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The 10 essential Cary Grant comedies

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Has there ever been a more charismatic leading man than Cary Grant? From Clark Gable to George Clooney, no screen star ever radiated affable likability and suave charm like the former Archie Leach. He was a movie star back in the era when being a movie star meant something beyond being derided for expressing political opinions (something Grant himself always opposed), and many consider him to be the greatest movie star of all time. He was quick with his wit as he was with a smile, and his comedies are every bit as entertaining as his dramas. Now this list is certainly not a comprehensive one – most Grant fans will tell you that all of his comedies are essential, and you should check them all out when you have the time. It’ll be time amusingly spent – and here’s a list of ten great Cary Grant comedies to start with, in chronological order.


1. “The Awful Truth” (1937)

Director Leo McCarey’s screwball comedy about a divorcing couple who spend their time trying to completely undermine each other’s attempts to move on to new loves was the first time Grant’s trademark light-comic bantering style hit the silver screen, opposite the fantastically game Irene Dunne. In fact, McCarey is credited with helping develop that persona of Grant’s. Even though there was tension on the set between the two, Grant would work with McCarey three more times. This is also one of three ‘couples on the verge of divorce rediscovering their love’ comedies on this list alone.


2. “Bringing Up Baby” (1938)

This Howard Hawks farce was a revelation of Katherine Hepburn’s comic talents, as she plays Susan Vance, a free-spirited heiress who’s been given a tamed leopard named Baby to deliver to her aunt on behalf of her brother. Grant, meanwhile, plays uptight paleontologist David Huxley, who is slated to get married the next day to a less-than-charming woman named Alice Swallow. Susan thinks he’s some kind of animal expert rather than a fossil expert, and she conspires to rope him into her shenanigans once she realizes she’s in love with the exasperated man. While this didn’t do exceptional business at the box office, it’s since grown into one of Grant’s most beloved films.


3. “His Girl Friday (1940)”

Another Hawks effort, this time pitting Grant’s hard-nosed Morning Post newspaper editor Walter Burns opposite Rosalind Russell’s Hildy Johnson, ex-star reporter and Burns’ ex-wife. It seems she’s got marriage plans he’s out to ruin by, among other things, getting her fiancé repeatedly arrested for ridiculous reasons. What proves to be the winning formula, however, is when the case of an escaped death-row convict falls into her lap, and the lure of her job proves too much to resist. The dialog is absolutely rapid-fire here, and although Russell’s part was originally written for a man, and then for several other actresses before she stepped in, she was so determined to make her mark on this picture that she hired her own writer to punch up her scripted lines, disguised as ad-libs, in order to be a match for Grant.


4. “The Philadelphia Story” (1940)

Another remarriage comedy that teamed Grant up with Hepburn once again by director George Cukor, this time with Jimmy Stewart thrown into the mix. Stewart is Mike Connor, a writer and reluctant society reporter with more intellectual aspirations assigned to cover the impending marriage of socialite Tracy Haven (Hepburn) to the newly rich George Kittredge (John Howard), something which both Connor and Tracy’s ex-husband C.K. Dexter Haven (Grant) have seen fit to sabotage. The ensuing back and forth and forth and back again has Tracy torn between the three men. Although Grant and Hepburn had worked together often, she had the reputation of being box office poison for a long while until this film gave her the hit she needed – and the hit she deserved, quite frankly. Aside from the comedy, it’s one of the absolutely classic romantic movies of all time as well.


5. “Arsenic and Old Lace” (1944)

One of the most popular Cary Grant performances is also one he didn’t think was very good. He’s very frenetic in this macabre comedy as Mortimer Bewster, the newlywed author who discovers that his brother thinks he’s Teddy Roosevelt and his aunts have taken up the habit of poisoning lonely old men. Throw in Mortimer’s other brother Jonathan (Raymond Massey in a role written for Boris Karloff) and his alcoholic partner Dr. Einstein (Peter Lorre) trying to find a place to dispose of a body they’ve killed (and eventually decide they want to kill Mortimer), all while his wife Elaine (Priscilla Lane) is waiting to start their honeymoon, and you’ve got a really twisted gem from Frank Capra.

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Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.

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Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…

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IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.

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IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).

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IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.

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IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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Reality? Check.

Baroness For Life

Baroness von Sketch Show is available for immediate consumption.

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Baroness von Sketch Show is snowballing as people have taken note of its subtle and not-so-subtle skewering of everyday life. The New York Times, W Magazine, and Vogue have heaped on the praise, but IFC had a few more probing questions…

IFC: To varying degrees, your sketches are simply scripted examples of things that actually happen. What makes real life so messed up?

Aurora: Hubris, Ego and Selfish Desires and lack of empathy.

Carolyn: That we’re trapped together in the 3rd Dimension.

Jenn: 1. Other people 2. Other people’s problems 3. Probably something I did.

IFC: A lot of people I know have watched this show and realized, “Dear god, that’s me.” or “Dear god, that’s true.” Why do people have their blinders on?

Aurora: Because most people when you’re in the middle of a situation, you don’t have the perspective to step back and see yourself because you’re caught up in the moment. That’s the job of comedians is to step back and have a self-awareness about these things, not only saying “You’re doing this,” but also, “You’re not the only one doing this.” It’s a delicate balance of making people feel uncomfortable and comforting them at the same time.

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IFC: Unlike a lot of popular sketch comedy, your sketches often focus more on group dynamics vs iconic individual characters. Why do you think that is and why is it important?

Meredith: We consider the show to be more based around human dynamics, not so much characters. If anything we’re more attracted to the energy created by people interacting.

Jenn: So much of life is spent trying to work it out with other people, whether it’s at work, at home, trying to commute to work, or even on Facebook it’s pretty hard to escape the group.

IFC: Are there any comedians out there that you feel are just nailing it?

Aurora: I love Key and Peele. I know that their show is done and I’m in denial about it, but they are amazing because there were many times that I would imagine that Keegan Michael Key was in the scene while writing. If I could picture him saying it, I knew it would work. I also kind of have a crush on Jordan Peele and his performance in Big Mouth. Maya Rudolph also just makes everything amazing. Her puberty demon on Big Mouth is flawless. She did an ad for 7th generation tampons that my son, my husband and myself were singing around the house for weeks. If I could even get anything close to her career, I would be happy. I’m also back in love with Rick and Morty. I don’t know if I have a crush on Justin Roiland, I just really love Rick (maybe even more than Morty). I don’t have a crush on Jerry, the dad, but I have a crush on Chris Parnell because he’s so good at being Jerry.

Jenn: I LOVE ISSA RAE!

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IFC: If you could go back in time and cast yourselves in any sitcom, which would it be and how would it change?

Carolyn: I’d go back in time and cast us in The Partridge Family.  We’d make an excellent family band. We’d have a laugh, break into song and wear ruffled blouses with velvet jackets.  And of course travel to all our gigs on a Mondrian bus. I feel really confident about this choice.

Meredith: Electric Mayhem from The Muppet Show. It wouldn’t change, they were simply perfect, except… maybe a few more vaginas in the band.

Binge the entire first and second seasons of Baroness von Sketch Show now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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