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People Will Talk (1951)

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Dr. Noah Praetorius falls in love with Debra, a student who finds out that she is pregnant by her old boyfriend.

Writers:

Joseph L. Mankiewicz (written for the screen by), Curt Goetz (play)
Reviews
1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Cary Grant ... Dr. Noah Praetorius
Jeanne Crain ... Deborah Higgins
Finlay Currie ... Shunderson
Hume Cronyn ... Prof. Rodney Elwell
Walter Slezak ... Prof. Barker
Sidney Blackmer ... Arthur Higgins
Basil Ruysdael ... Dean Lyman Brockwell
Katherine Locke Katherine Locke ... Miss James
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Storyline

Successful and well-liked, Dr. Noah Praetorius becomes the victim of a witch hunt at the hands of Professor Elwell, who disdains Praetorius's unorthodox medical views and also questions his relationship with the mysterious, ever-present Mr. Shunderson. Fuel is added to the fire when Praetorius befriends young Deborah Higgins, who has become suicidal at the prospect of having a baby by her ex boyfriend, a military reservist who was called up for service in the Korean War and killed in action. Written by Kelly

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

September 1951 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Dr. Praetorius See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Twentieth Century Fox See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Dr. Pretorius' car is a 1951 Lincoln Cosmopolitan 2-door convertible. Only 857 convertibles were built that year. MSRP was $3,891 ($37,600 in 2017). In excellent condition, at auction in 2017, these cars can fetch $50,000 or more. See more »

Goofs

At the Higgin's farmhouse: Bella the cook is shown alternately from two different camera angles. From one camera angle we see her with her hands at her sides, yet from the other camera angle, we see her with her hands planted squarely on her hips. See more »

Quotes

Professor Barker: Elwell, you can use more words more unpleasantly than any irritating little pipsqueak I've ever known!
See more »

Connections

Referenced in All About Mankiewicz (1983) See more »

Soundtracks

Academic Festival Overture
Written by Johannes Brahms
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User Reviews

 
A hilarious attack on unnecessary rules, and on the people who enforce them anyway
27 March 2010 | by secondtakeSee all my reviews

People Will Talk (1951)

Joseph L. Mankiewicz is always an impressive director, though this is surely one of his lesser films. That doesn't keep it from being interesting throughout, and the comic scenes are really hilarious. Of course, it doesn't hurt to use Cary Grant as the lead, with three oddball men backing him up (the father-in-law, the atomic scientist, and his old, silent friend). Across from him is the charming, somewhat demur Jeanne Crain, who does sometimes perk things up a bit, but she is generally fairly stately.

I say this because the movie itself resembles Jeanne Crain: pretty, effective, restrained, and with a short nose. That is, it never quite takes off, and even the lively Grant as an unorthodox doctor seems buttoned up, much like his role in The Bishop's Wife, rather than his funnier side (most of his films, including Monkey Business the following year) or more dapper side (especially later one, but even in Only Angels Have Wings.) Since Grant anchors the film, this all matters. At times, his tone becomes more than professorial, and he sounds like a politician, but a respectable one, and People Will Talk is partly an anti-McCarthy, anti-witch hunt film from the Red Scare days. The speeches are meant to be taken quite seriously, no matter how absurd the comedy. Without this context, a lot of it will seem lofty and wordy. In fact, it still does, a flaw that time will only make worse.

No matter what our era remembers of Joe McCarthy, the movie demands little of most of the characters, and more makes fun of highbrow men, and of institutions in general, from the university to marriage itself, all as allegory to an establishment of rules above principles, which the movie makers and Grant's character clearly abhor. What matters more is the human heart, in medicine and in love, and Grant, with dignity, shows the way.

People Will Talk is both breezy and weighty--a solid farce, if that isn't contradictory. Some of the secondary actors are terrific, especially Walter Slezak (who appears in a similar, happy role in Born to Kill). As usual, Mankiewicz surrounds himself with talent behind the scenes at Fox, with Milton Krasner behind the camera (in high key style) and Alfred Newman in charge of music (some of which is diagetic).


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