Gary Cooper gets maternal in CASANOVA BROWN, Sam Wood's 1944 comedy about the lengths a divorced father will go in order to remain close to his child. Co-starring Teresa Wright and Anita Louise, this is sadly one of the least-remembered titles from Cooper's long and varied screen career.
Casanova Brown (Gary Cooper), a mild-mannered scholar--and apparent distant relative of the renowned lover--is looking forward to settling down with lovely Madge Ferris (Anita Louise) until he receives the most curious letter from a Chicago maternity hospital. Casa's mind casts back to when he married college girl Isabel Drury (Teresa Wright), a marriage that was quickly annulled after Casa's disastrous first meeting with the in-laws, which resulted in their mansion being burnt to the ground! Evidently, Casa and Isabel's relationship produced a baby girl--and now unmarried Isabel needs to put her up for adoption. Horrified Casa smuggles his daughter out of the hospital, determined to raise her; and all hell breaks loose when, after Casa's secret cover is finally blown, both Madge and Isabel descend on the bewildered new father!
CASANOVA BROWN was quite possibly a very risqué film when it was first released. I can't imagine the movie enjoying a smooth passage through the censors office. Dealing candidly with the subject of unwed mothers, bachelor fathers and possibly even bigamy, CASANOVA BROWN walks a very fine line. The script by Nunnally Johnson (based on the play "Accidental Father" by Floyd Dell) zips along at a good pace and showcases Frank Morgan, playing Madge's gold-digging father, in one of his greatest performances. Sadly Teresa Wright fades into the background playing a very weak young woman who'd rather break up her marriage than leave her parents' bosom (her mother is played by talented Patricia Collinge, who also co-starred with Wright in the Hitchcock classic "Shadow of a Doubt" the previous year).
No extras but a solid transfer.