Big Brown Eyes (1936)
March 14, 2023 9:29 PM - Subscribe

Sassy manicurist Eve Fallon is recruited as an even more brassy reporter and she helps police detective boyfriend Danny Barr break a jewel theft ring and solve the murder of a baby.

Cary Grant and Joan Bennett make for a most delightful crime-solving duo in this eccentric mix of gangster drama and screwball comedy. Eve Fallon (Bennett) is a spitfire manicurist turned ace newspaper reporter; Danny Barr (Grant) is her private-detective boyfriend hot on the trail of a ring of jewel thieves. After a stray bullet—fired by one of the gang members—kills a baby in a park, Eve and Danny join forces in order to take down the organization’s criminal mastermind (Walter Pidgeon) and see that justice is served. Don’t miss Grant displaying his ventriloquism skills.

Richard Brody: The dialogue recycles clichés with ricochets (“So long, Toots; don’t take any brass knuckles.” “If I do, I’ll use them on you.”) and moves at the hectic pace of serendipitous fortune and sudden calamity, accelerated and amplified by the blare of a media capital. Walsh may offer a conservative and sedimental, as well as sentimental, view of New York—but it also comes off as a roiling, boiling cauldron of constant change and endless possibility. The title “Way Down East” may be Griffith’s; but, for Walsh, the city remains an open field, a frontier closed in on itself.

Debbie Dunlap: There are a couple of good "Who's on first" scenes. One big must see is the totally lame, but you just gotta see it ventriloquist scene. To see Cary do this scene is worth watching the whole movie. If you liked the bathrobe scene in 'BUB', you'll love the long ventriloquist scene. He plays a woman coming on to himself!

Frank S. Nugent: What Walter Wanger asks us to believe is the quite incredible romance between the blonde manicurist who becomes—just like that—a composite columnist-reporter-editorial writer on a newspaper and the lovelorn detective who scampers about, confiding headquarters' secrets in the columnist's aide and denying he has any personal interest in the ridiculous society matron whose diamonds have been stolen.Sandwiched between these two animated caricatures is a bit of pious meditation on the inadequacy of the judiciary to deal with known baby-killers and the helplessness of a criminal ring before the combined onslaught of an ex-manicurist and a disillusioned detective. Miss Joan Bennett's portrayal of the Broadwayese cuticle-groom suggests that she has not been around the White Light district for years, and Mr. Grant, whose chief crime-detecting asset would seem to be his knowledge of ventriloquism, should be restored promptly to the rank of patrolman. Set it down as a flimsy and inadequate excuse to visit the Capitol.
posted by Carillon (2 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Didn't love the call to vigilantism that the plot essentially espouses. Grant and Bennett though have some great dialog, not quite His Girl Friday levels, but pretty solid. I wonder how much of the "I caught you in another woman's suite having tea" offendedness is true to life, and how much is adaptation and male screen writers putting how they think women act. Not a ton of downtime, the plot rips pretty well along, you do get a lot for the short runtime. Also, maybe unintentionally, castigates the sexism of the time, where this woman who seems to be able to do everything amazingly is relegated to a role as a manicurist, one that she doesn't seem to love.

Wonderful who's that guy with Walter Pidgeon too, I had to look him up as he looks so familiar, but it's because he was in Forbidden Planet which I saw a bunch growing up.
posted by Carillon at 9:35 PM on March 14, 2023

I can't believe I've never seen this. Thanks for bringing it to my attention, Carillon.
posted by sardonyx at 7:53 AM on March 15, 2023 [1 favorite]

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