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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

BIG BROWN EYES (1936)


Behind the generic title, this snappy Raoul Walsh film is a real find. Where has it been hiding? Joan Bennett only hit her stride when she opted for sultry brunette over sassy blonde, but she's a peroxided knock-out here, playing a manicurist with a nose for news and lots of notorious clients with tales to tell. Cary Grant, also in super form, is her on-again/off-again boyfriend, a police dick who’s bucking to make captain. With her inside info & his knowledge of how to work the system, they make a great team running down a motley gang of jewel thieves. Lloyd Nolan, in an early outing, is a mug with a floral fetish(!), and the young & debonaire Walter Pigeon plays an amoral insurance investigator who’s working both sides of the fence. (No pun intended.) The plotting gets a bit sloppy in the third act, but Walsh keeps it all moving along. You’ll be having too much fun to mind the slap-happy contrivances.

CONTEST: Bennett & Grant reteamed for the strained screwball comedy WEDDING PRESENT/’36 which finished off Grant’s Paramount contract. It’s main interest lies in a trick shot that neatly circumvents the old Hollywood ‘Production Code’ and which would be famously re-used in a later Grant pic. Name the camera trick, the Production Code violation, as well as the later film and Grant’s co-star to win our usual prize, a MAKSQUIBS Write-Up on any NetFlix pic of your choice.

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