Mr. Deeds Goes to Town
Zach Davis

Directed by: Frank Capra

Starring: Gary Cooper, Jean Arthur, George Bancroft, Lionel Stander, Douglass Dumbrille, and Raymond Walburn

Frank Capra was known as the name above the title because he was the first director to earn fame such that his name was displayed on the marquee.  This was no accident either as he put out many early classic movies such as It Happened One Night, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, and It’s a Wonderful Life.  Most of Capra’s films take on a very sentimental and idealistic view, and served audiences well during the depression era as an escape from harsh times.

Longfellow Deeds (Gary Cooper) is a small town poet who inherits a fortune after his distant uncle’s passing.  After being tracked down by his uncle’s lawyer (Douglass Dumbrille), Deeds is brought back to New York City where he is already a celebrity for inheriting his uncle’s fortune.  While in New York, Cornelius Cobb (Lionel Stander) is watching out for Deeds’ privacy, and making sure no reporters spin stories in the papers.  Unfortunately for Cobb, Deeds decides to shake his body guards to go on a walk one evening.  While out, he comes across reporter Babe Bennett (Jean Arthur) who masquerades herself as damsel in distress Mary Dawson.  Deeds instantly falls for Babe’s act and begins to see her regularly, all the while she keeps publishing articles mocking his country demeanor and labeling him the ‘Cinderella Man”. 

After learning Babe’s true identity and feeling like the fool of the city, Deeds decides to go back to his hometown.  Before he can leave though, a man breaks into his house and threatens him at gunpoint.  The man is angry that the wealthy can just sit and watch the poor suffer in such dire, destitute circumstances.  Deeds calms the man down and decides that he will divide up his fortune amongst many people.  He secures parcels of farmland for families on the condition that they work the land.  This does not sit well with his late uncle’s attorney who then files a motion that Deeds is not mentally fit enough to manage his own fortune.  Babe Bennett is the only person who knows the truth about Deeds and is the only one who can act to help him.

Stars Gary Cooper and Jean Arthur steal the screen in this movie as the naïve Deeds and the ambitious Babe Bennett. Their on screen chemistry shines through and shows us why people fell in love with movies in the first place.

The secondary cast really stands out as well in this movie.  Lionel Stander’s tough but friendly Cobb is an original gem of a character.  Douglass Dumbrille’s antagonist is the perfect catalyst for this story.

Charming little quirks abound throughout this movie like the term “pixilated” used to describe Deeds’ odd behavior.  And while this is a classic movie, I recommend highly that you grab a couple wine coolers to get a little pixilated too for Mr. Deeds Goes to Town.