When people who are fairly familiar with Rosalind Russell’s work think about best costars, usually the first ones that come to mind are “Cary Grant” and “James Stewart,” which is intriguing because each actor only filmed one movie with Miss Russell.
There are also a few other actors who made more than one film with her, such as Brian Aherne (4 films from 1940-1967) and Robert Montgomery (appeared in 5 films with Roz from 1934-1939). And yet Cary Grant and Jimmy Stewart are the clear favorites. I attribute this to the clear chemistry between Rosalind and Cary and Jimmy. Both men were close friends of Roz for many years, from the 1930s onward, both Cary and Jimmy attending Roz’s funeral. Mr. Stewart even gave a short yet touching eulogy at her funeral, which always brings a tear to my eye. (You can read more about that in my blog post Who Doesn’t Love James Stewart?)
However, when I think of my PERSONAL opinion, I think very carefully. While I think both Cary and Jimmy are great costars for Roz (being over 6 feet tall, very handsome, very manly, and just overly charming), I tend to gravitate toward the ones who appeared with her MOST OFTEN. It is because of Rosalind’s movies, after all, that I came to know and love Melvyn Douglas and Robert Montgomery. I also decided I like Brian Aherne, but so far I only like him with Roz, as he provides an excellent straight man to Roz’s comic antics.
So let’s talk about Robert and Melvyn. Robert Montgomery clearly appeared in the most films with Rosalind Russell. There are 5 in total. However, the first one was only Rosalind’s third film and she had a tiny part (with a few witty lines) and Bob was the star. However, the next four were costarring roles and they were great in all of them. I do believe Bob and Roz had good chemistry as well. I thought, “You know, I kind of like this Robert Montgomery. I think he can do comedy and drama equally well (even receiving an Oscar nomination for “Night Must Fall,” Roz being his costar).
As for Melvyn Douglas, anyone who knows me really well knows that I just adore him! And let’s say it’s all because of Roz. Melvyn and Roz were in only 2 films together. One was a comedy from 1940 called “This Thing Called Love” and one was a drama from 1947 called “The Guilt of Janet Ames.” When I first watched “This Thing Called Love,” oh, I just about fell in love with Melvyn. Who else in the world nowadays has as smooth a voice as his? He is tall, but not lanky. He knows how to deliver funny lines and is an absolutely talented dramatic actor as well. In fact, I met one of my good online friends because of Melvyn Douglas, but that’s another story.
And while I know most of you love Cary and James the most, what are your thoughts on these other costars? And please mention any other costar you really thought melded with Roz’s personality onscreen.