Sunday, November 22, 2020

Tonight's Movie: Big Brown Eyes (1936) - A Kino Lorber Blu-ray Review

Cary Grant and Joan Bennett star in BIG BROWN EYES (1936), which is part of the new three-film Cary Grant Collection available from Kino Lorber.

The Grant Blu-ray set also contains WEDDING PRESENT (1936), reviewed here earlier this month, and LADIES SHOULD LISTEN (1934), which will be reviewed at a future date.

I hadn't seen BIG BROWN EYES since I reviewed it here back in 2008, and I'd forgotten just how enjoyable it is.  With a top cast energetically directed by Raoul Walsh, I found it a much stronger film than WEDDING PRESENT.

Walsh and Bert Hanlon wrote the zippy script, based on stories by James Edward Grant.  The fast-paced 77-minute story finds police detective Danny Barr (Grant) and his manicurist-turned-reporter girlfriend Eve (Bennett) hunting for stolen jewels and a baby killer.

Walsh keeps the movie interesting, with unusual angled shots (filmed by George Clemens) and fast-paced editing (by Robert Simpson); quick cuts back and forth among patrons speaking at a barber shop are an effective way to move the story forward at a couple of points.

Grant and Bennett are a good team, trading fast-paced quips and making the viewer feel that they care for one another, even when they're arguing.  Grant's character here is quite a bit more likeable than in WEDDING PRESENT, and Bennett is particularly engaging as a go-getter who's every bit as effective rounding up the crooks as her boyfriend.

A fun note, this was a Bennett sisters day, as earlier in the day I watched Joan's sister Constance in TWO-FACED WOMAN (1941).

BIG BROWN EYES is populated with a variety of interesting types, starting with Walter Pidgeon as an urbane private detective, complete with bowler hat and umbrella, who beneath the suave, educated exterior is actually a murderous jewel thief.  The always-engaging Lloyd Nolan plays another crook, who seems more interested in flowers than in shady deals.  

Additional bad guys are played by Douglas Fowley, Alan Baxter, and Henry Brandon, who two decades later played Scar in the John Ford classic THE SEARCHERS (1956).  The cast is rounded out by familiar faces such as Isabel Jewell, Joe Sawyer, Marjorie Gateson, and Fred "Snowflake" Toones.

This was a fun film which I quite enjoyed, and I'm looking forward to checking out the final film in the set.

The Blu-ray is a very good print with a strong soundtrack.  The disc includes a commentary track by Nick Pinkerton and two trailers for other films available from Kino Lorber.

Thanks to Kino Lorber for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray.


Blogger Vienna said...

Will definitely get this one . As a big Cary Grant fan, it’s nice to know there are still a few of his films new to me.

1:24 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Same here! I've seen a majority of his films but some of the early titles especially have eluded me, including one of the films in this set, LADIES SHOULD LISTEN. Really enjoyed finally catching up with it!

Best wishes,

10:19 AM  
Blogger Biograph Consulting said...

I've been reading several of the Cary Grant biographies lately, and find it fascinating that, generally speaking, the authors just dismiss this little gem, preferring to talk about Grant's acknowledged classics, whether Bringing Up Baby or Notorious. Certainly this early past-paced sparkler is no literary gem nor is Grant the sophisticated man about town he later became. But as you have acknowledged, Laura, it's pacing sweeps the viewer right along and the story is loaded with unconventional touches--a killer with a taste for floral arrangements and a shoeshine who finishes other people's cherry milkshakes--and swept this pleased viewer quickly along a delightful narrative!

11:02 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on this film, I'm glad to know you enjoyed it too. There were many nice bits that made it a worthwhile film for me, and hopefully your comment will encourage more people to try it.

Best wishes,

6:10 PM  

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