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USA 1936
Directed by
Frank Capra
115 minutes
Rated G

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2.5 stars

Mr Deeds Goes to Town

Capra's everyman comedy designed to hearten Depression-era audiences has wide-eyed-yokel Longfellow Deeds (Gary Cooper) from Mandrake Falls, Vermont as a newly-made multi-millionaire with $20 million, who tries to give his money away to help the less fortunate. Jean Arthur plays the sardonic female newspaper reporter who makes fun of him in her newspaper but, of course, falls in love with him.

Producer/director Capra won his second Oscar as director for this film, following his initial victory for It Happened One Night (1934). Although the typically wooden Cooper plays his part with due diligence, the film gives Arthur star treatment and she became a prominent leading lady for the rest of the decade and into the 40s after she was brought in when first-choice actress Carole Lombard opted to make the now largely-forgotten My Man Godfrey. Today the faux naiveté is not easy to take and the film seems overlong but compared to the 2002 modernisation, Mr Deeds, with Adam Sandler and Winona Ryder, Capra's film is a masterpiece.




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