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The Talk of the Town (1942)

Approved | | Comedy, Drama, Romance | 20 August 1942 (USA)
An escaped prisoner and a stuffy law professor vie for the hand of a spirited schoolteacher.


George Stevens


Irwin Shaw (screen play), Sidney Buchman (screen play) | 2 more credits »
Nominated for 7 Oscars. See more awards »




Complete credited cast:
Cary Grant ... Leopold Dilg
Jean Arthur ... Nora Shelley
Ronald Colman ... Professor Michael Lightcap
Edgar Buchanan ... Sam Yates
Glenda Farrell ... Regina Bush
Charles Dingle ... Andrew Holmes
Emma Dunn ... Mrs. Shelley
Rex Ingram ... Tilney
Leonid Kinskey ... Jan Pulaski
Tom Tyler ... Clyde Bracken
Don Beddoe ... Police Chief


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


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


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Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


Whilst many characters find Leopold Dilg's penchant for adding an egg to his borscht unique (so much so that it becomes a means of determining his whereabouts), it was not an uncommon practice to add an egg to borscht in Poland and in Mennonite communities in Eastern Europe. See more »


When Nora heads up to the attic with the candle in hand, there is no flame. When she gets to the top of the stairs, the candle is lit. See more »


Michael Lightcap: Look at me, a dream of twenty years come true. More happiness than any man deserves, that chair. But now there's something Else, Nora: My friends. I want to see them as happy as I am. Nothing less will do. And Leopold, what a fine fellow - and I've been thinking, Nora, that if someone were to take his hand and say "Leopold, my wreckless friend, here's love and companionship, forever." Well, some day that man would... You see what I mean, Nora?
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Alternate Versions

The AMC television showing of this film omits the actual moment, shown in the complete version, in which 'Ronald Colman' is actually informed of his Supreme Court appointment. See more »


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


Jive Bomber
Music by Lyle 'Spud' Murphy
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User Reviews

An uneven story salvaged by three resourceful actors
19 February 2003 | by Oblomov_81See all my reviews

Social commentary either elevates the value of a film or bogs it down, and with comedies it is generally the latter. "The Talk of the Town" is no exception; while it is a fun film that has much to admire, the pretensions of the film-makers often get in the way of what could have been a masterpiece of comic suspense. The tone becomes almost unbearably preachy at times, and some of the monologues on `justice' and the `pursuit of truth' are excruciating on the ears. Thankfully, the good people at Columbia hired just the right people to star.

The specific political stances of Leopold Dilg are never made clear; we're just supposed to accept the idea that he's a good guy who is put down by a corrupt system. Fortunately, Cary Grant uses his remarkable charm and talent to turn in a performance that allows us to sympathize with a character whose background is far too vague. Likewise, Jean Arthur and Ronald Colman are able to invest interest in characters that might otherwise have come off two-dimensionally. The charisma of the three leads fuels a love triangle that does a far better job of moving the story forward than any "serious message" that the film-makers were trying to impart to the audience. Grant, Arthur, and Colman are rightfully remembered as three of cinema's finest actors, but they deserve special credit for adding some much-needed pizzazz to this movie.

All in all, "The Talk of the Town" is a rambling, misguided movie saved by smart casting and disciplined acting, not to mention more than a few laughs. It is a classic example of skilled performers triumphing over flawed material.

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Release Date:

20 August 1942 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Three's a Crowd See more »


Box Office


$1,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Columbia Pictures See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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