Thursday, May 01, 2008

Tonight's Movie: Wedding Present (1936)

Cary Grant and Joan Bennett costarred in two romantic comedies in 1936: BIG BROWN EYES (1936) and tonight's movie, WEDDING PRESENT.

WEDDING PRESENT foreshadow's Grant's HIS GIRL FRIDAY (1940): he and Bennett play Charlie and Rusty, two fast-talking reporters who go their separate ways after romantic and workplace spats. Rusty becomes engaged to a stuffed shirt, played by Conrad Nagel, in a standard thankless Ralph Bellamy type role. Will Rusty come to her senses before the wedding?

In some ways WEDDING PRESENT is a strange film, with a couple supporting characters -- such as Gene Lockhart's Archduke -- dropping into the story and then disappearing, never to be seen again. However, Grant and Bennett are a good team, and the film has a hilarious performance by William Demarest as Smiles Benson, a gangster who is determined to do Charlie a favor after Charlie saves his life. The film builds to a laugh-out-loud climax which calls to mind the conclusion of the 1941 film BEDTIME STORY, as Grant orchestrates utter chaos at the site of Rusty's wedding.

The supporting cast includes George Bancroft, Inez Courtney, Edward Brophy, and Lois Wilson.

A fun bit of trivia is that the year after WEDDING PRESENT and BIG BROWN EYES, Joan Bennett's older sister, Constance, was Cary Grant's leading lady in the classic fantasy TOPPER.

WEDDING PRESENT was directed by Richard Wallace. It was filmed in black and white and runs 81 minutes.

WEDDING PRESENT is available on DVD as part of the 5-movie Cary Grant Screen Legend Collection. BIG BROWN EYES is also part of the collection. The other films in the set are THIRTY DAY PRINCESS, WINGS IN THE DARK, and KISS AND MAKE UP. (Update: The movie is now also available as a single title DVD in the Universal Vault Series.)

July 2020 Update: This film will be released on Blu-ray in September 2020 as part of the Cary Grant Collection from Kino Lorber.

November 2020 Update: My review of the new Blu-ray is here.


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