Some belated respects are in order to two more great talents lost by the film world recently.
First, last Sunday, March 27, prominent Alfred Hitchcock collaborator and MGM contractee Farley Granger died of natural causes at the age of 85. Samuel Goldwyn signed the teenaged Granger to his studio, but it was not until after the actor returned from service in WWII that his career took off, with a prominent role in Nicholas Ray’s noir “They Live by Night.” That film brought Granger to to the attention of Hitchcock, who cast Granger in his 1948 film “Rope,” based on the true life tale of Leopold and Loeb, two homosexual young men who murdered a classmate for the thrill of it, and to prove their intellectual superiority. Granger would work again with Hitchcock again in “Strangers on a Train,” probably the actor’s best film. He found constant work over the decades on Broadway, on television, and in various films, though his chafing experience with Goldwyn discouraged him from the medium.
Granger was discretely bisexual, and he makes interesting comments on the bisexual/homosexual experience in Hollywood both the 1995 documentary “The Celluloid Closet” and “Include Me Out,” his memoirs, published in 2007 and co-written by his long-time domestic partner Robert Calhoun.
Even further back, in the commotion surrounding Elizabeth Taylor’s passing, I missed the fact that Richard Leacock, one of America’s greatest documentary filmmakers, also passed away on March 23 at the age of 89. One of the pioneers of the Direct Cinema and Cinema Vérité movements, Leacock was famed for his help in developing revolutionary mobile synchronous equipment, which made the kind of documentary footage we see today in newsreels and reality programs possible. Most famously he assisted Robert Drew in Drew’s film “Primary,” an intimate, observational account of the 1960 Democratic primary election between John F. Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey.
Both Granger and Leacock will be missed.