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One of the lesser-known satisfactions in Gary Cooper's career is this 1935 King Vidor film, an offbeat blend of romance, comedy, and tragedy. It begins in screwball territory: Cooper plays a novelist whose partying ways have stalled his career and made his new manuscript unpublishable. He and wife Helen Vinson like the high life (any resemblance to Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald is probably intentional), and she doesn't stick around while he tries to write a new book in a quiet Connecticut country house. The isolation puts him into proximity with a heartfelt young immigrant girl (Anna Sten), whose Polish community provides a subject for his new book. If you think Cooper was a merely the High Noon guy, a lanky Western hero, this is one of the movies (among many) that dispel the idea: his utter naturalness is a gold standard for a certain kind of movie-star acting. Directing him on the set the first day, Vidor worried about the star's mumbling and forgetfulness with dialogue. "Imagine my amazement," Vidor later wrote, "when I watched our first day's work on the screen and observed and heard a performance that overflowed with charm and personality." Anna Sten was another issue: the Russian actress had been brought to the U.S. with great fanfare by producer Samuel Goldwyn, because he wanted to have his own foreign Garbo/Dietrich under contract. Her cool presence failed to generate audience interest, and Goldwyn gave up on her after The Wedding Night. She's a problem, but Cooper keeps it going, and the movie itself is unexpectedly warm.

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MG197538 Wedding Night DVD (1935/Gary Cooper) $14.98