Jason Isaacs in “Archie.” IMDB photo

What we have here is a story, one of many, of the man we all loved and thought we knew. Archibald Alexander Leach, better known as Cary Grant, was arguably, the most famous, best known and imitated movie star in film history.

Director Paul Andrew Williams’ (“The Cottage,” 2008) “Archie” is partly based on “Dear Cary: My Life with Cary Grant,” a 2012 memoir by Dyan Cannon.

I met the “real” Cary Grant on several early mornings because our daughters went to the Marlborough School for Girls together in Hancock Park, Los Angeles, California.

We met some days briefly, at the big, iron gate to the school. I was delivering my youngest on the back of my black scooter, and Cary was delivering his daughter from his white Caddy. We said good morning and that was it.

Watching “Archie,” it’s clear to see that Jason Issacs, a powerful British actor, is no impressionist and only and wisely, gives us the famous rhythm and deliverance of speech that Grant was known for.

Isaacs does a splendid job of delivering the hidden Cary that almost no one really knew, except for western actor Randolph Scott, with whom Cary shared a Malibu beach house for a long time.


In the opening chapters, we meet the young Archibald Leach (Dainton Anderson as little Archie and Calam Lynch as the older Archie) in the slums of Bristol with his father (Peter Ellis) who abandoned Archie’s mother when Archie grew to his teen years and ran off.

Daddy was a cruel lout who eventually told his son that his mother had died. But secretly, would one day, commit Archie’s Mum (Harriet Walter) to an insane asylum, something Cary would not learn for 30 years.

The most touching scene in episode two, which will knock you to your knees, is when we watch two incredibly gifted actors, Jason Isaacs and Harriet Walter, play out a 10-minute scene that would, in different circumstances, bring them both Oscars.

Cary gets a call from his father after 30 years to learn his mother (an amazing Harriet Walter) who Cary thought dead, was alive in Fishpond Asylum in the country.

Cary goes to England to the asylum, actually not a terrible place, where she was put by his father who “buried” her here when he remarried.

Cary meets in a park, Eric, his half brother, clearly a good solid man unlike his father. Eric agrees to help him.


Isaacs, burying his burning anger, says, “You tell him these very words, our paths will cross no more.”

Back at the asylum, when he goes to pick her up, she asks, “Where are you taking me?” “Clifton, Mum, you always wanted to live there.”

As he picks up her suitcase, she smiles and touches his hand and very sweetly says, “You’re Cary Grant.” “Not to you Mum, to you it’s just Archie.”

It’s a golden moment that makes the entire series worth seeing.

In the Rolls Royce car he hired to pick her up, he brings her a bag of chips.

“It’s got extra vinegar, just the way you always liked it,” he says.


Cary takes her to a posh home in Clinton, with a full staff to care for her.

“You’ll have everything here, everything.” We know when he touches her, that she will.

I have yet to finish the series, but from what I’ve watched, it’s going to garner many awards.

Grant’s four marriages are only touched on. It’s Laura Aikman, as co-author and producer Dyan Cannon,  who take the focus.

Paul Andrew Williams as director, Jennifer Grant, daughter of Cary and Dyan Cannon, as executive producers and authors, all should be proud of this work.

Laurens De Geyter’s camera moves, as it should, quietly and artistically throughout.

“Archie” streams on BritBox through Amazon Prime Video.


J.P. Devine of Waterville is a former stage and screen actor.

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