- by ZoŽ
Victor (an Earl) and Hilary,
live in one of the many stately home that are open to the public. An
American sightseer, Charles, invades the private rooms and falls in love
with Hilary. Victor brings in Hattie to make Hilary jealous. There is
a duel, and Victor is hit in the shoulder. Hilary treats Victor and they realize
anew their love for each other.
- by Aileen
Victor, Earl of Rhyall (Cary Grant) and his wife Countess
Hilary (Deborah Kerr) live in a grand stately home. To help them with the upkeep of the
house (and their two children!), they open the house to the public at certain times.
Enter Mr. Charles Delacro (Robert Mitchum) an American
visitor, who after wandering into the private parts of the house, bumps into Hilary. They
hit it off, and gradually they fall in love. We see them meeting in London, where she
pretends she has a hairdresser's appointments, etc. The children meanwhile have been packed
off to visit a relative.
Victor realizes this, but appears unconcerned until there
is an episode with a fur coat Charles has given Hilary when he - with the aid of a friend
Hattie Durant, sets out to make Hilary jealous. The outcome of all this is Victor
challenges Charles to a duel with pistols, to take place in one of the hallways. In the
fight Victor is wounded in the shoulder. As Hilary is bandaging his shoulder she realizes
that she still loves him.
At the end we see the Rhyalls standing and waving Hattie
and Charles goodbye as they leave in the American's car, and just as they go the children
Although some would say not one of the best films
scriptwise, Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr strike it right. Personally I think its great, but
then I'm a romantic at heart! And anyway no one in their right mind would miss an
opportunity to watch Cary weave his magic. In fact, the understatedness of it is part of
its charm - very British!!
Film Review - November 30, 1960
- by "Tube"
- submitted by Barry Martin
Merry old England is the site of this not-always-so-merry comedy
about a romantic clash between a British Earl-ionaire and an
American oil-ionaire. It will take all the cumulative
magnetism of its appealing cast to bail it out at the
boxoffice. But bail it out the cast probably will for
Universal and Grandon Productions, latter the company in which the
picture's star, Cary Grant, and its producer-director, Stanley
Donen, are partnered.
The Hugh and Margaret Williams
screenplay, adapted from their London stage hit, takes an
outrageous premise, has some sophisticated fun with it for awhile,
then slowly evolves into a talky and generally tedious romantic
exercise, dropping the semi-satirical stance that brightens up the
At the start, it appears the film
will have something novel and interesting to say about the tourist
Americans and enterprising British who make up opposite halves of
the "stately homes" business in which England's titled
gentry rather unwillingly fling open the doors of their
historically-significant houses to curious Yanks for a stipend
("Nowadays an English home is not his castle, it's his
profit"). Observations on this issue soon peter out,
whereupon the story swerves toward some sharp and outspoken
comments on the difference between being Anglo and being American.
While this is going on, a romantic
triangle is developing among the Earl (Grant), his wife (Deborah
Kerr), and a "rip-roaring Grade A romantic" American
millionaire (Robert Mitchum) who wanders off-limits into milady's
drawing room during the tour and promptly and preposterously falls
in love with her, she with him. Balance of the picture is
concerned with Grant's efforts to woo his wife back to his side
and, except for his own polished performance and Miss Kerr's, has
little to offer in the way of light comedy, which appears to be
the objective of all concerned.
Grant, as noted, is in good
form. It is a tribute to his once-a-generation flair for
light comedy that every time he wanders out of eye-and-ear range,
the comedy sputters, stammers and stalls. The uninspired screenplay
has its staunchest ally in Grant, whose stiffest comedy
competition comes not from his three costars but from Moray
Watson, who so agreeably plays the butler, a fellow who admits
he's too normal, happy and well-adjusted to succeed in his
ambition to be a novelist. Exchanges between Grant and
Watson are fine highlights of the film.
Miss Kerr gives a sturdy
performance as the object of this abundance of affection.
