Written for the Bette Davis Blogathon. ❤
The Bride Came C.O.D. (1941) is one of those rare comedies that you either love or hate. If you don't mind some slapstick comedy, a little rough-housing, etc. then there's a good chance this one will entertain you.
I originally watched The Bride Came C.O.D. because of Cagney. I ADORE him. Although I do love his comedies best, which is the main reason why I picked up this film in the first place, simply because it was a comedy. Bette Davis was never really on my radar since I tend to marathon actors instead of actresses, but I did note right away that this was not the Bette Davis that I'd heard so much about, with all of her serious roles and dramatic performances. No, here is a Bette Davis with superb comedic timing who plays off Cagney as if he's a hockey puck and she's the stick. It's one of those opposites attract moments and that's the real reason why The Bride Came C.O.D. works at all!
The premise is simple enough to follow, so simple in fact that I'm borrowing it from Wikipedia.
Pilot Steve Collins (Cagney) agrees to help bandleader Alan Brice and heiress Joan Winfield (Davis) elope. Steve then contacts her father Lucius, offering to prevent the marriage and deliver her to him in return for enough money to get out of debt.
Steve tricks Alan into getting off the aircraft, then takes off with Joan. When an irate Joan tries to jump out of the aircraft, Steve sees that she has her parachute on backwards and is forced to crash land near the ghost town of Bonanza. The next morning, they encounter the lone resident, "Pop" Tolliver. (Wikipedia credit)
And that's as far as I'll go with the synopsis because I don't want to spoil the mayhem for you!
Like I said earlier, if you're looking for a film that is your typical Bette Davis, this isn't it. Which makes The Bride Came C.O.D. all the more delightful.
A few of my favorite moments are:
1) Bette landing bum side down in a pile of cactus and Jimmy having to pluck tines from her derriere (skirt decently in place of course).
2) A rematch with said cactus only this time Jimmy is the victim! (seen in above photo)
3) Bette attempting an escape from the ghost town in a rickety old jalopy of some sort.
4) Cagney flicking pebbles at her with a rubber band and effectively landing one smack on her derriere!
6) The mine scene and Bette's irate fury.
7) When Cagney hauls Bette over his shoulder and plunks her into one of the old-time western jail cells.
8) The ending WHICH I CAN'T DESCRIBE.
But really, this scene told in the gif set below (not mine and I wish I knew who to credit), is HILARIOUS and one of my absolute favorites!
It's tempting to dislike Cagney's character in The Bride Came C.O.D., but don't yield to that temptation. Really, he is just trying to get Joan back to her father unmarried, plus he's about to lose that plane of his and it's his livelihood. He needs he money. Plus, he's really a tolerable nice guy, rather like Clark Gable in It Happened One Night. You know, the rough around the edges type. At least he doesn't rub a grapefruit into Bette's face like he would have done in one of his mobster movies. Those, I don't really watch.
And yes, I can see the similarity in storyline between The Bride Came C.O.D. and It Happened One Night, the only difference being that one is considered a top notch classic while the other has been sort of forgotten. I'm sure you can guess which is which.
Overall, this film is a pure delight from start to finish. I've heard rumors that modern viewers are less drawn to it than original audiences, but I don't know how much of that we really want to believe. It wasn't a rousing success in the box office, but I think it's well worth a viewing now. It's a great showcase for Bette Davis and James Cagney's unique comedic talents, and really let them play a bit with the roles. It's a hodgepodge of crazy characters and zany schemes . . . a timeless comedy to the last.