Quick recap: After a distant uncle leaves him millions, Longfellow Deeds moves from an idyllic small town to the big city. Once there, he is taken advantage of and laughed at for such shocking things as giving donuts to a horse and playing the tuba. To make matters worse, the girl he falls in love with turns out to be an undercover reporter who has been writing all the sensational stories about him in the newspaper.
Fun (?) fact: The verb ‘doodle’ originated from this movie as well as the term ‘pixelated’, which was a popular word for a few years and then died out.
My thoughts: There is nothing I enjoy more than an American classic movie, provided I see the following: a spinning newspaper montage, a fainting lady, a climactic courtroom scene, and a random musical number. And boy howdy, did this movie deliver. After the 4th or so spinning newspaper montage, I realized that I had reached American classic movie heaven.
Seeing as how Mr. Deeds Goes to Town is labeled as a ‘screwball comedy’, I knew there wouldn’t be much thinking involved. I was disappointed with the first 10 or so minutes of the film because I couldn’t understand a word anyone said because they talked so fast. After I turned on the subtitles, however, I really started to enjoy myself. This movie is about as predictable as they come, and that’s okay sometimes. It was relaxing to find myself laughing over the sillier parts and rolling my eyes through the mushier ones. I think I was most surprised by the amount of heart this film had. Gary Cooper as Longfellow Deeds was the perfect fit. He was adorably naive, and yet was sometimes the sanest person around. I genuinely felt for him when the writers made fun of his poetry and my heart broke when he realized the woman he was in love with had secretly been making fun of him the entire time. Plus, Gary Cooper has a strong resemblance to Bill Nye that endeared him to me even more.
Mr. Deeds Goes to Town is adequately entertaining, but for me, really shines in a historical context. The way the small town is described is not what was really going on, but instead what Americans expected in the Great American Dream. In many ways, this movie sparked that idea of quintessential small town values trumping anything the big city has to offer. The tie in to the Depression was also an apt one. As Deeds tries to do good by not becoming a cynical fat cat, he ends up falling short of his own expectations when he realizes all the farmers he could be helping with his fortune. The scene were the farmer barges in on Deeds and points a gun at him was a little schmaltzy, but the movie’s heart was in the right place.
I felt the courtroom scene went on too long and all loose ends were tied up a little too neatly. As more and more witnesses came forward with their shocking tales of Deeds, I wondered how he could possibly explain away every person’s complaint, but somehow he did . I knew from the first few minutes of the film that I would get a happy ending, but I suppose I was hoping for a little more substance than what I got. Then again, this is an American classic, and a courtroom scene is a necessary trope.
Final review: 4/5. I’d watch again just for Gary Cooper.
Up next:The Bride of Frankenstein