59 of 60 people found the following review helpful
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 original 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."
Sony is putting out this newly remastered edition which has audio commentary, a featurette, the trailer, and vintage ads. The cover art looks the same but is in color this time, making an attractive display for film buffs. I still have an older TV and really saw nothing wrong with the previous editions of this wonderful classic, not being that picky, so will leave this area to those more qualified in regards to the technical aspects.
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.
35 of 39 people found the following review helpful
on July 13, 2002
When I heard that a remake was being made of this movie, I was totally outraged. Remakes are made for three reasons, in my opinion: a director sees a good concept that is carried out badly and wants to improve it, a director wants to honor a movie he likes, or HOLLYWOOD HAS NO NEW IDEAS SO DECIDES TO REMAKE A CLASSIC! Okay, this is somewhat off topic, but the point is that in the case of Mr. Deeds it has to be the third option because there is NO WAY the original can be improved upon.
This is how highly I rate this movie (also, if an improvement were to be made, it would not be made by casting Adam Sandler, of all people, as Mr. Deeds - the part is NOT AT ALL right for him).
Anyhow, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town is essentially the story of a small town boy (Gary Cooper) who inherits a fortune and then decides to give it away to the poor. He is charged with being insane as a result and is forced to prove his sanity in court (which he does in a priceless scene). Also, he meets a seemingly innocent girl (Jean Arthur) who is actually a reporter trying to get a story on him, which complicates matters to some extent.
This is one of Capra's masterpieces. It is a sweet and intelligent movie - one the whole family can watch and enjoy. So, instead of going to the theater to see the terrible remake, buy this classic today on DVD (or VHS)!
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on February 15, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
This Frank Capra movie stars Gary Cooper as a man who lives a simple, happy life in a small town until he is suddenly thrust into the spotlight when he inherits a huge estate during the great depression.
Jean Arthur is cast as a sharp, street savvy newspaper reporter who weasels her way into Cooper's life in order to get inside exclusives other reporters can only dream about.
Come join in the fun as Cooper takes on oily lawyers, greedy would-be co-inheritors, snooty high society, and, of course, the media in this grand adventure.
This movie is a wonderful romantic comedy...it's totally watchable, and there no worries about language, violence, or innappropriate sexual scenes or inuendos. This movie is a real treat.
Five stars all the way!
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on April 21, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
This is one damn good film! I just recently saw it and although I was already Gary Cooper's biggest fan this film made me appreciate him even more. The film did earn Capra his second of three Oscar wins (of which he won two years apart from each other: '34-"It Happened One Night", '36-"Mr. Deeds Goes to Town", '38-"You Can't Take It With You) the film should also have won Best Picture that year. ("The Great Zeigfeld"--the film that did get Best Picture--is a very boring film. Only Luise Rainer (best actress winner that year) did the film some justice. Jean Arthur (in "Deeds", not "Zeigfeld") gave one of her most memorable and best performances in the film as Cooper's love interest. Also, look for a young Gabbie Hayes. Even if you havn't seen this film, don't be afraid to buy it before you rent it. You won't regret it--Gary Cooper shines as the title character and Capra hands in yet another great American classic--right in the league of "It's a Wonderful Life", "It Happened One Night" and "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington".
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on December 1, 2002
MY RATING- 7.8
This is quite a moving tale a la american by the master of socio drama, Frank Capra in which he uses one of his fave actors Gary Cooper as the country man who inherits a fortune from a rich uncle and is double crossed in the city. I never enjoyed the first roles of Cooper in MOROCCO, yet it looks like he's been improving his acting over the years and his eyes seem to be brighter and emotional with Capra efforts. Jean Arthur is very good too with her sexy voice and tender love. The cast also includes H. B. Warner as the judge and Lionel Stander as Deeds gardian angel with that frog voice.
Maybe a bit overlong, however it's moving (not as much as It's a Wonderful Life"), , love triumphs at the end, with the Capraesque final act at the court.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on August 29, 2006
Format: VHS Tape
IN A NUTSHELL: A 1936 ROMANTIC COMEDY THAT IS STILL RELEVANT
Gary Cooper and Jean Arthur are incredibly effective and believable as quite an odd couple in this serio-comic treatment of idealism versus cynicism in the form of the small town iconoclast versus the big city. Together, the pair are the embodiment of the Capra depiction of the grand virtues of the simple country folk pitted against the unnatural and decadent evils of the modern city.
