Synopsis

Cass Brown is about to marry for the second time; his first marriage, to Isabel, was annulled. But when he discovers that Isabel just had their baby, Cass kidnaps the infant to keep her from being adopted. Isabel's parents hunt for the child and discover that Cass and Isabel are still hopelessly in love.

Director

Sam Wood

Cast

Gary Cooper
as Casanova (Cass) Brown
Teresa Wright
as Isabel Drury
Frank Morgan
as Mr. Ferris
Anita Louise
as Madge Ferris
Edmund Breon
as Mr. Drury
Jill Esmond
as Dr. Zernerke

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by bkoganbing 6 /10

Teresa Says, "Just Gary and Me, and Baby Makes Three."

Gary Cooper in the first half of the Forties made four films for director Sam Wood. Three of them were big budget items, Pride of the Yankees, For Whom The Bells Toll, and Saratoga Trunk. The fourth is a pleasant and innocuous little comedy called Casanova Brown.

The film was adapted by Floyd Dell who wrote the novel and play it was based on called Accidental Father. It had previously been filmed twice by Warner Brothers and once by the French cinema. It ran on Broadway in the 1929 season and probably got closed with the stock market crash.

All the names were changed in this adaption, but the plot line remained essentially the same. Gary Cooper is about to get married to Anita Louise when he gets a cryptic note from Teresa Wright. He confides in Anita's father, Frank Morgan who is a fellow colleague at the college where Cooper is an English professor. Morgan also seems to function more as a western sidekick for Cooper than a father of the bride for Louise.

Cooper's little secret is that he was ever so briefly married to Teresa Wright. Her cryptic note says he should go to a maternity hospital in Chicago and see a certain doctor there. Cooper of course arrives at some logical conclusions.

Teresa of course has an agenda of her own and I can't say too much more as both women fight for Cooper. Of course with that baby, Ms. Wright definitely has the upper hand.

Casanova Brown was the second of two films Cooper and Wright did together, the first being the highly acclaimed Pride of the Yankees. This film isn't anything like the epic story of Lou Gehrig, but it is definitely a pleasant enough diversion.

It's an opportunity to see Frank Morgan in a rare appearance outside the MGM studio. He has some very good moments in Casanova Brown as Cooper's confidante.

However Casanova Brown has one claim to immortality. There is a flashback sequence where Cooper is telling Morgan about the relationship with Wright. After they've eloped Wright brings Cooper to meet her parents who are played by Edmond Breon and Patricia Collinge. Collinge is a believer in astrology and no smoking. Cooper in an effort to hide the fact he smoked a cigarette in their house, manages to burn their house down. It is one of the most hilarious things ever put on film.

The rest of the film is good and entertaining, but it doesn't match up to that scene. See Casanova Brown for that alone.

Reviewed by funkyfry 8 /10

Johnson produces another gem

Enchanting, wittily written screwball comedy about a supposed bachelor, on the eve of his wedding, who discovers he may have fathered a child by a previous marriage that only lasted a week or so. His prospective father-in-law (Morgan), eager to rescue him from any marriage, encourages him to investigate. When he discovers his young divorcee plans to give the baby up for adoption (or pretends to), he kidnaps the infant and tries to raise it with the help of a small hotel's staff. Of course, much comedy ensues. The story is handled well and the humor light and effective, but Wright's character is not well drawn and her relationship with Cooper seems a bit forced. Cooper is well developed and the comic situations are amusing.

Reviewed by secondtake N/A

Funny, zany, silly--but forced and dated, too...give it a whirl?

Casanova Brown (1944)

A not-so-screwball comedy, but a comedy, based on the solid writing of Nunnally Johnson. The idea is a really 1940s one: can a man raise a baby? Throw in a leading man who is so thrown by his dilemma he marries or almost marries three women (all in the same room at one point), and so on and so on.

Cary Cooper is the superstar, and he's his usual likable but slightly dull (restrained) self, and he might not be the best for the role, but in a way that's the point, that the man is clumsy and awkward about anything maternal. The cast around him is terrific, including Frank Morgan (who was the wizard in The Wizard of Oz). And the third star, Teresa Wright, is her predictably sweet and perky self, once she arrives on the scene.

It's a zany plot, for sure, and if it drags a little sometimes, or is just a bit corny, that's part of it. The convergence of the various people who are at odds with each other without knowing it is almost inevitable, but when it happens it clicks. And Frank Morgan is key, more than anyone. The photography might not seem to matter in a film that is so plot heavy, and so insane, but in fact the cinematography by John Seitz is really superb, and helps make the thing hold together.

If you watch the first twenty minutes you'll know whether to watch the rest. I really think some people will find this too old fashioned in its humor, and a little to contrived and silly, too. But others will be glad for the non-stop absurdity, for the nice filming, and for the almost surreal strangeness of events.

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