The story of how working-class Archie Leach became debonair actor Cary Grant.
Based on an unpublished memoir, and peppered with clips from his movie career as well as rare home movies, Kidel’s film traces Leach’s re-invention, while also exploring the lasting impact of his upbringing. Of particular note is his long-held belief that his mother abandoned him as a child – Grant later learned his father had her committed and the actor developed a relationship with her after his success. He linked this formative sense of betrayal to both his lifelong distrust of women and a string of unsuccessful marriages. Curiously, the film never entertains the question of Grant’s potential gay relationships, though his onscreen appeal to both men and women is noted by film historians. Much of the introspection that characterizes the memoir is born of Grant’s participation in extensive LSD psychotherapy in the late 1950s, here represented in not entirely effective re-enactments, but the film otherwise offers viewers with an engaging overview of the development of the charismatic performer’s life and career.