“Star Of The Month (May 2021)” Featuring Cary Grant in… Wedding Present (1936)

As we continue on with Cary Grant as the featured Star Of The Month, we come to another film from 1936, the comedy Wedding Present, also starring Joan Bennett! But first, we’ve got a theatrical short!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Homesteader Droopy (1954)

(Available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of Tex Avery Screwball Classics Volume 2 from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 7 minutes, 31 seconds)

Droopy and his homesteading family find resistance from Dishonest Dan when they make a home in cattle country. A fun companion cartoon to Drag-A-Long-Droopy, as another wolf takes on Droopy. Of course, we have the recurring gag of his child wanting milk, and the different ways it’s given to him. As usual, Droopy beats the Wolf for most of the cartoon (which, considering the chemistry, always works). After all, “it’s the laaaaaw of the West” (and always fun to see)!

And Now For The Main Feature…

Chicago newspaper reporters Monica “Rusty” Fleming (Joan Bennett) and Charlie Mason (Cary Grant) are about to get married, but his pranks result in them being unable to get the license before closing time. Their newspaper editor, Pete Stagg (George Bancroft), is frustrated with all their practical jokes, and sends them to get an interview from Archduke Gustav Ernest (Gene Lockhart). Not only do they manage to get an exclusive interview from the archduke, but Charlie rescues New York gangster “Smiles” Benson (William Demarest) (who promises to pay off for the rescue), and both Charlie and Rusty help rescue a ship lost in a storm. They are both given medals for their work, and Rusty gets to enjoy a month’s vacation in New York. While she’s away, Pete Stagg resigns as editor, and, instead of being fired completely, Charlie becomes the editor. In the process, he becomes a hard worker, and doesn’t let anybody else get away with the type of things he had previously done. When Rusty comes back, she tries to bring him back to his senses, only for him to fire her. As a result, she decides to return to New York City. At the airport, she meets author Roger Dodacker (Conrad Nagel), and they start going out together. Without Rusty at the newspaper, Charlie comes to his senses, resigns, and goes after her. In New York, he is met by “Smiles” Benson, who tries to help bring the two back together to return the favor for saving his life (but without success). Will Charlie and Rusty be together again, or will she stick with the boring author?

Wedding Present is based on the short story (of the same name) by Paul Gallico that originally ran in The Saturday Evening Post in September 1935. The movie is toward the end of Cary Grant’s contract with Paramount. As such, we can see that he has essentially gotten his screen persona together. He’s quite suave, and yet, he can be a bit of a screwball, too. I’ve seen a number of comparisons to his better known classic His Girl Friday (made a few years later), and it is a fitting one. Once again, he’s a character willing to get involved in the news story (and help create one), as we see him become friendly with the Archduke, and push a pilot to go help a lost ship (and give the pilot credit for being a hero, even though he and his partner had knocked out the pilot to keep the search going).

Now, I will definitely grant (pun intended) that Wedding Present is certainly no match for the far better His Girl Friday, but it is fun on its own terms. I certainly enjoyed some of the various practical jokes that Cary Grant’s Charlie and Joan Bennett’s Rusty played in the course of getting their stories at the beginning of the movie. Not to mention the stuff they pulled on their bosses (both the editor and the owner of the paper). Everything that Charlie tried to do to win back Rusty upon his arrival in New York was certainly enjoyable as well. But I probably got the most solid laughs out of the stuff that occurred at the film’s finale (I wish I could say what, but to do so would be to spoil it, so I won’t go there). All in all, this was a very fun screwball comedy. I think most (if not all) of the later screwball comedies that Cary Grant did were better, but this one was still worth seeing! So, I would indeed recommend it!

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2020) with… Wedding Present (1936)

This movie is available on Blu-ray as part of the three film Cary Grant Collection from Kino Lorber Studio Classics. Like Big Brown Eyes in the set, the opening credits start out looking rough, with a lot of dirt and debris, but, once things get going, everything settles down. Of the three films in the set, this one looks the best, and it’s certainly worth seeing this way.

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2020) with… Cary Grant Collection

The Cary Grant Collection includes the movies Ladies Should Listen, Big Brown Eyes and Wedding Present. All three films have HD scans, with some variation in quality. None have been completely cleaned up, but that shouldn’t stop anybody from looking into this set. I think this set is worth it. I will admit, none of these are “Cary Grant with his screen persona” good, but they all manage to be fun, especially seeing him try to develop that persona, with some good co-stars. Again, this set is recommended!

Film Length: 1 hour, 22 minutes

My Rating: 8/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Big Brown Eyes (1936)Cary GrantThe Awful Truth (1937)

Big Brown Eyes (1936) – Joan Bennett – Father Of The Bride (1950)

Star Of Midnight (1935) – Gene Lockhart – A Christmas Carol (1938)

Big Brown Eyes (1936) – Cary Grant Collection

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