It’s no secret that I’m sort of an Anglophile. I’m not blind to the faults over there and one of them is the class system, however broken “into” it may be, it is not fully broken down. Take teeth for example. William and Catherine have perfect teeth. Even today this is not the norm there. I could go on and on. And, the saying that the upper class has most in common with the lower class is pretty much true.
Take what they call “Deer Stalking.” It involves tweed, booze, rain, booze, old friends and booze. Here we call it “Deer huntin'” and it involves Day Glow Orange for obvious reasons–so they don’t shoot each other after freezing to death out there all day in camo and thick socks while drinking booze with old friends. But, occasionally, there is an aristocrat that has the best of the middle class mixed in with the best of the upper and lower classes. This, is Cary Grant in The Grass is Greener.
But first things first. The opening. It opens with one of Noel Coward’s best songs ever–the Stately Homes of England. And this helps with the irony-factor. Both Noel Coward and the man know professionally as Cary Grant are Englishmen, but in spite of accents and wardrobe, neither is from a stately home. Far from it, in fact. That makes the film that more delicious. Plus, what’s not to love about Noel Coward writing of “Lord Camp?”
Add in Robert Mitchum as the American tourist and Deborah Kerr as Cary’s Countess and you have a sparkling romantic comedy–and one of 3 movies this trio starred in together. Sellers, the butler, is also a huge part of it. Who doesn’t like a servant who is more regal than his boss? Who worries that he has nothing to do? I think he may have been Julian Fellows inspiration for Carson. Together the Ear and Countess and the Butler run the house on the profits from tourists and from the “mushroom money.” Deborah Kerr farming mushrooms is just such a lovely business idea!
Alas, even the best of marriages get a little stale in time.
The Lord and Lady of this manor are obviously still in love. They’ve come thru the war, had two lovely children and are discovering the job that is Stately Home ownership in the post World War II world. Like most, I imagine they’ve been savaged by death duties (inheritance tax) and have a never ending mountain of household maintenance tasks put off almost fatally long by war and rationing. So, when a square-jawed American enters their lives temptation raises its ugly head. But, this is a Deborah Kerr film folks–nothing tawdry, Victor and Hilary find their way back together and, I believe, will celebrate by sending Nanny and the children to the pictures while they climb into that marvelous bath tub and drink that last bottle of the really superb champagne. The dog will wait patiently in the corridor. The Grass is Greener.
A special footnote to this film: The play on which it is based was written by Hugh and Margaret Vyner Williams –parents of actor Simon Williams that I featured in this post.