Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Talk Of The Town 1942

Somewhat lumpy overlong (as only George Stevens can be) romantic comedy with serious topical touches circa 1942 thrown in that still resonate. This is the kind of movie that you would expect to see coming out of the mind of Frank Capra, sentimental, patriotic with quirky characters making cute and a message that hits us over the head. The film opens with an impressive montage showing in swift images Cary Grant being sent to prison for arson and murder, newspaper headlines flash by along with grim shots of Grant, and right away we just know that he has to be innocent, this is Cary for crying out loud. The next sequence takes place on a stormy rainy night and Grant makes an unbelievable escape from prison by overpowering a guard and jumping out of a window. The hounds are soon snapping at his behind as he limps (he hurt his ankle jumping out the window) to the home of the wonderful, the magnificent Jean Arthur who is hanging curtains and getting her house ready for the tenant moving in the next morning. Jean hears a noise outside and sees Grant moving by and soon he’s in the living room, where Jean brandishing a weapon calls him by his first name Leopold and we soon realize that they know each other. It seems that Jean and Cary grew up together in this small back lot town set somewhere in New England, and of course she also believes in his innocence. The plot twists come fast, and soon there is a knock at the door and there stands Ronald Colman a famous law professor and jurist who is a day early and is Jean’s new tenant. This is a triangle of sorts, obtuse but still a triangle in which Jean manages to make the stuffy Colman (who is about to be appointed to the Supreme Court) melt and fall for her, while Jean and Cary melt into a puddle of longing while figuring out how to prove his innocence and give us a happy Hollywood ending. The first thing I noticed was the wonderful voices of all three of the actors, each voice special and unique that helped make these three marvelous movie stars such a pleasure to watch and listen to. This is an attractive trio. There are some funny lines and moments, my favorite being a daffy breakfast scene where Arthur drops some eggs on a newspaper to hide a photo and the real identity of Grant from Colman who has taken a liking to him and has no idea that he is a wanted man hiding in the attic. Jean has passed him off as the gardner. Sounds complicated and it is, and even though Stevens gets preachy  on us in the 2nd half of the film, he still  manages to keep the silliness silly, after all this is the guy who directed many Laurel and Hardy films early in his career and made some of the great classics of  the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s  before he turned serious on us with all those ponderous late career epics. Here he is all jaunty and fun, with a 1940’s dream cast that also includes Edgar Buchanan, Emma Dunn, Glenda Farrell, Charles Dingle, and the great Rex Ingram, dignified and imposing  along with a host of familiar character actors (look for an impossibly young Lloyd Bridges in a bit role as a reporter) whose names might escape us, but never those faces. With a screenplay by Irwin Shaw and Sidney Buchman and no nonsense cinematography by Ted Tetzlaff . Nominated for 7 Oscars including one for best picture.


Post a Comment

<< Home

Site Meter