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Farley Granger, 1925-2011

Farley Granger, 1925-2011 (photo)

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The Los Angeles Times reports that Farley Granger passed away Sunday of natural causes at his home in Manhattan. The star of many films, including the classic film noir “They Live By Night,” was 85 years old.

Today Granger is probably best remembered as the star of two of Alfred Hitchcock’s thrillers: 1948’s “Rope” and 1951’s “Strangers on a Train.” Hitchcock himself wasn’t the biggest fan of Granger’s work, at least in his own movies. In their book-length interview he told director Francois Truffaut he “wasn’t too pleased with Farley Granger; he’s a good actor, but I would have liked to see William Holden in the part because he’s stronger.” Truffaut rightfully came to Granger’s aid, pointing out that part of the reason “Strangers on a Train” works is that Granger downplayed the part of Guy in order to make his opposite number in the film, Robert Walker as the psychotic killer Bruno, a more appealing character. Faced with the choice between rooting for a stiff hero and a charismatic villain, the audience doesn’t know quite who to align itself with, which is what makes Guy and Bruno’s battles so entertaining and suspenseful. Hitchcock couldn’t have hated the outcome too strongly, since he reused that power dynamic of the weaker hero and the stronger villain again in later films, most famously in “Psycho” with Anthony Perkins and John Gavin.

Granger was also the star of Luchino Visconti’s 1954 film “Senso,” which is currently undergoing a bit of a critical rediscovery thanks to its recent release on DVD and Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection. Granger plays Lieutenant Franz Mahler, an Austrian officer in occupied Venice who has an affair with a married Italian countess played by Alida Valli. In his Great Movies column about “Senso,” Roger Ebert wrote, “in terms of the requirements of the roles, the movie was ideally cast, and Granger, who usually made a second-rate hero, made a first-rate cad.”

It occurs to me, reading Ebert’s description, that despite his fame and success, Granger was perhaps pigeonholed his entire career, simply because he had a heartthrob’s good looks. Take a look at this charming clip from the old television series “I’ve Got A Secret,” and watch how easily and how unrecognizably Granger slips into the role of a bumbler.

Like a lot of actors, Granger may have found his talents at odds with his physical beauty. Which is why, despite his director’s complaints, he works so well in “Strangers on a Train.” Make sure you read that Times piece for more of the biographical details of his life, including his departure from Hollywood for Broadway and his long secret bisexuality. They suggest Granger’s generically heroic exterior hid some much deeper complexities.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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