‘Archie’ Ending Explained & Series Summary: What Changed Cary Grant’s View On Life?


When we think about the golden age of Hollywood, we are bound to be reminded of Cary Grant. The extraordinarily attractive man, with his charm and accent, managed to create an unforgettable presence in the film industry. Archie is a four-episode mini-series about the man himself. The fictional retelling claims to have kept it mostly real. His relationship with his brother is particularly created for emphasis and dramatization, considering Grant was not yet born when John passed away. Regardless, Archie is visually captivating, and it introduces us to the man behind the Cary Grant mask.

Spoiler Alert

What was Cary Grant’s childhood like?

Born Archibald Alec Leach, Archie grew up in a small apartment in Bristol. He had a difficult upbringing, with his mother suffering from depression and his father being an alcoholic. In Archie, we are told that Grant’s brother died of infection, and Cary watched his family fall apart as a result. But that is not entirely true. Grant’s elder brother, John, succumbed to death four years before Archie was born. John was only one when he passed away, and his mother, Elsie, blamed herself and her husband, Elias, for it. She was in constant pain, and little Archie always watched his mother suffer. Elias admitted Elsie to a mental institute to treat her clinical depression, and he left Archie at his mother’s. He wanted to get away from his nagging wife and abandon his responsibilities as a father. Elias eventually remarried and cut all ties with Archie. The only time Elias met him was to inform him that his mother had passed away. She was Archie’s only family, and as a young boy, he did not know how to react. The person who promised to be there with him forever left him without a word, and Archie had no other choice but to fend for himself.

Archie was enchanted the first time he watched the “Bob Pender Stage Troupe” perform. At that moment, he knew he wanted to be on stage and entertain the audience. He eventually joined the Penders, but they soon figured out his father had not consented to it. After accepting a signature fee, Elias approved of Archie’s decision. He was busy with his new family and did not care about Archie’s whereabouts, and before leaving, he promised that they would never cross paths again. Archie traveled to New York for the Vaudeville show and ended up falling in love with the city. He did not have anyone back home to return to, and he decided America was the place he wanted to be. From a young age, Archie desired to become a star, and he tried his luck wherever there was an audition. Luck did not favor him instantly, but once it did, there was no stopping him.

Archie had grown up to become an incredibly handsome man, and after a successful theater show, he was asked to audition for films, and that was how Archie, aka Cary Grant, was born. The studio requested that Archie change his name to something more attractive, and he decided to name himself Cary after a character he had recently played. And Grant was a random surname he came across in a telephone book. Archie was not what the Cary Grant people assumed him to be. He was absolutely charming on screen, but at home, he was a very particular man who struggled to coexist with his partners.

How was Grant’s relationship with his mother?

Elias kept Cary in the dark until the age of 31. Archie believed that his mother was no more, and that all the more prompted him to leave Bristol and try his luck in filmland. One day, all of a sudden, he received a call from his father asking to meet him. Cary never cared for his father after he was abandoned at a young age, and he only agreed to meet him because he said it was something important. When Elias disclosed that his mother was still alive and was living at the institute he had admitted her to years ago, Grant was completely shaken. He chose to never discuss his childhood because of how traumatic it was, and the news about his mother forced him to confront the part of his life he wanted to forget.

When Cary met Elsie, she initially failed to recognize him. He was nothing like the little Archie she had left behind, and she could not accept that she had been residing at the institute for a considerable amount of time. Cary bought his mother an apartment in Bristol, and while she was hopeful that her son would spend the rest of his life with her, Cary was careful about not mixing his two personalities. To his mother, he was still the little boy making one terrible decision after another, but to the world, he was a man of great importance. He felt good about himself when he was on his own. And living with his mother, in a way, terrified him.

