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Teresa Says, "Just Gary and Me, and Baby Makes Three."
bkoganbing12 August 2006
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.
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Johnson produces another gem
funkyfry7 October 2002
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.
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Life's surprising little bundle complicates a wedding or two
lora643 July 2001
As a professor on the verge of matrimony for a second time, Cooper (the unlikely Casanova here) learns he's become a new father, by his ex-wife Isabel (Teresa Wright). He wants to find out the truth for himself so visits the hospital directly. One thing leads to another and he decides to kidnap the baby, with mostly awkward and hilarious results.

I like Frank Morgan in this movie as he tries to be the practical observer and adviser. He shines with his usual wit and bumbling charm.

Cooper, being the 'outside parent' makes an interesting remark at one point about fatherhood, that men can be fine leaders and do great things but can't be considered capable enough to raise a child, all of which goes to show the roles society dictated then and even now.

This is amusing entertainment without going overboard on comedy.
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Funny, zany, silly--but forced and dated, too...give it a whirl?
secondtake18 August 2011
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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Give this one a chance
Jeff Moczygemba26 July 2009
There are a lot of negative reviews for this movie. But I have to disagree with most of them. While it is not the best movie you will ever see it is not as bad as everyone says it is. Gary Cooper is one of his lovable characters that he always is. While sure nowadays this movie would seem almost criminal but the movie not meant to be taken seriously it is a comedy. There is no amazing performances or outstanding direction. But their is something lovable about Cooper's character. I saw a review once that said this was a pathetic attempt at screwball comedy. Well I have to say that is a little harsh I can think of at least 5-10 movies that are worse at screwball comedies than this. So in my opinion don't skip this one you might just enjoy it.
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The stupidity of Casanova Brown tried my patience
bob-790-19601831 July 2013
Warning: Spoilers
This is a well made movie with a good cast, particularly Frank Morgan as a gold-digging husband. Gary Cooper does a good job with the character of Casanova Brown. The problem is that his character is so monumentally stupid that he tries your patience--or at least he tried mine.

Comedies often revolve around some unlikely gimmick, contrivance, or misunderstanding, but in this movie there is one unlikely gimmick after another--all of them totally unbelievable.

For example, Casanova burns down the house of his fiancé and her parents by stuffing a burning cigarette into a wadded-up handkerchief because his future mother in law disapproves of smoking. Next thing you know, the entire enormous mansion is engulfed in flames.

Then there's the long sequence in the maternity hospital, where Casanova submits to an extensive medical examination, after just showing up from off the street, without asking why it was happening.

Next, literally one minute after being charmed by the cuteness of a baby in the maternity hospital, he proceeds to kidnap the child, hole up in a hotel room with it, and teach himself infant care--all without giving a thought to what the consequences might be.

Not that Casanova has a monopoly on stupidity. His former wife Isabel has created an elaborate plot, involving moving to Chicago to have her baby and falsely putting it up for adoption, all so she can win Casanova back. But hey, who cares about the adoptive couple on their way to the hospital to see their new baby! For that matter, who cares about Madge, the woman left stranded in her wedding dress by Casanova. She comes to Chicago, presumably to get her groom to come back and marry her, but we never hear what happens to her either.

Stupidity sometimes makes good comedy, but not monumental, serial stupidity that exists only to move along a preposterous story.
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Little accident
jotix10016 June 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Gary Cooper was equally at home doing drama or comedy, as he proves in "Cassanova Brown", a 1944 Paramount vehicle that reunited the winning team of "The Pride of the Yankess". Sam Wood directed again and Teresa Wright played the female lead. Based on a play co-written by veteran actor Thomas Mitchell, this hardly seen movie is worth a look whenever it shows on cable. Nunnally Johnson, one of the geniuses of that era in Hollywood adapted the material for the screen and produced it.

Mr. Cooper makes a great contribution to the film as the absent minded English professor who returns back to his small mid western town vowing never to set foot in New York. Casanova, or Cass, asks Madge to marry him and just as they are about to say "I do", a letter, somewhat mysterious, arrives from a maternity hospital in Chicago. Intrigued by the missive, he decides to solve the puzzle, but little does he know what is in store for him.

In flashbacks we get to know what happened to Cass in New York. It involved his having fallen in love with the beautiful Isabel Drury. As he is about to ask for her hand, Mrs. Drury, a woman who is into horoscopes, planets, and stars, sees trouble ahead. An incident with a lit cigarette butt causes much unhappiness to all and he flees in horror, leaving Isabel to fend for herself.

