The Grass is Greener (1960)

Dir. Stanley Donen. Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr are landed gentry, the Earl and Countess of Rhyall who find themselves in the desperate situation of having to open their country estate to the public and sell mushrooms to maintain their standard of living. One such visitor is the American millionaire Charles Delacro (Robert Mitchum), whose instant pursuit of the Countess causes complications in their comfortable marriage. A humorous and pretty looking comedy of manners from the director of Singin’ in the Rain (1952) and Charade (1963). My favourite scenes were between Cary Grant’s stuffy Earl, and their loyal chum Hattie (Jean Simmons) who wears a series of amazing outfits, and expertly directs Cary Grant in making her preferred cocktails. In a film full of mouth-watering beverages, the most intriguing is Hattie’s Angostura-soaked sugar cube, set alight with matches from The Savoy, and extinguished with lashings of gin. The film is based on a play of the same name, written by Hugh Williams and Margaret Vyner — their first child is the poet Hugo Williams, who on recalling his parents’ dinner parties described scenes reminiscent of this film: “If you opened your mouth you’d better have something amusing to say. It didn’t matter whether it was true or not, so long as it was lightly amusing.”

By Nicholas Hudson-Ellis

Co-Founder & Film Programs Manager of Bangkok Screening Room.

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