Friday, November 06, 2020

Tonight's Movie: Wedding Present (1936) - A Kino Lorber Blu-ray Review

Tonight I revisited favorites Cary Grant and Joan Bennett in WEDDING PRESENT (1936).

I first saw WEDDING PRESENT back in 2008 and watched it again for the first time in a dozen years thanks to the new Cary Grant Collection from Kino Lorber.

The Grant Blu-ray collection also includes LADIES SHOULD LISTEN (1934), costarring Frances Drake, and a second film teaming Grant with Bennett, BIG BROWN EYES (1936).

In WEDDING PRESENT Grant and Bennett play Charlie and Rusty, a pair of free-spirited reporters with something of a love-hate relationship.

Early in the film the pair come close to marrying, but Charlie's inability to ever take anything seriously leaves them unable to do something as simple as obtaining the marriage license, and Rusty decides it would be prudent to call off their wedding plans.

Charlie takes on a managerial role at the newspaper and his personality swings in the other direction, becoming unpleasantly dictatorial, and a frustrated Rusty leaves town.  She becomes engaged to stuffy Roger (Conrad Nagel), but soon enough Charlie realizes the error of his ways and tracks Rusty down, with marriage in mind.

I love both Grant and Bennett, but this isn't one of their better efforts.  The somewhat episodic story rambles around; for instance, Gene Lockhart plays an archduke in a few scenes and then disappears from the movie.

Fortunately William Demarest is on hand to kick the last third of the movie into high gear.  He plays Smiles Benson, a gangster determined to repay Charlie for saving his life, and he'll do whatever it takes to help Charlie win back Rusty.  It's a more lighthearted version of a similar type of grateful gangster role played by Lloyd Nolan in the following year's INTERNES CAN'T TAKE MONEY (1937).

WEDDING PRESENT also anticipates aspects of two of Grant's later movies, HOLIDAY (1938) and HIS GIRL FRIDAY (1940).  In HOLIDAY he would play another character who has trouble taking responsibility seriously, while the battling newspaper reporters anticipate HIS GIRL FRIDAY, which also has Ralph Bellamy playing a role similar to the one played here by Nagel.  

Given my love for Grant, I've sometimes been surprised to return to his films and realize how frequently he played annoying or abrasive characters.  It's a tribute to his charisma that he got away with it so often!  Bennett comes off a little better here, but her poorly written character spends most of the movie not seeming to know what she wants.

WEDDING PRESENT is pleasant enough company for fans of the cast, but in the end it's only a fair-to-middling film.

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

The Kino Lorber Blu-ray is a good-looking print.  Extras are an audio commentary track by Kat Ellinger and trailers.

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

2 Comments:

Blogger barrylane said...

Bennett and Grant did a second film together, Big Brown Eyes, that is less frenetic, so perhaps to your taste, but we liked both. A lot.

6:17 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

I saw BIG BROWN EYES many years ago but confess I remember little about it. Happily I'll be reviewing it as part of this set so I'll be interested to revisit it as well as compare it to WEDDING PRESENT. Thank you for the feedback!

Best wishes,
Laura

11:14 PM  

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