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   THE GRASS IS GREENER (1960) 

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CAST
Cary Grant
Deborah Kerr
Robert Mitchum
Jean Simmons
Moray Watson

DIRECTED BY
Stanley Donan

PURCHASE


DVD




Time: 104 mins.
Rating: PG
Genre: Comedy/Romance


I'm not necessarily on a crusade to see every Cary Grant movie ever made, but whenever I get the chance to see a new film of his, I generally make the effort to do so. They aren't always great, but ususually they're at the very least amusing and interesting. At least the ones that still survive. Plus, it had stars Robert Mitchum and Deborah Kerr which makes for a fairly imressive cast. Since I haven't seen much of their work, so I decided to check this out to see if I've been missing anything. With a cast and director this good, the movie must be worthwhile, right? Well, the acting was good, the sets gorgeous and the script had its funny moments, but the plot was totally ridiculous. I've never seen anything more contrived in my entire life and I've watched a lot of drawing room comedies. The main thrust of the story has Deborah Kerr, who is married to Cary Grant, having an affair with Robert Mitchum, which could happen though it's not a choice I would make. In fact, they start making out after only knowing each other for about an hour.

Having been someone who's fallen in love at first sight, I could believe this little bit, even though he didn't really impress me one way or the other. They definitely had a good energy between them, so I went along for the ride, even though it's unlikely a woman would have an affair when she's basically happy with her marriage. Even if one was slightly bored or tired of the sameness, to throw away everything on a whim is not bloody likely. However, I digress. Certainly to be considered attractive by a handsome millionaire would be enough to turn most women's heads. Hilary decides to go to London to be with Charles because she can't help herself. Since her husband Victor has stepped out on her, she certainly doesn't feel quite as guilty. She tells Victor she'll be staying with an old friend Hattie (Simmons), but Hattie prefers Victor so she tells Hilary's secret in order to get in Victor's good graces. The unbelievable part is Grant's reaction to the affair. He's calm, cool and collected. Instead of getting angry and jealous, he's the perfect gentleman. He loves his wife and doesn't want to lose her, but he doesn't want her back if she's always pining for Charles and what could have been. Nor does he want it open-ended for Charles to come back into their lives over and over again. He doesn't want Hilary on the rebound.


"First you borrow my times, now you pinch my bible. That's democracy running amok!"

Logically, it makes some sense, but it's certainly not the normal response of most men when they find out someone else is making love to their wife. Especially a wife, one still loves. Granted no one wants to be second best, but come on, show a little emotion. None of this British stiff upper lip crap. Instead of calling her on the carpet and making a scene, he invites Charles up to their house for the weekend, knowing full well his wife is with him. Hattie and Hilary are appalled by this civilized behavior. When the group comes together, there are no arguments or fist fights, just veiled barbs and insinuations. Plus, I lost respect for Hilary. What kind of woman would allow her lover to enter her home and flaunt himself in front of a husband she still loved? Not very ladylike behavior in my mind, even if it is a comedy. Then in an even more old-fashioned and offensive maneuver, Victor and Charles duel over who gets Hilary. Forget what she has to say on the matter.

Of course, the duel is a ploy to get Hilary to rediscover her feelings for Victor. An admirable effort on the part of Victor, but maybe if he just paid more attention to his wife in the first place, this would have been cut off at the pass. What made it worse was the civilized conversations they had about the situation. It was excruciatingly unbelievable. A little jealousy goes a long way in showing how much one cares for another. This would just not happen, I don't care how much a person hates conflict. Grant was right not to try to force or guilt her into staying, but this was so solicitous it was sickening. Yes, he likes his life and she is the mother of his children, but I just couldn't swallow the crap they were trying to feed me. The film definitely has it's witty and romantic moments, but it's just a whole lot of hooey.

Most of the real humor comes from Simmon's portrayal of the drunken, ditzy socialite Hatty. I'd never seen her like this and she was quite a wonderful surprise. I'm going to be on the lookout for other films with her in them. Though they all have great onscreen charisma, this was not the best day at the office for any of the other three leads, mainly because there was no one to relate to. Grant was weak and powerless, Kerr was snotty and slutty and Mitchum, a wife-stealer. On top of that, it tries to be urbane and progressive, but they all just seemed tired and bored. They certainly weren't horrible, but this didn't make me want to rush out and see any other Mitchum or Kerr films. I appreciate the lightness and simplicity of the direction, but this is not one of Donan's better works. If you're a fan of any of the stars, you'll probably gather some enjoyment from THE GRASS IS GREENER. For the rest of you, skip it unless you're really, really bored. Even mediocre movies happen to superstars.



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