However, in this story, like most of Capra's there is a way out for all of us in this film, and a way for us individually to empathize with the characters and the plight of society as a whole as it staggered through the 'Great Depression'.
MR. DEEDS & THE GREAT DEPRESSION:
Just when one might be thinking okay, I have been watching this film for an hour and I know how it is going to turn out, Mr. Deeds takes a hard turn to the LEFT! In this seemingly extraneous subplot, lies the true meaning of this film, as we discover that Mr. Deeds is much more than just another 'boy meets girl' film with a few bumps thrown in on the way to the altar. That's because Deeds is a better man than that and can't be so easily defeated. Of course, this is a parody of 1936 society which had been in a real depression for 7 years already.
Yes, Mr. Deeds does draw a great deal of empathy from modern viewers as he plays the knight in shining armor from a by-gone era, looking for his damsel in distress in New York City. Rather than just brooding over it, Longfellow Deeds does something drastic about, drastic enough for his sanity to come into question. In this questioning of Deeds' sanity, Babe Bennett [Jean Arthur] is given the opportunity, which see puts to good use, to earn back Longfellow Deeds' trust and so illustrate that perhaps none of us is beyond redemption. Now isn't that a promising idea?
--*THE PRINCIPAL CAST
Gary Cooper - Longfellow Deeds
Jean Arthur - Babe Bennett
George Bancroft - MacWade
Lionel Stander - Cornelius Cobb
Douglas Dumbrille - John Cedar
Raymond Walburn - Walter
H.B. Warner - Judge Walker
Best Actor (nom) Gary Cooper 1936 Academy
Best Director (win) Frank Capra 1936 Academy
Best Picture (nom) 1936 Academy
Best Screenplay (nom) Robert Riskin 1936 Academy
Best Sound (nom) John P. Livadary 1936 Academy
10 Best Films (win) 1936 Film Daily
Best Picture (win) 1936 National Board of Review
Best Picture (win) 1936 New York Film Critics Circle
10 Best Films (win) 1936 New York Times
BOTTOM LINE: WE NEED MR. DEEDS ON DVD!
Great surprisingly modern 1936 serio-romantic comedy that boasts a wonderful cast under the brillant oscar winning direction of Frank Capra. In the end, this is a story of hope for all of us just as in 'Lost Horizon'.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on October 8, 2005
Gary Cooper plays Longfellow Deeds, the greeting card poet from Mandrake Falls, Vermont, who inherits 20 million dollars from his uncle, comes to NYC, and becomes the laughingstock of the big city. When he decides to give all the money away to out-of-work farmers (it's Depression time, remember), he is declared insane by lawyers who want some of the pie for themselves, citing his tuba playing, walking in the rain, chasing fire engines, etc. as examples.
Jean Arthur is the newspaper woman who uses him at first to make a bigger sap out of him to sell papers, but soon she finds herself in love with him and decides to help him out. The movie ends with a famous courtroom scene where Cooper refuses to defend himself until it's almost too late - but of course Arthur comes to his rescue and Coop turns the tables.
Like most Capra pictures it goes on too long, and in this one we really feel it. The Capra "corn" is piled on thick, with such scenes as the one at Grant's Tomb almost obligatory in a Capra picture. Cooper and Arthur perform wonderfully, though, and the supporting cast is at its best, too.
Strange note (to me, anyway): Where here Deeds says nothing in his defense at the end, Jimmy Stewart in the similarly sounding MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON, also by Capra (1939), goes on talking for 24 hours in his filibuster on the floor of Congress. From one extreme to the other!
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on July 9, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
Gary Cooper is fantastic in this "cinderella" rags to riches, screwball comedy. He "simply" shines as a tuba playing, greeting card jingle writer who receives a huge inheritance from a distant relative. Seemingly easy to please, Mr. Deeds (Cooper), goes through all the rigamarole of being a "fine" gentleman, but finds more enjoyment sliding down the bannister of his new mansion, trying out echoes with the butler in the enormous foyer, and dating a "hungry" woman who faints in front of his entrance to his estate. But as the lawyers who "handle" his fortune are to learn, as well as the "hungry" woman who is really a reporter, wonderfully protrayed by the beautiful Jean Arthur, there is a lot more substance to Mr. Deeds than meets the eye. As he charms us throughout this film, Cooper's Mr. Deeds rallies us behind him as he shows the world and his viewers, that there is a lot more to being a successful human being than a deep pocket.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on September 7, 2002
Format: VHS Tape
This is a terrific movie about a man who is literally plucked from his quiet small town life and brought to New York to deal with newly inherited millions. The Gary Cooper character is brave, strong, insightful, and most of all kind EXCEPT when it comes to the legions of snobs, phonies, and crooks he encounters in New York. The first time I saw this movie I couldn't believe how often he just slugged people who insulted or patronized him. The 1930s audiences, though, must have loved seeing the rich stuffed shirts getting theirs in such a direct way. You can quibble about some aspects of the plot line (I too couldn't believe he wouldn't see through Jean Arthur's trickery), but it doesn't take anything away from a great movie watching experience. You just can't help but like these characters and the triumphant ending is perfect. See this movie!