When Cass arrives at the hospital, he is made to take a physical that Dr. Zernerke has ordered. After the tests, Cass finds out the real reason for his being there, Isabel has delivered a healthy baby and it's going to be given for adoption! Cass takes an instant attachment to the baby girl and takes her away to his hotel. Eventually Isabel traces him and they are reunited, much to the consternation of the Drurys and the would be in-laws, the Ferris.

Although Mr. Cooper and Ms. Wright are more than perfect in their roles, some of the joy we found in the movie was watching superior performances by Frank Morgan, Jill Esmond and Patricia Collinge, who as Mrs. Drury, is marvelous. Mary Treen and Emory Parnell play the maid and the bellhop that help Cass take care of the baby. Anita Louise appears as Madge Ferris.

"Casanova Brown" is a fun film, so tune in whenever it shows again.
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Very Poor Script, Very Slow Movie
krdement22 July 2007
Warning: Spoilers
This movie starts out promisingly, with an early scene in which Frank Morgan advises against Gary Cooper's marriage to his daughter, Anita Louise. Frank Morgan, playing an unabashed gold-digger, loudly complains to Cooper about his perceived penury at the hands of his family - including his daughter, Anita Louise. I am a fan of all 3 actors. Frank Morgan is (to my mind) a Hollywood treasure, Cooper a legend, and Louise a very lovely, versatile and under-appreciated actress seldom seen in the leading role. I also have nothing against Teresa Wright, and while not blessed with great range, she usually delivers heart-warming performances.

From a promising opening, the story slides downhill all the way to the end. I found nothing humorous about burning down the home of Cooper's would-be in-laws. The butler in such a fastidious, non-smoking household would never just blithely walk away, allowing Cooper to continue smoking, or alternatively he would certainly supply him with some means of disposing of his ill-timed cigarette. Moreover, nobody with any common sense would permit himself to be left holding a lit cigarette without asking for some means of disposing of it. And finally, nobody in his right mind crushes out a cigarette in a handkerchief and sticks it in his pocket! This whole sequence just made Cooper seem foolish and gauche. It is a poor contrivance - ill conceived and filmed in a way that induces ridicule not laughter.

The forced medical examination of Cooper is equally contrived. Nobody lets himself undergo a complete medical examination without his being advised of its purpose or giving his consent! That Cooper did so is too removed from reality to be funny - it's absurd! Stealing babies from hospitals is a serious legal offense, and that, too, is nothing to laugh about. Finally, the scenes of Cooper's overly fastidious, neurotic attention to his baby's feeding and weight may have struck a nerve with a few people who have experienced anxiety over their own newborn babies. But to me they just seem tedious and slow. The wardrobe and prop departments went over the top in those scenes, while paradoxically, the script writer went to sleep.

The lines are just not in the script to generate humor. They just miss on all cylinders. The laughs come not a mile-a-minute, but more like a light year-a-minute. The only time the movie has any energy or humor is when Frank Morgan is on camera.

The scene that is totally wasted is when both of Cooper's love interests and their respective fathers are cooped up in the same hotel room together. There is probably a rich vein of humor somewhere in that mine, but none of it was extracted.

In the end, one of the two very likable girls is going to get hurt. Predictably, it is the Anita Louise character, who gets jilted on her would-be-wedding night! While it is not on camera, that is her fate, and it is not particularly funny - even as a loose end. She hadn't done anything in this film to make me unsympathetic (unlike Gail Patrick, say, in My Favorite Wife). Consequently, I was expecting (perhaps "hoping" is a better word in the context of the film!) for Anita Louise to enjoy a happy ending, too. The fact that such a nice character is essentially wiped out at the movie's end really undermines the effect of the "happy ending" for Cooper and Wright.

I kept waiting for something to happen, for the witty dialog so characteristic of movies of the era... And it never delivered. A good performance by Frank Morgan in a slightly different role is totally wasted here.
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Teresa Wright and Gary Cooper seem to try very hard,...
MartinHafer10 March 2006
This "screwy comedy" seems very forced. Indeed, the actors TRY very hard to make a go of an essentially unfunny script. And, as a result it doesn't really go anywhere. The idea of a woman finding out she was pregnant after getting a quickie divorce just isn't all that funny. And then, when Cooper sneaks off with the baby because he doesn't want it put up for adoption just seems terribly unfunny and it's really pushing hard to turn this into a comedy. It's really a shame, too, as the actors were more capable than the script and I found myself just bored by the whole mess. Considering that Cooper made so many GOOD comedies, I recommend you see them instead.
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Labored Comedy
kenjha2 March 2013
A man named Casanova becomes involved with a number of women and a cute baby. This attempt at screwball comedy has a few amusing moments but much of the humor is forced. Despite the efforts of veteran screenwriter Johnson and director Woods, the film takes a while to get going and soon runs out of steam. Cooper tries hard but can't overcome the weak script. Morgan comes off best, playing Cooper's would-be father-in-law. Wright is perky as Cooper's wife, but seems too young for him; there was an age difference of over 17 years between them. Interestingly, the baby girl is played by a fellow named Billy Chapin, who went on to have a brief acting career before retiring at age 16.
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pathetic attempt at screwball comedy
kyle_furr11 February 2004
What a waste of time. There is absolutely nothing funny in this so-called comedy. The plot, or lack of it, is is pretty stupid and corny. Gary Cooper was much better in Ball of fire and Meet john doe and Teresa Wright didn't do many comedies. Don't waste your time.
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Remake of Little Accident (1930 & 1939), repairs Gary Cooper and Teresa Wright
jacobs-greenwood16 December 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Directed by Sam Wood, this Gary Cooper comedy re-paired the actor with Teresa Wright (after The Pride of the Yankees (1942), also directed by Wood) and was produced by its screenwriter Nunnally Johnson. The source material was a play by Floyd Dell and renowned character actor Thomas Mitchell.

