Top positive review
35 people found this helpful
"Longfellow's Always Been Pixilated"
on 15 August 2005
It was in Mr. Deeds Goes to Town that Frank Capra perfected the blend of comedy and social commentary that would become his trademark. The screwball comedy was graceful rather than frantic and the social elements of Robert Riskin's fine screenplay are handled in an even-handed manner that earned Capra the second of his three Acadamy Awards for Best Director. Both Gary Cooper as the tuba playing no nonsense Longfellow Deeds and Jean Arthur as the reporter who exploits him until she falls for his goodness are wonderful in this true Capra classic.
Longfellow Deeds (Cooper) lives in the small town of Mandrake Falls where he makes a living writing greeting card poems and spends his free time playing the tuba. He is less than enthused when a bunch of big city attorneys show up at his door to tell him he has just inherited 20 million dollars from a relative he never met. The law firm of Cedar, Cedar, Cedar and Budington just want him to sign over his power of attorney and Deeds goes to the city with them mainly so he can get a look at Grant's Tomb.
Deeds is honest and good but no pushover and his initial reluctance about the situation proves wise as everyone wants to mooch off of Deeds and make a fool of him at the same time. Deeds gives as good as he gets and wins over the crusty Cornelius Cobb (Lionell Stander) to his way of doing things but can't get around the way a certain Louise Bennet is mocking his every escapade in the papers, making him look a fool and a country bumpkin.
But Deeds knows it doesn't matter when he meets the sweet Mary Dawson (Jean Arthur), a lady in distress who becomes his constant companion. Deeds no longer has to go off by himself like he did back home and talk to an imaginary girl because his dream girl has finally appeared for real. He tells Mary that she makes up for all the fakes he's met and writes a poem to her telling her how much he loves her. The problem, of course, is that Mary Dawson and this Louise Bennet who has christened him the Cinderella Man in all the papers are one and the same.
Arthur is wonderful as the cynical reporter who slowly realizes that Longfellow is good, straightforward and honest. She realizes it is the viewpoint of everyone else that is distorted. Before she can get to him to make her confession, however, Cobb breaks the bad news to Deeds and his faith in everything is lost. He is ready to pack it up and head back to Mandrake Falls until a starving farmer breaks into his home and gives Deeds an idea. It is the depression and Deeds' plan to give those down and out a chance to fend for themselves and get back on their feet will take evey penny he has, which is just what he wants.
But the same attorneys who courted him before, now try to prevent the noble Deeds from doing a noble deed and attempt to have him declared insane. It is the last straw for Longfellow, who shuts down completely, refusing to even defend his actions at his hearing. It is only when in an outburst from Arthur he learns she really does love him that he comes alive and gives them what for. As Cobb says earlier in the film, "lamb bites wolf!"
This is another great Capra film that shows it is the "average" fellow who really represents our values and mores as a people and a country, while entertaining us like no other director could. In addition to the constant joke about the name Budington throughout the film, because Deeds can't find a rhyme for it, it is also an "in" joke; the origional story adapted by Riskin was written by Clarance Budington Kelland!
Cooper and Arthur are memorable together and you will definitely get choked up when she reads Longfellow's poem about her on the steps of her apartment. Arthur does, because the words he has said earlier to a group of published poets making fun of him echo in her heart: "I guess it's alright to hurt someone as long as you don't care how much you hurt them."
If all the great Capra classics were represented by a vase full of red roses, this would be the one white rose in the center. It is flawless and pure, and represents everything that was special about the films of the first director allowed to have his name above the title. After seeing this film, you'll know why.