Review: Cary Grant takes acid. Fiction ensues.
By Michael Dirda
20 August, 2020
Cary Grant’s “First Love” isn’t a standard love story, but he does have a standard first scene. He’s sitting in a dark room with his date, in that dark room, with a bottle of rye and a glass and something else in his hand. Then the hand goes to his neck and he’s kissing her and the scene plays out in the dim light that filters through the windows.
The scene is at least five minutes long and is probably too much to put into a single blog post. I’ll have more to say about it here in the future, since it was the inspiration for my most recent post. But to provide a little bit of context, Grant was on a three-week vacation in Mexico. His daughter Elizabeth was coming to visit from New Orleans. Elizabeth liked movies, and Grant knew she wanted to see “First Love.” He asked his publisher if they could send it to her. They couldn’t send it because it had been released the previous year in the United States.
That’s the first time Cary Grant was on acid, and he lived to tell about it. On October 2, 1955, a week after the film opened in New York City, Grant, who had been a high school teacher for more than a decade but never a student, took three doses of the substance. Grant was a habitual drinker and cigar-chewer. Drinking was only a recent habit for him. He had tried alcohol before, unsuccessfully. It turned him into a nervous wreck. He knew he should cut down on drink, and that he should cut down on the habit. But he was on a three-week vacation in Mexico which didn’t mean he didn’t consider himself sober.
Grant was a master of timing. He was one of the most astute people I’ve ever met and in his way he was really a good man. The drug he took just before he went to bed the night before he died at 87, is called 5-MeO-DMT. That’s 5-MeO-DMT, a drug