Screwball Comedy is one of the most popular and enduring genres that came out of the 1930s and arguably Cary Grant remains its brightest star. Long before "The Awful Truth," "Bringing Up Baby," "Holiday," and "My Favorite Wife" became part of the Grant/Screwball canon, this seminal forgotten gem showcased his emerging talent as a light comedian. <br/><br/>The loose and episodic plot of "Wedding Present" during its early scenes establishes the rapport between reporters Charlie and Rusty, played by Cary Grant and Joan Bennett. Their coverage of the breakup of a royal wedding and an improbable rescue at sea are enjoyable chiefly because of Grant. This seems to be the first film in which he exhibits the charm, deft comedic timing, and physical grace that we associate with the Grant screen persona. Although he seemed stiff and stilted in his earlier Paramount romantic comedies (like "Thirty Day Princess"), here he seems to have finally broken through and found the character that would make him a major romantic comedy star for three more decades.<br/><br/>The plot seems to be a prequel to "His Girl Friday," but Howard Hawks has always insisted that only by reading lines with his secretary in preparation for the 1940 version of "The Front Page" did he hit on the idea of casting a woman as Hildy Johnson. When you consider the plot similarities between "Wedding Present" and "His Girl Friday," it would not be surprising if Hawks got his inspiration for Friday's back-story from this film.<br/><br/>The setting is a Chicago tabloid (as in "The Front Page") with Grant as a ruthless editor. Although the two reporters were never married in "Wedding Present" as they were in "Friday", they did apply for a license in the Hall of Records. Like Hilda Johnson, Rusty becomes engaged to a stuffy socialite (Conrad Nagel as opposed to Ralph Bellamy.) Other analogous characters include his snooty mother (Mary Forbes as opposed to Alma Kruger), and Grant's gangster friend (William Demerast as opposed to Abner Biberman,) who helps him frame his rival with the police.<br/><br/>All in all, "Wedding Present" is an unheralded minor gem in the "screwball comedy" canon and would serve as a good opener on a double feature with "His Girl Friday."
Comedy / Romance
Comedy / Romance
Charlie Mason and Rusty Fleming are star reporters on a Chicago tabloid who are romantically involved as well. Although skilled in ferreting out great stories, they often behave in an unprofessional and immature manner. After their shenanigans cause their frustrated city editor to resign, the publisher promotes Charlie to the job, a decision based on the premise that only a slacker would be able crack down on other shirkers and underachievers. His pomposity soon alienates most of his co-workers and causes Rusty to move to New York. Charlie resigns and along with gangster friend Smiles Benson tries to win Rusty back before she marries a stuffy society author.
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