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on July 12, 2002
Format: VHS Tape
Even after retiring from showbiz, Frank Capra remained a very popular director until his death in 1991. His films allowed the audience to symphatize with the characters because they had a common theme of ordinary, likable (And often, small town) people being placed in extraordinary situations. Also, the main characters don't think much of what has happened to them, at least at the moment. For example, after being told he has inherited $20 million, Longfellow Deeds in Capra's 1936 comedy "Mr. Deed's Goes to Town" remarks "What do I need that for". And he goes back to playing his tuba. Another example is on the train ride to his new estate in New York: When asked what he's thinking about, it isn't the responsibility or wealth on his mind, but rather "Who's going to be the new tuba player in the band back home".
Gary Cooper and Jean Arthur are both superb as the two leads. In his career-making role as Longfellow Deeds, Cooper plays it well as a dimwitted yet charming small town man who inherits his uncle's wealth following his death (Or suicide? You decide. Hey, that rhymes!) Arthur plays newspaper writer Louise "Babe" Bennett, who goes undercover to write articles on Deeds. She is originally hired to basically uncover dirt on Longfellow, which she does. But she finds herself falling in love with him and soon feels ashamed with degrading him. Her shame comes too late, though, for due in large part to her writing, Deeds is charged with insanity and put on trial (That and he puts up his whole fortune to help out poor farmers). Now, he has to defend against an overwhelming amount of evidence. However, as learned during the trial, Deeds wasn't insane. He just did peculiar things like all humans.
There are several very funny scenes in the movie. One example is when Deeds, after chasing Walter the butler out of his room, yells at Walter to discover that the sound makes an echo. Soon, he and the other servants are making loud sounds and hearing them echo. Another funny scene is when Deeds, for the first time in his life, gets drunk and, according to Walter, fed donuts to a horse and took off his clothes yelling "Back to nature". But we never see the actual scene. That's something about this movie that current directors should pick up on: Some situations can be better, or in this case funnier, if left to our imagination. Its probably because of hindsight: When we look back at embarrassing situations we were in, we think differently of them then when they happened.
About the only compliant I had with "Mr. Deeds" was in the way this film portrays the rich class. It's said that a movie can be shown as the way a director views the world. Capra must have had some bad experiences with wealthier people. In here, basically all
the richest men in New York, lead by the only other living relative of Deeds, want part of Longfellow's money, though they are wealthy enough. This plot is similar to Capra's later "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington", where a naive senator has to fight crooked politicians who want the land he has set aside for a boyscout's camp. And it's similar in ways to "It's a Wonderful Life", where the manager of a Savings and Loans building has to prevent a wealthy businessman from taking it over. I can't speak for all the rich men of the world, but I assume there must be a few good ones who aren't greedy and, if they are unselfish, they don't come from a small town. I also think that it took Deeds a little long to find out who Babe Bennett really was; A news story about him appears every morning following a date with her, yet he can't put the two together.
But that doesn't mean I don't like the movie. Being the critic that I am, I need to be fair and balanced. I think the movie is even better for tackling such lighthearted, simple and universal beliefs liked kindness and acceptance. I haven't seen the remake with Adam Sandler. I have nothing wrong with Sandler: Though he regularly plays the same guy in his movies, some of them have been funny. But from what I see on T.V ads, this remake seems to agree with today's belief that money makes you a great and happy person. As we learn here, that isn't always so. Deeds was a great man before he got all that money because he had character, integrity, honesty and dignity (Until "Donut Gate", that is). But tell me, how happier was he with all those millions? Instead, his longing for his home and friends in Mandrake Falls grows. There, he really was wealthy.