The Talk of the Town

1942

The Talk of the Town

Critics Consensus

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93%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 15

85%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 3,066
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Movie Info

George Stevens' Talk of the Town is a quick-witted comedy driven by wonderful performances by Cary Grant, Ronald Colman and Jean Arthur. Michael Lightcap (Colman) is a stuffy law professor in line to a Supreme Court appointment, who is spending the summer at the house of schoolteacher Nora Shelley (Arthur). But Lightcap is not the only guest at the house. Shelley has also let Leopold Dilg (Grant)--a man who had recently escaped from prison, where he was serving a sentence for false accusations of immolating a local factory--stay at the house, telling Lightcap that he is a gardener. In addition to striking up a friendship, Lightcap and Dilg also compete for the affections of Shelley. Eventually, the professor learns of Dilg's true identity, finding out that Leopold was framed by a crooked government, led by the foreman of the factory, who supposedly died in the fire. When Dilg is captured by the police, Lightcap comes to his defense, bringing the still-alive foreman out of hiding and, in the process, clearing Leopold of all the charges. Talk of the Town received Academy Award nominations for Best Picture, Best Screenplay, Best Original Story, Best Score, Best Editing, and Best Interior Decoration, yet it lost in all of the categories. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi

Cast

Cary Grant
as Leopold Dilg
Jean Arthur
as Nora Shelley
Ronald Colman
as Michael Lightcap
Edgar Buchanan
as Sam Yates
Glenda Farrell
as Regina Bush
Charles Dingle
as Andrew Holmes
Emma Dunn
as Mrs. Shelley
Rex Ingram
as Tilney
Leonid Kinskey
as Jan Pulaski
Tom Tyler
as Clyde Bracken
Don Beddoe
as Chief of Police
George Watts
as Judge Grunstadt
Clyde Fillmore
as Sen. James Boyd
Frank M. Thomas
as District Attorney
Lloyd Bridges
as Forrester
Ralph Peters
as Moving Man
Max Wagner
as Moving Man
Al Bridge
as Desk Sergeant
William 'Billy' Benedict
as Western Union Boy
Harold Kruger
as Ball Player
Jack Carr
as Usher
Ralph Dunn
as Sergeant
Bill Lally
as Sergeant
Edward Hearn
as Sergeant
Roberta Smith
as School Girl
Dorothy Babb
as School Girl
Lee Phelps
as Detective
Al Ferguson
as Detective
Eddie Coke
as Reporter
John Shay
as Reporter
Eddie Bruce
as Reporter
Ferike Boros
as Mrs. Pulaski
Jack Gardner
as Cameraman
Lee "Lasses" White
as Hound Keeper
Lew Davis
as Waiter
Frank Sully
as Road Cop
Dan Seymour
as Headwaiter
Mabel Todd
as Operator
Lee Prather
as Sergeant-at-Arms
Clarence Muse
as Doorkeeper
Leslie Brooks
as Secretary
Alan Bridge
as Desk Sergeant
Jack Lowe
as Workman
Robert Walker
as Deputy Sheriff
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Critic Reviews for The Talk of the Town

All Critics (15) | Top Critics (3) | Fresh (14) | Rotten (1)

