Before they began to professionally work with each other, actor Cary Grant and director Alfred Hitchcock were already good friends, with Grant being one of the consistent dinner guests over at the famed director’s house. It was at the insistence of Carole Lombard that Hitchcock temporarily depart from his famous genre of “suspense” to direct a romantic-comedy titled “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” (1941). Both Hitchcock and Lombard wanted Grant for the role of “David”. The film would have been the perfect comedy for the king and queen of the “screwball” genre but it was not meant to be. Grant could not accept the role because of his other projects, hence Robert Montgomery was cast. But Hitchcock would not have to wait for long to work with Grant.
That same year, Hitchcock found the perfect project in which to cast Grant — “Suspicion” (1941). Starring opposite Grant was actress Joan Fontaine as a wife suspecting her husband of murder. There was a silly rumor that Grant disagreed with Hitchcock’s way of directing and once the production was over, vowed never to work with Hitchcock again. But the upcoming three films Grant would create with Hitchcock would snuff the rumor out.
The next thriller, with Hitchcock at the helm, was “Notorious” (1946). Starring with Grant were his dear friends, Ingrid Bergman, and Claude Rains. The critics loved complimenting the star-power team. Though the film was nominated for two Oscars, neither nomination was for Grant or Hitchcock but “Notorious” has not gone unnoticed. It has appeared on several AFI lists including their “Top 100 Thrillers” list as No. 38.
In 1953, Grant was considering early retirement from acting but Hitchcock was the only director to make him reconsider his decision. Together they would collaborate on two more pictures — “To Catch A Thief” (1955) and “North By Northwest” (1959). Both films required Grant to play characters who were meant to be at least twenty-years younger. With Hitchcock’s masterful direction and Grant’s debonair persona, Grant would lend maturity to his portrayal of those characters that would not have been achieved had they been played by a younger actor.
Throughout the years of his long career, Hitchcock always had Grant in mind for every one of his films which needed a handsome leading man. The charming Englishman was Hitchcock’s first choice for the roles of:“Dr. Anthony Edwardes” in “Spellbound” (1945), “Anthony Keane” in “The Paradine Case” (1947), “Rupert Caldell” in “Rope” (1948), “Mitch Brenner” in “The Birds” (1963) and the list goes on and on.
From the director who believed that actors should be treated like cattle, it came as a surprise when Hitchcock was quoted saying, “Cary Grant is the only actor I ever loved in my life.”