Mr Deeds Goes to Town

  • Directors: Frank Capra
  • Producers: Frank Capra
  • Writers: Clarence Budington Kelland, Robert Riskin
  • Genres: Comedy, Romance
  • Actors: Gary Cooper, Jean Arthur

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 exhaustion after “walking all day to find a job” 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 keep his financial misdeeds secret.

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.

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 from 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”.

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