Audience Reviews for The Talk of the Town

  • May 25, 2018
    A strong cast with two leading men, comedic moments, and intelligent commentary on justice in America all make this a very good film. Cary Grant is a man in jail in a small town on trumped up arson charges, and Ronald Colman is an eminent legal mind who is just arriving there to work on a book. Grant escapes to the home of his old friend Jean Arthur, and Colman shows up the same night to begin renting it from her. Grant is hidden away in the attic for awhile, but soon strikes up a friendship with Colman while pretending to be Arthur's gardener, and the pair engage in some interesting debates on justice and the law. Colman represents the viewpoint of the dispassionate letter of the law, while Grant cautions that such thought is too idealistic for the way justice is often administered. As a mob has been whipped up into a frenzy against him by the local corrupt businessman whose factory burned down, he ought to know. Grant and Colman are given equal chance to charm us and shine, and they do. Arthur more than keeps up them, delivering her lines so naturally, and she's delightful. The film keeps us guessing as to who she may end up with, as both men are attractive in their own way. I loved seeing a little bit of darkness and danger in Grant here, as well as moments of charm, such as when he widens his eye and assures Arthur that they won't recognize him from the photograph on a Wanted poster, because they hadn't captured his spirit. The film gets a little heavy-handed in some of its messaging as the film plays out, but I was swayed by just how relevant it is in the times of today's populism. The danger of the mob being manipulated by someone who is corrupt (how can one not think of 'lock her up' while watching that today?), the danger of rushing to judgment instead of listening to the facts and the evidence, and the need to fight for principles were certainly appropriate in 1942, but they're also timeless. Rex Ingram is strong as Colman's servant, including a moment where he gets choked up watching Colman shave off his beard. It seemed a rather odd to me at the time, but since it means Colman is going to fight for justice in this particular case, going against the mob, it may be that Ingram relates this to countless mobs lynching African-Americans, with no one standing up for them. The film has a few moments where you have to suspend disbelief, but I enjoyed it for its intelligence, and added dimension to what otherwise would have been a standard comedy or romantic comedy. It's a film that will charm you one moment, and make you think the next, and that's not bad. Here's a quote from Colman's speech to the mob: "This is your law and your finest possession - it makes you free men in a free country. Why have you come here to destroy it? If you know what's good for you, take those weapons home and burn them! And then think... think of this country and of the law that makes it what it is. Think of a world crying for this very law! And maybe you'll understand why you ought to guard it. Why the law has got to be the personal concern of every citizen. To uphold it for your neighbor as well as yourself. Violence against it is one mistake. Another mistake is for any man to look upon the law as just a set of principles. And just so much language printed on fine, heavy paper. Something he recites and then leans back and takes it for granted that justice is automatically being done. Both kinds of men are equally wrong! The law must be engraved in our hearts and practiced every minute to the letter and spirit. It can't even exist unless we're willing to go down into the dust and blood and fight a battle every day of our lives to preserve it. For our neighbor as well as ourself!" Hallelujah.
    Antonius B Super Reviewer
  • Apr 25, 2014
    A great classic dramatic comedy. The aging Ronald Colman has to match wits with the youthful Cary Grant and Jean Arthur is in the middle of it all. Very well performed.
    John B Super Reviewer
  • Sep 05, 2010
    Another of my favourite Cary Grant movies, and Jean Arthur and Ronald Colman movies too. I guess you could just say it's one of my favourite movies! The story is both thrilling and hilarious. Plus, you learn a lot about politics and philosophy and things that people cared about in the forties. I highly recommend this movie.
    Aj V Super Reviewer
  • Jun 26, 2010
    In "The Talk of the Town," Leopold Dilg(Cary Grant) is in jail, being accused of arson and murder. Facing an impossible trial and a possible death penalty, he does the only sensible thing and escapes, injuring his ankle in the process. He gets as far as the farmhouse of Nora Shelley(Jean Arthur) who takes pity on him and hides him in the attic. At which point, Professor Michael Lightcap(Ronald Colman), the new tenant, arrives a day early. Leopold's lawyer Sam Yates(Edgar Buchanan) sees an opportunity and wants to recruit the renowned law professor to their cause. "The Talk of the Town" is an enjoyable comedy about a serious subject that is handled well by its very talented cast, even the more improbable parts of the story. Considering how badly activists have been treated in the movies over the years, it is refreshing to have one in Leopold who is so likable.(Well, yes, I know he is played by Cary Grant but at this point, his persona was not frozen in stone, yet.) I also did not realize how rare beards were at the time which is another detail of how brave this movie was. That fits in well with the movie being so much on the side of advocacy and individualism, showing clearly how politics can change people for the better.
    Walter M Super Reviewer

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