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The Talk of the Town (1942)

Not Rated | | Comedy, Drama, Romance | 20 August 1942 (USA)
An escaped prisoner and a stuffy law professor vie for the hand of a spirited schoolteacher.

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(screen play), (screen play) | 2 more credits »
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Nominated for 7 Oscars. See more awards »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
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...
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Professor Michael Lightcap
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Sam Yates
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Regina Bush
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Andrew Holmes
...
Mrs. Shelley
...
Tilney
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Jan Pulaski
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Clyde Bracken
...
Police Chief
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Storyline

In suburban Lochester, New England, three people end up living together in high school teacher Nora Shelley's rental house. The first is her new tenant, renowned Harvard law professor Michael Lightcap, who has rented the house for the summer while he writes his new book. The second is Nora herself. Despite having an auspicious first meeting, Lightcap hires Nora to be his live-in cook and secretary for a week until his manservant Tilney arrives. The third is Joseph, the property's gardener, who is currently laid up with a sprained ankle. In reality, Joseph is Nora's childhood friend Leopold Dilg, who has just escaped from prison. Leopold was being tried for the arson of the factory where he worked, and for murder for the death of the factory foreman Clyde Bracken, whose body was never recovered but who is assumed to have died in the fire. Despite the danger to herself, Nora hides Leopold since she believes his story that although he, as an activist, did speak out about the dangerous ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Screen comedy so gay... drama so thrilling... love so exciting, it will be the talk of YOUR town!


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

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Release Date:

20 August 1942 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

George Stevens' The Talk of the Town  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

"The Screen Guild Theater" broadcast a 30 minute radio adaptation of the movie on May 13, 1946 with Ronald Colman reprising his film role. See more »

Goofs

During the headline montage at the beginning of the film, one of the headlines misspells "EMPLOYEE" as "EMPLOYE". See more »

Quotes

Leopold Dilg: What is the law? It's a gun pointed at somebody's head. All depends upon which end of the gun you stand, whether the law is just or not.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Jeopardy!: Episode #22.68 (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

Jive Bomber
(uncredited)
Music by Lyle 'Spud' Murphy
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User Reviews

 
Living Justice
19 April 2007 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

The Talk of the Town puts visiting law professor Ronald Colman in a delicate situation. He's rented a cottage for some peace and quiet before going before a Senate committee dealing with his nomination to the Supreme Court. But things are anything, but peaceful in the town of Lorchester, Massachusetts.

The factory owned by Charles Dingle has burned down, arson is suspected and Cary Grant in an unusual working class role is the suspected arsonist. He's a man of radical opinions in the town so he's a convenient suspect. As the factory was the main employer in the town you can imagine that folks are crying for blood.

Which brings an escaped Cary to that same house that Jean Arthur has rented to Colman.

Though there are some amusing moments to be sure from all three of the stars, I find The Talk of the Town to be more serious than dramatic. Grant challenges Colman to come down out of the ivory tower he's been living in and apply his high minded principles to real life, if not necessarily his case.

When he does Colman does it with a vengeance and it brings down a whole lot of Lorchester's leading citizens.

Though Grant and Arthur are first billed, this film really belongs to Ronald Colman. His character is modeled I believe on a recent Harvard law professor who was also appointed to the Supreme Court, one Felix Frankfurter.

Of course what the impeccable English Ronald Colman playing WASP Michael Lightcap and a Viennese Jew have in common is not obvious at first. But before becoming mentor to a host of New Deal civil servants, Felix Frankfurter was not only a professor of law at Harvard, but concerned himself with a host of social issues. He was for instance, very prominent in the defense of Sacco and Vanzetti whose plight in the twenties is very similar to Cary Grant's. Like Colman's character Lightcap, Frankfurter was also known as a man of impeccable integrity, who even his worst enemies conceded. He could also be a bit too high minded at times and had to be brought to realize in his philosophy of judicial restraint, that the courts are and should be an instrument for progress and social change. His story would make an excellent film itself.

Although I can't see Felix Frankfurter putting the moves on beauty parlor owner Glenda Farrell to learn the truth about the arson. Farrell who graced many a Warner Brothers crime feature in the Thirties has the best of the supporting roles in The Talk of the Town. Also the ever unctuous Charles Dingle is wonderful as the very corrupting influence on the town itself.

Colman's final speech to the mob who are ready to lynch Cary Grant is a masterpiece, one of his best moments on screen. The words ought to be required reading and viewing for those who would dismantle our judicial system out of heated passion of the moment.

As a film that challenges folks to live up to the creed they espouse The Talk of the Town should not be missed.


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