Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936)
When a car crash ends the life of a fabulously wealthy patron of the arts, the decedent's $20,000,000 fortune is inherited by one Longfellow Deeds (Gary Cooper) of Mandrake Falls, Vermont. Already a reasonably successful local businessman, Deeds doesn't really feel the need for anything extra in his life: he just wants enough time to practice his tuba and compose greeting-card doggerel. When Deeds is convinced to move to New York, hard-boiled newspaper reporter Babe Bennett (Jean Arthur) is dispatched to get the inside scoop on "The Cinderella Man." Babe's stories of Deeds' eccentricities and no-nonsense dealings with phonies and poseurs provide excellent headline fodder; but she begins to regret her actions, having fallen in love with the big lug. Deeds ultimately sets up a foundation to dispense his fortune to the country's neediest souls, on the proviso that the recipients do their best to get back on their feet, a turn of events that leads his lawyer John Cedar (Douglas Dumbrille) to try to have him declared insane. By the end of the sanity hearing, the judge (H. B. Walker) declares: "Not only are you sane, but you're the sanest man who ever walked in this courtroom!" A joyously unadulterated hunk of Frank Capra-corn, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town was adapted by Robert Riskin from Clarence Buddington Kelland's short story "Opera Hat." In addition to the pleasure of watching the country bumpkin outwit city slickers, the movie is a film buff's dream, boasting one of the best character-actor casts ever assembled for a single film. Nominated for four Academy Awards, the film won Frank Capra his second Oscar (out of three) as Best Director. … More
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Critic Reviews for Mr. Deeds Goes to Town
Playing the part as if born to it, Cooper is at the top of his game, imbuing Deeds with just the right blend of empathy and intelligence.
Mr. Deeds is really a very intelligent and beautiful affair, a film no less charming than Mr. Capra's It Happened One Night at the same time that it is definitely more profound.
Capra advocates populism and egalitarianism, underlined by values of Christianity. For him, every person is "God's creation" in his/her own right, evert person possesses some talent and should do his/her best with that gift.
A wonderful Capra vehicle; Cooper is superb; Arthur luminous. A comic movie with heart and a point to make. True Capra-corn, and that is not a criticism. A fine example of populist art.
Essential Capra and one of his best. Cooper and Arthur are luminous.
It's tough enough to film a credible morality play without being laughed out of town. It's altogether mind boggling to do so and provide a grade A romantic comedy to boot.
The tedium of Mr. Deeds Goes to Town outweighs its message of freedom and charity.
Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936) is another lighthearted classic Frank Capra screwball romantic-comedy regarding the broader philosophical themes of individual innocence
Here is a shamelessly simple story with a populist point of view, but it is handled with such charm and charisma and acted so well by Cooper and Arthur that it became another Frank Capra classic.
Audience Reviews for Mr. Deeds Goes to Town
An "everyman" inherits a fortune but is surprised by the culture of his upper class peers.
Frank Capra must have had the most simplistic ideas about wealth and morality. Between this film and You Can't Take It with You, Capra's economic philosophy must begin and end with "Money makes you bad." This is not to say that Capra believes money is corrupting force, but to say that Capra's films imply that anyone pursuing wealth must do so at the expense of his/her soul. But even Capra's construction of the "everyman" is problematic because Gary Cooper's character, while basically decent, is a bit of an asshole. He goes around punching people or threatening violence because he believes a good swift knock is the best way to clean someone's clock. Mr. Deeds might be a swell guy, but by golly, don't cross him.
Overall, Capra, one of Hollywood's classic filmmakers, is overrated
God, I loved this movie! Not only is Mr. Deeds Goes to Town yet another of Frank Capra's best works but it manages to do what every other great Frank Capra movie does -- restores my faith in humanity, gets me teary-eyed and has me clapping at the end. Admittedly I was on the fence about Gary Cooper when this movie started but I loved the man by the end. The echo scene was hysterical and for as much as I started to roll my eyes at the beginning of the courtroom scene, I felt as bad doubting Capra as the characters in the movie did doubting Deeds. Unfortunately I couldn't stop thinking about the awful Adam Sandler remake the whole time but its probably for the best I saw that one first (I know, I know...) as I'd probably make it my life's mission to drop an anvil on his head. As for the Capra one, you cannot go wrong...!More
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