As someone who had spent a significant portion of his life alone, he found the idea of living with his mother quite impossible. She was a woman who did not mince her words, and maybe her constant disapproval of every woman he dated always made him want to leave. After losing her son and her husband, Archie was all that Elsie had to hold on to, and she was deeply attached to him. So much so that she believed she was the only woman who could truly look after her son. This resulted in a constant clash between Elsie and the woman her son dated. Grant resented his father, but at the same time, certain behavioral patterns were similar. In Archie, Elsie did state that he reminded her of her husband, who left her for another woman. Cary Grant admitted that his dynamics with his mother went on to affect his romantic relationships.

Why did Cary and Dyan Cannon get a divorce?

After living through almost three divorces, Cary Grant was about to give up on finding love, and that was when he came across Dyan Cannon. After brooding over his third failed marriage, Grant found himself doing everything in his power to grab the attention of the young beauty on screen. While he initially wanted to meet her to discuss a possible role in “North by Northwest” (an interesting piece of information from a reliable source considering both Dyan Cannon and Jennifer Grant are executive producers of the show), later it was simply an invitation for a date of sorts. Dyan agreed to meet him after his persistent request, and she ended up spending four hours at Grant’s hilltop Malibu villa. Grant was not hesitant to express his desire, but Cannon was concerned about their age gap. She was also in doubt, going by Grant’s marriage track record. Dyan explicitly stated that she wanted to be married and have children, something that the Hollywood heartthrob did not have in mind. He believed in living in the moment, and she wanted to build a future with him.

Through Dyan and Cary’s relationship, Archie explores the insecurities he suffered from. His biggest fear, perhaps, was to die alone in his lavish villa, and that fear, more than anything else, pushed him to always search for a life partner. Eventually, Dyan fell in love with Cary and the two decided to live together. He enjoyed her company, but at the same time, he tended to impose his liking on her (or at least that is the version presented on the show). Dyan was just at the beginning of her career, and as much as she enjoyed living with Grant, there were days when she missed having fun in life. She was tired of being treated as a child, where her opinions were mostly ignored. But there were days when he made her feel extremely valued, and maybe that was why she was ready to give their relationship another chance. Grant proposed to her once he realized that Dyan would not return otherwise. It was once again the fear of loneliness that made him decide to give marriage another chance. Unfortunately, the two could not make it work for long, but he had a reason to be forever grateful to her, and it was his daughter, Jennifer.

How did Cary Grant’s daughter change his life?

After refusing to get tied down all his life and choosing not to have children, Cary Grant realized that the greatest joy in life was in bringing another human being into the world. During Archie‘s ending, we see a shift in Grant’s nature from a self-absorbed actor to a doting father. From the day Jennifer was born, he knew he had to protect her, and he went to great lengths to do so. Cary Grant retired from his film career in 1966 and devoted all his time to perfecting his new role as a stay-at-home dad. He had always wanted someone to be there for him through all of life’s ups and downs, and he realized that his daughter, Jennifer, would be his constant support. He chose to be there for her always because he wanted her to feel a sense of certainty, something that he was deprived of during his childhood. After choosing not to act anymore, Cary Grant ventured into business, and during a conference, he met the love of his life, Barbara Harris. She was a public relations agent working at the hotel, and despite their age difference, the two formed a lasting bond. She understood him better than anyone else could, and Cary was finally happy in his love life. He had no intention of getting married after his fourth divorce, but with Barbara, he knew she was the one for him.

Cary Grant passed away in 1986 after suffering a massive stroke. He was on the sets of A Conversation with Cary Grant when he suddenly fell ill. Through the one-man question-answer session, Cary candidly discussed his life and career. In Archie, a significant portion is a reenactment of the show. The series avoids delving into Grant’s relationship with Randolph Scott, but we do get an insight into a time in history when LSD was being considered for psychological treatment. Archie sheds light on the life of the Hollywood heartthrob behind all the glitz and glam.

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Srijoni Rudra
Srijoni Rudra
Srijoni has worked as a film researcher on a government-sponsored project and is currently employed as a film studies teacher at a private institute. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Film Studies. Film History and feminist reading of cinema are her areas of interest.

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