A simple, small town man inherits a massive fortune, making him the target for scammers and publicity-seekers. Overwhelmed by the turn his life has taken, and awoken to another use for his new-found fortune, he makes a momentous decision.
A newspaper man, his ignored fiancée, and his former employee, a down on his luck reporter, hatch an elaborate scheme to turn a false news story into the truth in order to prevent a high-society woman from suing for libel.
Longfellow Deeds lives in a small town, leading a small town kind of life - including playing the tuba in the town band. When a relative dies and leaves Deeds a fortune, Longfellow picks up his tuba and moves to the big city where he becomes an instant target for everyone from the greedy opera committee to the sensationist daily newspaper. Deeds outwits them all until Babe Bennett comes along. Babe is a hot-shot reporter who figures the best way to get close to Deeds is to pose as a damsel in distress. When small-town boy meets big-city girl anything can, and does, happen.Written by
Carole Lombard was originally down to play the female lead but she backed out three days before production began to go work on My Man Godfrey (1936). Shooting had to begin without a female lead in place. See more »
The position of Deeds' hands change during the board meeting, after the firetruck goes by. See more »
Hand me my pants. I wrote her phone number on a piece of paper.
You have no pants, sir. You came home last night without them.
I did what?
As a matter of fact, you came home without any clothes at all. You were in your shorts. Yes, sir.
Don't be silly, Walter. I couldn't walk around on the streets without any clothes. I'd be arrested.
That's what the two policemen said, sir.
What two policemen?
The ones who brought you home, sir. They said you and another gentleman kept walking up and down the ...
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Winthrop Oliver Warner (a studio musician) actually played the tuba for the film. See more »
The flaws are covered by the warming effect and the sheer charm of the film
When a famous millionaire dies the media is aflame with the identity of his missing heir. The lawyers are just as interested and track him down to none other than small-town, simple-living Longfellow Deeds. He is more bemused than anything else about his sudden wealth and goes to New York to find out more. Once there he finds no end of people offering him services or selling him things and he tries to find some humanity within the city and the sharks around him. He believes he has found it with women-in-distress Mary Dawson but little does he know that she is really "Babe" Bennett the sharpest reporter on the streets.
Unfair to watch this film with wholly modern eyes as some have done berating it for its celebration of small-town values and perhaps depicting a naivety that is beyond the pale. Likewise though, I don't think that we should embrace it unquestioningly as many do. At its heart it is a Frank Capra film and it presents us with everything that we have come to expect from a film with that description. A simple man (many would say a "good" man) is confronted and to an extent crushed by examples of modern society that fly contrary to his moral and solid existence. That's it. It doesn't really matter what the specifics happen to be here as this is all you really need to know. To some extent of course this is all a bit obvious and naïve and indeed to some viewer it will be hard to get past that but in its favour it does manage to presence this homely cliché with an enormous wedge of charm.
This charm is evident throughout the film but one of the best examples of it is in the courtroom scene that manages to just about avoid being preachy due to the sheer cheering quality it has to it. Capra's direction and Riskin's script bring this out really well although I would question the tagline "rocking America with laughter" it was amusing and warming but not hilarious by any means. I'm not entirely sold on Cooper in the lead and certainly not as enamoured as some are here. For my money he plays the "aw shucks ma'am" stuff just a bit too heavily, forgetting to give me a character to go along with it. Jean Arthur is better as she has more to play with, while Bancroft is fun in a bit of a cliché but a fun one. The rest of the cast do what you would expect whether they be simple men inspired, crooked men confronted or serving men treated with respect all good but nothing earth shattering.
Overall then this is an obvious film that does just what you expect it to and watching it purely with modern eyes will kill it for many viewers. It is best watched with a mind to the period even if not total forgiveness because it is not without flaws. The charm and the warming effect it has makes it though and, while not the Capra I would point the newcomer to, it is certainly an example of what we mean when we now say something is Capra-esquire (which is quite something to have your name used as a descriptive word so many years later!).
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