Oil tycoon Lucius K. Winfield (Eugene Pallette, The Adventures of Robin Hood) hires charter pilot Steve Collins (James Cagney, Yankee Doodle Dandy) to kidnap his spoiled daughter Joan (Bette Davis) and prevent her from marrying a flaky musician (Jack Carson, Mildred Pierce). The plan goes awry almost immediately.
Reaction & Thoughts:
“You’re not even good enough for the cuss words I know.”
Too silly for words comedy that should have never been made. The Bride Came C.O.D. is an embarrassing attempt at screwball humor, even more horrendous if you consider the extraordinarily talented people involved in the making of the movie.
The script doesn’t have a single honest laugh, a real disappointment from the usually clever Epstein brothers (Casablanca and The Man Who Came to Dinner). The main running gag has James Cagney and Bette Davis falling into a cactus. The first time was cute. The second and third time? It was darn annoying!
William Keighley’s (The Prince and the Pauper and The Adventures of Robin Hood) direction is lead-heavy — he never finds the proper rhythm so important in a film of this vintage. The film screams for the deft hand of someone like Howard Hawks or Preston Sturges. Even cameraman Ernest Haller’s (All This, and Heaven Too and What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?) work lacks finesse — the film looks ugly!
This ill-conceived project was producer Hal B. Wallis’s (Casablanca and True Grit) baby. Wallis envisioned it as a change of pace for Warner Bros.’s top dramatic stars. Personally, I thought it was rather sad to see these giants of cinema being squandered like this. You can immediately see why neither Cagney nor Davis were casted in comedies. Their timing is off and they often screech their lines.
Popular character actor Harry Davenport (Meet Me in St. Louis) is the film’s sole saving grace. Davenport plays an old geezer who tries to help the combative couple. Davenport’s easygoing charm and sharp comedic timing save many scenes. The cast also includes George Tobias (Sergeant York) and Stuart Erwin (Pigskin Parade).
Conclusions & Final Thoughts:
The Bride Came C.O.D. has its defenders, but I’m not one of them. I guess that compared to a modern Adam Sandler comedy, this movie is a classic, but that’s really faint praise — Jimmy Cagney and Bette Davis deserved much better material — sadly, this is the last pairing of the legendary actors. B&W, 92 minutes, Not Rated.