(director/writer: Raoul Walsh; screenwriter: from the short stories Hahsit Babe and Big Brown Eyes by James Edward Grant/Bert Hanlon; cinematographer: George Clemens; editor: Robert Simpson; music: Gerard Carbonara; cast: Cary Grant (Danny Barr), Joan Bennett (Eve Fallon), Walter Pidgeon (Richard Morey), Lloyd Nolan (Russ Cortig), Alan Baxter (Gary Butler), Majorie Gateson (Mrs. Cole), Douglas Fowley (Benny Battle), Isabel Jewell (Bessie Blair), Henry Kleinbach (Don Butler), Helen Brown (Mother); Runtime: 76; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Walter Wanger; Paramount; 1936)

“Unsentimental gangster film.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Raoul Walsh(“The Tall Men”/”The Naked and The Dead”/”Battle Cry”) craftily directs this lively and unsentimental gangster film. The crime drama/comedy tries to cash in on the success of The Thin Man (1934) by teaming up Joan Bennett and Cary Grant for screwball comedy. It’s based on the short stories Hahsit Babe and Big Brown Eyes by James Edward Grant. Screenwriter Bert Hanlon turns in a sloppily crafted script, that redeems itself with lightweight Damon Runyon-esque comedy. While Walsh gets a superb performance out of Cary Grant, as the Manhattan cop, but he goofs up scenes that look awkward and undeveloped.

Eve Fallon (Joan Bennett) is a sassy manicurist in a hotel barbershop who loses her job and somehow becomes a newspaper reporter to team up with NYC detective Dan Barr (Cary Grant) to uncover a-vicious insurance racket. You see, Eve has a crush on the hunky cop, who is not sure how to respond to her advances.

Willing to take risks, Eve puts her life in danger by dating supposedly respectable socialite Richard Morey (Walter Pidgeon), who is actually the brains behind the criminal operation.

We witness such things as the two-fisted detective using his former vaudeville skills as a ventriloquism to get out of a jam and his investigation of a jewel robbery. Also the ineffectiveness of the judicial system to deal with the death of a baby shot in his stroller. Lloyd Nolan as a caricature Broadway gangster, who plays the gangster heavy for boss Pidgeon.

The minor film doesn’t overwhelm you, but it is mildly amusing.

Big Brown Eyes Poster