Scene supposedly shot in Cary Grant's Malibu home, which was recreated in Huerta del Conde in Pinares de San Antón. SUR
Spanish premiere of Cary Grant television series shot on the Costa del Sol reveals the secrets of the Hollywood star

Spanish premiere of Cary Grant television series shot on the Costa del Sol reveals the secrets of the Hollywood star

Filmin is the company streaming Archie in Spain, the British ITV production in which the local Malaga company Fresco Film provided the locations

Francisco Griñán

Wednesday, 26 June 2024, 09:44

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It is one of those recent TV productions that you really must see. The seductive, popular character of the leading man Cary Grant is undoubtedly the main attraction. However, this series about the legendary Hollywood actor also pulls in viewers who want to see how the recreation of his California home was filmed without setting foot on the Pacific coast, but instead done by careful filming of the Mediterranean coast near Malaga with meticulous selection of the camera shots. No, the legendary star never lived on the Costa del Sol, but the convincing on-screen result of the scenery in the Archie series is almost as surprising as the depiction of the character of Cary Grant.

This personage that ten out of ten respondents in any popularity survey would be happy to have a beer with if they had been around with him in the 1960s, the years when the actor's career was at its peak. This is the focus of much of this story, along with the British actor's tough upbringing, both as a child and teenager. But behind that overwhelming, charismatic and charming image of the leading man, there was a man plagued with doubts and traumas that moulded him into the mean, macho, vain, unbearable and self-centred man that he became. No, Cary Grant was no angel and the premiere of his biopic on Filmin explains why.

Jason Isaacs brings Cary Grant to life in this series filmed in Malaga (just visible in the background of this still). SUR

The series starts from an intelligent and very meta-cinematic premise: Cary Grant did not really exist, but was the great character invented by Archibald (Archie) Leach, the real name behind the protagonist of 'Arsenic and Old Lace' and so many more films. This notion also explains the title of this British ITV production, which is made to European rather than US standards, but which knows how to make the most of both the natural settings and the characters that surrounded the leading man.

People like Alfred Hitchcock, Doris Day and Audrey Hepburn, with whom he filmed 'North by Northwest' (1959), 'That Touch of Mink' (1962) and 'Charade' (1963). Also his affair with Sophia Loren or his historic rejection to play the character of James Bond because it meant tying himself down for four films. Sean Connery could never thank him enough.

Jason Isaacs plays a Cary Grant as cool as he is human. More than a few people are going to fall in love with this series

That specific scene in which he kicks into touch the role of 007 while taking a breather outdoors is supposedly filmed in his luxurious mansion in Malibu, but in reality what you see beneath the actor's feet is none other than Malaga. With the help in finding locations done by Fresno Film (a local service production company), Marbella also provided the setting and palm trees for this production. This latest series has thus brought the Huerta del Conde estate in Pinares de San Antón out of anonymity, having already multiplied its screen presence in the last year in other productions. In this case, it is the perfect cover for a fictional Los Angeles to be credible and just right for a Jason Isaacs, who is the great star of this show, playing a Cary Grant who is as brilliant as he is human. More than a few people are going to fall in love with this series.

Neither vengeful nor painting him as a saint

The other main protagonist of this show is Dyan Cannon, the actor's wife between 1965 and 1968, and mother of his only daughter, who is also brought to life by a convincing Laura Aikman. The autobiographical book by Grant's fourth wife has been the main plot of this series created by Jeff Pope (who has already adapted the story of Laurel and Hardy in Stan & Ollie) and directed by Paul Andrew Williams (A Confession). The series also emphasises Cary Grant's British origins. It goes without saying (since this is a British TV series) that this has had a very good result on screen as it reveals the most unknown part of the actor's life. Furthermore, it explains some of his obsessions and contradictions, for instance, his sense of great betrayal when the actor fell victim to losing his mother at a very young age. The role of his mother is played by Harriet Walter, who will be familiar to fans of Succession, where she also plays the mother of a very dysfunctional family in a bitter, patriarchal struggle for power.

When it comes to portraying Cary Grant in Archie, there is neither a desire to take revenge nor to paint him as a saint. What there is is a recreation of facts with, yes, a look at his character with some sympathetic eyes. The light and dark, as with all great stars, cannot be hidden. Alcohol, so often present in these undiscovered biographies, is not presented here as the cause of the character's descent into hell. In this case it's drugs, specifically LSD, which Grant not only consumed assiduously but which he also pushed onto his penultimate wife Dyan, thirty years his junior. Still, Cary always took it under 'medical' supervision to overcome his lows with a much-needed high.

This is a perfect example of what is a critical, yet at the same time indulgent, look at the man in this series. The whole mini series is based on the memoirs of his fourth ex-wife and was filmed with the approval of their daughter Jennifer. Becoming a father was the great change in the life of an already very mature actor, and he proved to be a great father despite the fact that, paradoxically, he hadn't wanted any children due to his real fear of repeating his own father's mistakes.

Grant's homosexuality also features in the series, as is his alleged relationship with his housemate and party-going buddy, fellow actor Randolph Scott. It presents the facts while skirting round this pivotal chapter in the autobiography, preferring to cover all dimensions of this man, though at least the series has not ignored the subject. That tone of restraint and discretion is perhaps the only aspect that grates a little with this presentation of the Hollywood star's life. That said, it doesn't stop the script from revealing a character very different from the megastar we all loved at one time or another for his work. Perhaps more so now because it turns out he was also human.

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