Cary Grant

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Va-Va-Villainess: Kay Francis

Published January 4, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

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Her specialized take on honorable, suffering women made the distinguished Kay Francis one of the highest paid female stars of the ‘30s. Considered to be “as a responsive as a violin” (by none other than William Powell), Francis used this versatility to expand her career as that decade came to a close.

Kay Francis In Name OnlyCast as Cary Grant’s manipulative wife in 1939’s In Name Only, Francis’ Maida Walker was a woman who could – and did – drive men to suicide. Subtly maneuvering the family of Grant’s unhappy Alec into her corner, Francis’ character almost destroys his future with Carole Lombard’s loving and artistic Julie Eden. A final confrontation with Julie reveals Maida’s true motivations to all, though, and Francis slinks off with shocked elegance at the film’s close out. Subtly underplaying her character’s flint hard anger, Francis shines with sense of brittle control mixed with an acidic softness here, allowing the audience to feel a bit of sympathy for her while also delighting in her downfall. Kay Francis Allotment Wives

Taking the vengefulness of Maida a step further, Francis’ dominating Sheila Seymour is a crime boss extraordinaire in 1945’s Allotment Wives. The head of a ring of women determined to milk soldiers of their savings, Francis is coldly charming once again here. Even when gunning down her opposition in cold blood, Francis shines with a hypnotic allure. As with In Name Only, Francis connects fully with the character’s emotional softness, manifested by this character’s beloved daughter, allowing the audience to feel a twinge of compassion for her actions even when they are homicidal in nature.

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While not as well remembered as Bette Davis, her professional rival at Warner Brothers, Francis still has her devoted fans and a number of books and a website dedicated to her career and life.

www.kayfrancisfilms.com/

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan

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Valentine’s (With a Twist): Joan Fontaine and Cary Grant, “Suspicion”

Published February 14, 2014 by biggayhorrorfan

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The mind-blowingly insecure (myself included) will always relate to the tender hope and brilliant confusion that the divine Joan Fontaine perfectly illustrates as bookish Lina in Alfred Hitchcock’s nicely realized 1941 thriller, Suspicion. As the suave Johnny (played with handsome charm by the legendary Cary Grant) pursues and eventually marries her, Fontaine brims with devoted confusion. Of course, just when she seems sure of his affections, Lina finds herself believing that financially troubled Johnny is capable of murder and presently plotting her death to gain the insurance money.joan2

Hitchcock works with his typical slow boil, here, making marvelous use of shadows and ably coloring ordinary exchanges with a feeling of dread and suspense. Fontaine, who won the Oscar for her portrayal, flawlessly assists him in his goals. Thriller enthusiasts may find disappointment in the ending, as contrary to the source material, Johnny’s innocence is revealed. Pesky studio executives thought that if Grant played a cold blooded killer that his reputation (and box office appeal) would be tarnished. Suspicion-Joan-Fontaine

But, what does emerge is a full portrait of a woman in various (true to life) emotional stages. Nothing is for certain in our existence, therefore Lina’s journey from shy to sure to questioning, results in a suspense filled love story that anyone with (even a dab of) sensitivity can, eventually, relate to.

Happy (Bloody) Valentine’s Day — and until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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