Casanova Brown (1944): Sam Wood Melodrama Starring Gary Cooper and Teresa Wright

RKO-Radio Pictures.
Sam Wood’s romantic melodrama, Casanova Brown,  from Nunnally Johnson’s screenplay, is based on the play “The Little Accident” by Floyd Dell and Thomas Mitchell (the Oscar-winning actor).
Gary Copper plays a timid English teacher named Casanova Q. Brown. During the rehearsal for his wedding to his fiancée Madge Ferris (Anita Louis), Brown learns that he is about to become a father, the unexpected result of a brief whirlwind marriage now annulled to Isabel Drury (Teresa Wright). At the maternity hospital, Isabel tells Casanova that she is going to put the baby up for adoption, but after seeing his baby girl, Casanova kidnaps the child.
In his struggles to be a mother as well as father, and to keep the whole thing a secret, the hotel chambermaid Monica and Frank help Casanova to such an extent that he determines to marry Monica to provide his daughter with a lawful mother. In the end, both his former and future brides confront Brown with their respective families. After a grueling time, Casanova finds that he and Isabel are still in love.
At the time, the subject was considered audacious, but by today’s standards it’s mild. In the lead, Cooper gives a charmingly effortless performance as the mild-manner teacher, and it must have been fun for audiences during the War to see macho star Coop, initially incompetent at holding a baby and handling diapers and other basic facts of child feeding and rearing.
Oscar Alert
Oscar Nominations: 3
Interior Decoration (b/w): Perry Ferguson, art direction, Julia Heron
Sound: Thomas T. Moulton
Scoring of Dramatic or Comedy Picture: Arthur Lange
Oscar Awards: None
Oscar Context:
The Oscar winning comedy “Going My Way” competed for the top award with Billy Wilder’s noir melodrama “Double Indemnity,” George Cukor’s psychological thriller “Gaslight,” and two patriotic films, Selznick’s production “Since You Went Away and the biopic “Wilson.”
In 1944, the art direction Oscar went to George Cukor’s noir suspenser “Gaslight,” the Sound award to “Wilson,” and the Scoring to Max Steiner for the sentimental war melodrama “Since You Went Away.”
Gary Cooper (Casanova Brown)
Teresa Wright (Isabel Drury)
Frank Morgan (Mr. Ferris)
Anita Louise (Madge Ferris)
Patricia Collinge (Mrs. Drury)
Edmond Breon (Mr. Drury)
Jill Esmond (Dr. Zernerke)
Emory Parnell (Frank)
Isabel Elsom (Mrs. Ferris)
Mary Treen (Monica)
Halliwell Hobbes (Butler)
Larry Joe Olsen (Junior)
Byron Foulger (Fletcher)
Sarah Padden (Landlady)
Eloise Hardt (Doris Ferris)
Grady Sutton (Tod)
Frederick Burton (Rev. Dean)
Robert Dudley (Marriage Clerk)
Isabel La Mal (Clerk’s Wife)
Florence Lake (Nurse Phillips)
Ann Evers (Nurse Petherbridge)
Frances Morris (Nurse Gillespie)
Nell Craig (4th Nurse)
Lane Chandler (Orderly)
Kay Deslys (Fat Woman Patient)
Ottola Nesmith (Patient’s Nurse)
Lorna Dunn, Kelly Flint, Julia Faye (X-Ray Nurses)
Dorothy Tree (Nurse Clerk)
Isabel Withers (Nurse, helps Casanova)
Irving Bacon (Hotel Manager)
James Burke (O’Leary)
Francis Sayles (Elevator Operator)
Phil Tead (License Clerk)
Snub Pollard (Father at Baby Window)
Grace Cunard, Verna Kornman, Anna Luther, Marian Gray, Sada Simmons (Women at Baby Window)
Lelah Tyler (Switchboard Operator)
Cecil Stewart (Organist)
Helen St. Rayner (Soloist)
Stewart Garner (Usher)
Mary Young (Mrs. Dean)
John Brown (Fire Chief)
Jack Gargan (Intern)
A Christie Productions Picture.
An International Pictures, Inc. Production.
Director: Sam Wood.
Producer: Nunnally Johnson.
Screenplay: Nunnally Johnson, Based on the play “The Little Accident” by Floyd Dell and Thomas Mitchell.
Photographer: John Seitz.
Editor: Thomas Neff.
Musical Score: Arthur Lange.
Art Director: Perry Ferguson.
Set Decorator: Julia Heron.
Costumer: Muriel King.
Sound Recorder: Benjamin Winkler.
Musical Associates: Charles Maxwell, Clifford Vaughan, Howard Jackson.