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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 »


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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!


Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »






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 »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Lloyd Bridges' tiny role was one of 20 film appearances he made in 1942 alone. See more »


About 16 or 17 minutes into the movie, when Nora goes back to the attic to try and get Leopold out, he is first seen lying on his back for a couple of shots, back and forth between him and Nora. Then at one point when he compliments her beauty, he is sitting up. When the camera shoots them in a wide shot with Leopold's back to the camera, he is laying on his back again. See more »


Michael Lightcap: Miss Shelly, judging from the past 12 hours, how quiet do you think it could be in this house, with you in it?
See more »

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 »


Featured in Sex and the City 2 (2010) See more »


Jive Bomber
Music by Lyle 'Spud' Murphy
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User Reviews

Colman, Grant and Arthur - how can it miss? It doesn't.
10 February 2008 | by blanche-2See all my reviews

Cary Grant is Leopold Dilg, "The Talk of the Town," in this 1942 film also starring Ronald Colman and Jean Arthur. The outspoken Digl is framed for arson and murder and escapes from prison. He ends up in the home of a schoolteacher he's known since childhood, Nora Shelley. She's preparing her home to be rented the next day - except the renter, an attorney named Professor Lightcap (Colman) shows up right then. Since Leopold has a bad ankle, Nora lets him hide in the attic. Though Lightcap wants peace and quiet to write a book, things don't quite happen that way. Nora insists on being his secretary/cook - because she has to take care of Leopold - and every time Lightcap turns around, there's Nora's mother, the police looking for Dilg, furniture deliveries and a delivery of all of Nora's clothing - before he agrees to hire her.

Nora and Dilg's attorney Yates (Edgar Buchanan) attempt to drag the brilliant ivory tower attorney into the unfair assumption of guilt of Dilg, but Lightcap refuses. His type of justice, it seems, is all on paper. He doesn't want to get involved with any real people. Leopold, posing as the family gardener, gets into some heated discussions with him, and at Leopold's urging, Nora gives Lightcap special attention. But is any of it enough to make him cave and help Digl?

This is a grand comedy with very serious undertones. Who would ever expect two of the most elegant men in film history, Grant and Colman, to be facing off in a comedy, no less, where one of them is very definitely NOT elegant. Grant is terrific, a truly great actor who rarely let his audience see anything but the famous "Cary Grant" persona. Here, he's a man of the people with a clumsy walk and casual clothes. His pantomime to Nora through his attic window of wanting something to eat is hilarious. The bearded Colman plays the role of a stuffy professor very straight. Lightcap is barely able to stand the chicanery of Nora's household at first, as he has a strict routine. Fast forward and he's flirting and dancing with a smart-mouthed beautician (Glenda Farrell) in order to pump her for information about her boyfriend. His acting, particularly his courtroom speech toward the end of the film, is magnificent. Arthur plays Nora as a dizzy, confused and nervous woman, completely thrown as a landlord, a friend and a woman by the appearance of Leopold and the brilliance of Lightcap, as well as his admiration of her. She's torn between the two of them - and keeps the audience wondering.

Really a must-see for the lesson that true justice must be not read, not preached, but lived and for the wonderful characterizations and direction by Stevens.

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