Happy Birthday Cary! Piano Recital


Cate Bryan Piano Studio presents a piano recital in honour of Cary Grant’s 118th Birthday! It’s an early birthday present as he was actually born on 18 January. The programme includes music featured in some of our favourite Cary Grant films, from thrillers like North by Northwest and Charade, to screwball comedies like The Awful Truth and Bringing Up Baby and romantic comedies like An Affair to Remember.  This event is in association with Cinematheque, Des Moines, Iowa, USA, with an introduction from President Louie Jordan.

Poster advertising Cate Bryan's recital for Cary Grant's birthday. White text on a plum background and two pictures of Cary Grant. One blowing out candles on a birthday cake, the other seated at a piano, smiling..
Poster for Cary Grant Birthday Recital
Poster Program, white text on plum background: Prelude - North by Northwest; I can't Give You Anything But Love, Baby - Bringing Up Baby; Charade - Charade; Love Divided by Two - Kiss and Make Up; You Were Meant For Me - Penny Serenade; Pass Me By - Father Goose; Home on the Range - The Awful Truth and Mr Blandings Builds HIs Dream House; Love Affair - An Affair to Remember
Program for Cary Grant Birthday Recital

Programme Notes:

1. North by Northwest 1959 – Cary’s most infamous role and arguably, the pinnacle of his career. Hitchcock was the director and said Cary was his favorite actor. Herrmann ignored the MGM music department’s suggestion that, as the movie opens in New York, he write something Gershwinesque to start. Instead, “its overture is a rapid, kaleidoscopic, virtuoso orchestral fandango designed to kick off the exciting rout that follows,” the composer explained, its Spanish rhythms illustrating “the crazy dance about to take place between Cary Grant and the world.” (CSO Sounds & Stories » Bernard Herrmann’s energetic score propels ‘North by Northwest’ (csosoundsandstories.org))

2. Bringing Up Baby 1938 – Fabulous screwball comedy with Katharine Hepburn, involving a leopard, terrier, a dinosaur bone, and a romance. The song, “I Can’t Give You Anything but Love, Baby” was just about the only music used in the film, in the opening / closing credits. But the song becomes so well known when Cary and Katharine’s characters attempt to bring Baby the leopard down from the roof of a house by serenade.

3. Charade 1963 – Stanley Donan film that felt all Hitchcock – mystery, suspense, and romance with Audrey Hepburn. The song was nominated for Best Original Song. The early 1960’s brought a distinct change with music in film. The goal was for a film to highlight a single that could be played on the radio and sold to the general public to generate income and fame for both the song and film. Henry Mancini became a successful hit single writer for film, between Charade, Moon River, and Days of Wine and Roses.

4. Kiss and Make Up 1934 – One of many films Cary was contracted to complete with Paramount. It was not one of his best roles, as Paramount placed Cary in roles that were not his typical classy, stylish ones. But the unique reason I chose this film with the song “Love Divided by Two” is due to the fact that in this film, Cary himself plays the piano while singing the song. He was a great piano player and had some lessons as a child, but singing, well, not so much.

5. Penny Serenade 1941 – One of 2 films in which Cary was nominated for Best Actor, but he never won an Oscar (given Honorary Oscar after he retired). The film is the story of Cary and Irene Dunne’s characters going through life together with the ups and downs of marriage, building a life together, and adoption. “You Were Meant for Me” is the theme song of their characters meeting for the first time.

6. Father Goose 1964 – This is my husband’s favorite Cary Grant comedy. “Pass Me By” is the introduction song to the film, and it is just so charming and contagious, a hilarious contrast to Cary’s cranky, grouchy, ill-kept character in the film. Cary’s daughter Jennifer has mentioned in the past that out of all the characters that Cary played in his career, his role in Father Goose is similar to his real-life, at-home persona. A couple days’ worth of facial hair, a little grouchy, but a heart of gold.

7. The Awful Truth 1937 / Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House 1948. The Awful Truth was the film where Cary finally “made it.” Another screwball comedy with Irene Dunne, and the hilarious scene with “Home on the Range” comes from Ralph Bellamy and his awful solo. Cary, years later, sings the song just as badly when he hops into a cold shower during Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House. Mrs. Blandings, played by Myrna Loy, sings a much better and jollier version of it. I think we all need to sing this together for fun! [Content Warning: We do, badly…]

8. An Affair to Remember 1957, My favorite film and YES IT IS A CHRISTMAS FILM. The main theme song for the film, “Our Love Affair”, is sung at the beginning of the film, but the scene that brings me to tears (besides the ending) is when Cary’s character’s grandmother, Janou, plays the song on the piano between Cary and Deborah Kerr and watches them fall in love in real time.

Happy Birthday Cary!

Cinematheque is the premier movie fan club of Des Moines, Iowa. Members get together and celebrate all that is cinema. Louie Jordan is our President of the club, who provided the introductions at the beginning of the recital.