Casanova Brown stars Gary Cooper as Casanova Brown, Teresa Wright as Isabel Drury, Frank Morgan as Mr. Ferris, Anita Louise as Madge Ferris, Edmund Breon as Mr. Drury and Patricia Collinge as Mrs. Drury. Casanova Brown was directed by Sam Wood and released in 1944.
Gary Cooper was born in 1901, so he was already in his forties when he worked on this film. Teresa Wright was 16 years younger than Gary, so she was 25 at the time. The age difference is quite stark to me. Teresa looked more like a teenager. Gary Cooper was 6’3″ tall and it certainly shows in this movie. Mr. Cooper was quite handsome as well. I can understand why the late actress Patricia Neal fell under his spell in real life.
Casanova (Cas) Brown is a professor who arrives by train to Rossmore, a small town in Illinois. Cas is met by his fiance, Madge Ferris, and is clearly upset. Cas tells Madge never to let him out of her sight again and to never mention New York. Madge seems like a lovely gal, but when Cas asks her father for her hand in marriage he tells him not to marry Madge because she is no good. Obviously, this is a very strange thing for any father to say about his daughter. You will recognize Madge’s father as the Wizard in The Wizard of Oz. Anyway, Cas doesn’t want to hear anything against Madge and is determined to marry her, even if her own father is trying to save him from her.
Before the wedding rehearsal begins, Cas receives a letter from a maternity hospital in Chicago. Madge’s father is there when the letter arrives and becomes alarmed. Cas is cool at first because he thinks the letter is just an advertisement being sent through the mail. Mr. Ferris opens the letter and it is not a mail advertisement. It is a letter from the hospital requesting that Casanova come to the maternity hospital right away to see someone named, Dr. Zemerke.
Cas finally begins to realize that he could have fathered a baby. At this point Cas confesses to Mr. ferris that while he was in New York, he fell in love with a college student named Isabel and married her. When cas left New York she could have been pregnant. The only thing that did not make sense is why a maternity hospital in Chicago when Isabel lives in New York.
The story about Isabel is told in flashbacks. After Isabel and Cas were married, she took him to introduce to her parents. Isabel’s parents are completely off the wall. Mrs. Drury believes strongly in astrology and when she looks up Cas’s astro sign she tells the happy couple that the marriage will not work according to the astrological charts. Of course Cas thinks it is the most ludicrous thing he ever heard.
Mrs Drury is adamant that the astrological charts are never wrong.
Cas gets into an argument with Isabel’s parents over the validity of astrology.
Unknown to Cas, a cigarette that he thought he blew out is burning a hole in his coat pocket. In less time that it takes me to write this post, Cas completely burned down the home of Isabel’s parents by accident.
After the house is left in ashes Cas gets into another argument with Isabel’s parents. Cas storms off, but Isabel remains by the side of her parents. Their marriage was annulled before Cas returned to New York.
During the wedding rehearsal Cas walks out because he has to know if he has a child that he was never told about. Cas swears Mr. Ferris to secrecy, at least until he returns from Chicago.
When Cas arrives at the maternity hospital in Chicago, he can’t get a straight forward answer from anyone about why he was asked to come there. Instead Cas is whisked off and put through a complete physical examination.
After the physical Cas is finally taken to see Dr. Zemerke and learns that he is the father of a newborn baby girl. Cas is delighted, but then he also finds out that Isabel put the baby up for adoption. That was the reason he was called to the hospital by Dr. Zemerke. Cas becomes very upset because there is no way that he is going to part with his baby girl.
Cas asks to speak to Isabel about the baby and it is clear that he still loves his ex-wife. At this point Madge has already been stood up at the altar.
Cas disguises himself as a doctor in order to kidnap the baby. In a hotel Cas gets the help of a maid and bellhop to help him take care of the baby. Cas is an overprotective father and insists that everyone wear a mask when around the baby. The maid and bellhop are determined to help Cas keep the baby’s location a secret, however, the bellhop is a bumbling idiot and inadvertently reveals to Isabel and Dr. Zemerke their exact location.
Cas runs off with the baby and marries the hotel maid. If he is married then the baby cannot be taken away from him.
Cas and the maid return to the hotel but hide out in another room. Isabel manages to find them when she hears the baby crying.
I assume that mommy, daddy and baby girl live happily ever after. This movie is quite offbeat for its time period.
Casanova Brown is billed as a romantic comedy. I enjoyed watching this movie, but I did not find it hysterically funny. I had belly loads of laughs when I watched Monkey Business, but I did not get that from this movie. I did enjoy watching it though. The characters are quite eccentric and I did get a few chuckles out of that.
The photos below are publicity images.