June Star of the Month. Farley Granger.

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Today Farley Granger is best known for his two collaborations with director Alfred Hitchcock. He appeared in Rope alongside Jimmy Stewart and Strangers on a Train opposite Robert Walker.  Granger’s father was a wealthy owner of a automobile dealership before the effects of the 1929 stock market crash took it all away. A few years later the Granger’s packed up their belongings and moved to Los Angeles. After his appearance in a local stage play Granger auditioned for a part in the film North Star. Lillian Hellman who penned the script wanted Montgomery Clift but when negotiations fell through Farley Granger was cast in the role. He was signed to a seven year contract for $100 a week. Afraid he would be confused with actor Stewart Granger the studio wanted Farley to change his name. They gave him a list of several names but he refused. He shared his name with his father and grandfather. He loved the name and didn’t wish to change it.

Farley Granger

North Star was a commercial and critical failure but the experience was enjoyed by Granger. For his next project he was loaned to 20th Century Fox for a role in Purple Heart where he became close friends with Roddy McDowel and Sam Levene.  After filming finished Granger enlisted in the United States Navy. On route he experienced severe sea sickness. He spent the rest of his stint in the Navy on land. It was in Honolulu that Granger met many of his contacts from Hollywood.

Alfred Hitchcock's Rope with John Dall and Jimmy Stewart.
Alfred Hitchcock’s Rope with John Dall and Jimmy Stewart.

Back in Hollywood Granger appeared in Nicolas Ray’s Thief’s Like Us. The film wasn’t released for two years and the name was changed to They Live by Night. Released only in London the film received positive reviews and was eventually released in the States. During the film’s time in limbo it was viewed during several screenings. One of the viewers was director Alfred Hitchcock. He was soon cast in his first film with Hitchcock Rope. The experience wasn’t always positive. Due to censorship from the studios who kept close to production, Hitchcock shot Rope in ten minute long takes. Technical problems made the twenty one day shoot difficult.

Strangers on a Train
Strangers on a Train

Granger’s next few films were unpleasant experiences until he would appear in his second and final film for Alfred Hitchcock. The film Strangers on a Train was adapted from Patricia Highsmith’s novel of the same name. Also consisting of homosexual subtext that was considerably toned down from the novel, the film paired Farley Granger alongside Robert Walker who had recently split from his wife, Jennifer Jones. The two became dear friends during shooting and Granger considered this the happiest of his film making experiences. He was deeply saddened by Walker’s death before the film’s release.

With Robert Walker in Strangers on a Train
With Robert Walker in Strangers on a Train

Strangers on a Train was a critical and commercial success. It was the first success of Granger’s career. Granger would go on to have a long career in the film and television industry although it would never mirror the success he experienced with Strangers on a Train. While in Italy Granger made appearances in several Italian films. Granger contiued to work well into his seventies. He appeared in theater and television soap operas produced by his partner Robert Calhoun.

Farley Granger and Partner Robert Calhoun
Farley Granger and partner Robert Calhoun

Before he died in 2011 Granger released a book titled Include Me Out detailing with his career and relationships with both men and women. Granger enjoyed a fruitful career in film, television and theater on both sides of the Atlantic.

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