About Mr. Deeds Goes To Town
Mr. Deeds Goes to Town is a 1936 comedy film directed by Frank Capra, based on the story Opera Hat by Clarence Budington Kelland that appeared in serial form in the Saturday Evening Post. It stars Gary Cooper and Jean Arthur in her first featured role. The screenplay was written by Kelland and Robert Riskin in his fifth collaboration with Capra.
In the middle of the Great Depression, Longfellow Deeds (Gary Cooper), co-owner of a tallow works, part-time greeting card poet and tuba-playing inhabitant of the hamlet of Mandrake Falls, Vermont, inherits the enormous fortune of 20 million dollars from his late uncle, Martin Semple. His uncle's scheming attorney, John Cedar (Douglass Dumbrille), locates Deeds and takes him to New York City.
Cedar gives his cynical troubleshooter, ex-newspaperman Cornelius Cobb (Lionel Stander), the task of keeping reporters away from the heir. He is outfoxed, however, by star reporter Louise "Babe" Bennett (Jean Arthur), who appeals to Deeds' romantic fantasy of rescuing a damsel in distress by masquerading as a poor worker named Mary Dawson. She pretends to faint from hunger in his presence and worms her way into his confidence. She proceeds to write a series of enormously popular articles mocking Longfellow's hick ways and odd behavior, naming him the "Cinderella Man". Meanwhile, Cedar tries to get Deeds' power of attorney in order to hide his financial misdeeds.
Deeds, however, proves to be a shrewd judge of character, easily fending off Cedar and other greedy opportunists. He wins Cobb's wholehearted respect and eventually Babe's love. However, when Cobb finds out Bennett's true identity, Deeds is left heartbroken.
Just as he is ready to return to Mandrake Falls in disgust, a dispossessed farmer breaks into his mansion and threatens him with a gun. He expresses his scorn for the seemingly heartless, ultra rich man, who won't lift a finger to help the multitudes of desperate poor. The intruder then comes to his senses, but Deeds realizes what he can do with his troublesome fortune: he decides to provide fully equipped 10-acre farms free to thousands of homeless families if they will work the land for several years.
Alarmed at the prospect of losing control of the fortune, Cedar joins forces with Deeds' only other relative and his grasping, domineering wife in seeking to have Deeds declared mentally incompetent. This, along with Babe's betrayal, finally breaks his spirit and he sinks into a deep depression.
During his sanity hearing, things look bleak for Deeds, especially since he initially refuses to defend himself. Cedar even gets Deeds's Mandrake Falls tenants, eccentric elderly sisters Jane and Amy Faulkner (Margaret Seddon and Margaret McWade), to testify that Deeds is "pixilated." That charge falls apart when the two spinsters admit that everyone in town, except themselves, suffers the same affliction. When Babe convinces Deeds that she truly loves him, he systematically punches holes in Cedar's case (before punching Cedar in the face) and the judge declares him to be "the sanest man who ever walked into this courtroom".
Old Comedy Films, Top 100 Comedy Movies, Romantic Comedy, United States, English Comedy Movies
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