Coop plays the title role, referred to as 'Cass' Brown throughout, a man that learns on the eve of his nuptials (to Anita Louise's character) that his first wife Isobel (Wright) has just given birth to their daughter! Her parents had his marriage to their daughter annulled almost immediately after her mom (Patricia Collinge) discovered, through astrology, that Cass was a "disaster waiting to happen", shortly before he'd accidentally burned down their $750,000 home with a cigarette that refused to be put out. Cass's new father- in-law to be is played by Frank Morgan, a kept man who resents his wife (Isobel Elsom) putting him on an ever decreasing allowance that advises Cass not to marry his daughter.

Edmund Breon plays Isobel's father and Jill Esmond plays the maternity hospital's doctor. She learns that Isobel had informed Cass of their baby daughter in order to bring about his return, which it does, and that she'd never intended to give the child up for adoption. But before Cass learns this, he kidnaps his own daughter and manages to care for her in a hotel with the help of a maid (Mary Treen) and the bell captain (Emory Parnell). The fish- out-of-water new-dad-with-baby scenes are cute but overlong, a quest for the perfect baby formula. More hijinks occurs when his fiancée, Morgan, Isobel and her father descend upon the hotel where they learn that Cass is willing to marry the maid in order to keep (and legitimize) his daughter. But an ending that includes Cass and Isobel coming together is a foregone conclusion.

Halliwell Hobbes, Irving Bacon, Robert Emmett Keane, Byron Foulger (uncredited) and Grady Sutton (also uncredited) are among those who also appeared in this first International Pictures production, a company established by Cooper (and others) before it merged with Universal two years (and nine movies) later.

Received Academy Award nominations for its B&W Art Direction- Interior Decoration, Sound and Score.
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lots of loose ends, but I'm a sucker for Coop and that baby
blanche-218 September 2015
Warning: Spoilers
"Casanova Brown" is a 1944 comedy, based on a play that ran on Broadway. Apparently Warner Brothers filmed this story something like two times previously. In those days, the studios many times would do an "A" movie and then do it again as a "B" movie. This apparently is an RKO movie.

I can't believe if it was done so many times, no one bothered to fix the script.

The play was done in 1929, but this was 1944. I don't suppose it occurred to anyone to mention World War II.

Gary Cooper plays Cas Brown, who is about to marry Madge Ferris (Anita Louise), receives a letter from a maternity hospital in Chicago. It really doesn't say anything, just that he should contact a certain doctor. Nervous, he confides in his father-in-law to be (Frank Morgan) that he had been married previously, very briefly, to Isabel (Teresa Wright). Her parents had it annulled because she did not have their consent. However, this all took place in New York, not Chicago.

Mystified, Cas heads for Chicago before his wedding. When he arrives at the hospital, he finds out that his former wife has given birth to his child, a girl, and is giving the baby up for adoption. He falls in love with the baby the minute he sees her (and who wouldn't - she's adorable). In a panic, he kidnaps her and goes to a hotel. Enlisting the help of a maid there, he cares for the baby while everyone looks for him.

The film had some very funny moments but the script was not tight. No war, as I mentioned, but also, I don't know my adoption law for every state, but wouldn't the father have had to sign off on the adoption as well? The baby wasn't illegitimate.

The other problem is that Cas seems to just forget about his wedding, which was to take place I believe the day after he went to Chicago. We don't really find out the effects of that. And what about the adoptive parents? It's mentioned the baby was going to a great family, but there's no mention of them either.

Still, it's a pleasant and occasionally fun film with a scene that is probably one of the best ever. Wright's mother is her mother in Shadow of a Doubt, Patricia Collinge. Her character is batty, a believer in astrology and a strict code of behavior which includes no smoking.

