I notice that a great many of Cary Grant films show him in a shower, bathroom or bathhouse, with or without clothes on.

Was this supposed to be some 'trademark' of his at the time that his fans have come to expect (just like most of Hitchcock's films show a cameo of the famous director)?

2 Answers 2


I counter the first response. As opposed to other film stars of his day, much of Cary Grant's appeal came from his ability to not be a manly ideal. In many of his early films like Bringing Up Baby (1938), My Favorite Wife (1940), Arsenic and Old Lace (1944), and Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948), he plays a nerdy or hen-pecked person who is constantly outmatched by the situations and characters around him.

Bringing up Baby

Cary Grant reduced to wearing Katherine Hepburn's bathrobe in Bringing up Baby

This is not sexy

The Howards of Virginia

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In these films, he's shown in bathrooms, or unclothed, or shaving because it emphasizes his vulnerability and makes him funnier. It's actually particularly true in North by Northwest (1959), where there's an entire sequence about the indignity of him having to use travel-sized shaving tools (while on the run).

North By Northwest
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In the specific case of Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, the bathroom is a metaphor for Grant's characters needs throughout the movie.

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His attempts to fight for turf in the bathroom mimic his efforts to get what he wants out of the giant remodeling at the center of the picture.

Bathroom scenes are moments when Grant, as his character's life is spiraling into ruin, attempts to put his life back together and fails.

Arsenic and Old Lace Okay, this shot may be for the sexy

Okay, this shot may be for the sexy.

Mr. Lucky enter image description here

Also this one.

If anyone would like to try their hand at a general analysis of actors in tubs, here's a great image resource.

  • You surely must have read Pauline Kael's essay 'The Man from Dream City' with her famous analysis of Grant's sex appeal.
    – Petr Misan
    Mar 6, 2014 at 10:42

I don't think you could really call it his "trademark", but studios were definitly trying to capitalize on his sex appeal. Grant was what Brad Pitt was in the 90's and Chris Hemsworth is today, and the more often you can get away showing a semi-clothed hot item, the more tickets you're gonna sell to women (and, consequently, their dates).

His "trademark", if you will, was actually his dimpled chin.

  • Thank you for your answer. In anime, these gratuitous are called 'fanservice'. But why always the shower and bathroom in Cary Grant's case? Unfortunately I'm too young to see his movies when they came out so I am not aware of how he was perceived by his fans.
    – Petr Misan
    Mar 5, 2014 at 18:43
  • 1
    Could you give some particular examples of which films have the shower scenes vs. which ones don't? For instance, are they more common in his romantic comedies than thrillers? Are they normally serious scenes, played for laughs (as in Mr. Blanding's Dream House or Bringing up Baby), or slim excuses to show him half-clothed? If there are trends, that may explain why the scenes were so common.
    – vastra360
    Mar 5, 2014 at 20:13
  • For instance, the Bringing Up Baby scene shows him in the bathroom, but then dresses him up in Katharine Hepburn's frilly negligee...so...probably not mean as beefcake for the ladies of the 1930s, unless they were much more open-minded than I would think.
    – vastra360
    Mar 5, 2014 at 20:25

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