Monday, 3 August 2009

The Bride Came C.O.D. (1941)

It's interesting how often relatively minor movies lurk about somewhere in one's memory. Several many times over the years, friends -- knowing my penchant for film obscurities -- have asked me, 'What is that sweet little film where James Cagney kidnaps Bette Davis?' Well folks this is it, although there is rather more to the tale than that capsule.

Although signed to the same studio, Cagney and Davis had only worked together once previously in "Jimmy the Gent" (1934), even more obscure, probably because Cagney's cheeky persona clashed with Davis' normally dramatic roles. This film, however, proves with a vengeance that she could play comedy brilliantly as well. In it she is a spoiled heiress about to elope to Nevada with bandleader Jack Carson whom she has only known for a few days. Cagney runs a failing private charter airline heavily in debt and sees the answer to his immediate problems by promising to deliver the unmarried Davis to her father Eugene Pallette for $10 dollars a pound. When they crash-land in the middle-of-nowhere desert after Davis has tried to jump from the plane with her parachute on backwards, they bicker and spar. They come across a ghost town inhabited only by an elderly hotel-keeper, the ever-loveable Harry Davenport, who promptly slaps Cagney in his rickety jail. Then when he learns the rather different facts of their situation, he puts her inside instead as they await her father. Also descending on them are the press as personified by Stuart Erwin who is looking for headlines, the rather effete Carson, and various sheriffs and their deputies.

There are no prizes for guessing who ends up with whom, but the chase is a delight throughout as Cagney woos and wins Davis in his own tough little way. Once seen, it is a screwball comedy that insinuates itself into your memory as one of life's little pleasures.
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