Jean Simmons, decked out in purposely exaggerated makeup and
several high-styled gowns by Christian Dior, manages reasonably
well in the role of a madcap ex--girl friend of Grant's, a kind of
British Zsa-Zsa. Weakest link in the romantic and comedic
give-and-take is Mitchum. He's pretty sluggish on the comedy
end and thoroughly unconvincing in his relationship with Miss
Kerr, never really projecting the implied passion, or even
There are some thoughtful,
inventive directorial touches by Donen (significant empty chairs
and bedroom doors softly closing), but for the most part he has
failed to translate static stage techniques into cinema
terms. The picture fairly talks itself to death, and the
dialog isn't consistently amusing enough to bring it back to life
for more than fleeting moments. There are some compelling
views of the English countryside ("The Grass" does seem
a lot "Greener" over there), and some striking interiors
of the old house, for which art director Paul Sheriff rates a
bow. As does director of photography Christopher Challis for
the charming way in which his camera regards these scenic
attractions. James Clark's editing cannot be faulted, and
the incorporation of some of Noel Coward's memorable tunes gives
matters a lift, particularly his "Stately Homes of
England," lyrics and all.
An outstanding achievement is that
of Maurice Binder, whose use of babies at play to match the main
title credits is a stroke of originality. In fact, audiences
may enjoy the titles as much as the picture proper.
TIMES Film Review - December 24, 1960
- by Bosley Crowther
- submitted by Barry Martin
Once more, without too much feeling - or wit or humor, indeed -
Stanley Donen has turned out a picture in which elegant folks of
the London social set commit adultery and talk about it,
tediously, far into the night. The exercise is "The
Grass is Greener," which boasts four "top name"
stars, some stunning gowns and stately-home scenery. It
opened at the Astor and Trans-Lux Fifty-second Street yesterday.
The whole thing is based on an
assumption that a happily married wife (Deborah Kerr) of a British
earl (Cary Grant) would go absolutely silly within a matter of a
few minutes over a strange American sightseer (Robert Mitchum) who
wanders into the private rooms of their stately home, plies her
with propositions and induces her to go to London with him for
Then, as if that assumption were
not sufficiently implausible, it goes on to assume that the
husband would patiently try to get his wife to return, pass up a
proffered mistress (Jean Simmons) and finally discredit the lover
by outwitting him in a "fixed" duel.
From a stage play by Hugh and
Margaret Williams, it is very much watered-down Noel Coward,
with none of that popular playwright's old sparkle but with
several of his familiar tunes, such as "Mad About the
Boy" and "I'll Follow My Secret Heart," woven into
the musical score. A sample of its wit: Mr. Grant asks Miss
Simmons, "Did you bring your bag?", and she replies,
"When you're addressing me, I'd prefer you use the word
Miss Kerr and Miss Simmons look
attractive and Mr. Grant and Mr. Mitchum try hard to create the
illusion of being moved by love and passion. But they both
appear mechanical and bored.
As for the gowns and the scenery,
they are handsomely photographed, in color, but gowns and scenery
do not make a motion picture. Nor does talk.
- by Kathy Fox
THE GRASS IS GREENER is
Cary Grant's 68th film and his third starring with Deborah Kerr, the others
being DREAM WIFE in 1953 and AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER in 1957. Grant
would be directed by Stanley Donen four times: KISS THEM FOR ME, 1957,
INDISCREET in 1958, and CHARADE in 1963, plus THE GRASS IS GREENER, 1960.
This film when it opened was met with mixed reviews, since English drawing
room comedies had long been out of style, and Radio City Music Hall decided
not to open it at the Holiday season. However, I have now watched this
film recently several times, and I think it is a stroke of genius.
Cary has developed his screen persona so perfectly, that he is thoroughly
enjoyable to watch on the screen. As I am watching CG films, I tend to
watch him on the screen, and forget to look at the other characters.
Again, acting comes so natural for him. Grant plays Victor Rhyall and
Deborah Kerr plays his wife, Hilary, and they have opened up their expansive
castle to the public in order to make ends meet. Also Hilary grows
mushrooms in order to help ends meet. In walks Charles Delacro, a
millionaire from the U.S., played by Robert Mitchum, who immediately makes a
play for Lady Rhyall. In a moment of passion, Lady Rhyall decides to
take a holiday from her husband, and her children who are already gone for
two weeks with their nanny. Victor suspects that there is something
going on between Charles and Hilary and decides he has to do something to
win his wife back. Hilary's best friend, Hattie Durant, played by Jean
Simmons, helps Victor by making Hilary jealous. In the end Victor and
Charles fight a duel, and Victor gets shot in the arm, but he is shot by the
butler who is trying to help Victor in Hilary back. This film is
spattered with double entendres throughout, and it takes several viewings to
catch and understand them all. I have just now begun to appreciate the
movie. My list of favorites is getting longer and longer. Cary
Grant has truly developed into a true genius at the twilight of his career.
Click here to read Jenny's Crackpot
Reviews at the Cary Grant Shrine
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