4. Cary Grant
NORTH BY NORTHWEST, THE PHILADELPHIA STORY, NOTORIOUS, BRINGING UP BABY, SUSPICION, HIS GIRL FRIDAY, ARSENIC AND OLD LACE
As he famously told Newsweek in 1990, “Everybody wants to be Cary Grant. Even I want to be Cary Grant.” Even more so than most movie stars, Cary Grant was an aspirational persona. Yet, for all the dings against him, he was rarely the same guy onscreen. He was suave yet self-effacing, seemingly unflappable yet perfectly flustered. For as completely in control and seductive as he was in his later years, the young Cary Grant seemed barely able to keep up with the chaos surrounding him. He was a to-die-for romantic lead who played jealousy better than anyone. The fun was in finding out which Cary Grant you were watching. Was this the Cary that could keep pace, recognize the right timing, and conquer the elements? Or was he the maniac who could only surrender to the storm? Unless, of course, Hitchcock got ahold of him, and you didn’t even know if you could trust him at all. Why would you need to? His line readings, in the oft-imitated voice, were impeccably erratic; his gestures, iconic (even among those who likely haven’t seen the film, his “get out!” from His Girl Friday is a widely-proliferated meme). Just to watch him look around a table is enough entertainment for an evening. Sometimes he seemed amused that he was there at all. And so are we.