Saturday, December 18, 2010

Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936 ).

Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936). Directed by Frank Capra, based on the story Opera Hat by Clarence Budington Kelland that appeared in serial form in the Saturday Evening Post. Cast: 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, co-owner of a tallow works, inherits 20 million dollars from his late uncle, Martin Semple. His uncle's attorney, John Cedar, locates Deeds and takes him to New York City.

Cedar gives his ex-newspaperman Cornelius Cobb, the job of keeping reporters away from the heir. He is outsmarted by reporter Louise Bennett, who gets to Deeds' by masquerading as a poor worker named Mary Dawson. She pretends to faint after "walking all day to find a job". She writes a series of articles calling him the "Cinderella Man". Meanwhile, Cedar tries to get Deeds' power of attorney in order to keep his plan a secret. Fortunately, Deeds outwits them all, but.. when he falls for a big-city girl anything can happen.

A wonderful fast pace film that never lets the viewer down. It shows the genius of Frank Capra that make us treasure films like this one.

Fun Fact: Carole Lombard was going to play the female lead but she backed out three days before production began to go work on, My Man Godfrey (1936).

Jean Arthur (October 17, 1900 – June 19, 1991). Discovered by Fox Film Studios while she was modeling in New York City in the early 1920s, Arthur debuted in the silent film, Cameo Kirby (1923), directed by John Ford. It was her distinctive voice, that helped make her a star in the talkies.

In 1935, at age 34, she starred opposite Edward G. Robinson in, The Whole Town's Talking, also directed by Ford. She was famous for being filmed almost always from the left, Arthur felt that her left was her best side. Frank Capra recounted that producer Harry Cohn described Jean Arthur's imbalanced profile as "half of it's angel, and the other half horse."

The turning point in Jean Arthur's career came when she was chosen by director Frank Capra to star in, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town. Capra had spotted her from the film, Whirlpool (1934) and convinced Cohn to have Columbia Studios sign her for his next film. Arthur co-starred in two other Capra films: You Can't Take It With You (1938) and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington(1939), both with James Stewart. She was re-teamed with Cooper, playing Calamity Jane in Cecil B. DeMille's, The Plainsman (1936) and the film, Easy Living(1937) opposite Ray Milland. In 1939, she was one of four finalists for the role of Scarlett O'Hara in, Gone with the Wind.

She continued to star in films such as Howard Hawks' Only Angels Have Wings(1939), with Cary Grant, The Talk of the Town(1942), also with Grant and The More the Merrier(1943), for which Jean Arthur was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress. Arthur remained Columbia's top star until the mid-1940s, when she left the studio. Stevens famously called her "one of the greatest comediennes the screen has ever seen", while Capra credited her as "my favorite actress".

Arthur "retired" when her contract with Columbia Pictures expired in 1944. For the next several years, she turned down many film offers, the two exceptions being Billy Wilder's, A Foreign Affair (1948), in which she played a congresswoman and rival of Marlene Dietrich and in the classic Western, Shane (1953), which turned out to be the biggest film of her career. The latter was her final film, and the only color film she performed in.

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