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 ... See full summary »
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 <email@example.com>
In "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" (1939), fly-over wisdom solves Washington corruption. In "A Stranger in Town" (1943), Washington wisdom solves fly-over corruption.
Frank Morgan portrays an incognito Supreme Court justice, who during his duck-hunting vacation, is reluctantly drawn into a small town fight against corruption. It is a dramatic change from his usual flamboyant-befuddled performance, and he does pretty well. One discordant note, however, occurs early in the picture. Morgan, while cradling a shotgun, meanders throughout town, into a barbershop, and even a courtroom. Nowadays, he'd have been pounced on, and probably branded a lunatic.
The film's pace is snappy, the romantic leads (Richard Carlson and Jean Rogers) have excellent chemistry, and the supporting cast is fabulous. It includes Robert Barrat, Porter Hall, John Hodiak (in his debut), Donald MacBride, Andrew Tombes, and Chill Wills (later Francis-the-Talking-Mule's voice). Ironically, however, Robert Barrat, who does a fine job playing the oleaginous mayor, had, about a decade earlier, been cast in an opposing role as a bucolic reformer fighting corruption. (His part was in "The St. Louis Kid" , a charming James Cagney vehicle.) Yet, "A Stranger" has two sloppy errors, both of which occur in the same scene. (They should have been caught and corrected.) First, Carlson enters the local hotel and orders a "single room" for the night, but walks away leaving his key behind. Then, the following morning in court, he testifies that the hotel had violated the law by having the twin beds in his room placed less than two feet apart. If his room was a single, however, it wouldn't have had twin beds.
Finally, you might try following-up this film with "The Magnificent Yankee" (1950) if you're into related double features. It is a heartwarming story about Oliver Wendell Holmes, an actual Supreme Court justice, whose tenure would have ended at about the same time Morgan's fictitious one had started.
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