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Cary Grant Collection: Big Brown Eyes (1936) - Blu-ray Review

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Cary Grant Collection: Big Brown Eyes

The Awful Truth might have been Cary Grant’s first SUCCESSFUL screwball comedy, but Big Brown Eyes - with its witty dialogue and snappy performances - is, for my money' worth, the FIRST screwball comedy that he starred in.  Never heard of it?  Change that.  Quick.

"makes for a fun middle chapter in the newly released Cary Grant Collection as this cops-versus-thieves tale winds up being a lighthearted affair"


 

In this Raoul Walsh-directed romp, Cary Grant plays police officer Danny Barr who finds himself hot on the heels of a gang of jewel thieves, but when one member is acquitted after a stray bullet kills a baby in the park, Barr and his girlfriend, Eve (Joan Bennett), take matters into their own hands.

If that description - you know, the whole killing an infant thing - sounds like this film couldn’t possibly be a comedy, think again.  This moment is barely dwelt upon as the core of the movie hinges upon the relationship between Grant and Bennett.  They might constantly be bickering in quick-witted and snappy ways, but their love for each other is undeniable as Eve goes from being a manicurist to a news reporter with ease and Grant goes from chasing gangster Russ Cortig (Lloyd Nolan) as a copper to a sharply-dressed private eye . . . and it is all driven out of their distaste for the status quo.  

If it sounds unbelievable, well, it is.  That’s the territory of this crime-centered comedy.  It’s sure-footed and quick in its delivery, meaning that we have little time to ask questions.  Just entertain us!  And the duo of Grant and Bennet does exactly that.  Cary Grant Collection: Big Brown Eyes

Sure, sure, Grant could have been paired with a stronger female character actor, but Bennet isn’t terrible in her performance at all.  If there is a problem here, it is with Bert Hanlon’s script which just doesn’t give her a lot to do.  Both actors make the most of the material and produce a grand ol' time at the movies for fans of classic comedies.

But those scenes between Grant and Bennet absolutely sizzle with zingers as the two fall out of love with their dream jobs and somehow manage, thanks to a clue that Eve discovers when she returns to working with fingernails, to reverse the tension and speculation that has the whole city blaming them for the crime problems.  Suddenly, the newspaper that she was employed with has to eat its own words.

Simple and quick (clocking in at 77-minutes), Big Brown Eyes makes for a fun middle chapter in the newly released Cary Grant Collection as this cops-versus-thieves tale winds up being a lighthearted affair.  Offered from Kino Lorber, this three-film set includes Wedding Present and Ladies Should Listen.  It should come as no surprise that quirky romantic comedies like these simply aren’t made anymore and that’s a shame.

4/5 stars

 

Cary Grant Collection: Big Brown Eyes

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Kino Lorber
Available on Blu-ray
- September 8, 2020
Screen Formats: 1.37:1
Subtitles
: English
Audio:
English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; three-disc set
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

Screen legend Cary Grant (The Eagle and the Hawk, Arsenic and Old Lace) stars in Ladies Should Listen, a romantic comedy about a frolicking bachelor’s complicated escapade in Paris. A meddling switchboard operator (Frances Drake, Mad Love) falls in love with Julian de Lussac (Grant), a tenant in her building who has a deceiving girlfriend. Armed with the truth, she decides to win over Julian’s love and affections by formulating a plan to interfere and expose her conniving scheme. Directed by Frank Tuttle (This Gun for Hire) and co-starring Edward Everett Horton (Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife), Ladies Should Listen, alongside Big Brown Eyes and Wedding Present, is a classic laugh-a-minute farce. 

Video:

With a crisp black-and-white transfer, Big Brown Eyes  lands on blu-ray thanks to the crackling efforts of Kino Lorber Studio Classics.  Shadows, while not too terribly detailed, are thick and atmospheric throughout. Black levels - of which there are a lot thanks to all the tuxedos and suits - are powerful and thick.  Presented with an aspect ratio of 1.37:1, the film looks marvelous and easily beats the poor appearance on television and on home video DVD that has previously dogged it thanks to its 1080p handling.  The black-and-white photography here sizzles. The blacks and grays are handled expertly by the transfer.  

Audio:

You’ll be laughing over the DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track which accompanies this film.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • None

Special Features:

The sole supplemental item is a trailer for the film.

  • Original Theatrical Trailer

Blu-ray Rating:

  Movie 4/5 stars
  Video  3/5 stars
  Audio 3/5 stars
  Extras 2/5 stars

Overall Blu-ray Experience 3/5 stars

Cary Grant Collection: Ladies Should Listen (1934)

 

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