywood movie stars but regrettably I consider that it fell short and in the end must be considered a failure.