Friday, August 28, 2020

The Grant Mystique: The Eagle and the Hawk (1933)

Cary Grant in The Eagle and the Hawk (1933)

In some ways, Cary Grant was a more interesting actor before he cultivated the movie star persona. There's an intensity in some of his early roles that mostly vanishes from the polished perfection of "Cary Grant." While it's true that Grant sometimes vanished behind his co-stars in his early films, struggling to find a cinematic identity, there are a handful of them where this is not the case. The Eagle and the Hawk (1933, directed by Stuart Walker and Mitchell Leisen) is one such film. The Grant one finds in this film is one that almost entirely vanishes after Grant left Paramount in 1936. Grant plays a World War I tail gunner, who is partnered with a pilot he despises. He's the film's principle antagonist, a character who is callous and unpleasant and brutal. It's one of the film's bitterest ironies that his character is the one most suited for the enterprise at hand. He doesn't buy into the romance of being a flying ace, and because of this, he's most likely to survive the war.