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  • Wedding Present
    • Wedding Present
    • Runtime:81 min
    • Release Date:2014-10-24 23:24:00
    • Director: Richard Wallace
    • Genres: Comedy, Romance
    • Studio:
MOVIE REVIEW:Wedding Present
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Wedding Present was the second of two films Cary Grant co-starred with
Joan Bennett and the last one of his original Paramount contract. He
would not return to Paramount until 1955 when he did To Catch A Thief
for Alfred Hitchcock.

Grant and Bennett play a couple of free spirits who happen to be
reporters on a Chicago paper and while they get the stories, they are
bad for discipline and the bane in the existence of their editor George
Bancroft. In fact the couple almost get married as the film begins, but
Grant's clowning around pushed the deadline past the official closing
time and you know how officious some civil servants can be. They stay
'almost married' for most of the film.

But Grant gets promoted to city editor when a harried and harassed
Bancroft quits and he turns into a hardnose. So much so that he fires
Bennett when she tries to break up the city room. That leaves Grant
disillusioned and he quits and follows Bennett to New York where she
has now taken up with and is about to be married to stuffy Conrad
Nagel, a fate worse than death in Cary's eyes.

Some have compared this film to His Girl Friday. But there is a vast
difference, the humor in that classic derives from the fact that Grant
in that film is all business and will do anything to keep Rosalind
Russell on the job and on the story. In this one the good time is the
virtue prized above all others.

Paramount gave Grant and Bennett a great supporting cast in this topped
by William Demarest, a New York gangster who Grant saves from drowning
in Lake Michigan. Demarest is looking to pay him back and in the end
really does come through for him.

Screwball comedy fans will love the ending as an inebriated Grant and
Demarest decide to give Bennett a Wedding Present. What they do is for
the viewer to see, but I promise they pull all the stops out.

This was a good picture to leave Paramount with and enter into
superstardom with the next set of roles Grant would have as a free
lance artist.

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*** This review may contain spoilers ***

In so many ways, this film seems to have strong elements from one of
Cary Grant's best films–HIS GIRL Friday. While the Friday plot is
taken from the Pat O'Brien/Adolph Menjou film, many elements about the
characters seemed to have been taken from WEDDING PRESENT–with Cary
playing pretty much the same character in both films and Joan Bennett
playing a part very similar to the one later played so well by Rosalind
Russell.

Unfortunately, despite these similarities, WEDDING PRESENT is from from
being a classic film. While up until the terrible ending I would have
given the film a 6, by the time it was over the film barely earned a
4–while HIS GIRL Friday is clearly a 10 and one of the best films of
the era.

The film begins with Cary and Joan wacky highly respected newspaper
reporters (just as in Friday). They are about to get married, but it
all falls through thanks to Cary's being too much of a comedian–and
Joan realizes that he'd make a lousy, but fun, husband. Despite the
breakup, they spend much of the first half of the movie together on
various adventures and this is by far the best part of the film. I
particularly loved the scenes with Gene Lockhart as the Archduke (this
was perhaps the best supporting role of Lockhart's long career).

The problem, though, is that the momentum wasn't maintained after a
while. When Cary became the boss at work and Joan walked off the job,
the film became a mess. In particular, the ending. In a very
irresponsible and unfunny ending, to stop Joan from marrying another
man, Cary calls in tons of false alarms–reporting fires, most-wanted
criminals who were spotted, illnesses, mental patients, and a ton of
other problems at the fiancé's home. This certainly wasn't funny–just
very cruel and irresponsible. And, in a Hollywood twist, Cary gets away
with this AND gets the girl. In the process, Joan treats her fiancé and
his family like dirt. What a selfish and nasty way to end a film!! Had
they shown Cary in prison for a year for calling in all the false
alarms and inciting panic, then I might have enjoyed the ending!

Overall, not a great film and at best a time-passer. While I love Cary
Grant films, I also have to admit that occasionally he had a
disappointing film like this one or ONCE UPON A TIME or KISS AND
MAKE-UP. Of course, he also had HIS GIRL Friday, ARSENIC AND OLD LACE,
NORTH BY NORTHWEST and a ton of classic films to make us all forget
about these few duds.

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