After they elope, Isabel brings Cas to meet her family. He takes a pack of cigarettes out of his pocket and when Isabel's mother disapproves, he says someone gave him the pack. Then she says worse than a smoker is a liar.

To cover the fact that he was smoking, Cas has a cigarette in his suit jacket pocket which starts to burn. Ultimately he burns their house down. I'm talking razed to the ground. It's absolutely hilarious. If only the whole movie had been like that.

Excellent performances from all involved, with Frank Morgan playing a curmudgeon very well. Cooper is incredibly handsome and delightful as the determined father, and Teresa Wright is lovely as the conflicted mother. Collinge is a riot.

I recommend this - it doesn't deserve all the bad reviews. It's not great but it's far from awful. And who can beat tall, dimpled Cooper and that baby?
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A very funny comedy with real heart
SimonJack10 September 2012
Warning: Spoilers
The vast number of good comedy movies made over the years are single theme films. That is, the comedy is the focal point of the film, around which it plays itself out. It stands alone, regardless of the plot. Examples of this are "Harvey," "Kind Hearts and Coronets," "Arsenic and Old Lace." In the case of comedy romances, the romances are usually a big part of the comedy. Examples are, "His Girl Friday," "It Happened One Night," and "The Importance of Being Earnest."

But, there are occasional comedies that have a second theme distinct and recognizable from the main humor dialogue. These are most often distinct plots around and through which the comedy is interwoven. One such group is the comedy adventure. Some very entertaining comedy adventures include "Around the World in 80 Days," "The Great Race," and "Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines".

"Casanova Brown," is in another group of two-theme films that includes some very great movies. These are the films that have themes with a message or that support strong values. The second theme is the basis for the comedy being developed. The comedy is built around the value theme, even if the latter is hidden for some time in the film. Very good examples of this are "Mr. Deeds Goes to Town," "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," and "My Man Godfry."

What is the second theme, or building theme of "Casanova Brown?" It's sentiment that revolves around families and love of children – especially a father's love for his baby. That's the whole plot of this move, and it drives the humor after the opening scenes. This isn't among the best of such films, but it is a very good one.

"Casanova" is a very good, entertaining film, with overall good acting and directing. Top notch performances are given by Gary Cooper, Frank Morgan, Edmund Breon, Mary Treen, and Emory Parnell. The film has three hilarious scenes. The first involves a cigarette that burns down a house. The second is Cooper's physical exam when he goes to meet a doctor at a maternity hospital. The third is Cooper and his helpers caring for the baby in the hotel room.

The most hilarious lines of dialogue occur in a few exchanges. Morgan asks Cooper about the girl he had met and married. "What was she like?" he asked. "Have you ever seen the sun come up at dawn?" Cooper replies. Morgan answers, "I have. It nauseated me."

In another scene, Cooper has an exchange with the hotel clerk about goat's milk. The clerk says, "Why don't you get yourself some goldfish? No trouble at all, and they die over night."

In the hotel room, Cooper talks about reducing the formula to slow down the baby's weight gain. The bell captain, Parnell, says, "Why don't you put a little gin in it?" Cooper replies, "Gin?" Parnell says "Well, that's the way they say they make jockeys – put a little gin in their Wheaties."

In the hotel lobby, a group of people are standing and waiting for the elevator, including the character played by Breon. Morgan walks in with his wife and daughter and brusquely pushes through the group to the elevator button and pushes it. ""Very shrewd move," Breon says to him. Morgan snaps back, "Not at all. You'd have done it yourself if it had occurred to you." I laughed so hard on that one that I had to stop the DVD and back up to go from that point.

One very curious thing about this film was its time of release. It came out in September, 1944, so it was likely being made well before the June 6 D-Day landings at Normandy. The country was then in the thick and thin of World War II. Perhaps that's one reason why the strong family and love of children theme stood out to me. The viewing audience first seeing this film were people on the home front working to support our troops, and worrying about loved ones off at war. So, the strong family heartstrings would be felt by that audience, where that may not be so obvious to viewers today.

Another curious thing about this film was its lack of any reference to the war going on. Nowhere in the film is there mention or even a hint of the war. That must have been intentional. The filmmakers likely had to go out of their way to not have something about the war be seen or inadvertently filmed. A rare shot of a street scene in Chicago showed an early 1940s model car. Also, in the hospital waiting room and at the baby viewing window, there were no very young fathers – all appeared to be in their 30s or older. By 1943, the draft age range had dropped to between 18 and 38 years of age. About one in five men were then being inducted. Cooper was then 37 years old, but his character was 31 years old. So, this is one of the very few films I know of in the midst of World War II that shows civilian families going on with their lives and having children.
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