Saturday, February 5, 2011

For Your Pleasure: C.K. Dexter Haven

When M and I decided to start a new feature highlighting crush worthy fictional characters, I immediately concluded that it would be a farcical lie, maybe even sacrilege, to begin with one played by any actor other than Cary Grant.  Grant's sexuality has long been the subject of speculation, which is of little consequence as the collective world has a bonafide crush on the man born Archibald Leach.  If there were a reference source for cliche statements, Grant would be featured in a multi-page pictorial as the inspiration behind the "women want him, men want to be him" line.  He's also the very definition of classic, dapper, charming male charisma.  There is no one (though George Clooney is making a good go at it) in the Hollywood constellation that is quite as damn likable as Cary Grant; and luckily for him, all his freakish magical powers translated flawlessly to the silver screen.  Of his many fictional personas, The Philadelphia Story's C.K. Dexter Haven is the one I personally have to have the biggest teen girl crush on.   On paper, Dex sounds like WASP scum.  He's the ex-husband of Katharine Hepburn's Tracy Lord, kicked to the curb because he was dabbling in becoming a full-time useless alcoholic.  Add to that, he sort of pushed her to the floor in the opening sequence.  Tracy resents him, he still loves her quite a bit, the family still holds an obvious torch for him.  It's a pretty amicable, cutesy divorce, really.  The thing about Dexter is that in spite of his flaws, he never comes close to being a villain.  His problems and the spats with Tracy can be easily chalked up to their personalities matching too well.  When they married, they were young, they got things wrong, and as it appears they've known each other since childhood, they perpetuated their relationship in the petulant, battle of the sexes way that kids are wont to.  When Dexter re-enters the Lord manor he's tricky, but in an endearing, deserving way that makes you root for him.  He's unflinchingly honest, willing to concede to the points he's wrong on, but able to go toe to toe with the otherwise untouchable Tracy in every respect.  What else?  Well, he's got a pretty solid sense of humor, looks good even in an oddly bulky 1940's suit, and isn't one to shy away from mischievous fun.  All that and then C.K. Dexter Haven will build you a sail boat and sweep you away... 


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