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Monday, October 20, 2008

WINGS IN THE DARK (1935)


It took three years & a dozen films, but in 1935 Cary Grant begat ‘Cary Grant.’ The adjustments and refinements in form, attitude & delivery are individually slight, but the cumulative effect is devastating. To compare the Grant persona of 1934 with the man seen in this modest weepie is to sit in on a master-class in film acting & presentation. It’s an astonishing transformation, yet it looks not just effortless, but almost invisible. Smartly helmed by the forgotten James Flood & handsomely shot by William Mellor, the opening two reels are dandy, like some lost Howard Hawks pic with Myrna Loy as an also-ran stunt pilot who’s got an entirely understandable crush on glamorous experimental pilot Grant. Things go from soapy to soggy mighty fast when Grant loses his sight, but it works surprisingly well with the chemistry between these two champs. And if, in the end, the teary plot mechanics are a bunch of hooey, just watch Grant go thru his paces with the seeing eye dog he initially disdains. We get three months worth of conflicting emotional progress in about three minutes of screen time . . . and we believe it. Gladly.

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