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Good Stuff Indeed

Last month, Raquelle from the classic film blog Out of the Past held a contest giveaway/drawing celebrating the 4th anniversary of her blog…and I won. My prize? A brand new copy of the long awaited memoir by Cary Grant’s one and only child, Jennifer Grant: Good Stuff: A Reminiscence of My Father, Cary Grant. Big thanks to Raquelle for hosting a fantastic contest!

Note: for ease, I will sometimes refer to Cary Grant as CG and Jennifer Grant as JG.

I, like many Cary Grant fans, have waited patiently for the release of Good Stuff, which had been postponed several times over the past few years. After reading, I now know why it took Jennifer so long to finish–she had to grieve the death of her father all over again. CG maintained well organized and immaculate records of JG’s childhood. One might say he was a bit obsessive about the little pieces of nostalgia he maintained, but knowing the reasons why, it’s hard to blame him for his excesses. First, CG was 62 years old when Jennifer was born. He knew the time he had with his daughter was limited and that sense of mortality placed great urgency on ensuring that she would remember him. Secondly, CG was robbed of a meaningful childhood and the little memorabilia he had was lost in the bombings of Bristol during World War II. Longing for that lost part of his childhood, CG made assurances that his beloved daughter wouldn’t be left without a detailed history of her childhood and their time together. For instance, he had a bank quality vault placed in their home at 9966 Beverly Grove Drive. Growing up, this served as some embarrassment for Jennifer, but writes that she is now eternally grateful for the gift of his detailed records. And detailed is an understatement. Every drawing, card, letter, and telegram bears a time stamp, most often in CG’s handwriting. The collection does not stop with paper. Jennifer writes about the hundreds of hours of video and audio she sorted through for the memoir. CG would often leave a tape recorder running while spending time with JG, or video taping her playtime in the backyard. A daunting process to sort through all the archives, but one that Jennifer relished.

Cary Grant with daughter Jennifer, 1973. Photo from Parade Magazine.
Cary Grant with daughter Jennifer, 1973. Photo from Parade Magazine.

Good Stuff is a loving tribute to a father…who just so happens to be Cary Grant. If you are looking for a biography about Grant’s rise to fame and his long career, you will not find what you’re looking for with this book. JG largely avoids mentioning her father’s career for the simple fact that she didn’t know that side of him. CG retired when Jennifer was born and the “Cary Grant” star persona was just that. It wasn’t who he was at home and in real life. She does briefly discuss some of her father’s famous friends and the impact they all had (and still have) on her life, so there are some Hollywood insider tidbits that classic film fans will enjoy. I was incredibly moved by Good Stuff. I laughed, cried, and smiled through every single page. Maybe that’s the parent in me, but I would be surprised if non-parents didn’t become a little emotional while reading.

I am thankful that Jennifer Grant opened up to allow us a glimpse of the 20 years she spent with her father. The process of discovering and pouring through her father’s archives was a personal, painful, and ultimately healing process. For her to share that with us is a gift.

I mentioned earlier that Good Stuff is not a biography of Cary Grant and his film career. If you are looking for good reading material on Grant and his career, allow me to make the following suggestions:

Cary Grant: A Celebration of Style  by Richard Torregrossa
Cary Grant: A Celebration
by Richard Schickel
The Complete Films of Cary Grant by Donald Deschner
Cary Grant: A Bio-Bibliography by Beverly Bare Buehrer
Evenings with Cary Grant: Recollections in His Own Words and by Those Who Knew Him Best by Nancy Nelson

You can also visit The Ultimate Cary Grant Pages for anything and everything Cary related–including an article/autobiography written by the man himself.

Related posts:

Jill Blake

Jill Blake is the owner of the classic film website Sittin’ on a Backyard Fence. She is also a co-founder and editor of the film site The Black Maria and film editor at CC2K. In 2012, she was interviewed on-air by Turner Classic Movies host Ben Mankiewicz. In 2013, she was a featured guest on the TCM podcast. In her spare time Jill is a stay-at-home mom, wife, fried okra connoisseur, and the neighborhood’s own L.B. Jeffries.

Comments

Raquelle
Reply

Wonderful! I’ve been looking forward to your review. I like how you point out why Cary Grant was so obsessive with keeping memorabilia. Sometimes we try to make up for things that happened with the past by controlling the present. Plus he was so grateful to have had a child!

I love that you smiled, cried and laughed through each page. Each page had it’s own gems so it was easy to be charmed.

