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In the small town of Crown Port local attorney Bill Adams is trying to break up the ring of corrupt town officials by running for mayor. The cards seemed stacked against him when he gets help from a visiting hunter who, unknown to Adams and the rest of the town, is actually vacationing supreme court justice John Josephus Grant. Written by
Doug Sederberg <firstname.lastname@example.org>
A Stranger in Town is a rather inconsequential film released in 1943. It is listed as a romance/drama, but it is more comedy than anything else, because the story is written very lightly.
When I saw the title, I immediately wondered which version of small-town America would be presented--the myth of small town generosity that embraces all strangers as if they were friends, or the sometime reality that in small towns, people are suspicious of strangers and their motives, regarding them as outsiders (and sometimes barbarians). We don't have to wait long to find out.
Supreme Court justice Joe Grant (played by Frank Morgan) visits the small town of Crown Port to get away from the city and hunt ducks. He immediately encounters the local game warden who invokes a local law and tries to extract a few bucks out of him. Joe goes to court to contest the fine and gets a less than encouraging result.
While in town, he meets Bill Adams (Richard Carlson), a local attorney who is miffed enough about the entrenched, corrupt town mayor, and his cronies, to run for election against the mayor. But he feels he is fighting a losing battle, so his effort is half-hearted. Joe becomes a mentor to the young attorney and eventually lights a fire under his nominal campaign. Joe brings his secretary, Lucy Gilbert (Jean Rogers), to town where she also becomes involved in the proceedings.
Both sides--the political machine of the incumbent and Bill's allies--use (some arcane) laws to battle. They thrust and parry until there is fighting in the streets.
This is another film about the rights of men, and how they should hold government responsible in the name of justice. But if one watches carefully, the film demonstrates the unfortunate truth that the law is not about justice. Real knowledge of law is only available to attorneys. The common man must avail himself of their services, knowing that laws are created by (mostly lawyer) politicians. We all know how highly politicians are held in the public's esteem.
Though this film was shooting for a Mr. Smith Goes to Washington-type rallying of the human spirit in the name of the "little man", it falls short.
In the end, this film wraps up very neatly, as expected. I would watch the film, but not expect more than a cute little story with likable characters.
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