Stewart Granger once said that he made more than 60 movies, and that he couldn’t stand any of them.
We think that the London-born actor was exaggerating but, in any case, he should have taken (he died in 1993 at age 80) another look at his work in MGM’s adventure title, King Solomon’s Mines.
Granger plays jaded, pipe-smoking safari guide who leads starchy, aristocratic Deborah Kerr on a mission in unexplored Africa to discover the whereabouts of her missing husband.
This is a tidy studio-generated tale nicely played by Granger and Kerr, who in fact became lovers for a period offscreen. He is very much up to the macho requirements of the role, the image of the rugged yet romantic leading man. She displays hints of the sexiness bubbling behind a frosty facade.
It’s little wonder that Mines became 1950’s biggest box office hit, and boosted Granger and Kerr’s careers nicely.
And here’s a trivia item for you: Granger’s real name — James Stewart — had already been used by another actor, that other Jimmy Stewart. So Granger was forced to come up with another marquee handle.
He served in the British army in World War II as a second lieutenant, but was mustered out after two years because of crippling stomach ulcers. A good career move since British films at the time experienced a dire need of suitable dashing hero types, and Granger fit the bill. He emerged a big star in England before answering Hollywood’s siren call in 1950.
Granger had a long career, spanning five decades, so let’s see how much you know about him and it. As usual, questions today and answers tormorrow. Here we go:
1) Question: Granger’s famous second wife became in the Fifties the biggest movie star in the family. Who is she? a) Eleanor Parker; b) Joan Collins; c) Phyllis Kirk; or d) Jean Simmons.
2) Question: Although he claimed to dislike his own movies, Granger grudgingly praised one title in particular. Which one? a) 1952’s Scaramouche; b) 1954’s Beau Brummell; c) 1948’s Saraband; or d) 1956’s Bhowani Junction.
3) Question: Although he was often cast as a physically daring hero, Granger was actually scared to death of performing his own stunt work. a) True; or b) False?
4) Question: What did Granger and Elizabeth Taylor have in common? a) A best friend; b) Both were often unhappy with their choices of movie roles; c) Both considered themselves down home Brits at heart; or d) Nothing.
5) Question: Stewart Granger was given first crack at the James Bond role that eventually went to Sean Connery in the initial 007 movie, Dr. No. a) True; or b) False?