Great review!

kittenbiscuits
Reply

Thank you so much for reading, commenting, and sharing on Twitter. I thoroughly enjoyed the book. I regret not buying it when it came out, but it’s difficult to find time to read these days and hard for me to justify spending money on something that will collect dust. I had requested it through our library but I was way, way down the list (a good thing, because that means it’s getting read). Receiving the book from you lit a fire under me and I’m now making the time to read again. It feels so good to be back.

About the book- I adore Cary Grant. He is my all time favorite actor. That said, the one thing that has always bothered me was his apparent unhappiness which translated to complicated, failed marriages. I felt sad for him. After reading this book, I’m no longer sad for him. He loved his daughter and got so much joy from her.

Kim
Reply

I saw the book at B&N and flipped through to look at the pictures but I couldn’t justify the cost at the moment. I am definitely planning on checking it out at the library eventually. Thanks for the review. It will definitely be nice to read about Cary as a father and not an actor.

kittenbiscuits
Reply

I think you’ll really like it. There is a kindle version, but part of the charm is the format of the book. It reminds me of a scrapbook or journal.

The Lady Eve
Reply

I adore Cary Grant, he is my #1 favorite film actor. No one really touches him in being that rare combination movie star (“To Catch a Thief”) and film actor (“Notorious”) in my book. I watched CBS Sunday Morning’s interview with Jennifer Grant when her book was published. One of his voice messages to her is played in the piece…just hearing him say, “Hello, my darling” is enough to steal anyone’s heart. Here’s a link to the interview: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2011/05/01/sunday/main20058746.shtml

I’m going to see if this book is available at my library, sounds most interesting.

kittenbiscuits
Reply

He is my all time favorite too. You’re absolutely right–he was the ideal everything. As odd as this sounds, I think he is seriously underrated as an actor. Sure, he’s remembered and loved. But I don’t know if his acting talents are given their due respect. For my money, his performance as Devlin in Notorious is one of the best in film.

I saw Jennifer interview on CBS as well, but thank you for sharing. It’s nice to see it again. I think you’ll really love the book. Love spills from every page.

KC
Reply

I know that I was probably tearing up more over this book becuase I’d recently given birth to my second daughter, but I’m sure I would have been emotional pre-kids. The story means more if you are a parent, but the love she felt can be appreciated by anyone. I also adored this book. It’s so nice to see a whole volume dedicated solely to love!

kittenbiscuits
Reply

Congrats on your second daughter. Did you have her this year? My daughter is 10 months old. It’s amazing how life looks and feels different once becoming a parent. This book captures that feeling. And even though Jennifer doesn’t talk about her own son much, you can tell she has the same love that her father had.

tonyarice
Reply

I’m glad to read a review about this book. I’ve been wanting to read it since I heard it was finally going to be published. You’ve shared just how moving it is and I can’t wait to learn more. She saw an even more special side of him. What a treasure! When I was in college, my other old-movie friends and I (and there were quite a few of us) were always amazed to know he had a daughter in college at the same time. Watching The Philadelphia Story we’d all feel some strange kindred connection with her. I have no idea why, we just did! :) Thanks for the review!

kittenbiscuits
Reply

Thanks so much for checking out my blog! I think you will really like it. It’s nice to finally see a memoir written by the child of a movie star that’s tasteful and respectful.

And I totally get the connectivity. I’ve had those moments before. I think it’s knowing that you’re in the same stage of life, perhaps?

The Lady Eve
Reply

I completely agree that he was underrated as an actor. His starpower was so magnificent that it simply overshadowed his acting talent. I saw “North by Northwest” in a theater last year and was just awed at the immensity of his presence on the big screen. I think the term is “megawatt” star. Incredible. Yet he was a very, very fine actor. “Notorious,” I think, is a really nuanced performance. Devlin is a complicated man – and Grant portrays his conflicts with much subtlety. “Suspicion” is interesting, too, but I wish Hitchcock and the studio had stood by the original concept and allowed Grant to be a murderer – the “Hollywood ending” undermines everything that went before in plot and performance.

Cary Grant is widely acknowledged for his brilliance at comedy (no easy thing!) – “The Awful Truth,” “Bringing Up Baby,” “The Philadelphia Story” (etc., etc., etc.) – flawless. Obviously, I could go on and on…

kittenbiscuits
Reply

He is most definitely a “megawatt” star. No question. I agree with you about Suspicion. A wonderful performance totally ruined by the studio’s interference. I love watching for Grant’s performance, but many times I’ll turn it off before the last scene. It irritates me to no end. I like to pretend he shoved Monkeyface right off that cliff.

I would love to chat with you more about Grant. I love talking about him with other fans.

Talk to me!

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